Tiny houses and living off the grid may be more than an HGTV fad to you. It may be something you’re committed to, or at least considering.
There are some things you need to think about before trading in the hustle and bustle of city life for the peace and serenity of living off the grid.
How are you going to power your new home? How will you stay warm in the winter?
Most people think of off-grid living as using solar power to generate electricity or wood stoves for heating and cooking. You may have those exact energy sources in mind.
But propane should be your first choice for your energy needs. In this comprehensive guide, we take a look at all of the benefits of using propane for off-grid heating.
Propane is Clean Energy Made in the U.S.A.
Last year, the U.S. imported 19% of the 19.8 million barrels of petroleum we consumed each day. Three-quarters of that consumption is used for transportation. The rest is used in our homes and businesses.
It’s no wonder there’s a push for clean energy in the United States. One of the cleanest-burning fuels is propane. What’s even better is that more than 99% of the propane used in the U.S. is produced here.
Natural gas still comes in as the top fossil fuel used and produced in the U.S. at 31.8%, but propane is picking up steam.
Wait, Isn’t Propane Natural Gas?
Yes and no. Natural gas consists of different gases, including butane, ethane, and methane. It’s also made up of propane. Propane is a part of natural gas in its raw state but gets separated from the others at processing facilities.
Propane is a hydrocarbon and gets stored as a liquid (it’s also called liquefied petroleum gas or LPG). Natural gas gets stored as liquefied natural gas (LNG).
When natural gas gets released into the environment it is classified as a greenhouse gas. Propane isn’t toxic or harmful to the environment or atmosphere and is what’s known as a green fuel.
Benefits of Using Propane
There are many benefits of using propane in your home. It’s cheaper than electricity when it comes to running major appliances like dryers and water heaters. While these appliances may cost more upfront, you save money in the long run.
Propane is also much more efficient. A furnace that runs on natural gas for one hour uses roughly 97 cubic feet of gas, while propane uses 40 cubic feet.
When it comes to off-grid living, the benefits using of propane are even greater. People who aren’t living in traditional towns or neighborhoods have to be mindful of large energy pulls from appliances.
Many people use solar power and turbines as energy sources, but they are not sufficient for everything. This includes off-grid heating systems and cooking. But propane is a viable source of energy for off-grid heating solutions, cooking, refrigeration, laundry, back up generators, and water heaters.
Propane Appliances for Living Off the Grid
Propane is a favorite among tiny house dwellers for its convenience and low-cost. One testimonial claims they pay $22 per month for their propane, which runs their water heater and cooking stove.
Keep in mind that propane is a commodity and its price is based on supply and demand, the same as natural gas. Your usage may be less or more, depending on what you’re running on propane. Refrigerators also run on propane in off-grid homes, whether it’s a tiny house, cabin, or mobile home.
What it boils down to with off-grid appliances is cost, efficiency, and being eco-friendly.
Solar energy is the top choice for those concerned about the environment but even solar energy isn’t “free.” The cost of panels, batteries, and installation can add up quickly.
Appliances built for 12VDC or electric use, like a refrigerator, are a little less expensive than propane at the onset. But, they have compressors and other moving parts that need to get replaced and maintained, whereas a propane refrigerator doesn’t have lines or inverters to replace or maintain.
Why Choose Propane for Off-Grid Heating
Off-grid home heating is one of the biggest concerns for people who are not relying on the security of electricity.
Wood burning ovens or stoves are the traditional heating systems used for off-grid heating, but other options have emerged over the years.
Propane is versatile as it works with traditional forced air heating systems and eco-friendly hydronic systems. These include baseboard heating and radiant floor radiators.
If you take those benefits and combine them with propane’s efficiency and clean-burning, you have a safe and dependable heating source for your off-grid home.
Propane Vs. Wood Burning
Deciding between traditional wood-burning heaters and propane comes down to a few factors: efficiency, cost, dependability, convenience, and longevity.
Wood may be cost-effective to a degree as trees are “free fuel,” but there are moisture concerns. Wood must be “seasoned,” or contain less than 20% moisture. You also have to cut the wood to a specific size for your appliance.
Wood also must get stored for curing and drying purposes. This means that you will spend a lot of time cutting it to ensure you have enough to get you through a long winter.
If you don’t have a large inventory of wood stored or aren’t handy with an ax, you’ll have to buy your wood. This can get very pricey.
With propane, there’s no chopping involved and many companies have automatic deliveries. Their record system tells them when you’re getting low and need more. They come to your property and refill your tanks.
Another concern is that people who have wood-burning stoves or heating need a backup system. You also need another energy source to run your appliances.
Propane is all-in-one. It runs appliances and heats your home. In the long run, propane is a cost-effective choice.
The Next Step
If you’re planning to live off-grid, you now know the benefits of propane for off-grid heating. It’s more efficient and clean-burning than natural gas. It’s also more convenient and dependable than a wood-burning stove.
But once you decide on going with propane, you have another decision to make: Where to get your propane. Kauffman Gas has provided excellent customer service for more than 75 years. We install and maintain tanks and deliver propane based on your needs. Contact us today to learn about our services and programs.