Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Float Cabin Living: How do you get power? Propane

When we purchased our float cabin, it came with propane lines installed.

In the city, we were used to natural gas for heating and appliances, but propane in large tanks was new and a little scary.

Now that we are more comfortable with propane, we use it for the stove, a refrigerator, lights and other applications.

Wayne at the outdoor propane shed.

Getting propane up the lake is a lengthy process.

Our Hewescraft lake transport.
Empty tanks go for a boat ride down the lake. Because they are light, we can hand carry them up the dock to the truck. At City Motors or Vanderkemps they become heavy with compressed gas. Back in the truck, the process reverses. A dolly moves the heavy tanks back to the boat for their ride home.

We use 20 pound tanks for our BBQ. There's nothing like a grilled dinner on a cold winter night. The front porch gives Wayne a protected spot to work his dinner magic.  A 20 pounder costs $22 and lasts about three months. That's pretty economical.

We use 40 pound tanks for lights, refrigeration and cooking.  A 40 pounder costs $44 and lasts about a month. Again, that's an economical source of energy. We found an auto-switch Y-valve for continuous propane distribution.

It's tough in winter to generate enough solar power to run electric lights for more than a short time each night. Even on a sunny winter day we only get about two hours of direct light. Our winter alternative is propane light.

In our kitchen we have a Premier propane range. It has four burners and an oven with two racks and lots of room that makes baking easier than in my old oven. The pilot lights use minimal propane and make cooking easy.

We upgraded our old 8 cubic foot fridge to 13 cubic foot Unique propane refrigeratorNow we have all the refrigerator and freezer space we need.

How does a gas flame create cooling. The website says: "The basic principle is through evaporation. An ammonia mixture sealed inside the cooling unit is heated by a gas burner, which causes it to circulate before it evaporates and creates a cooling effect."

We also use Big Buddy portable propane heaters. One use is in our Hewescraft during winter to make our 30 minute boat rides more comfortable. It mounts safely in the front of the boat's cabin. It has auto-shutoff safety features and runs on either canisters or a 20-pound tank.

A second Big Buddy warms our winter outdoor porch shelter. With a little heat we can still eat outdoors on many nights.

Click below for more information about our various off-the-grid propane uses:
Using Propane for Power
Search for a Propane Refrigerator
Freestanding Propane Range 
Kitchen Kapers
Off the Grid Refrigerator Repairs
Propane Lights
Mr. Buddy Propane Heater

Propane makes off the grid living much easier. It's also an alternative in town for natural gas. Do you use propane? What do you think?

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad. -- Margy


  1. I am guilty of seldom commenting in my float through blog land, but I really do enjoy your blog. How much of your time is actually spent here? Are you full time dwellers?

    1. Thanks for the comment Wendy. We live in our cabin about 75% of the year in all seasons. We also love to travel, so that's where we are the rest of the time. - Margy

  2. Wow, your propane costs are quite reasonable. I would really like to get a propane stove, but the process of installing a tank (I'm not aware of one that has a portable tank, is that what your is?) is quite lengthy. We do have a propane grill, and I love grilling...makes food taste that much better!

    1. Because we have to transport our propane up the lake by boat the tanks have to be portable. We like the 40 pound tanks. They last us about a month for fridge, stove and lights, yet Wayne can handle them using a dolly when full. The larger tanks are too hard for us to use. - Margy

  3. Very interesting post and great info about your use of propane. My daughter heats her house with propane but with an auxiliary electric. MB

  4. I really am enjoying catching up on your blogs - I've been a little slow in getting back here, but enjoying every minute of it.

    I love seeing the interior of your floating house - makes the book come alive.

    We've had propane before - but only in a regular house where it was used for heating - my husband's family had a cabin in Northern Wisconsin long ago and they installed propane lights and refrigerator and loved the convenience.

  5. Our property up north has propane and wind power for being off grid! The wind is really effective there because it's really windy, we'd never be able to do solely solar either!

    1. We have a wind generator as well, but because it isn't windy at our cabin except during storms, it has limited value. If a storm is too strong, the generator even shuts down to protect the components. - Margy

  6. I have heard that propane is a lot more economical if you don't have all solar. Have you heard of a corn converter? my husband was telling me about a devise that you basically dump corn in, but that may have just been for heat.
    Hope to see you again on teh Homestead Blog hop today. Pinned :-)