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Old 08-30-2019, 10:36 AM   #1
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Alcohol Stove

We are selling our sailboat which has an alcohol stove and planning to purchase a trawler. Most of the trawlers we see have electric stoves yet some have propane. We spend most of our cruising time on the hook when we stop and I dont like to crank the genset just to boil a pot of water for coffee or pasta. I like using the alcohol stove rather than propane because of the flammable risks of propane but I dont see them on any other boats.
I know everyone has their own opinion on this and I would like some pros and cons on the matter or perhaps there are issues I am not aware of with electric or LP.
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Old 08-30-2019, 10:44 AM   #2
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We added an Origo (Dometic) alcohol stove to our trawler and we love it for exactly the reasons you listed. Like you, we came from sailboats where I first came across one. After that, we removed the propane system out of our next boat and installed the Origo. Then when we bought the trawler we did the same. Personally I don't like having large amounts of propane on a boat. Electric stoves are fine but they require shore power or the genny.
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Old 08-30-2019, 10:54 AM   #3
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Well, until you have tried cruising in a trawler with a genset, don't knock starting one up for 5 minutes to boil that pot of water. Starting a genset and letting it stabilize for a minute before adding power is all you have to do. Same thing, cut the load and let it cool down for a minute before stopping it.

But usually we let the genset run for 30 minutes or greater after the coffee to recharge the batteries. Same again at night to heat up the hot water tank for showers.

I would submit that the risks of propane are about as good/bad as the risks of alcohol. Alcohol burns with an almost invisible flame which can result in accidentally lighting a towel or something.

So look for the trawler that suits you. I suspect that you will come to rely on a genset if you have one not only for boiling that pot of water but for charging batteries, heating the hot water tank, or whatever.

I have owned both a trawler with a propane stove and a trawler with an electric stove and a genset. I much prefer the electric stove and genset. My first sailboat had an alcohol stove and that would be my last choice.

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Old 08-30-2019, 11:03 AM   #4
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I had alcohol stoves in a couple sailboats, found them safe, but agonizingly slow. My current trawler has the Wallas Swedish diesel stove and oven. I'm very pleased with their performance and would buy them again.
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Old 08-30-2019, 11:06 AM   #5
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We also come from a sailboat/alcohol life. A properly installed propane system is safe and much more convenient. Hoses need to be in good condition, an electric solenoid with a sniffer, tank placed where it won't fill cabin with gas if hose breaks, etc. all very basic safety items that any trawler would have. I would not go back to alcohol.

I do have a keurig for my morning coffee injection and genny is used for that.
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Old 08-30-2019, 11:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dread Pirate Robert View Post
We are selling our sailboat which has an alcohol stove and planning to purchase a trawler. Most of the trawlers we see have electric stoves yet some have propane. We spend most of our cruising time on the hook when we stop and I dont like to crank the genset just to boil a pot of water for coffee or pasta. I like using the alcohol stove rather than propane because of the flammable risks of propane but I dont see them on any other boats.

We had alcohol once; found it to be useless.

With a genset, we can heat water, charge batteries, do major (electric) cooking all at once... so we generally do that twice/day. No down side, for us.

There's another option for quick boiled water for pasta, coffee, popcorn, TV, etc.: inverter with convection/microwave oven and maybe a small induction hob if necessary.

-Chris
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Old 08-30-2019, 12:04 PM   #7
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+1 on the induction hob. I replaced a two element electric cook top on our last boat with a same sized induction top. Would boil water three times faster. Worked fine with the genset too. Don’t know how a MSW inverter would work though. Sine wave should be fine.


Here is a link to what I bought, <$300 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


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Old 08-30-2019, 12:14 PM   #8
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My galley is all electric and no inverter to power it. Personally, I don't mind cranking up the genset to power the stove, microwave, etc. when away from shore power as the times when I want to do this are usually close to times where I'll want hot water for washing dishes or showering, so it lets the hot water re-heat while I'm in the galley, then it's ready to go afterwards.

I do tend to plan for cold lunches when away from the dock though, so genset runs are usually just morning and evening unless I have a need for it at another time or we get crazy hot weather where I want to run the A/C for a bit during the day while out.
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Old 08-30-2019, 01:02 PM   #9
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I have never had an accident with propane. I was on a boat with an alcohol stove that had a potentially disastrous flare up. I would not buy an alcohol stove. If you have an electric galley get a one burner butane stove for on the hook, so that the first person up can quietly make coffee without waking everyone else.
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Old 08-30-2019, 01:23 PM   #10
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I had an alcohol stove in an old Chris. SOOOO slow, very stinky getting it lit.Actually made my eyes burn. Love my properly installed propane stove. I have an old percolating coffee maker I use with the propane when I want some quiet time. otherwise if the genny is running or at a marina I use the drip through coffee maker. I also have a single burner butane stove that I occasionally take ashore at marinas to make sauce or pasta while the steaks are burning on the grill.

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Old 08-30-2019, 01:27 PM   #11
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I have never had an accident with propane. I was on a boat with an alcohol stove that had a potentially disastrous flare up. I would not buy an alcohol stove. If you have an electric galley get a one burner butane stove for on the hook, so that the first person up can quietly make coffee without waking everyone else.
Was this flare up on an old pressurized alcohol stove? If so that is a very different system.

The origo alcohol stoves are very simple and reliable but are pretty limited in function. They don't provide much heat, and the heat they provide cannot be even across a large or even medium size pan. They also require refilling pretty frequently (every third or other meal in my experience). They are suitable for occasional use but would be frustrating to live with on a daily basis. They are extremely easy to install but pricey for what they are (glorified Sterno cans). They will boil a pot of water, given enough time and are pleasant to use on a quiet morning, in that perfect secluded anchorage, as your freshly loaded French press awaits the hot water for your coffee. (then of course you step outside to find the anchorage filled up while you were sleeping, 3 pocket express cruisers surround you running swim platform mounted generators and the first wave of jetskis are pulling into the cove).
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Old 08-30-2019, 01:29 PM   #12
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I have never had an accident with propane. I was on a boat with an alcohol stove that had a potentially disastrous flare up. I would not buy an alcohol stove. If you have an electric galley get a one burner butane stove for on the hook, so that the first person up can quietly make coffee without waking everyone else.
Most people do not ever have an accident with propane. But when there is an accident it is usually spectacular. I donít have an issue with starting up the genset occasionally to do some cooking. As mentioned the batteries get charged and water gets heated at the same time.
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Old 08-30-2019, 01:30 PM   #13
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I have used both pressurized and non-pressurized alcohol stoves. Regardless, they both involve pouring alcohol.
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Old 08-30-2019, 01:33 PM   #14
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Prior to propane, many boats had compressed natural gas which offers the performance of propane while being lighter than air and not collecting in your bilge in the event of a leak, unfortunately getting a compressed natural gas bottle filled within walking distance to any marina is virtually impossible so the best systems became irrelevant and converted to propane.
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Old 08-30-2019, 02:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dread Pirate Robert View Post
We are selling our sailboat which has an alcohol stove and planning to purchase a trawler. Most of the trawlers we see have electric stoves yet some have propane. We spend most of our cruising time on the hook when we stop and I dont like to crank the genset just to boil a pot of water for coffee or pasta. I like using the alcohol stove rather than propane because of the flammable risks of propane but I dont see them on any other boats.
I know everyone has their own opinion on this and I would like some pros and cons on the matter or perhaps there are issues I am not aware of with electric or LP.
I have personally observed two sailboats with alcohol galley stoves burn to the waterline.
Alcohol has been the source of ignition for many boat fires, due to the invisible nature of the flame.
Propane systems, when properly installed and used, are about as safe as electric, without the noise. Propane also cooks at a hotter temperature, so is somewhat more efficient.
Here is SW BC, propane is popular for both sail and power boats, with refills available almost everywhere.
Fires are more often caused by failed shore power connections than by choice of fuel.
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Old 08-30-2019, 03:06 PM   #16
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We use an Origo single burner alcohol stove. Ours is the stand alone so it can be moved about and put right out of the way.
I won't argue about all the points above as they are valid.

However, if you want an Origo, they are good little units.

I do NOT use hardware store alcohol. What used to be known as Pressure Fuel has become impossible to find, at least here. I now use denatured alcohol or what used to be labelled as 2D alcohol . It burns cleaner, hotter than the typical hardware alcohol and odourless unless the cabin is shut tight and it runs a long time.

I also NEVER refuel inside the boat. At the very least I refuel the tank on the swim grid if at anchor or on the dock when tied up.
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Old 08-30-2019, 03:19 PM   #17
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Alcohol as a stove fuel generally sucks which is why it has quickly disappeared from the boating scene. In the 70's I leased a Tanzer 26 sailboat from a buddy and I can still remember the complaints I got making a breakfast for four people. They thought I was a slow poke, but I said no - its the alcohol stove.

Just about every RV you have passed on the road until recently all had propane stoves, and propane fridges, loved the propane fridges. Most RV's still have propane but there is a movement over to electric as many are never used beyound an RV park with hook ups. Same as in boating, a movement to electric with the realization most boats dont anchor out.

If you use propane then you should have a gas sniffer installed low down and you are good to go.
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Old 08-30-2019, 04:02 PM   #18
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I have a 2 burner non-pressurised alcohol stove and I find it works well for most cooking, but I also use a single burner butane stove when a hotter flame is required or when cooking a 3 pot meal.

I'd probably prefer propane or diesel, but electric would be the my last choice. Since I don't need a generator for A/C or battery charging, it's hardly worth installing a generator just for a stove.
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Old 08-30-2019, 04:20 PM   #19
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Mine was pressurized. A real pain..

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Old 08-30-2019, 05:04 PM   #20
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ied Sterno cans). They will boil a pot of water, given enough time and are pleasant to use on a quiet morning, in that perfect secluded anchorage, as your freshly loaded French press awaits the hot water for your coffee. (then of course you step outside to find the anchorage filled up while you were sleeping, 3 pocket express cruisers surround you running swim platform mounted generators and the first wave of jetskis are pulling into the cove).
There goes the neighborhood.
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