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Norcal
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm sure this has been discussed before so can anyone point me toward a good thread that talks about the best appliances to furnish a cabin running on a propane generator. Things like refrigeration, dehumidifier, microwave, etc..
Thanks.
 

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Survivor
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I'm thinking the generator would make more of a difference than the appliances. A good, properly sized, inverter generator should be able to handle any appliance.
 

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reluctant sinner
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With a good generator it will make no difference if the AC comes from your genny or the grid.

I would look for energy star ratings as a start. More efficient stuff will be cheaper to run.

The most expensive power you will ever buy is the stuff you generate.

I lived on generator power for weeks at a time 24/7 as radio guy in the army - very expensive.

I would look at having a battery bank and perhaps an inverter so I could limit the hours per day using the generator.

A propane refrigerator/freezer could work. I had a Servel for years - about 3 weeks on a BBQ tank of propane. Could make ice.

I use a propane cooktop. I can cook for myself almost a year on a BBQ tank - even with the X who could only cook on full blast we never used 4 tanks a year.

LED lighting - I added some off road spot/work LED lights to my cabin. Good for 9-30 VDC. I can power them with my HAM radio battery bank used for my 2 M radios. I also have a power supply that runs on AC from the grid.

Don't ever let the generator run out of fuel with your load connected - stuff can fry in the power surges.

If you need space heating/water consider capturing the heat off the exhaust and perhaps the engine - 2/3 of your fuel $ are wasted as heat.
 

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reluctant sinner
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Double pipe heat exchanger, or a shell and tube unit. Run a fluid threw one pipe and the exhaust gases threw the other. The fluid could be water/antifreeze or a heat transfer oil. The fluid is circulated with a small pump or by natural convection between the heat exchanger and a insulated holding tank. The same pump could also push the fluid from the holding tank to a radiator in the cabin.

I have a Subaru radiator with the electric fan. I have several 55 gallon barrels. I am considering buying this generator and making the detachable heat exchanger for it.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00T7VT450/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

I'm thinking a gallon of gas a day would run my house - the problem is my electric bill is less than the price of a gallon of gas.

I really want to design and build a small waste engine oil fueled mutifueler engine that is liquid cooled and runs a alternator/generator.

I could wrap the muffler on my X core of engineers generator with copper tubing. Its a 2 kW unit that runs at 1800 rpm. It weighs like 300# and is 1 gallon of gas every 6 to 8 hours - very quiet. No electric start.

 

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Midwest Born
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Thanks for the explanation. I was actually able to follow it. I do appreciate everyone who takes time to explain things on the board.
 

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This may not be helpful, but I hate running my generator(it is the quiet inverter type), I don't like the noise of it, I don't like the smell of it, I don't like maintaining it and every hour I run it is one hour closer to needing to repair or replace it.

I have a small "shack" that has many of the comforts of home. I originally used the generator to power things in it. Now I have a car battery to power the lights, a water pump for the sink and radio(I am thinking of getting a tv tuner for a tablet or smart phone so I can watch over the air tv as well) I have a three way fridge and two burner stove that run on propane and a wood stove for heat.

A single car battery that is no longer fit to start my van in the winter will power the lights and radio for about 50 hours before I bring it home to charge it. I think it could go much longer than that though. If I had a small solar panel I wouldn't have to ever charge the battery at home. I no longer use the shack in the summer so I don't know how long a tank of lp would power the fridge and stove.

About the only time I use the generator is to power a skill saw or to power a large movie projector when we do outside movies.
 

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The mistake lots of people make is to use appliances that are designed more for full-time use in a house than for a few weeks a year in a cabin. If you don't need the capacity, stick with a compact fridge like a dorm fridge that has a small compressor and only draws a few amps. Some folks will buy a big old fridge at a yard sale or from the want ads and put it into a cabin, which isn't a good idea unless you need to keep ten cases of beer cold and twenty pounds of steak frozen.
The smaller the loads you need to supply the smaller the generator needs to be, which translates to less fuel burn and less noise.
Consider furnishing a cabin as an exercise in efficiency. Instead of bringing light bulbs from your house, buy the smallest LED bulbs that you can use and stock some spares. Consider using lanterns most of the time instead of electric lights. Cook with propane or wet fuel instead of electricity. If you only open your fridge as little as possible you can probably get away with running your generator less than an hour or two a day.
The main advantage of inverter generators is that if you need to run them for hours or days at a time they are more efficient and quieter because they can throttle down to match the load, whereas non-inverter systems usually have to run at 3600 rpm to provide 60hz power, so they are noisier and less efficient over long running periods, but are generally cheaper and more reliable, especially if you only have to run them for short periods of time.
If you plan on running a television or other sustained loads for hours at a time for some reason the inverter systems are usually more suitable. Otherwise it's probably wiser to stick with a non-inverter model that is usually more rugged and easier to repair.
 

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Well they do make propane fired refridgerators. I have never seen a cabin with a microwave or dehumidifier.

A propane stove and lights can pret much get rid of 90* of what people need power for on a daily basis.

Now if you cabin is just a house in the woods i dont have any thing else for you. Lol
 

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The mistake lots of people make is to use appliances that are designed more for full-time use in a house than for a few weeks a year in a cabin.
What randolphrowzeebragg says is absolutely true.

If you can afford it, I think it makes sense to buy an AC/DC refrigerator made specifically for off-grid use. These use less power than AC refrigerators made by mainstream manufacturers like GE, LG, etc. When you're powering the frige with a generator, it would operate in AC mode. If you eventually decide to install a solar-electric system, you could run the fridge in DC mode.

In my off-grid house, I have the DC-only version of the fridge shown at the link below, but the fridge comes in an AC/DC version too:

https://sundanzer.com/product/dcr165-dcf165/

I power it with my solar-electric system. It just sips electricity, and it works very well.

A mini-fridge/dorm fridge is a possibility, but I'm pretty sure most of them use lots more electricity than the fridge I have. Read the specs.

Of course, you could buy a propane-fueled fridge. I chose not to do that because I want my house to rely on as little input from outside sources as possible.

And, a propane-fueled tankless water heater is a good choice (some models use very little electricity). If you can afford it.

For cooking, propane is a good choice. Be sure you get a propance range or cooktop that DOES NOT need electricity at all. Many if not most of the ones from mainstream manufacturers do require electricity to function, but there are some available that do not. See http://uniqueoffgrid.com.

Then there are kerosene stoves and fridges. From a fuel-storage standpoint, these are a great idea because kerosene has a very long shelf life (many years). But dealing with the kerosene can be kind of inconvenient and messy.
 

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Good ideas...and, if I may add my 2 cents worth - first do what you can to reduce or eliminate the need for the electricity. Convert you lights to dc whatever, get rid of your clothes dryer, buy a small, single function washing machine, etc Remember to insulate your house if not done, or upgrade it, to reduce your need for fuel of any kind to keep it warm. You can also buy a small chest freezer and change the thermostat to one that will set at 3 or 4 degrees centigrade....you don't mention solar energy in here. Is this to supplement solar? or are you not even considering solar in the picture?
 
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