I hear a lot of questions about using stoves indoors. Like, is it safe to use a propane stove in my cabin? Or, can I use a propane grill in my RV?
The answer is always – Yes. But with a few caveats.
You have to be very aware of how to use propane stoves safely when using them indoors, and in small spaces in particular.
There is no room for error. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the US, and cabin fires due to cooking indoors happen more than you’d think.
With this in mind, here is everything you need to know about how to use propane stoves and grills indoors safely:
3 Safety Concerns When Using a Propane Stove Indoors
When using propane indoors there are three main things I always recommend people look out for to be as safe as possible. These are:
1. Look for a (UL) Underwriters Laboratories Certification
Underwriters Laboratories is an organization that puts products through some rigorous testing procedures to ensure it’s as safe as it can be. It’s seen as the gold standard when it comes to product safety, so you should always look for their logo on products like stoves that can be potentially dangerous.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a stone carrying the UL certification. Billions of products enter the marketplace every year with the UL certification.
They themselves summarize their objective as, “A not-for-profit organization dedicated to public safety.” Pretty important when you’re going to be using a propane stove in an enclosed space, I’d look for that logo before proceeding.
2. Be Aware of the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that can’t be detected by smell and you can’t see it. It’s responsible for almost 25% of fatalities related to the use of propane (source), so it’s something you need to be aware of.
Basically, carbon monoxide is produced when the combustion of propane is incomplete. You need fuel, air, and ignition to burn propane, and the ideal ratio of the three means it will burn complete and release as little carbon monoxide as possible.
If any of these elements are out of ratio, however, you will be releasing carbon monoxide into the air you’re breathing while you’re burning the propane.
How Much Carbon Monoxide Is Your Propane Stove Releasing?
Well, every stove will release carbon monoxide. Some stoves more than others, due to the quality of the stove, age, how well it’s been maintained, and so on. This is why you should only use a stove that’s been certified by the (UL) – see #1 above for more details on that.
For the most part, your stove shouldn’t be releasing dangerous amounts of CO if it’s in good condition. But you still need to aerate the area and be aware of the risks.
It’s worth testing it from time to time using a CO meter to be on the safe side. As well as having a CO detector in your home, cabin, or wherever you’re using the stove.
3. Keep Smoke to a Minimum and Increase Airflow
If you’re using a stove indoors your experience is going to be much more enjoyable if you keep the smoke to a minimum and have the room well ventilated.
Regarding keep smoke to a minimum, a nice clean stove and being careful not to burn your food are the obvious points here. Just remember to open a window or use an extractor fan if you have one and you’re good to go.
Why Do People Use Propane Stoves Indoors?
What is the reason why you want to use a propane stove in your cabin? Here are some of the most common reasons why people have to/want to use propane stoves to cook indoors (which applies to you, if any?):
They’re Living Off-The-Grid (OTG)
Living off-the-grid is becoming more popular all the time as lots of people find they enjoy being detached from municipal power grids and enjoy growing their own food.
Whether this is a deliberate action, or your cabin just happens to not be attached to a public power grid. If you don’t have electricity coming into your cabin portable propane is a great alternative.
Camping stoves are designed to be used outdoors with little more than a few items in your backpack and the elements around you. So, using one indoors without the support of any other utilities is easy.
It’s Less Expensive Than an Electric Stove or Oven
Electric ovens use a lot of power. They range from 1,000 to 5,000 watts and usually operate around the 2,500-watt range on medium to high settings.
Not only does this mean they cost more from a dollar standpoint than a propane stove when side-to-side cooking the same things. This is a huge demand for portable or small generators which is why gas is much more popular for outdoors and remote locations like cabins.
Camping stoves are so convenient, I’ve never heard a compelling argument not to bring one when camping outdoors. They do what they should do very well – they cook most food you’ll want to cook.
While being really small, easy to operate, fast, and portable. Like I’ve been discussing in this article, the only real downside is the safety risks of using them indoors. But you’re going to be fully aware of those after reading this article, aren’t you?
Cooking with Propane Is Faster Than Electric
Shortly after you fire up a propane stove you’re operating at the temperature you desire. While electric stoves take a while to warm up and get to the same temp as a propane model.
You also have a higher degree of control over the operating temperature. I find propane so much more enjoyable to cook with, not just because it’s faster to get going, but I like being able to change the temp faster.
I hope I’ve helped you better understand how to safely use a propane stove indoors. Whether it’s in a remote cabin in the woods, in your RV parked up somewhere, or even in your home.
As long as you have safety first in mind, it’s perfectly safe to do so.
Here are some FAQ’s around the topic that might help answer any additional questions you have on the subject:
Can You Use a Propane Fire Pit Indoors?
I’ve seen some of the propane fire pits that have been designed to use indoors. But I have to say that it’s more of a home-decor fad than it is something practical.
I don’t recommend using a fire pit in your cabin, home, or indoors at all. It’s just not really necessary when a smaller propane stove should get the job done. Having large open flames on a fire pit opens up a whole host of potential hazards.
They do look cool though. I can’t deny that.
Can You Use a Propane over to Heat a House?
It never stops amazing me how often I hear about people using ovens to warm their houses on those chilly nights when they have no other form of heating.
It’s a bad idea though. Honestly. Especially using a propane oven to try and warm your home.
You should never run a propane stove for a long period of time. Neither should you leave them unattended. Both of which you’re going to do if you’re using them as a heat source.
I covered the health risks of CO poisoning above, it’s no joke. There is a serious risk of CO poisoning from misusing a propane stove indoors.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Just to drill home the message about CO poisoning and raise some extra awareness. The symptoms of CO poisoning are typically:
Loss of Consciousness
As you can see from the above symptoms, the reason why CO is so deadly is that if you have a leak in your home you’re not aware of, the symptoms worsen and you become less able to do something about it.
Should I Install a Co Detector?
Yes, if you are going to use propane or gas in your home you absolutely should have a CO detector. It’s as important as a smoke detector in my opinion, and just as likely to save your life.
As a general rule, always buy a UL approved detector, install it around 15 feet from your stove, and follow the instructions for your specific model.