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Choosing a Stove for your Galley

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Which type of stove fuel is best while cruising?
Propane (LPG)
 60%  [ 3 ]
Natural Gas (CNG)
 0%  [ 0 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
 20%  [ 1 ]
Solid Fuel
 20%  [ 1 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 5

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 3:45 pm    Post subject: Choosing a Stove for your Galley Reply with quote

Stove Selection

There are a few things you want to take into consideration when choosing a cooking stove replacement on your vessel or a first time purchase of marine grade stoves, cook tops, BBQ's and grills:

The Marine Appliance - Boat Stoves
Choose a stove that fits in the existing space

There are a large collection of marine stoves, BBQ’s and grills specifically designed for boating. Good marine stoves can be purchased online, providing a wide selection of manufacturers, options and fuel choices. Finding the right cooking platform for your boat has never been more flexible, with hundreds of marine cooking appliances from which to choose.

Where is your stove or grill going to “live” onboard? Will the model you have chosen fit in the space allotted?

Do you have a galley or is the cooking going to be on deck from a BBQ mounted on a stanchion? How will you store fuel if you choose an alternative from being reliant on electricity?

Most boat stoves come in a few standard configurations. Critical measurements when determining the right “fit” are the height, width and also proper depth! This last dimension is very important. If the stove is installed too far back and the stove pitches into the counter top behind the top of the stove or too far forward and it catches on the kick base, it may hinder access to, opening or use of storage bin(s) under the stove or sink. Be very careful in determining your measurements during a retrofit.

Does the manufacturer suggest the stove face the port or starboard side of your vessel in order to compensate for fuel delivery by gravity which feeds from the fuel metering valve into the burner? Will you need to install a liner with high density, heat retardant insulation, finished with a light gauge metal (preferably stainless steel)? An alternative method of insulation that can have attractive results is to use tile. Carefully read the manufacturer’s installation instructions before you cut into anything.

Fuel Options
There are several fuel options for boat stoves;
• Electric – safe, odorless, clean, doesn’t heat the cabin, drains batteries or requires auxiliary power source that creates noise
• Alcohol – clean, easy to find, stored in a plastic container, non-pressurized stove is safer than a pressurized stove, pressurized stove requires the burner pre-heated, fire can be extinguished with water, but also can be spread with water, smelly, invisible flame – be careful when cooking
• Propane (LPG) / Butane– inexpensive, clean, easy to find, works well in extreme environments, easy to regulate, dual use for BBQ or Grill, heavier than air, explosive, requires completely separate tank storage used solely for this purpose and careful installation of the delivery system to the appliance, regular maintenance is necessary for the stove and the connections, outside US make sure propane fuel has a “smell or odor”
• Natural Gas (CNG)- safer than propane, lighter than air, hard to find – especially in outlaying areas, tanks are heavier than propane, can use up to 4 times the amount of fuel as a propane stove to reach the same heat, outside US make sure Natural Gas fuel has a “smell or odor”
• Solid Fuel – inexpensive, safe, very hot burning fuel and will heat up the cabin, massive storage requirement and bulk, difficult to regulate, additional installation for exhaust chimney
• Kerosene – inexpensive, hot flame, found almost everywhere, cheap to install, smelly, sooty – dirty flame, sometimes hard to light, requires alcohol priming, burners aren’t adjustable (use a flame diffuser)
• Diesel – expensive, safe, very hot burning fuel and will heat up the cabin, additional installation for exhaust chimney

Choosing your fuel options is especially important if you are planning to cruise outside of the US, and there are websites that explore the various types of fuel , their chemical composition and the drawbacks and benefits.

Choose a stove that fits your needs while boating
Do you want special features like safety shutoff devices, fume detection monitors , piezo or electronic ignition, porcelain oven interiors for easy clean up, clear windows on oven doors for viewing, custom designed systems or special mountings?

Gimbaled stoves usually have a lock to prevent them from swinging when not in use while underway or when you want to cook while at the dock. Some systems have other specifications that can make a difference in performance, heat exchange/distribution and clean up.

Safe storage for the fuel tank and proper installation of fittings, connections and/or sensors is essential for safety. Remember that you want gas/water/electric connections to appliances to be flexible and have extra length, so you can pull the appliance out to clean or repair it. Label or mark the connection at the junction box so it is easily identifiable.

Fuel Tanks and Placement
Choices on fuel tanks are either aluminum or steel, vertical or horizontal and should have a manual shut-off valve, pressure gauge, a fuel regulator and a solenoid (this is an electrical-controlled valve; on when the electricity is on). Steel is a little easier to fill as you can drop yours off and pick up another--steel can also rust. Aluminum tanks don't rust, have a shorter certification period and need to be filled on the spot--they also cost more. There are also some portable tank options.

Some fuel tank models come with an auto fill safety float internal to the tank, Overflow Protection Devices (OPD).

You must have a safe, leak free and unobstructed delivery system to the stove from the fuel storage tank to deliver the fuel from the tank to the stove safely.

This includes the 'Fuel Control System' and necessary connections. The fuel control system is an electronic device located in the galley that controls the solenoid in the fuel locker and can also be connected to a 'sensor' for detecting fuel leaks, especially for propane systems.

Another potential problem that needs to be worked out is the space and configuration in the fuel locker and the environmental storage concerns of the type of fuel you choose. Make sure to install fume detectors for the bilge (propane installations), the cabin (carbon monoxide) and the fuel locker as necessary.

Make sure the tank and all its parts fit in the locker securely, including the gauge, regulator, solenoid, and any miscellaneous fittings into this limited space. Buy only marine grade hoses and fittings to insure that the integrity of the system is not compromised by incompatible metals or use of non-marine grade materials in construction or manufacture.

Always read the manual. This seems simple, but it is strongly recommended, as stoves, grills and BBQ’s can easily become a potential hazard if not properly used, installed and stored.

ABYC standards for installation and storage are typically adhered to by all boat manufacturers. Depending on the age of your vessel and its systems, some of your systems or equipment may need to be updated as safety requirements have been altered. Make sure you are following the “guidelines” the professionals rely on if you are doing the installation yourself: ABYC

Placement of the fuel tank, air flow ventilation and electric fans, connections, controls, fume detectors and delivery system are essential so as to prevent ANY leakage of fumes into the boat or the bilge.

Some fuels like propane are heavier than air, so leakage could fill your bilge with gas fumes. A potentially dangerous situation. Proper ventilation of the fuel tank as well as the cabin, is absolutely necessary. To assure removal of carbon-monoxide fumes from the cabin area install deck ventilation and fume detectors to keep explosive fumes from becoming a safety issue.

If you plan to travel outside of the US, you may want to make sure the fuel type you have chosen is available and easy to find. It can be troublesome to fill fuel tanks in foreign ports that may have different valve threads and gas mixtures and/or bottle exchange schemes. Cost can also be a factor you want to investigate.

While most fuel sources are cheap, they all have their benefits and drawbacks. If you are traveling in the tropics, heat from the fuel itself while in the galley cooking can be an important factor. Manufacturers have made several developments over the years that provide cleaner burning, safer and more user friendly options for boaters.

Prepare a parts list if you plan on an extended cruise, enabling access to the part number when you need it. Perhaps carry replacement parts for items that require systematic maintenance or scheduled replacement (some manufacturers provide a repair kit). Are repair parts available and easy to get where you are going cruising? Find out what maintenance is required for the model of boat or marine stove you have chosen.

Bon voyage! Razz
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rocket science

Joined: 29 Jul 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:12 pm    Post subject: Solid fuel Reply with quote

Some good tips here especially for big boats with a galley. How about folks with smaller boats? I pack along a solid canister stove to heat beans, canned stew etc. and to warm up coffee. I used to take my white gas (unleaded) camp stove but it can get messy and the fire risk I din['t want take. As far as stowage goes - it dosn[t take much room compared to the heat output.

How efficient are marine natural gas stoves? (I never heard tell of them before.) But they should be about half as efficient as propane but maybe cheaper to operate. I base this on my use for home brewing where a switch to natural gas saved me money. -By the way, the "smell" in natural gas & propane are added in to help with leak protection-

Would you suggest a back up stove for a large boat on an extended trip?

Keep the dry parts up!
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:00 pm    Post subject: Extended cruising and your cooking options Reply with quote

From experience, I can tell you that only having one option for cooking can be a very bad culinary choice on an extended cruise. It can get very frigid even in the summer out on the water and nothing can liven up your cruise more than a cup of java or a hot chocolate on that late night watch.

On a delivery 80-100 miles out to sea off the Pacific Coast, the stove and oven in the cabin failed to operate. No amount of "fixing" solved the problem or made it work. After four days without a hot meal and all of the crew were anxious.

The 70 foot sailboat we were on didn't have a BBQ or grill stowed or mounted on the stanchion. There were no microwave appliances or portable stove tops. I can't imagine what it would have been like if it was a one or two week voyage. Shocked

Something so simple to use and easy to stow, can make a big difference in an emergency.
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Joined: 20 Jun 2006
Posts: 31
Location: Hansville

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:25 am    Post subject: Extended cruising and your cooking options Reply with quote


I have some questions now. I only have 15,000 NM of experience and a number of offshore and coastal deliveries to my experience (and those boats tend to have some neglect)....
These questions are mostly directed in reference to long distance cruising. I also run a company that outfits cruising boats and teaches clients.

First - Just where do you fill up the cylinder for Natural Gas? I mean, I have never seen a place in the third world or anywhere in the Pacific tropics where Natural Gas was sold - let alone filled into a cylinder. Never saw any Natural Gas marine filling in the UK either, although Natural gas is available at the stations (mostly BP) in big cities.

I would like to know what stove was on the 70 footer - was it diesel? What stove system could so utterly fail that a skilled crew on an offshore yacht could not fix it?

A propane stove is pretty simple - if you have gas and it is flowing to a burner (and that can be anything with small holes in it) then you have the ability to cook. Simple. It is also the fuel used nearly anywhere in the world - the only type of challenge is getting your American propane tank fitting to talk to a French filling fitting, and they make adapters for that.

Now having said that, a cruiser might carry a shore stove for an inland excursion (like a propane or multi fuel backpacking stove) but most long distance voyagers carry parts they need to keep what they have working - and propane stoves require very few parts. I have yet to meet an American yacht that does not have a BBQ! Those French (and most European) cruisers tend to forgo the BBQ Smile

Owner - Wahoo Adventures
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Instructor certification: ASA, ISPA, CYA
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:33 am    Post subject: Folly at Sea Reply with quote

Since the voyage referred to above was over fifteen years ago, it's hard to remember exactly the type of stove it was. It was a delivery up the Pacific Coast and the yacht was poorly outfitted. The stove wasn't the only thing we discovered that was not working properly.

Perhaps a cruiser or able Captain would have outfitted the vessel with basic suggested replacement parts or checked the status of the systems onboard before leaving the dock. Asking more questions about the voyage and the vessel before stepping onboard for deliveries was a result of this experience.

As an experienced seaman, you know that not every Captain on the water is as prepared as they should be and there is no substitute for common sense. The crew on this delivery, questioned many of the decisions made and no crew member onboard accepted another delivery under his direction. This could be another topic completely!

Natural Gas stoves for marine use are manufactured by several companies. Finding the fuel may be another concern altogether, especially in the third world, a very good reason to research the availablitlity of the fuel needed for your stove selection in areas that are on the cruising schedule.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:31 pm    Post subject: Natrual Gas Stoves and Tanks Reply with quote

Sure Marine in Seattle, Washington is a distributor for a variety of marine appliances, stoves, BBQ's, grills and heating systems. According to their staff, Natural Gas stoves and tanks are available, but only as a special order item.

Apparently, the advances that have been made over the years with propane stoves and the safety features that are now satndard in the manufacturing process have caused a steady decline in the use of Natrual Gas stoves on vessels. Although the fuel burns hotter than propane, its unavailablity in most third world countries and the difficulties in certification of the fuel storage tanks themselves have presented problems. Not to mention the cost of Natural Gas has gone up considerably.
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Joined: 20 Jun 2006
Posts: 31
Location: Hansville

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:23 am    Post subject: What is the Difference Between Propane and Natural Gas? Reply with quote

Boatwomen, I saw conflicting information above in your posts, so I thought I might offer this to clear it up...

Propane provides more energy per unit volume than does natural gas. Heat is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. Propane provides about 2500 BTUs for the same volume of natural gas that only gives 1000 BTUs. However, natural gas can be less expensive at up to one-sixth the cost of propane, depending on where you live. Utilities in colder climates might supply natural gas for less money, especially during winter months. Some rural areas don't have access to a utility company that provides gas service.

Propane is heavier than air which is heavier than natural gas. Both natural gas and propane will dissipate into the air if they are released in an open enough environment and both can pose an explosive risk if they concentrate enough and are ignited. However, because propane is heavier, it tends to fall to the ground, collect, and pose a greater explosive risk. On the other hand, because natural gas is lighter than air, it tends to rise and dissipate into the air, posing less of an explosive risk.

One difference in the physical properties of propane and natural gas is how easily they liquefy and transport. Propane turns into a liquid at —46° F (-43° C), so it's easy to compress and carry in a portable tank. You can buy compressed propane at most gas stations. It's decompressed by a valve at the source of use, such as a barbeque grill. Yet natural gas doesn't compress as easily. It usually comes to your home from a utility company along dedicated lines to power things like a central heating system, clothes dryer, and water heater.

Propane is heavier than air, provides 2500 BTU's for the same volume, easier to get, compressable
Natural Gas is lighter than air, provides 1000 BTU's for the same volume, is difficult to locate and it is more difficult to compress
Checkout WiseGeek, clear answers for common questions

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