Going off the grid to start living in a tiny house is some urban dwellers’ dreams. The independence attained in cost-cutting as you downsize a sense of comfort and ease. However, despite the presumed inexpensiveness, there are real risks in tiny house living.
One such is the decision to switch to using propane gas stoves. It may seem as innocuous as switching to solar panels for energy with how much propane is praised for its eco-friendliness. While solar weighs heavy on your pocket while promising long term benefits, propane stoves weigh heavy on your life, without much guarantee.
That brings us to ask: What is it about propane stoves for us to fear it? If it is as life-threatening as it, are there alternatives to this? Or are there methods to use propane stoves safely with all the precautions? Most important of all: Are propane stoves really safe?
Short answer: Yes! Absolutely. Long answer? Keep reading! We will explore everything from what propane gas is and how useful and energy-saving it is despite the obvious threats mentioned.
Table of Contents
What Makes Propane So Dangerous
Unless handled carelessly, there is nothing alarming about using propane as a fuel. It is a harmless gas in the majority of circumstances. However, that doesn’t assuage all our fears.
Propane is a highly flammable gas. Flammable items and flame causing materials like cigarettes, lighters, and even mobile phones are recommended to be kept away from propane due to its sheer combustibility.
That means the gas catches fire easily in case of a leak, which is fairly likely because propane belongs to the category of Liquefied and Pressurised gases that can discharge conveniently at the chance. This can result in an explosion.
Other times when propane doesn’t combust, it settles in nooks and corners due to being heavier than air. It is a valid precaution not to use it in enclosed spaces, much to the irony of cabin living.
In the unlikeliest of cases, when it does burn—albeit incompletely, propane is known to release small amounts of Carbon Monoxide. This also happens due to improper equipment, which is just as unlikely. Incomplete burning refers to the situation that creates a sudden lack of oxygen supply for the fuel to burn. Ironically, therefore, bringing propane to the woods seems bleak and pointless.
But propane anything but useless. And there are tested and proven scientific ways to prevent these damages.
What Makes Propane Useful? What Benefits Outweigh its Disadvantages?
Propane does sound dangerous, though, with modern and well-equipped solutions, situations of harm can be prevented from happening entirely. That means propane is now safe and careful to use. But what exactly is it used for?
Propane Saves Electricity and Money
Propane is largely used when people are living off the grid, that is, families not connected to the municipal power supply units.
Thus propane becomes a reliable fuel to use while cooking for convenience in its availability and usage. Because they are not connected to the grid, electricity can be watched as it is used, thereby helping in keeping a check on its usage. This will ultimately reflect in financial savings.
Convenient and Portable
Traveling to remote and distant places for vacation with the goal to cook your food by yourself, there can be achieved with a propane stove. It can be carried in a small cylinder that can easily fit into the back of the car trunk. It is small, a piece of cake to operate and take care of.
Convenient and Portable
They are natural and faster in cooking than electric cookers and stoves. The ease of operation comes from the ability of the stoves to change temperatures quickly than regular stoves.
Propane stoves are incredibly nature friendly and do not cause any pollution. Carbon monoxide is pretty non-existent, unless in cases of incomplete burning and leaks, which we will help you avoid.
How to Use Propane Stoves Indoors properly?
We have now seen how beneficial propane is in comparison to many other gases. Propane is also a convenient and the best alternative for the requirements of a trip like this. Having discussed that, let’s take a look at what is the right way and how to use propane stoves indoors.
Gas stoves get their standardization from Underwriters Laboratories. The organization puts equipment under rigorous tests to examine the credibility and the durability of the product. A product that is positively okay to use will arrive with the UL certification.
In case it doesn’t, talk with your provider and settle for a stove that is UL certified. These stoves that have undergone the watchful eyes of UL testing have zero scopes of escaping the clutches of misbehavior. They are safe, and that is guaranteed.
Cooking Outdoors or At least in Aerated Areas
Every stove releases carbon monoxide, and the amount released is increasingly dependent on the old age of the stove, its maintenance, and its efficacy. UL certification ensures that CO emission is little to none or negligible. However, it is in good spirit to take the advice of cooking in aerated areas when cooking on propane stoves.
The other reason why cooking in aerated areas or simply outdoors is emphasized because of incomplete combustion. Fire needs air, fuel, and flame to burn. The situation will quickly trickle out of hand and escalate if the ratio of these elements is not proper. Not only will that destroy your vacation and your valuables, but it will also ruin your life and lungs due to the increasing CO deposit.
Besides, on the plus side, outdoor cooking will sharply cut down your electricity consumption.
Minimal Smoke And Increased Air Flow
Cabin and small living experts have wisely argued against making barbeques and the roasts of the like that emit smoke. Trying not to burn your food is a good suggestion. Do not cook for extended periods of time either, especially in the cabin or in a cramped room. The less smoke there is in the house, the better.
In case the weather does not cooperate, and you must have to cook inside, make sure you’re cooking in a well-ventilated room rich in airflow. An extinguishing fan or an extractor fan can be kept on and running. It will direct the smoke of cooking outside then let it linger in the house.
Stove Hygiene and Maintenance
While we do say that this goes without saying, we will still continue to emphasize how essential it is to keep the stove and the cooking area clean. Do not grill inside and let the grease and the oil seep into the nooks of the griller and burn or roast them. If grilling is on the menu, do it outside. Whenever you see food or grease or the like, clean them off swiftly.
On the next note, keep your tanks and cylinders outside the house. Turn off the valves, not just of the stove, but also of the tank/cylinder when not in use. Leaking gas when the valves are turned off is impossible.
In addition to all of this, install or merely purchase a Carbon Monoxide detector. Place it as close as it is possible or within 15 feet of the stove. The detector will keep check of the rise in the pollutant and give suitable warnings should the meter or the count on it rise. They work as smoke detectors do.
In any unfortunate chance where things do slip out of hand, i.e., the detector goes off, what you can and must do is:
- Turn the stove off and evacuate the cabin.
- Make sure any inflammable substances are not close by
- Rush to open a window as quickly as possible and get out
- Get out of the house at all costs.
- Stay out until the alarm begins to tone down, signaling the lower levels of CO.
Even then, do not immediately rush back in. The detector only went off because the room had reached the highest level of CO detectable. There will still be traces of CO in the house, so it is better to wait out.
Recognize a Leak
Leaking is rare, though not impossible. Modern propane containers are smartly enriched with an odor that helps the human nose detect something off about the propane cylinder. Thus, in cases of leaks or concerns about leaks, soapy water is the solution. Switch off all stoves and flame inducing items around you, and then pour some soapy water over the connections.
If bubbles begin to form incessantly, it’s time for you to deal with it accordingly and immediately.
While we have covered most of the required guidelines to take particular note of, here is a further FAQ for other questions.
Propane In The Fireplace Is A Really Bad Idea.
Sure, propane can be used to make a fire pit due to how it burns quickly without much smoke. Is it a good thing, then? Absolutely not.
Propane To Heat The Home.
In order to make a stove or an oven or any heat generator a source of warmth, it needs to be left running on. Leaving a propane stove unattended is ill-advised and will lead to significant problems in the future. The consequences of misusing propane stoves are heavy and pricey.
Do I Have CO Poisoning?
You may have been poisoned by CO if you’re beginning to experience any or more of the following:
- Blurred vision
- Weakness and fatigue
- Dizziness and confusion
- Difficulty in breathing
- Losing consciousness
Therefore you must take adequate care of your propane stove as you do with the rest of your valuables.
Propane stoves are resourceful and eco-friendly alternatives to many other off the grid options. As useful as they are, they come with their own set of instructions and warnings, which we must not forget. Unless used carelessly, propane is a friendly gas. Make a cup of tea in excellent cheer using your propane stove. While at it, don’t forget to be cautious.