General discussions including topics about living off grid
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DH and I are considering a move . Unfortunately, we feel tied to our area for a variety of reasons. We don't feel we have the funds to purchase a wooded area, even with the smallest of houses or trailer. Sooo,,, if you had to choose between propane and natural gas, which way would you go? Propane allows us to get further out, but with its tie to oil we believe it will escalate far more than natural gas--or maybe be unattainable. Natural gas may become quite costly, but at least we still produce it here. We have discussed many possibilities, including coal, pellets, corn and wood as well as the idea of stockpiling any of the above, but we would like one of those to be our 2nd layer. Any wise words wrt the propane/natural gas thoughts would be appreciated. Birdgirl+1
We moved into a rental that had propane. During the cold Indiana months our 500 gal tank needed filled every 5-6 weeks. It cost around $1100 for each fill back then (price hasn’t dropped, only has risen). We almost went broke heating this place, and almost moved out.
The following spring, I talked the landlord into natural gas. The calculations I did said we would save at least 50% if both prices stayed proportional. The results:
Three years later, and we've never had a monthly bill over $200 in the dead, cold winter. We've never had a natural gas outage, but we did have a 3 day power outage once. Hence my second layer: a fireplace.
Propane has its advantages. You have it, you can bury a tank to hide it, store in multiple tanks, and you don't have to worry about it being turned off. It burns cleaner. There is a price to pay for those advantages....the cost.
Natural gas is cheaper. It is not as clean (environmental standpoint), you're dependant on the grid to get it, and although most pumping stations have generator backup, there can be outages (rare). I would not be depending on it if SHTF.
For us, natural gas was clearly the winner, especially with a fireplace for backup. Should SHTF, we have access to wood.
We're planning on a wood stove at the BOL. Cheap, easy to install, and we have access to wood there as well.
Wood stoves can be found at low cost, and doesn't need electricity to run. That's not true of corn/pellet stoves.
The landlord is jealous. He is still paying out the nose for propane He thought I was crazy for wanting to switch.
I hope this helps you. Ask if you have any questions at all, I'll be glad to help.
I think that you should reconsider wood heat. It can be down even when you don't own a wood lot or land. We are urban homesteaders on >1/14 of an acre. We glean firewood. Wood is our primary heat source during cold Buffalo, winters.
As Mick wrote no need for electricity and it's a source for cooking.
We have propane AND natural gas. The propane tank is a BACK up plan, cuz if there is no ELEC. there will be no natural gas delivered to your hom. Our generator is fitted with a regulator so the gen will use gas, propane or natural gas. We have 3 acres of hard wood so we have it all covered Praise the Lord!
We also have about 20 small portable propane tanks we keep filled, from 5 gal and up.
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I just started prepping. We got a decent sized generator with a tri-fuel conversion kit. I just started looking at wood stoves for a back up heat source. I see where paladin mentioned cooking on one. Is there a particular type of wood stove that you need to cook on?
Unless we change the direction we're going, we'll end up where we're headed.
All you need is a flat surface to cook on. To extend the cooking area I added a small metal stand that had once been a curio stand. Sturdy enough to hold a heavy cast iron pot.
I have a Jotul F 602 CB which is a small box style stove. When it's lit I use it to cook on, bake-use a stove top camp oven, and dry & iron laundry. So besides saving us over $700 a year on the gas bill using a wood stove saves on electric to the tune of $40 - $50 each month.
I'd have to say that we spend under $100 for gas to haul home firewood. I'm not counting the small utility trailer or chain saw in the math because we use both those items in our homesteading activities as well as have made a chunk of change with them.
We went with this model stove because of our space limitations. Our primary concern was to heat our 1200 sq ft home. When we were stove shopping I use to bring my favorite cast iron skillet so I could "see" how it fit on the display models.
If you are going into the boonies then propane is your only option between that and natural gas since you won't have natural gas lines. I live in a small town (1,833 population in town) and have natural gas because it is piped in and economical. (also have some propane stored for a propane stove and heaters but not enough to last an extended period)
That said, a wood stove is the best by far. I have always had one. But it is a crapload of work. Between cutting and splitting and loading and hauling and stacking wood it is a lot of work and time involved. Also the clean up since it is messy. I guess I am getting old. But nothing heats better than a good woodstove in my opinion and the bonus is that you can cook on it and it frees you from the grid. Right now I am cutting wood for next year as it has to be stacked and get seasoned so it won't be ready to burn until next year.
Just my thoughts.
I got nothing. I am just here for the ride.
http://www.rocketstoves.com I'd at least have a rocket mass heater as backup somehow. For mobile home I would make an enclosed porch entrance way with this heater. Might as well go all the way and make it an earth bag entrance way. Or at least earth bag up several feet, then stick frame above that.
External wood furnace might be a way to go too for mobile homes.
http://blog.larrydgray.net My blog, off-grid living, self sustainability, building/construction and more
If you have sun you can tie in solar thermal hot water collectors to heat the water that gets piped through the house... Propane as back-up....
Preparing for Peak Oil videos, news and living better using less energy.
I would go with natural gas mainly because it is cheaper in the short term and would allow you to put money into other preps for now. Also there is the option of making biogas in the future assuming that you have access to sufficient organic material.
I would second caverdude's sugestion of a Rocket Mass Heater. This page has a lot of good info and videos. There are some people that live on city lots and are able to heat their homes only using tree trimmings or scrap pallet wood. Stoves can be built for under $100 too if you are good at scrounging materials.
i really appreciate everyone's suggestions. Currently NOTHING is selling inour area. So we're hunkered in for the next few months. Some areas of the country wood is easier to come by, here, kind of expensive. WRT the solar. would love to consider. But the cost is unbelievable.
I'll be looking into all the possibilities. Does anyone know how much solar it would take to keep a geothermal unit running? Is this even doable??? I know the geomthermals have some electronics involved.
We use propane but have what's called a Hasa Furnace. The guy that owned this place before me went to some effort to put it in. Our propane runs a boiler that supplies Hot Water Baseboard radiation. If I fire up the Hasa Furnace, close off a couple of valves & throw a switch or two I'm on wood heat.
The Hasa is basically a 12' x 14' concrete box roofed & built off the house. Its filled with Class V gravel has a fire box and tubing run throughout the earth mass inside. Fire heats the gravel heating the water in the tubes and circulates through the house. The fire box can take up to 30" logs and is very efficient.
The only fly in the ointment is the electric power to run the pump. Solve that with a generator for short term power and a combination wind, & solar with a battery bank for long term use.
The guy used copper pipe so I'm still shut down. Copper pipe with water running through it in contact with earth corrodes. This is a lot of work but over time we'll have it redone.
The wind & solar set up with the battery bank is on the drawing boards and finances are underway to do it.
In the meantime we work, live and pray and have propane & kerosene space heaters for short term emergencies. Living on the prairie where we can see 40 below as a regular occurance is a bit twitchy. The up side is that wind is abundant. Don't think that wind is however free. Installation & maintenance is a real Bear.
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