Advice for an affordable diesel and/or bioethanol stove that can be used daily in my van

Discussion in 'Stove Forum' started by stove-user27854, Sep 16, 2023.

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  1. stove-user27854 United Kingdom

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    I had been using a trangia for over a month but only outside. I now want to be able to have the comfort of cooking inside.

    I somehow prefer the simplicity of using a liquid fuel stove over a gas canister. I am not sure why but it feels a lot simpler to get fuel for these than getting tanks. Pricewise what would it turn out to of gas vs petrol/diesel/bioethanol? I think I would still be inclined to use the latter liquid fuels just because I think they are much more abundant to buy.

    Until recently I had not found one that seems relatively safe to use inside for a good price. There are some boating diesel stoves that go for like £1000+ and the dometic origo 3000 which runs at like £400. The latter still seems way overpriced for what it is. It looks very simplistic for that high price tag.

    I did some more research and recently came across the coleman line of products, late to the party I know but it is all new to me. The coleman 2 burner unleaded camping stove looks like it might be suitable for what I am after but want to check with you experienced stovers if it does indeed sound right for my use case.

    I would be using every day inside a small van (ford transit connect). Will it be relatively safe with correct ventilation?

    Also will it burn diesel too as I like the idea of a single fuel setup for everything. However as I have thought about this it really is a moot point because even if using diesel I would still store it separately in my van meaning another container than the main fuel tank. As such it makes no difference really if I were to have a diesel can or a petrol can as both would be supplied at the same fill up station so filling the tank with diesel and some petrol for the burner is a non issue.

    Will this stove also happily burn bioethanol? That is what I had been using in my trangia outside. Also another question is - would it be bad for the health using petrol or diesel long term every day vs bioethanol. I guess they are much dirtier so the answer would be yes? That is why they are planning to ban diesel in a few years I suppose? As such I would be better using bioethanol on any regular basis?

    Another drawback I have been reading with these stoves is they get clogged and require cleaning and replacing parts. Cleaning I would not have a problem with if it is easy enough to do. The replacement parts I am wondering if this will be a problem though in terms of sourcing the parts as my cursory research is finding these stoves seem to be quite scarce and so there might be little market for replacement parts.

    So please answer those questions and overall give any information on the suitability of this for my use case or recommend another which may take liquid fuel and be used in a similar safe range to gas. The main concern with liquid fuels inside people say is the possibility of spillage and it igniting however this coleman seems that the fuel tank is sealed (unlike a trangia) so woudnt that make it about as safe as gas so long as you make sure to only fill up outside?
     
  2. Marc

    Marc Subscriber

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    Propane would be a lot simpler than liquid fuels. Get an adapter and run one of the large bottles, and you won't have to refuel for months, even in daily usage.

    The Coleman stove will run unleaded petrol, but will clog more often. For the cost of the stove and a spare generator, it might be worth trying and seeing how you get on. It will unhappily run diesel with huge amounts of external preheating and low tank pressure, much drama, hassle, and smell, and I can only assume it will clog far more often. Not recommended at all, unless in dire circumstances. No clue on bioethanol.

    In a camper van, I'd look very hard at a separate large leisure battery, charging from the vehicle alternator via proper converter, large inverter, and induction hob. In a camper van, you might already have most of these items.
     
  3. Blackdog

    Blackdog United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Naptha (Coleman fuel, Panel Wipe, Aspen 4T, Holt's brake cleaner) isn't exactly clean burning, and meths stoves usually give out quite a bit of CO2. Look after yourself and rig up a proper extractor rather than just open windows if you can, it will help keep the damp down too.
     
  4. stove-user27854 United Kingdom

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    Thanks for the replies

    Simpler in what way? I said I dont mind upkeep from time to time if it is not like a weekly thing. Every few months fine. With living full time in my van I have accepted that a lot of things will take more work than living in a house and am fine with that. I still think it is simpler to refuel with petrol as it is much more available than gas bottles. I know a lot of camper van people use gas but still have no idea where to get it in the uk but I am sure it will be less available than petrol and moving around in the van I wont know where everything is but it is easy to find petrol stations wherever.

    Yes electric I am interested in but maybe down the line. Will be a lot more research to do to work that out and large initial outlay. In the meantime I have to cook every day.

    £200 is not really cheap for that stove for just a whimsical test however even if I used electric I guess it is a good thing to have as a backup but since I am in a tiny van (transit connect as mentioned) space is very limited so cannot be having bulky items which are rarely getting used.

    What about bioethanol though, that is billed as clean burning and will this stove run it? I do plan to install active ventilation with an inlet and outlet fan. I already drilled a hole in the floor and have a flettner in the ceiling, floor as I was going for stealth and dont want windows cracked all the time escpecially at night, but this is providing limited effect so far. Even without cooking condensation is still a large problem so I will be looking to get active ventilation on the go to make full use of those existing holes.

    CO2 is harmless isnt it so long as you dont get too much of it? I know you can die but I mean the risk is acute isnt it rather than being a carcinogen which was more my concern with petrol and the like.
     
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  5. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    The CO is more the worry vent-wise than CO2.

    Most toxins are harmless if you don’t get “too much “!
     
  6. Blackdog

    Blackdog United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Sorry my mistake, I meant CO.

    Bioethanol is identical, and similarly priced, to meths in the uk- ethanol plus bitterant so it connot be consumed. It does produced a fair bit of CO in most stoves, which can have cumulative effects on the body. Remember any camping type stove is designed for outdoor use, so very good extraction is going to be needed in a small van to avoid short term effects, let alone long ones.

    Bioethanol is also an incredibly expensive way of cooking, it has slightly lower energy density than other liquid fuels. But then so is naptha (Coleman fuel/panel wipe/Aspen 4T etc) and even paraffin if you buy it prepacked.

    But if you are not doing much cooking, maybe it's not much of an issue.
     
  7. stove-user27854 United Kingdom

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    Well I would be cooking every day.

    So what would you recommend to cook with then for my use case? Gas would be most economical? It is about weighing up the pros and cons though eh. Convenience of getting the fuel vs health risks vs cost.

    So is CO the only main concern with any fuel type be it petrol/diesel or even gas? If so then that just makes it a moot issue as to which to choose and thus I would want to choose based on other factors mentioned above. Or I am missing something?
     
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  8. Scrambler

    Scrambler Australia Subscriber

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    Given ventilation is limited (with the stealth camping design), you want a clean burn, which is sadly difficult to achieve with any form of combustion stove. A stove with a fixed flu would probably be the only safe option for CO. Short of that you want a CO meter, good ventilation (which you have got planned) and a longer flame-to-pot distance than most stoves.

    As for fuel, the desire to have a single fuel sits well with me, but unfortunately the options are poor in general and particularly poor in the stealth vehicle camping space.

    I wouldn't even consider petrol/panelwipe as an option: not in an enclosed space I was sleeping in. The volatile fuel is a problem both as a potential explosive gas and as a neurotoxin.

    My advice is that rather than trying for a single motor fuel you are better to use paraffin, which can be burned in a diesel motor if required. This lets you have a low-fume spare tank of fuel that has dual use. Trying the other direction leads to a limited range of stoves and higher risk of incomplete combustion with your in-vehicle use.

    With a diesel tow vehicle, a camper with up to 240l of fuel storage, and a very large country all at my disposal I wished for a diesel stove (though outdoor use was available to me). I have not found a reasonable option even for my easier situation. Which led to the paraffin suggestion above.
     
  9. stove-user27854 United Kingdom

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    Thanks for the comment. The CO would be the same issue even with gas (butane/propane) too then? If so then I can just go by the usual vanlifer recommendations since a large portion of vanlifers have cooked for years in their vans with gas without issue. It is just I wondered if the petrol or bioethanol had any particular toxicity concerns, outside of the obvious avoidance of spillage.
     
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  10. Scrambler

    Scrambler Australia Subscriber

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    Petrol does have concerns as above. I have met people with permanent brain injury from inhaling it. How much is that an issue? As there is nothing to be gained for you, why run the risk?

    As above, bioethanol is meths. Period. Sustainably produced but just meths when you are burning it. Poisonous if you drink enough, particularly so if you actually have methanol in it (in Oz we don't).

    I don't know what vanlifers recommend. As none will have lived in "stealth" spaces over many years I'm not sure whether their options are ideal. Older vehicles (I think of the 1960s Land Rover camper I previously owned) were well ventilated whether you wanted that or not.

    Read through posts here on carbon monoxide production and the "quenching" which can lead to CO from any flame. Some may be unavoidable but whether a lot or a little is made does depend on stove design.
     
  11. stove-user27854 United Kingdom

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    So to clarify are you saying not to cook indoors with ANY type of stove or just petrol or bioethanol/general liquid fuels?
     
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  12. stove-user27854 United Kingdom

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    I have no electronic capabilities yet bar the basic cigarette lighter output.

    I plan to get something to charge a phone and a low power computer - thinking something like a raspberry pi with eink to reduce consumption. I just want basic connection to the net for research like this and such. I have been told a small portable solar panel might do the trick here but of course if I wanted induction cooking, which was also an interest to me, I would have to look for a more powerful setup.

    In the meantime though I wanna be cooking. I guess, from the comments, I might just go with gas setup that 99% of vanlifers use just to get me up and running.
     
  13. snwcmpr

    snwcmpr SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Any use of flame, including a lantern, is advised to have "adequate" ventilation.
     
  14. Blackdog

    Blackdog United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    You can cook in a vehicle with any liquid fuels with appropriate ventilation. Many people use gas stoves inside with either a proper ventilation system (As in purpose built camper conforming to regulations) or opening a window (non-campers and DIY conversions).

    Liquid fuels will really need some sort of extractor to remove fumes. Even gas needs ideally needs the same to keep condensation down, and a lot of studies about domestic gas cookers are starting suggest they're not healthy either.

    Most likely you haven't got a good answer is because there isn't an ideal stove for your setup- there are multi-fuel camping stoves out there, but they're not ideal in a very small van, and as you've found, the purpose built marine or diesel versions are expensive.

    If I was in your situation, for now, I'd ensure plenty of ventilation, rig up some sort of extractor fan above where I intended to cook, and use a vintage meths stove like the Turm types, with a reasonable sized tank and fine control of the flame, would be a much more practical daily cooking option than a Trangia.

    Or go for something running on the smallest refillable gas cylinder I could find which would work out a lot cheaper than disposable cartridges. Alternatively, a vintage meths stove like the Turm types, with a reasonable sized tank and fine control of the flame, would be a much more practical daily cooking option than a Trangia.
     
  15. stove-user27854 United Kingdom

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    Useful info thanks. My mother has this old school stove that looks similar to what you showed there. I think it might be from 1950s or even before as it is passed down from my grandfather I believe and she said it ran on petrol but we couldnt get it to work when we tried. This seems the ideal forum to troubleshoot now I have found it so maybe I can post it up sometime. It had a little needle which you adjusted where the petrol was supposed to come out but we couldnt figure out what was wrong as there seemed to be no life at all.

    Another idea I just had based on a suggestion on another post elsewhere where someone mentioned a portable generator is how about one of those to use an induction cooker. But I suppose with that again you are back to the issue of requiring the generator to be outside thus compromising stealth.

    How about, as someone above alluded to, a leisure battery and induction? I imagine it will be tricky to get setup so round to square one again looking for a quick and likely dirty solution.
     
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  16. gieorgijewski

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    Small pour vented spaces with "soft clothes" are not designed for real cooking.
    Especjally car in winter.
    But tea coffe and heating ready made food could be.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    above - mean
    smell of cooking left inside
    air humidity increases - drastic in winter
    above not depends on fuel type
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    best choice is compromise

    any safe gassie inside with detachable cylinder
    and any You like safe system for outside

    my proposition - my multitask sets
    [​IMG]
    idea any gassie with storm cook sets
    or and
    [​IMG]
    gassie - autofuel BRS 12
    BRS 8A by APG
    when alc burner allways could be the option
     
  17. Blackdog

    Blackdog United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Go ahead, you'll find plenty of good advice here. You might find it's ideal for now until you sort out something better...

    A portable generator (and associated fuel can) in a Transit Connect would take up a lot of room you'll find essential for other stuff. You could probably fit a big leisure battery (or two) plus an inverter in the same space. Running the engine while cooking, if needed, would be a lot more subtle than a genny outside...
     
  18. gieorgijewski

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    generator idea is far from comfort meaning...

    2 KW - 40 minutes - for potatoes - only
     
  19. Marc

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    You've conveniently trimmed the part of my response off where I explained exactly why propane would be simpler:

    I'm not in your country, not familiar with what fuels are available there. I do know the canal boat folks frequently use gas for cooking, and have no trouble getting gas. I admit that I'm not sure if it's propane or butane that they use, but clearly there's an option available.(I remember red tanks, and looking at the Calor gas site, that seems to be the standard for propane, while butane is blue tanks. Propane it is, then.)

    One of my favorite narrowboat folks happens to have also built his own camper van. He pulled his propane tank, heater, and hob out specifically to switch to a battery and induction hob setup. He only charges with solar, as his van is only occasional use and he doesn't care if the small solar panel takes a week to recharge the battery between uses, but a charge converter to charge from the van electrical system without frying anything would be easy to add. He went with a lifepo4 battery, which is ideal, but lead acid would work too and cost less, as well as the battery isolator for lead acid costing less than a lifepo4 charge controller. Here's one of his videos:



    There are ways to do this for a lot less $$$, but the odds of goofing up your vehicle go up tremendously. Skip all that though, buy one of these and start cooking, then you can worry about other things.

    https://www.halfords.com/camping/cooking-equipment/halfords-portable-gas-stove-532534.html
     
  20. Blackdog

    Blackdog United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Nah, don't do that, performance will drop to almost nothing with the butane in a couple of months as temperatures drop. You'd be better to carry on with the Trangia.

    Ahh narrowboat video blog people I presume... exactly what life isn't like on the UK canals! Yes most narrowboats are kitted out for propane, although some hireboats used in summer only use butane. Despite mandatory 4-year tests of gas systems, a good number of boats go up every year. Heavier than air gas collecting in the bottom of a floating steel box... first thing we did was yank out the gas pipes and revert to paraffin stoves!

    Anyway, small, refillable (on exchange basis) cylinders of propane and butane are available from many petrol stations, caravan/camping shops, etc, I'm sure Calor have details of where stockists can be found. And Campingaz, Flo-gas, et al... As mentioned, that would be the ideal...

    The induction hob is a good longer term option, but you'll need a good inverter too. A good inverter is expensive (£300-500), and won't last forever.
     
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