Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Propane Lights Up Our Winter Nights

It's tough in winter to generate enough power with solar panels to run electric lights (even LEDs) for more than a short time each night. Even on a sunny day, at this time of year we only get about two hours of direct light. Our winter alternative is propane light.

We have a double chandelier in our kitchen that lights up our great room. It's not bright enough for reading, but plenty to do general tasks.

When we did our kitchen remodel, we had to move the light to make room for the new propane refrigerator. We asked our good friend John to help us out for two reasons. One, he has the proper tools, and two, he knows what he's doing. Propane is a safe energy source if it is used carefully. The primary danger is a leak, allowing propane to sink and collect in low areas, creating a fire and explosion hazard.

Propane is odourless, but an additive gives it a “rotten egg” smell to warn if there's a leak. Good thing! The new position for the chandelier was just far enough away to require an extension of copper tubing and a new fitting. A dab of liquid soap lets you know if the seal is tight. Any telltale bubbles, and you need to redo the connection.

Twist knobs make it easy to turn the propane on and off. This chandelier has two lights with separate controls. We usually light just one. Propane fixtures use mantles just like Coleman lanterns. And lighting them is very similar. Decorative glass globes protect the fragile mantles from damage and help distribute light downward.

Fortunately, the chandelier is just low enough for me to reach on my tiptoes. I start a long BBQ lighter, put the flame under the mantle, and turn the knob. Instant light! And it gives a nice warm glow to the room for as long as we want on a cold winter night. Thanks John! -- Margy


  1. Haooy New Year. I love your new lights, pretty and functional. If we do any job with gas in the UK (although we will not have gas on the boat) we have to have a registered gas fitter to get a gas standard certificate or our insurance would be null and void. As you can imagine, this ups the cost of any gas work! xxx

  2. Those are quite functional plus cozy! I like them!

  3. My dad's been building a cabin near Tonasket the last several years and is finishing a very similar setup. He's on the north slope of a hill so the solar is basically nonexistent in the winter and we mostly use the propane lights. Have a great weekend!

  4. Happy New Year Margy and Wayne.
    As you may know we have those in our cabin and in winter the heat they generate is very welcoming.


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy