Preferred Cooking Options

sarahlynn

New member
What are camper-van user experiences with various cooking options? I'm really unsure what I want to do for ours. Some options I'm thinking of are propane oven and stove top, electric stove top burners, and/or convection oven. I'm fairly open to other ideas. I'd really like to know what people have liked and disliked and why.

Any info is much appreciated!
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB, Portland OR
It would be best to make a decision regarding all energy hogs for an RV not just for cooking which is one of energy demanding appliances. If you plan to be always connected to share power than it is a simple answer – all electric.

- Space heating - LPG or diesel
- Water heating – LPG, diesel, and for low volume electric 12VDC
- Refrigerator – LPG, 12V compressor
- Cooking:
- - - Stove – LPG, Butane, Alcohol, Diesel, 12V battery bank > Inverter > 120VAC – Induction top
- - - Oven – LPG, having an oven will necessitate having LPG.
- - - Microwave - mine is 600W, Inverter and a reasonnable battery bank, be aware that Microwave advertized wattage is the output, input could be even 50% higher and it needs full sine invertor
- AC – 120VAC

Each of these options have pluses and minuses. In bold are my choices. The most common in RV business is LPG as an energy source, practically all commercially available RVs are LPG based. My choice of not going with LPG was based on:

- Compressor fridge doesn’t need to be leveled, so for a not level campsite one think less to do.
- I did not want to fill the LPG tank on my knees, remote fill is OK but I decide not to do it.
- We don’t cook inside often so less efficient alcohol/12VAC stove is good enough for us. Have very good experience with Origo from our boating times.

George.
 
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All of the people I know that live/camp out of a van prefer to cook outside and only do inside if it can't be avoided. To that end their equipment tend to be outdoor stoves that are either propane or white gas. Most use the common Coleman two burner propane stove. The others that I know that have actual campers (big box on wheels) have the standard camper equipment that use propane.
 

sprint2freedom

2008 NCV3 170ext
Here's my take: (and choices in bold)

The first decision would be Propane or No Propane?

If Propane, then cooking and water heating (possibly also space heating) would be propane as well.

If No Propane, then:

- Space heating would be diesel.
- Water heating would be diesel and/or engine coolant loop and/or electric. TBD
- Cooking would be butane/alcohol (cheap) or induction (cheap cooktop but expensive batteries/inverter/solar) or diesel (expensive, slow to respond)

In all cases, refrigerator would be 12V compressor and A/C (if present) would be 120V shore power only.

Without propane, the closest you can come to an oven is an electric toaster oven.. and without shore power that is at least as challenging and expensive to power as an induction cooktop. A dutch oven could also be a good solution for baking.


Another important consideration is whether you want your cooktop built in or removable. If it's built in, you're stuck cooking inside even on hot days, it's harder to service, replace or upgrade.
 
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GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB, Portland OR
Out of all camping stoves I had experience with my favor one is Optimus Hiker. Very high heat output with the jet like sound waking fellow campers for a morning cofee.

George.

A little older model, the famous Optimus 00, bought it a few years back and the SVEA from my bicycling camping trip, have one somewhere. Optimus, The Roar of cooking, not an ordinary propane too civilized cooking.
 

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OrioN

2008 2500 170" EXT
Out of all camping stoves I had experience with my favor one is Optimus Hiker. Very high heat output with the jet like sound waking fellow campers for a morning cofee.

George.
Were you serving danish too?





.
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder

bstory

New member
Propane for cooking outside - will need a gasketed propane locker with a hole through the bottom of the van to vent the locker in case of propane leaks - LPG sinks so that's why you do a hole in the bottom. We have one we built for a 10 lb tank, but you can easily get by on a 5 lb tank or even carry several 1lb bottles. Most people seem to use propane outside, but other fuel choices certainly possible if you don't want to carry propane. I'd say alcohol is better than white gas or Coleman fuel in terms of cooking btus.

Inside - Either one burner propane, alcohol (Origo is really good), or one burner induction cooktop unit for when you want to make something hot and it is dark or too cold or too wet outside. Induction will take significant battery capacity, but not over the top. If you cook with propane outside you are already going to be carrying propane, but you can certainly do alcohol.

You can certainly get a diesel cooktop and even one with a heater using diesel but we aren't impressed. Unless you are in a cold climate a lot of the time the diesel cooktop is fussy, there is a learning curve for cooking on it, it can smell of diesel and it is very, very expensive - think several thousand $. We know because we installed one for our son in his sailboat. If you plan to live in your van full-time and need to use it in cold weather the pros and cons might change for you on diesel.

Dutch oven for baking, stews, etc... really great, but you can certainly get a small oven if it is important to you. Check out Coleman camping oven or the variety of marine cooktop/oven combos. Most people don't.

A cast iron dutch oven can be used on propane stove, induction units, campfire or whatever you got - just not microwave.

I'd say after some sort of stove, the highest 2nd cooking item is probably a microwave. Not for us, but many people really want to have one and are willing to spend the money on higher battery capacity to run a small one. Think 1000 watts or smaller. Not a regular house microwave in most cases.

High efficiency 12 volt fridge - either with the capability to run on regular house power or not. Most people with dual voltage fridges just seem to use 12 volt all the time. Size your batteries so you can run the fridge for a couple of days if you aren't going to be driving and recharging the house batteries every day or get a solar panel or two to keep the batteries charged up. I'd say the majority are now using both the van's alternator and some solar to do this, but we got along for a year or two just charging with the van alternator via an automatic relay. We ran our Engel fridge (top opening is most efficient), lights, a water pump, our vent fan, and charged phones/laptop. I doubt if anyone is putting a new 3 way fridge in their van anymore - just too much hassle to have to level the van to keep the fridge running on propane.

Lots of good 12 volt fridges out there - just search on this forum and you will see lots of experience and recommendations.

Fridge may be the most important purchase in terms of money, space, and usage. Almost everyone who converts a Sprinter for travel/camping has a fridge but a lot of people don't cook in the van - only outside using camping equipment.

This is just based on 8 years of reading people's posts on this forum.

https://www.amazon.com/Camping-Boat...=8-13&keywords=propane+camping+stove+and+oven - (We got this for our son and his family and cooked on it together - works great.)

https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Trit...r=8-4&keywords=coleman+2+burner+propane+stove

https://www.amazon.com/Camp-Chef-Ca...r=8-1&keywords=propane+camping+stove+and+oven

https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-2000...r=8-2&keywords=1+burner+coleman+propane+stove

https://www.westmarine.com/buy/mari...mnbFNbGbrYvWEQd-xptclvL5_h3RYjbDD4aAmgq8P8HAQ

https://www.westmarine.com/buy/orig...iaUE_7AY6k11v8mHJPr98cEZk40glPbfMwaAmXX8P8HAQ
 

D Mann

New member
We do not like to cook inside the van, we found that odors and the inevitable smoke and splatters really make a mess. We carry a Coleman two burner propane stove and a small propane grill for all our cooking we do have a small microwave in the van for reheating leftovers or pre cooked food.
 

OrioN

2008 2500 170" EXT
tomorrow is pi day
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mikeme

2015 LTV IB: 2015 3500 V6
A nice day for irrational posts which, no matter how detailed, somehow miss the exact point.



(this relates to the diversion, not the main cooking subject, which has valuable contributions.)
 

tgregg

Member
What are camper-van user experiences with various cooking options?
Wallas / Webasto diesel cooktop. Wonderful cooking experience.

Espar D2 diesel furnace. Much quieter and more comfortable than typical Suburban propane furnace.

Isotherm hot water heater connected to engine cooling system. Free hot water while we drive that stays hot for 24 - 36 hours with 120 volt option with shore power

Dometic 12 volt compressor refrigeration. Extra insulation reduces run time to 3 - 5 hours per day at 3.5 amps.
 

mtbkers

Member
We use a Jetboil for fast cooking and also a single burner Origo marine stove that takes denatured alcohol. My favorite fuel/time saving cooking aid is the GSI camp pressure cooker coupled with the Origo. For us, the benefit of two stoves is that one person can be making coffee inside the van and the other cooking stinky stuff outside.
 
Last edited:

d_bertko

New member
We're big believers in cooking outside anytime its feasible. And we never go on a trip without our BabyQ propane grill---the essence of outdoor cooking IMHO.
 
It makes a difference if you are camping in warm or cold climates. We camp mainly in warm places, the Baja in the winter and Vancouver Island in the summer. We installed a two burner propane stove in a cabinet on the passenger side but found we vary rarely use it, too much smoke and grease inside. We do most of our cooking outside with a one burner propane stove. The best solution if your ok with propane is a two burner stove like an Everest Camp Chef which can be used inside or out.
 

marky

Member
We use propane for cooking, using a 2-burner stove with oven. The stoves made for the marine industry are much better than those made for the RV industry. Force Ten is an excellent stove and comes in a variety of sizes. It has an infrared broiler in the top of the oven that is really powerful. We bake pies, cookies, cakes, and souffle. Our electric is very simple 12V only for lighting, refrigerator, exhaust fan, and an Espar diesel heater. We do have a 120V outlet but its only powered when we are home in the winter for a small heater. We have two 6V Lifeline AGM batteries under passengers seat. There is a 500 amp marine on-off rotary switch between the starter battery and the house batteries. The switch is on the side of the passenger seat pedestal and can be seen and operate from the driver's seat. We connect the batteries only when the engine is on. We have used this simple system for five years and about 30,000 miles. We have never had the voltage of the batteries go too low. Keep it simple.

Here is a link to the stove
http://www.force10.com/
 

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