Posted on Leave a comment

I ran out of Propane

Dave Klish

I was getting started heating my next batch to pack some Amber syrup. As I was washing equipment the temperature of the hot water from the tankless (instant) water heater dropped. I immediately went to check the gauge on the bulk propane tank, it was at zero. Normally I never let it get below 30% in cold weather and 20% in summer, but I was trying to empty the tank because I’m in the process of switching suppliers. It just happened at a time when I have to wait until after the Labor Day holiday. The tank actually ran empty at a rather good time because the barrel of syrup in the finisher will be fine for a few days because I got the finisher cleaned before the propane ran out. I will call the old supplier and have them pick up their tank(s) and have the new supplier place their tank and fill it. Hopefully they can do it Tuesday or Wednesday. If it will take longer than that I do have a second bulk tank that is almost full which I could unhook from what it’s hooked to, carry it with a lifting sling using the tractor and set it up on the sugarhouse. That tank is from the old supplier and it will also be leaving and the new supplier will then set both up.

The reason I’m changing is two fold, first the price coupled with the fact that I keep telling the old supplier not to fill the tank unless I order it (I keep a close eye on the propane gauge except this time because of changing suppliers). They said ok, but still filled it at times when I didn’t want that large bill to pay. The second reason is simply that the new supplier I chose will only deliver when I order and I get their best price if I pay COD, the old supplier insisted on billing and didn’t offer a savings even if I was at the sugarhouse when they filled the tank and had my checkbook with me. I don’t normally carry my checkbook unless I plan on making a purchase and with them showing up unannounced I likely never had it with me.

My propane uses at the sugarhouse include the finisher which has four 6′ long tube burners, a wall furnace to heat 1 small room where my reverse osmosis (RO) is kept, it must be protected from freezing and my tankless instant water heater. Before I bought my water jacketed (WJ) bottler, which is electric, I also used to have a propane bottler. That was hard to maintain the exact temperature and thus made it difficult to always get the syrup to finish perfectly, the WJ bottler holds the temperature exactly where the thermostat is set +/- 1 degree F. The propane bottler used to be heated to about 190 F and turned off, then while busy bottling I had to keep an eye on the thermometer, when the temperature fell to 182 F I had to stop bottling, light the burner and if there was 4+ gal of syrup remaining in the tank (it held about 18 gal when full) I could bottle while it heated and watch the gauge after each new bottle or jug was filled, then turn the burner off as it go to 190. If there was less syrup in the tank I had to wait and watch while it heated because it could heat fast enough to get above 190 easily if not monitored closely. The WJ bottler removes that problem, and besides, when heating with a large burner (similar to a gas grill burner the heat could easily get too hot directly over the flame before the thermostat showed it was hot enough, with the WJ bottler, there is an outer tank full of water and a 240V electric 4500 watt element which heats the water. The syrup is in the inner tank, heated only by the hot water in the outer tank, thus no direct flame to cause issues. Besides, I have enough solar that I make more energy than I consume except for the months with the shortest days. The other months my excess power is credited to my home bill at a different location. I think my total electric bill for what I used above what the solar generated has not totaled $100 if I add all years since Nov 2012 when my solar was connected.

Leave a Reply