Thursday, May 13, 2010

Using LPG gas tanks to power Stoves

In Honduras people do not have natural gas that is piped into the house like in the US.  Here we have stoves that are LPG or propane gas.  We connect them to a tank that is filled by either Tropigas or Ecogas and then the gas stove is used to cook on.  Almost all homes use this type of cooking unless they live in the mountains and then they usually use a wood burning stove that is made out of clay or adobe.  Most homes do not use electric stoves for a few reasons including that they do not get to an adequate heat to cook tortillas properly and the food tastes different(no it really isn't in their head it is different) and electricity is very expensive in Honduras.  I use air conditioning which is clearly a luxury and last month my electric bill was L2133.43 which is about $113.  I know the people in the states are thinking that this doesn't sound expensive, but try paying that kind of an electric bill when the person is earning minimum wage in Honduras which is L5500 (I make more so I can obviously afford more). As I just pointed out 5500 is minimum wage, that is about $291. 

Today an LPG tank exploded in a restaurant and injured several people.  These tanks are clearly dangerous to have and people have been killed or injured when these tanks explode.  I am guilty as charged of having such a stove myself.  The US is fortunate to have a large enough natural gas supply that these tanks are not needed, but steps need to be taken to make either electricity affordable for these countries where income is so low or to make these tanks safer. 

One thing we are looking at is making our home partially solar and our main focus being on water being heated and air conditioning.  If this project comes to fructation I will speak amply about it here or if someone that reads this has had any success with any electric saving projects let me know here and I will be glad to listen.


beckyc said...

I've just recently been reading the Sowers family blog showing where they have just installed solar panels on their home in western Honduras.

Johnny said...

Lots of people in the US have LP tanks. The liquid LP in an LP tank expands a lot when heated. If you overfill a tank and leave it in the hot Honduran sun, I suppose the liquid in the tank would push out all the gas and the tank would explode. Current US law requires that tanks have a pressure release.

If you want to feel safe, have your LP tank away from the house and in a cool place with no sun.

Lots of Mexicans (I think) use solar heat. At least they have a barrel sized tank painted black on the roof. If you have the money for air conditioning, then you are going to want real hot water, not lukewarm. The general method is to have a solar pre-heater followed by a hot water heater. The bigger farmers where I live pre-heat the water in a water heater that uses milk from the cows. Next comes the regular hot water heater, usually electric.

If you are going to stay with a gas range, you might consider an LP hot water heater. LP tanks are perfectly safe if properly operated.

Personally, I think a gas burner is a lot better than electric. If the food tastes better, it is probably because you have better control. I seldom use the gas oven, and I would prefer electric.


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