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When choosing a cooking stove for either a replacement or a first time purchase, you will need to decide on fuel type and desired features. Popular marine stoves from Kenyon, Caframo, Seaward, Sigmar, Dickinson Marine, Force 10 and Plastimo are available as ovens w/ burner tops or as a cook tops only. Fuel operation options include; propane, diesel, electric and other fuels.
Fuel Choices for Marine Stoves
There are several fuel options for boat stoves: The choice is dependent on how often you use your stove, what source of power or fuel you have available and convenience / easy of use.
Many models of galley appliances and equipment are available, as well as all of the parts, accessories, fittings, mounting devices, flue caps, hoses and pipes, deck fittings and marine fuel storage tanks that go with them.
Where is your stove or grill going to “live” onboard? Will the model you have chosen fit in the space allotted? Do you have a galley or is the cooking going to be on deck from a marine BBQ mounted on a stanchion? How will you store fuel if you choose a boat stove that does not run on electricity? Most boat stoves come in a few standard configurations. Critical measurements when determining the right “fit” are the height, width and also proper depth! This last dimension is very important. If the stove is installed too far back and the stove pitches into the counter top behind the top of the stove or too far forward and it catches on the kick base, it may hinder access to, opening or use of storage bin(s) under the stove or sink. Be very careful in determining your measurements during a retrofit.
Does the manufacturer suggest the stove face the port or starboard side of your vessel in order to compensate for fuel delivery by gravity which feeds from the fuel metering valve into the burner? Will you need to install a liner with high density, heat retardant insulation, finished with a light gauge metal (preferably stainless steel)? An alternative method of insulation that can have attractive results is to use tile. Carefully read the manufacturer’s installation instructions before you cut into anything.
Do you want special features like safety shutoff devices, fume detection monitors, piezo or electronic ignition, porcelain oven interiors for easy clean up, clear windows on oven doors for viewing, custom designed systems or special mountings? Gimbaled stoves usually have a lock to prevent them from swinging when not in use while underway or when you want to cook while at the dock. Some systems have other specifications that can make a difference in performance, heat exchange/distribution and clean up.
Things to consider:
How well does the marine stove you have chosen work? How long has the company been in business? Does the manufacturer have a good reputation? How many burners do you want? Is there an oven? When you use a gas or kerosene stove you have to prime it, sometimes you also have to let it warm up - consuming fuel. The time it takes to set the stove up, to prime it if this is needed, to get it going smoothly, and whether you can turn it down to a simmer, are all things to consider when choosing a marine stove.On longer cruising trips you may need to consider how you are going to refuel. In some countries you must even consider what fuels are available.
What fuel you use will determine on how much fuel you need to carry. The energy you can get from each fuel type depends on the molecular structure of that specific fuel. They all have benefits and drawbacks. Electric , Alcohol , Propane , Solid Fuel, Kerosene, and Diesel marine stoves are available in all shapes and sizes. Manufacturers have made several developments over the years that provide cleaner burning, safer and more user friendly options for boaters.
The recommendation is that you use “cooking” fuels sold by marine stove manufacturers, like Shellite, Coleman Fuel and others. Gas or petrol stoves use a specific type of fuel that removes additives that can gum up the stove and block the jet or that contain harmful by-products like lead, benzene or other toxic or harmful byproducts. Some fuels can spill or vaporize, creating explosion hazards. Lighting a liquid fuel stove often involves a small flare-up. So always be careful filling fuel tanks, connecting lines and lighting the stove. Treat any fuel bearing hose with extreme care, and do not bend them sharply. If there is any sign of damage, replace it!
These may seem like mundane questions, but taking them into consideration while making a choice on the system best for your needs will make your boating experience more fun and your cooking experience onboard more rewarding.