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Choosing Propane Appliances & Tanks


Last month we wrote about propane installation and safety. This month we will layout different types of appliances you can run with this useful but potentially dangerous gas. Your basic choices on the heat side are cabin heaters, cooking stoves (with or without oven or broiler), water heaters, and on the cold side, a refrigerator (In truth we get this cold by heating an element to create expansion, the final result being cold.). Once you decide what type of appliance suits both your intended sailing plans and safety factors, then it comes down to specific features. Also, we will give you some guidelines in tank sizes so you will have enough gas to fulfill your desired goals such as going to the San Juans for a month.


By Jack and Alex Wilken Things that heat Cooking stoves: There are several


features to look for: thermocouples, gimbals, oven doors, stove tops, lighting devises, ovens and broilers. Thermocouples, are essential for


safety. They are sensors that are connected to the supply valve and mounted close to the burner. The flame heats the thermocouple which maintains the valve open as long as there is flame, so if the burner goes out, LPG does not continue to escape into the boat. All interior mounted marine appliances should be equipped with thermocouples. All burners must be equipped with them including those on broilers, ovens, and stove tops.


To gimbal or not to gimbal? Typically,


mono-hulled sailboat cooking stoves are gimbaled and the rest are not. With gimbals comes the need for locking devises to secure the stove in some situations such as very bad weather when the stove might swing excessively, when you are not underway, or before you open the oven door if the door is not balanced. (Force 10 stoves are the only ones we found that are balanced.) (Figure 1 and 2) One other choice to consider in oven doors is glass so you can see in, which we’re told is very important by those who cook. Stove tops come in a couple of varieties: individual burner grates,


normally made of enameled steel, or full grates that cover the top of the stove, most often made of stainless steel. The full grate can be kept more easily from rattling and most are hinged in the back making it possible to clean around the burners. (Oh joy, for the ‘mad cleaners’ in the family!) The individual grates are not easily secured, making it more difficult to secure the pot or pan on top of something small rather than the larger, flatter surface of a full grate (Figure 3). Stoves are no good to us if we cannot light them, the ease of doing so is what matters in our relationship with this appliance. Piezo ignition technology can be integrated into the control knobs for one-handed operation or a separate switch for use with both hands. Once you decide how you will


use the stove – live aboard, long- distance cruising, weekend sailing, etc. – choosing between 2- 4 burners, with or without an oven, and/or broiler should be easy. When choosing the number of burners, one consideration for gimbaled stoves is balance. With 2 burners all pots/pans will be located over the center of balance. Whenever you put a pot/pan on a 3 or 4 burner gimbaled stove, it becomes unbalanced. Every burner on top or inside the oven/broiler is capable of a specific heat output in BTUs. Different manufactures configure their stoves with burners of different BTU outputs. All these features should lead you to the stove that fits your boat and your needs.


Cabin heaters: When you burn


LPG, water is always an unwanted by-product, therefore you get


Figure 3 Figure 1 Figure 2


Figure 1: Unbalanced oven door. Figure 2: Balanced oven door. Figure3: Full stove top grate.


48° NORTH, JUNE 2011 PAGE 37


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