Monday, August 19, 2013

Propane for the Range

We recently installed the new propane range in the kitchen, so it was time to make something permanent to house the propane bottles. But first I'd like to comment on two things. 

#1- Our choice for a range was either electric or propane. Hawaii doesn't have natural gas, at least not yet. Electric was totally out of the question because we are on solar. Electric ranges are big energy hogs, so there was no way we'd even consider it. 
#2- Going with delivered propane is expensive. The cost per gallon is higher than if you pick it up yourself. Plus there's the installation fee and monthly tank rental. Having your own portable bottles filled is easy here. I pass two filling stations 5 days a week, so it's convenient. 

When we first moved here, we purchased fairly large portable bottles, about 20 gallons. But here we sit 10 years later and find those large tanks to be too heavy for us when filled. So we've replaced them with small 5 gallon bottles. Over the years we've scaled back our use of propane, so dealing with small bottles is just fine. They are light enough for us to handle easily and they last for several months of use. 

Finished box, just needs paint on the lattice in order to blend in. 
We wanted to store the propane bottles outside, keep them dry, plus have easy access to them. Hubby suggested that we build a box for them, so we started scheming. What we settled on is overkill for the need, but we're both happy with it. We built a small concrete slab, imbedding lava rocks into the surface for a pleasing effect. Left over lumber made the frame, which ended up looking like a table. We covered that with plastic lattice so that the bottles were out of view but the box was very well ventilated. 

Close up view of the top. 

Next, the box needed a rainproof lid. Hubby would have been happy with plywood I suspect, but we ended up agreeing to a bench top. It's made out of some redwood and cedar that we had. I think it turned out really nice. 

Bottom of the lid showing the metal roofing to keep the rain out. 
Of course, an open work bench top is hardly rainproof! So a piece of metal roofing was cut to size and screwed onto the underside of the bench top. The lid fits nicely to the top of the box. It's heavy enough not to blow off. We opted not to attach it with hinges, so that it would be easier to access the bottles. The two wood slats on the bottom of the lid slid into the lip of the box, keeping the lid from sliding around. 

Looking down into the box. 

The box holds two propane bottles comfortably. There's enough room to easily work with the bottles, disconnecting and connecting. 

The propane switching valve. 

The two bottles connect directly to an automatic switching valve. When one bottle goes empty, the other bottle automatically takes over. That way you don't run out of propane in the middle of making dinner or baking a cake. Right under the black cap on top of the valve you can see a green band. When it tuns red, you know that bottle #1 is empty. Time to flip the lever, then take off the empty tank and have it refilled. This valve is a nifty little convenience.

One more step to do and the box is complete. I need to get some paint that adheres to plastic and paint the lattice. Then I can paint over it with another color, so that the box blends in with the rest of  the house.


  1. Did you all use a moving company in Hawaii? Im moving there but i dont know where to look for a good company.

    1. What island will you be moving to? When I moved here I used Mayflower for the trans-continental move (I don't recommend them, at least not the crew from the city from where I moved...I had a lot of breakage and damage. They ended up having to pay for damages and replacements and the amount was almost as much as I paid them originally!)

      After the shipment gets to Honolulu it is then barged to whatever island you move to and then a local company takes over to deliver it to the final destination.

    2. Lance, we did not use a moving company. In fact, we seriously decluttered before moving, so we only took what would fit into our horse trailer. We drove the 100% stuffed trailer across country from NJ to California, delivering it to Matson. Truck and trailer was shipped to Hilo and arrived about 10 days after we got here, much quicker then predicted. We had to drop everything and run to Hilo to retrieve them.

      It was crazy those first few weeks, but we survived. In fact, it was crazy the first year!

    3. Lance, if you happen to catch up on these comments, I'd highly recommend using PODS for moving your household. Get their 16 foot size, if you will be moving tools, some furniture, and da kine. It is very secure, very reasonable rates, and best of all, if you pack it all yourself, securing items and padding valuable/breakable stuff, filling it from back to front, from floor to ceiling. You supply the padlock, you keep the key, and the PODS folks secure a heavy ziplock tag to ensure that nobody gets in. They have this "Podzilla" container mover that lifts the container vertically, no dragging or tilting, and that's what they do on the other end to deliver it, returning when you want to take the empty away. I moved such mundane stuff as canned soups and veg's bulk cartons, books, paintings, tools, all kind things that cost arms and legs in the islands. The whole lot got there on time and perfectly intact. An earlier experience with the usual United or Mayflower types was unspeakably horrible, with whole cartons of stuff being ruined or just vanished, and the hassle of reimbursement was exasperating. If you think you will be staying permanently in the islands (maybe rent a place for a while to see if you are dead certain about that first!), you can get everything to your new home all at once. Yes, I was certain I'd stay, but things changed - and I left nothing behind when I left. I packed two PODS totally full (lotta stuff by then), and it all came to my new home, safe and sound. The autos didn't fare so well, sadly, but just take a beater, because it will be soon be one even if you bring a brand-new car. Su Ba and her husband did a lot of adjusting and adapting, quite successfully, (nui congratulations on that, you guys!), but read through her earlier posts to get a better grasp. Wow, I'm running waaay long, so I'll stop here. One word: PODS. It is the "mil-spec" way.

  2. Su Ba, we also use propane and have a larger tank...not sure of the size at the moment (I think it holds around 23-25 gl), but even with all my cooking and baking, a tank will last us about a year or so for about $70 worth. Sure beats paying Helco about that much a month!

    1. Propane is a much better deal than electric for cooking, I agree!