Electric or Propane,
What should I use?


Jack Yates

If you want to compare these two sources of energy for your RV regarding refrigeration, heating and hot water usage, there is a formula that can be used. You must remember however that the efficiency of the hot air heater will vary from RV to RV as will the efficiency of the refrigerator and hot water heater. I mention this for the benefit of those people who would say that the values reached by using this formula are not perfect.

Having stated my disclaimer please notice the difference between using electric vs. propane in, most cases. 

Do you hook up and run everything including your house heater on electric?
Do you run everything on propane?
Do you run some things on electric and some on propane?
Do you run your hot water heater full time using electric or propane?

Let's solve the first issue.

There are 26.85 kilowatt hours of electric energy in one gallon of propane.
To simplify this illustration let's say your campground charges you $ .10 per kilowatt hour for your electric usage and $1 per gallon for propane.
Most people are misled because a unit of propane in this instance cost 10 times more than a kilowatt unit of electric. 
But work out the formula.
You pay 26.85 x $ .10per kWh = $2.685 for the same amount of energy that is in $1 of propane.
Work this out using your cost of electric and propane.

You say you don't care and can't be bothered saving energy or maybe you are just too lazy to figure it out - STOP READING THIS NOW and go back to your easy chair. The electric company needs you. (The CEO's will love you).

 For those of you who like to save the bucks for better living rather than throw them away to the electric or gas company, here are several ideas: Use propane where you can when you are being charged for electric. If you are not being charged for electric then use electric in place of propane. Turn off your hot water heater after you are done using it. The heater will last longer and you will save some bucks. Most RV's only have a 6 to10 gallon water heater and it heats up quickly. The refrigerator should be operated on propane except when the electric is included with your rent.  Keep your frige full. A full refrigerator uses less energy. If you have the room, get a propane Catalytic Space Heater (the one with the blanket). They use no electric and are more efficient. These are the only vent-less heaters approved for use in California.

Here is a system to use. Before going to bed turn off all those little things that steal electric as you sleep. Pull the plugs if you have to. In most cases TV's, VCR's, Stereos, Microwaves, power strips, etc. steal electric all night long even though they are turned off. In the morning, first one up turns on the hot water heater.  By the time the coffee is done and you have had your breakfast the shower water is hot. Folks you are only heating up 10 gallons of water. After you are finished with the hot water morning or evening, turn off the heater.  Turn on appliances as you need them. 

Have you checked your electric meter lately? Here is a meter check you can do.  Remove your power cord, wait a minute or two and check to see if the wheel that usually turns when you use electric is turning. You have to watch closely. Even the slowest movement means your meter is malfunctioning. How do I know this is possible. It happened to me at a SKP Park in Yuma. Since I had stayed there in prior years with the same electric rate, a higher than normal rate made me do some checking. After doing the above meter check I could see the wheel was moving very slowly. After a replacement meter was installed my electric bill returned to normal. 


Electric=$.10272 (cents)

Now use the formula--26.85 X $.10272=$2.76
you pay $2.76 electric per $2.50 for propane for the same energy.

Some parks have a wider cost margin and electric wins out.




  Clubhouse | Electric vs. Propane


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