Monday, February 25 2008
At our house we use liquid petroleum gas for precisely one thing: powering the kitchen range. Gretchen bakes and cooks much more than average, but we don't use more than 30 gallons of the fuel each year, and for this our LP providers have penalized us. Our old provider was Colonial Gas, eventually a subsidiary of Paraco, and we were using so little gas that they decided to start charging us a tank rental of $100/year. So we switched to KOSCO, but now they're gouging us with prices of $6/gallon for a commodity that should be selling for $1.87/gallon. Calling around this morning, I discovered that it's impossible to get LPG delivered for anything less than $4/gallon. So Gretchen investigated what it would cost to pick up our own tanks of propane from a gas station and found the prices to be much cheaper. Since our rate of consumption would necessitate the swapping of tanks only once every nine months, handling it all ourselves wouldn't even be particularly inconvenient.
The inconvenient thing was figuring out the technical details of the change. Is a tank of propane the functional equivalent of liquid petroleum gas? Or is it something altogether different? The literature that came with our gas-burning oven was inconclusive, and I found no definitive answers on the internet, although at times it seemed the term "LP" was being used to refer to both liquid petroleum gas and liquid propane.
I went into town today to poke around in hardware stores to see what equipment might be needed to create a do-it-yourself connection to a propane tank and in so doing I gradually became aware of things called "regulators" used to limit the pressure of the gas produced from a tank. Not really knowing even what questions to ask, I made the mistake of asking some guy in the appliance section of Lowes about what would be needed to hook up a conventional kitchen range to a propane tank and he told me it was impossible. But I could tell by looking at his face that, despite a superficial layer of conviction, he didn't really know.
Back at the house I pored over the literature provided with the kitchen range. I even pulled the range out from the wall and discovered a hidden envelope containing even more detailed technical information. The information was useful, but it lacked any sort of overview or a definition of terms. Was LPG the functional equivalent of liquid propane? The literature said the range could be converted to use various different fuels, but which had it been configured for? And where were the little replacement burner orifices it had come with?
All this researching and digging for answers didn't seem to be getting me anywhere. It used to be that you'd look something up on the web and find a page where someone broke an arcane field down for you and you'd have a foundation of knowledge to build upon. Today, though, all I could find were ecommerce outfits trying to sell stuff without giving much in the way of technical information and messageboards where non-experts wrote about issues of interest to me without adding any useful information. The few pages I found written by experts assumed I knew things that I'd been unable to learn.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next