Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Propane – The Ultimate Survival Fuel?

Over the years I have been asked how to properly store gasoline and diesel for emergencies. There are methods to extend the storage life, but they are not great long term storage survival fuels. Ideally we wouldn’t need fossil fuels at all, but there are instances where it’s prudent to have some on hand, and propane does store the best.

Propane can be used for cooking, heating (water and space), refrigeration, lighting, clothes drying, and electrical generation. It can even be used a transportation fuel. Electrical generators and transportation consume large amounts of propane, where the other devices use much less. It’s a clean burning fuel, emitting mostly Carbon Dioxide and water vapor. Use plenty of ventilation, and use a Carbon Monoxide and Propane leak detectors for safety.

Theoretically, propane might store forever. The tanks would rust out and the propane would leak long before the propane would go bad, so tank storage is the main concern. Keeping the bottles dry and clean are the first priority, and keeping the bottles cool <100 so the pressure release valves don't release excess pressure. Keep them outdoors, as you don't want possible leaks in the house, and since propane is heavier than air, it would pool in the lowest areas. If you live in a cold climate, propane stops flowing at around -44F, so that may be a concern. I've used a wood fired cookstove and wood stove for heating for many years, but if you don't have a sustainable source of woody material, or are not physically capable of cutting, splitting and hauling, it would be prudent to have a good supply of propane stored just in case. The difference between an emergency and an inconvenience is preparation. -


The Off Grid Generator

ef4500iseWe have had a variety of generators over the years. Like most newbies we started out with the cheap department/hardware store B&S for about $300, and when that didn’t last the winter, we upgraded. When we had fewer solar panels, we depended on the generator more, so we looked at long life diesels. We experimented with a 50 year old Detroit that was way too big for our needs (and too noisy), and needed constant attention. We had a lister for a while, but that was a assemble yourself item, and it found a deserving home at Woodhenge. for the last two years we have had a Honda EU6500, and we have been very happy with it. Now it’s time to get another, as the Honda is bigger than we need, since we are slimming down our requirements, and number in our household. Our gen of choice at this point is a trifuel (gasoline, propane, natural gas) Yamaha EF4500iSE from US Carburetion. It’s has the 30 amp 120v plug we need for the camper (the Honda maxed out at 25amps), and comes propane ready, which is important to us. low emissions, quiet, lighter weight, long life, and perfect for the mobile lifestyle we are embarking upon.


Free Bio-Methane Articles

We are offering a series of bio-methane (Gobar Gas) articles written by Al Rutan, The Methane Man. These articles are offered at no cost to anyone who asks. They cover the reason to bio-digest, the methods, and ways to use methane instead of propane or petroleum based natural gas. Go to to download your free tutorial.

Send a link to this post to all your address book buddies, twitter and facebook friends, so that they too can learn about an environmentally clean renewable fuel that can be made at home.

For those who need more, we have a 3 hour video instructional download by Al Rutan. It covers in depth methane biodigestion, and usage, for $30

Check out our Al Rutan Methane Discussion group at


Alternative Energy Discussion Groups

Where do you go to ask questions, and talk with others about renewable energy topics? We have a series of discussion groups on a variety of topics related to living off grid, solar energy, rain water harvesting, and more:

12VDC_Power – We’re here to discuss 12VDC alternative power systems for off-grid homes, whether off-grid by choice or necessity. We’ll talk about any type of generation — wind, solar, hydro or whatever. And, we’ll also discuss storage and distribution systems for 12 VDC. And, not to eliminate anyone, we’ll gladly talk about 24 and 48 volt DC systems too. Our planet is rapidly running out of fossil fuels, and the pollution from those is destroying our environment. It’s time to utilize renewable energy and that’s why our group is here.

AlRutanMethane – This is a working group dedicated to developing methane digesters. This work was started by Al Rutan, The Methane Man.

AxialFlux – This group is dedicated to the Axial Flux Permanent Magnet Alternator, as designed by Hugh Piggott, with additional development by Dan Fink and Dan Bartmann of Otherpower, Steve Spence of Green-Trust and Jim Juczak of Woodhenge. This alternator uses rotating magnets and a fixed stator with handwound 3 phase coils. This design is applicable to wind, water, engine, even human and animal power.

DIYSolar – Home of the DIY Solar Install Guide This is a support group for those who want to install their own solar power system. There is an ebook, “DIY Solar Install Guide”, found at The eBook tells how to install your own solar power system. Includes tips on siting the panels, battery maintenance, and sizing a system.

DIY_Propane_Gen – Discuss convert your gasoline generator to multifuel, propane, methane and gasoline. There is an ebook, “DIY Propane Conversion eBook”, found at

DIY_Generator – This is a working group for home built generators and battery chargers for off-grid applications. We discuss instrumentation, smart charging, inverters and battery banks, and other off-grid components. The results of this group has been distilled into an eBook.

DIYVeggieDiesel – This is a support group for those who want to convert their diesels to run on vegetable oil.

DIYElectricVehicles – Building and modifying vehicles for human power, electric assist, and solar power.

HPWD – The discussion of any type of equipment or transportation using human muscles, usually leg muscles with cranks and chains. This includes generators, mills, drills, presses, boats, planes, and land vehicles. If a human muscle powers it, it’s on topic.

LogHomeTalk – Over time we have become a small log home community, separated only by distance we have become friends. We share a common goal of wanting to live in a log home. We also share the joy and pain of reaching that goal.

RainWater – A group dedicated to harvesting rain water as our source of water for household and garden needs. Water collection, purification, and storage will be discussed. Cistern construction, water conservation, system sizing and other topics are welcomed. Photo, Diagrams, and instructional material can be found in the files and photo’s section. Members may list photo’s of their installations. Links to other helpful sites are found in the links section. Grey water recycling is most pertinent, as are any topics that promote water conservation and non-aquifer depletion water sources like distillation of dew or sea water.

Resource_Conservation – Discuss tips for conserving energy and resources, and using it more efficiently. Download the guide from the files section.

SimplyOffGrid – This is for people who want to live off grid, at the same time, want to keep it simple as possible. If you are like minded, then you are welcome to join! We are all here to help each other out and to learn from common experience and research. Please post your links and research here so we can all glean from it. Book reviews are great too! Please share your experience, links, research and any tried and true ideas with us!! We share ours!


Lightning Fried Inverter

Murphy says if anything can go wrong, it will. We were off to our daughter’s college graduation today (Champlain College, Burlington VT), and came home to no power. Batteries are fully charged, but the inverter is totally out. Thunder and lightning storm today apparently found a way in past the protectors. Being a Saturday, can’t get tech support working on a replacement till Monday. We can run from generator, but that would take a lot of fuel. We are moving food from the electric fridge to the two propane fridges, and changing our sleep cycles to match the sun. The well pump runs from battery, so we have water, but the propane tankless water heater uses electric ignition. We have moved out to the camper, which is self contained, and solar charged. Can’t wait to find out what the repair bill will be.

5-11-09 Update – Just got off the phone with Outback. $275 for overnight replacement of the three logic boards. This is an out of warranty replacement. Will update after installation.

5-13-09 Update – Replaced the boards, inverter ran for 30 seconds and died. Sending Inverter back to Outback. It should be back in a few weeks, and another $250, plus $120 for shipping. We are on DC now, and put the propane fridge back into play.

6-2-09 Update – Received the repaired unit back from Outback. Screwed it to the wall, connected the battery, generator, and ac panel connection. Threw the switch, and we are back up and running. Almost one month on DC was an education.


Making ethanol, and converting engines to run on it

There has been a high interest in the last few years in making your own fuel. This can range from converting diesels to run on used fryer oil, to making ethanol, and converting gasoline engines to run on it. We have also been converting gas engines to run on propane and methane. For information on how you can make and use your own fuels, see


DIY Generator Finished

Engine Alternator ProjectThe DIY Generator Project is finished. The engine and alternator are assembled, and ready for battery charging. Some improvements still to do:

  • 3 stage charger circuit
  • Propane / methane conversion
  • Garden cart for portability
  • Solar Panel Upgrade
  • Battery Bank / Inverter Upgrade

See more on this project and others at and kits are available at

Special thanks to:

US Carburetion

The Epicenter

Harbor Freight

Ample Power

Bogart Engineering





Free Methane / Propane Generator Conversion eBook

This week we are giving away our Methane/Propane Generator Conversion eBook to every one who buys the Methane Digester Video. Take advantage of this offer to learn how to make biodigested fuel, and how to use it to make free electricity.



DIY Propane Generator Conversion

Mounting the regulatorConvert your gasoline generator to clean burning propane. We document the steps, and it’s a easy 45 minute process. See for details


Composting Toilets, Homebuilt Generators, and more

We are working on a number of projects today. It’s -25F outside, so it’s a good day to stay indoors near the wood stoves. Even the generator wouldn’t turn over, even with the recoil start. Brought it in next to the wood stove to thaw out. The worm beds are under construction, and we ordered a inexpensive bucket toilet with lid as one of the food sources for the worms. Many folks use sawdust or peat, but we use recycled Coconut fiber. For info on how it works, read about it at

The other project is a rebuild of our propane converted B&S 10hp Generator. We smoked the coils on the alternator, and have decided to rebuild it as a DC battery Bank Charger. We bought a 108 amp GM alternator, and are belt driving it from the 10hp B&S propane powered engine. More pics to come on that project.