Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

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ltlredwagon's picture
ltlredwagon
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Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

Need some input from the CM geniuses. I have a home and business in the city and a 7 acre mountain place about 100 miles away. Getting prepared. I will have a 3.7 kw solar system shortly with standby propane generator. So, if things get "bad", how do I ensure I can get back & forth between properties? Here are factors I am considering: 1. I think an electric vehicle us in my near future, with solar charging available at both homes. Currently it seems that reliable 100 mile range electric vehicles are not quite there yet, with some very expensive exceptions. 2. I cannot legally store large quantities of gas or diesel at either property. Biofuel is not something I am going to get involved with. 3. I can store very large quantities of propane at both locations. Ford sells Roush converted trucks, approved in Calif., but they only get 12-15 MPG. Still, I must have a 4x4 vehicle and I can get propane under $2.00 gal. What I would LIKE is 4x4 propane powered vehicle with better MPG. Don't know how I go about this - maybe something is available in OR, AZ, NV or some other state I could get and use it in CA? 4. Someone have better idea to ensure I don't lose mobility?

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

Hmmm... can't help you much since you're not interested in making a biofuel. You are right that 100 miles with a 4x4 is outside current EV technology -- we looked into it as well (plus it takes a pretty big solar PV system to keep them charged, or a long time, so not good for daily commuting).  Propane vehicles aren't really an option for us, as propane is neither readily available nor affordable nor easy to manufacture bio-alternative in our neck of the woods; but last I checked the mileage wasn't that great (which wouldn't be so much of a problem if you were making your own for "free" with an anaerobic digester).  Given all our conditions, brewing our own ethanol and converting all our vehicles and machinery from gasoline was the best long-term option.

Good luck in your search though.

ltlredwagon's picture
ltlredwagon
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

One other point. I've heard there are ways to become a dispenser of propane and get a much lower price. Perhaps my few neighbors in the mountains and I could do this and get our propane cost down around $1.25 a gallon. I'm looking into this. At this price, with a 15MPG propane truck and the ability to store large quantities of fuel, the abundance/security factor seems improved.

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Travlin
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

If things got so bad you had to go to your mountain place what makes you think you'd still need to go to the city to run your business?  Or that you could make the trip safely?  Or not be followed to your retreat and endanger any family you had moved there for safety?  If you haven't already considered the non-technical aspects of this situation then you should.

If I had seven acres in the mountains I think I could stash a lot of 5 gallon cans of gas were they were not likely to be see by whoever prohibits them.  No one would see me bringing them in.

Technically it sounds like you've already found the answer in propane.  If this issue is important to you then cost should not hold you back. 

ltlredwagon's picture
ltlredwagon
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

I agree, security, and criminality, are vital factors. With this post I am particularly looking at CM's Peak Oil data, e.g., "What we need to be most concerned with is the day that world petrol demand outstrips available supply. It is at that moment that the oil markets will change forever and probably quite suddenly." I am quite happy, however, to be told my approach is premature, or that I'm just going about things in the wrong way. I'm in the learning stage.

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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

I think you can get gas conversions on any petrol vehicle. They certainly do them here in the UK. During WW2, vehicles were seen driving round with a large billowing 'balloon' of coal gas on the roof. Could you maybe create Methane with a digester as someone else suggested, and convert your car to run on that?

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horstfam
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

I have a question for all those who think propane is the answer. This from Wikipedia:

"Propane is a three-carbon alkane, normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. It is derived from other petroleum products during oil or natural gas processing."

If it comes from the processing of oil, when oil disappears or skyrockets, won't propane do the same? Aren't we, yet again, just rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. Someone in the know, please advise as to, from a historical perspective, how the cost of propane has followed the cost of oil.

Many thanks, in advance.

 

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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

Propane conversions are commonplace in Canada. Costs seem to be in the neighborhood of $4,000.

In the 1980's I had a converted camper van that we always ran on cheaper propane in Canada. We had a two price system for LP, lower for carburetion propane and higher for tanks of cooking propane. In the US we always ran on gasoline since we were charged a high price for propane similar to the Canadian price for bottled propane. Since you can buy propane at US $2 a gallon it seems that the infrastructure is now much better. A quick google suggests you should start a http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/vehicles/conversions.html

Don't even think of powering electrical vehicles on solar, the Nissan LEAF is rated at about 4 miles per kwh.

 

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ltlredwagon
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

I share horstfam's interest in the relationship between peak oil & peak propane. I know neither has any long-term viability. I'm just looking at having a buffer so if things change suddenly I'm not hit so hard. And as I already have and use propane, this seemed like a practical approach. SteveW, why does 4 miles per kWh rule out solar for charging electric vehicles?

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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

One strong point favoring propane is that it has a much longer storage life than, say, gasoline or diesel. 

My concern, however, would be propane availability if, e.g., we to get into a long-term rationing situation like I hypothesized here: http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/pondering-civilian-gas-rationing-usa/43742 .

Even if you did have large quantities of propane at both locations, regular 200 mile round-trips would deplete your stock pretty quick.  And in a situation where there is a fuel disruption, you might want to preserve that propane stock for your standby generator.  

I would have suggested a hybrid vehicle or a even a motor bike, but, you said “I must have a 4x4 vehicle.”  This is really reducing your options, in my opinion.

My critique is that given the scenario you outlined, in a prolonged fuel disruption, you would ultimately have to decide to stay in one place or the other.

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SteveW
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please
horstfam wrote:

"Propane is a three-carbon alkane, normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. It is derived from other petroleum products during oil or natural gas processing."

If it comes from the processing of oil, when oil disappears or skyrockets, won't propane do the same?

I believe the large supplies of natural gas in N. America are sufficient to keep the price of propane significantly below that of gasoline (octane + heptane)  should the price of gas increase due to supply problems (depletion, closure of key shipping points). I understood the question to be about reduces fuel costs in the short to intermediate term.

You are correct that in the long run natural gas liquids will deplete just as oil will

SteveW's picture
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please
ltlredwagon wrote:

SteveW, why does 4 miles per kWh rule out solar for charging electric vehicles?

I guess I should not have been so dogmatic but its a question of cost, frequency of use and distance travelled. I understood that you seemed to be asking about regular 100 mile trips based on solar power.

If you install a 3.7 kw solar installation you will need all of the peak output for 7 hours to recharge 24 kwh batteries, depending upon the charging efficiency. I can't imagine that you plan to intall this capacity without already drawing a significant load from it (e.g. freezer, fridge) which will reduce available capacity. To add more solar for the car will increase cost. I guess whether or not your mountain place is on the grid and whether you plan to use an electric vehicle, but for casual use rather than regular 100 mile trips makes a big difference.

Maybe you might also look into a hybrid SUV since you seem to be wanting to reduce but not eliminate fossile fuel.

 

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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

I would go with Travlin's line of thinking.  If gasoline gets short then you're going to notice as you make trips back and forth that things look more spooky each trip.  At some point you're going to quit making the trip for your own safety.  Even if you've cornered the market on propane, you'll be better off staying off the road.  Your decision will be to stay and keep the business running, or head out for the sticks & forget the business.  A decision that many of us will have to face at some point if the SHTF.   It's kind of like trying to stand up with one foot in a canoe and the other foot in another canoe.  At some point a motorboat will pass by and create a wake.  Standing with one foot in each canoe becomes untenable and then you have to decide which canoe you want to be in. 

It's a matter of gauging the size of the wake and deciding if you can hang on a little longer and then a bigger boat comes by.  At some point you'll either fall in and the sharks get you, or you quit playing the game and look for a safe way out.  Unfortunately, many of us will play too long and the sharks will get us. 

 

 

 

 

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ltlredwagon
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

With solar, and mostly wood heat, my propane needs are tiny. I plan on having enough propane in storage to make at least 1 round trip per week (what I do now for the most part) for 2 years. Maybe that's an unreal "adjustment" period, but that's my current plan.

crash_watcher's picture
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

I plan on having enough propane in storage to make at least 1 round trip per week (what I do now for the most part) for 2 years

I estimate that your planning on having about 1500 G of propane and the corresponding holding tank.  Is that about right?  Why not just buy the the lightest 4x4 vehicle that you like, and then get it converted to propane? 

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Travlin
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please
ltlredwagon wrote:

With solar, and mostly wood heat, my propane needs are tiny. I plan on having enough propane in storage to make at least 1 round trip per week (what I do now for the most part) for 2 years. Maybe that's an unreal "adjustment" period, but that's my current plan.

You originally asked a specific technical question and I'm glad to see you are getting some good advice.  We don't really know about your total situation and what kind of scenarios you are planning for.  That's another subject and it's your call if you want to discuss it.  I just wanted to remind you that transportation involves more than fuel, in case you haven't already considered that.

If you are looking at a slow decline in gasoline supplies then propane sounds good.  However, a government rationing plan could be broadly applied based on vehicles regardless of type of fuel.  For example only driving limited distance or odd or even days.  You can't plan for every possibility, but it is good to consider as many as you can think of.  Even the best laid plans can come to naught. 

 

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Full Moon
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

   I should think it would be best to use what ever vehicle you are comfortable working on or overhauling  .  If you are very  mechanical and  can have any type engine working then your options are wide open .      I am taking a wild guess that you had better get one ...  and buy another   for  spare  parts .   I would get one that is large enough to haul a bike in  that can get across country .    I believe parts are going to become as hard to come by as fuel will be.  Anyway that is what we have done ... we leave one parked most of the time .     There is no way I would be caught 100 miles from home in a vehicle that could not go around a road block .    Carry  wire cutters and other tools in the vehicle also .  

  This is a true story .  My twelve year old son had to change a tire , along the road this week ,for some guy  who was totally clueless .   Oh what will we do without  AAA ?  Some people are soooo in trouble .

 FM

ltlredwagon's picture
ltlredwagon
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

Yes, about 1500 gal between the 2 places. I like the idea of finding the lightest 4x4 I can and doing the propane conversion. The easier to repair the better. By the way, I'm not against biofuels, hydrogen, etc., but I run a small private school (24/7 it seems) and my understanding is these can be rather time-consuming alternatives. But I'm not unwilling to look. The 4x4 need just relates to the location and the security of being able to get in and out at any time.

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Re: new vehicles loan

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aggrivated
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Re: Critique my vehicle fuel thinking please

One  way to make things much more secure is to set up a way to work from your remote location.  You haven't stated your type of business.  If this is not possible then consider trying to develop a small source of income that can be generated from your second location.  Then the propane, electric, whatever transport dilemna is less important.  Best.

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