These two systems took a lot of calculation but ended up not as complex as I thought. With the gas system, I went for the smallest 3L Gaslow bottle. The company sells refillable LPG bottles that can be filled at any petrol station that provides LPG. At around 60p per litre, LPG can save you a significant amount of money over long term compared to butane or propane. A quick look at prices for Calor propane bottle now shows 4.42/litre for a similar sized bottle – more than 7 times the price.
Not only is the running cost vastly cheaper, the bottle can be left alone and refilled like you’re filling petrol into your vehicle’s fuel tank. No heavy lifting, exchanging bottles, tightening regulator etc. You can purchase adapters that will allow you to access all LPG stations throughout Europe too. They do come at a hefty price tag – £300 for the 3L model, but you’ll easily make it back within a few years.
The burner is a NJ 7.6kw double burner that’s rather bulky for my liking but I wanted a decent amount of heat for stir fries. Nothing worse than soggy vegetables. I’m glad I did splash out on this as it only takes less than 2 minutes for a mug of water brought to a boil. One of the things I wasn’t quite sure about was whether the bigger heat output of my burner will deplete the small gas cylinder too quickly, but over the course of the year I’ve figured out that with daily morning coffee and dinners cooked, washing up and evening tea, a full bottle of 3 litres will last me a month and a half. If I’m only making a cup or two of coffee a day, it can last upwards of 3 months.
Despite being warned against using a complex motor pressurised system, I couldn’t resist the temptation of it. I bought the parts, I wired the switches, fuses, food grade hose and it was working beautifully – for awhile. I began to notice that the switch, which you push with your wet hands to turn off, would get soaked. Then it began to randomly switch on and off without me touching it. I once came back from work to find the motor running. Lucky I didn’t have much left in the bottle so it didn’t flood the van but the motor eventually died after two months of use and I think it must have burned spinning while I was out.
You might be able to do a better job of it. Many people do. But this really reminded me of a lesson I was taught by my permaculture teacher that more complex the system, the more things that could go wrong. I now use 3 x 2L BPA free gym bottles which are incredibly versatile, lightweight, can be filled up anywhere, easy to clean and doesn’t malfunction.
The sink was another waste of money and time. I spent so long looking for the right sized sink with the correct dimensions and spent a good amount of money, only to discover that I mostly do my washing up in the pots that I’ve cooked in, and if there’s a lot, I use the grey plastic bowl in the picture above and chuck the grey water outside (I use ecover). It makes so much more sense to do it this way, than to run the water into a grey water tank that you have to empty and clean – both bulky jobs. Now the sink is acting as a magnet for mess, accumulating debris and miscellaneous items.
So some success, a lot of mistakes but overall nothing drastic that requires a massive reconfiguration.