Off Grid Living: Propane Gas

off-grid-living-with-propane

I’ve recently moved and now have propane gas. I couldn’t be happier about it. Why? Because it is a stand-alone energy system that will provide me with heat, hot water, cooking, and whatever else I adapt to it. While it’s not my only energy source, it augments the others – and there is a certain peace-of-mind surrounding the notion of less reliance on external systems.

While my propane tank does require refilling, and is still a ‘dependent’ source, 1,000 gallons will store quite a-lot of energy – which can last a long time…


 
Living partially or totally off-grid-living presents its challenges. If you wish to maintain a standard of living in your home or retreat, and maintain a comfort level not terribly different from ordinary modern living, then one of your biggest decisions will be choosing what will be your fuel sources (plural) for energy.

You will need to answer questions like, What will I cook with? How will I refrigerate? Light my home? How will I heat my home? What about energy for appliances, the water-well pump, and everything else that ‘plugs in’?

There are many questions when you consider all of the modern conveniences that make our day-to-day lives easier. I believe that an approach of power diversification is the best consideration. Having multiple sources of energy will provide you a backup in some areas. If one source of energy is lost, then at least you won’t lose ‘all’ of your sources – and living conditions.

One source of energy that could play a significant role in an off-grid-living environment is propane gas. Unlike ‘natural gas’ which is often available in suburban homes from gas lines which are piped underground throughout cities and many suburban areas, ‘propane gas’ is stored in stand-alone tanks sitting (or buried) right on your property. The gas is piped into the home and is drawn upon as necessary until the tank needs to be refilled. It’s refilled by a delivery truck, similar to how an oil truck will deliver home heating oil for your furnace (if you have that type of heating system).

Propane is one of the cleanest burning fuels and burns with no soot and very few sulfur emissions. The gas evaporates quickly at normal temperatures and pressures, and is usually supplied in pressurized steel gas cylinders.

The most common tank (for typical portable home use – like a BBQ grill) is a 20 pound tank (also sometimes referred to as a 5 gallon tank). This is the kind of portable tank you would find at a Home Depot, Lowes, etc.

Related Article: How To Tell How Full (or Empty) Your Propane Tank Really Is
BBQ Tank Gauge

Propane tanks also come in larger sizes, designed for more of a permanent installation, and can be installed large enough to keep you supplied for quite a long time. Generally, 500-gallon tanks easily accommodate an average four-bedroom home while 1,000+ gallon tanks can fuel very large homes.

Propane can power most types of home appliances that we are accustomed to, so long as the appliance is designed for propane. Propane gas powered appliances include refrigerators, freezers, ranges, cook-tops, outdoor grills, room heaters, central heating, water heaters, generators, clothes dryers, and more.

 
Propane gas is measured and distributed in gallons, pounds and cubic feet, and is usually sold by the pound when dispensed into portable tanks, and sold by the gallon when weighing the tank isn’t feasible.

Propane tanks are typically filled to 80% capacity to leave room for expansion.

1 Gallon of Propane = 27 kWh (Kilowatt Hours) of electricity.
1 Gallon of Propane = 91,600 Btu’s.
1 Gallon of Propane = 4.2 pounds as a liquid at 60-degrees F.
1 Gallon of Propane = 35.97 cubic feet.

1 Pound of Propane = 21,810 Btu’s.

 
“How long will my portable tank of propane last?” This is easy to figure out if you know the number of pounds of gas that’s in your full tank and the btu/hr demand of your burner or other gas appliances. One pound of liquid gas in your tank has 21,600 Btu/hr fuel value.

If you have a typical portable 20# tank, and if you have a typical low pressure burner gas grill, for example that is rated at 40,000 btu/hr maximum output, then you can run that burner at full blast for 10.9 hours:

(20# x 21,810 Btu/# = 436,000 Btu’s in the gas in a 20# tank)
(436,000 Btu ÷ 40,000 Btu/hr = 10.9 hrs)

 
For off-grid-living, or to be more self-sufficient without relying solely on an electric utility service for most of your energy needs, consider using propane gas and appliances. If you are planning or designing an off-grid-living location or retreat, consider propane as an alternative energy source.

108 Comments


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  1. Frank July 10, 2014
  2. Satori July 10, 2014
  3. Linda July 11, 2014
    • Hubbie July 29, 2014
      • Cheryl December 30, 2015
        • louise December 20, 2016
    • Anonymous December 23, 2016
  4. Anon July 11, 2014
    • ole timer July 11, 2014
    • SHTF July 29, 2014
      • Ray July 20, 2015
    • louise December 20, 2016
  5. walt July 11, 2014
  6. keebler July 11, 2014
    • louise December 20, 2016
  7. PrepperDaddy July 11, 2014
  8. tango July 11, 2014
    • propane tank August 11, 2014
      • big tank to small heater January 13, 2015
      • Mandi Hankins April 4, 2015
        • Mandi Hankins April 4, 2015
          • Jason December 30, 2015
          • Doug January 1, 2016
          • Bob January 13, 2016
          • please help January 18, 2016
        • louise December 20, 2016
      • Kathy November 23, 2015
        • Doug November 24, 2015
          • Beach'n November 24, 2015
          • pam January 21, 2016
        • Dan May 22, 2016
      • Pesty November 24, 2015
        • Doug November 25, 2015
      • 120 gal propane tank stamped "10 98" January 13, 2017
        • LPG January 13, 2017
        • NRP January 13, 2017
  9. loretta July 11, 2014
    • Ken Jorgustin July 11, 2014
      • Maybe Even Better August 4, 2014
  10. Another John July 12, 2014
    • Justin July 13, 2014
      • jeff July 13, 2014
        • Justin July 14, 2014
      • Anonymous August 6, 2014
  11. Just a thought... July 13, 2014
    • OldChevTruck November 7, 2014
  12. Alan July 13, 2014
  13. Fill 5 gal tank from 500 gal underground tank? October 8, 2014
    • Propane October 8, 2014
    • wolf23271 October 21, 2014
  14. outsider October 11, 2014
    • Saskatchewan off-gridders November 18, 2014
      • Queen of Fish Creek January 15, 2015
    • Doug October 19, 2015
    • Doug October 19, 2015
      • Anonymous October 19, 2015
        • Doug October 20, 2015
    • Sam October 2, 2016
  15. question October 21, 2014
    • wolf23271 October 21, 2014
  16. Anonymous October 22, 2014
  17. yopropane November 13, 2014
    • Ken Jorgustin November 13, 2014
  18. Question November 14, 2014
  19. Help please!! November 26, 2014
  20. Please Advise March 13, 2015
  21. me March 14, 2015
  22. me March 14, 2015
  23. Hank Hill May 12, 2015
  24. Idid August 6, 2015
  25. Tim August 30, 2015
    • Ken Jorgustin August 30, 2015
    • NRP August 30, 2015
  26. James September 7, 2015
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  27. James September 10, 2015
  28. crosssums September 21, 2015
  29. PB September 23, 2015
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  32. Sheryl January 1, 2016
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  33. Scott January 5, 2016
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  34. amber January 8, 2016
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  35. FRancis April 9, 2016
  36. dave April 19, 2016
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  37. kingasas33 June 5, 2016
  38. NRP June 5, 2016
  39. martin July 11, 2016
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  40. Crusader Ordie July 27, 2016
  41. stinkygas September 20, 2016
    • Dennis September 20, 2016
    • NRP September 20, 2016
  42. Anonymous November 14, 2016
  43. dual use possible? December 8, 2016
    • NRP December 8, 2016
  44. Clueless City Girl January 29, 2017
    • Antique Collector January 29, 2017
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