The nice thing about living off the grid is you can decide in what capacity or how far off the grid you really want to be. The opposite of that is other people who live off the grid all feel extremely strong about how far off the grid they live. For example, R and I do not want a generator. We moved to the woods to be IN THE WOODS, not hear and smell a generator just to run our lights, or tv (which we don’t have), or cable (which we’ll never have), or whatever. However, for some reason, we keep getting told, “you MUST have a generator, how will you LIIIIIVVEEE??!!”. Weird, we’ve lived without it so far…
Another one of those things is propane. We weren’t real thrilled with the idea of dealing with propane-run appliances as it was, but we kept being given propane-related things (like two tanks, some lines, etc.), that we figured, well, I guess if we don’t have to actually buy all this stuff, might as well go with it. The main reason we weren’t thrilled about propane in the first place? It’s just another thing you have to rely on. It’s not a renewable resource (except for this, but that’s not really an obtainable thing for our situation at the moment). It’s expensive. And as I found out yesterday, it’s dangerous.
Right now we’re 0-2 on propane cookstoves. The first one (refer here) was mouse-infested beyond help, and this week we failed on cookstove number 2. Another one of our very generous neighbors gave us their extra propane range/oven, apartment-sized, we actually WATCHED it work at their house before taking it, and it seemed like a sweet deal. So we brought it up to our place, drilled a hole in our wall, and started dealing with installing it.
For two days we messed with it and messed with it. Had to go buy new parts, a new flex line, and still could not get the freaking stove to light. So yesterday while R was at work, I decided to really try to figure it out. There’s a shut off switch on the actual stove, so I thought maybe we just had it in the wrong position, and I’m going to turn the switch and see what happens.
I go outside to open the propane tank valve, and it won’t open. So here I am with a wrench trying to open the goddamn valve, and it WON’T OPEN. I mess with it for awhile, maybe turn it a quarter inch with all my muscle, get frustrated and go do something else, go back and turn it another quarter inch maybe, get frustrated, text R, do something else, mess with it again. By this time I’m so done with this thing I decide to just give up until R gets home. An hour goes by. AN HOUR.
I’m sitting outside with Loki, reading up on our composting toilet, when all of a sudden it sounds like a jet plane is attempting to take off inside our house, and propane is spewing everywhere. I run inside, covering my nose and mouth (instant headache), trying to flip that shut off switch to no avail… and my heart is pounding and I’m freaking out thinking our house is going to blow up… so I run outside and attempt to shut the valve that I had apparently opened, which of course won’t budge. (Inside my brain, “WHAT THE FUCK WHAT IF I CAN’T TURN IT OFF WHAT IF THE HOUSE BLOWS UP WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!”).
I grab the trusty wrench and manage to get the valve unstuck and closed. For whatever reason something clicked and now the valve works just fine. Why it was apparently open but took an hour for any propane to come out of the tank is beyond my understanding. After my heart stopped pounding, I tried to figure where on the stove it was leaking from, but couldn’t find the leak and was honestly pretty tired of the whole situation. I aired out the house, kept Loki outside, and waited for R to get home. When he got home he disconnected all the parts so nothing would leak into the house anymore, and we decided we’re done. We didn’t particularly want propane anyway, and now we feel like it was for a reason.
So we decided we’re going to focus on solar instead. We’ve been looking into lots of cool solar-powered gadgets and we can get small electric appliances that will run off of our completely renewable, clean, safe, energy from the SUN. Once the woodstove is installed we can cook on that. Granted, at the moment we’re using the small camping propane tanks to cook on, but those are used outdoors and are easy enough for even us to understand.
Off the grid for us means having to rely on as little as possible. Besides the sun, you can pretty much rely on that. The day when we can’t rely on the sun, is the day we have much bigger problems.