Introduction: Portable Off Grid Oven & Stove
Often in our emergency preparedness plans we initially think about power generation - myself included. (Multi Fuel Generator, Charcoal Powered Generator, Easy Generator to Home Hook Up). We often say that we don't want our food to spoil. We don't give much though into how we we are going to cook the food we are saving when the lights are off. My weber gas grill is cool - but I'm not going to percolate coffee on there. I have a backpacker's ultra lite stove - but that won't help much with my family of four.
Electric stoves and ovens are power hungry and would zap most if not all of the power from your generator. Unless you have a power inlet box, you can't even plug your electric stove into your generator.
Gas lines from municipal utilities often get turned off during times of natural disasters. Additionally home gas ovens won't operate without electricity to run the safety shut off valve. So no grid power means no oven.
We have a flat top wood stove which we cook on during the winter - but I can't imagine firing that beast up in the middle of the summer heat.
This winter my wife told me she wanted to start making soap again and that basically involved cooking lye. I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of hot lye in the kitchen around small children. We also do a good amount of canning. The heat in the house makes it a very unpleasant experience and it reminds me of why older homes had "summer kitchens".
I decided I wanted to make an outdoor cook top with several gas burners and a no electric required oven for pies, breads, casseroles and pizza. It needed to be small enough to store in my shop, easy to use and portable so I can take it tailgating or camping.
Step 1: Source the Stove
I was scouring my local you pull it auto salvage yard when I ran across this camper. It looks like it was from 50 Shades of Shag. It was well used and stripped of many automotive parts - but the camper specific parts were still there. AC Unit, generator, stove, furnace, water heater, power inverter and propane setup.
The stove at just over 20 wide x 18 deep x 21 tall was perfect. It has a two position rack in the oven and no electoral connections what so ever - it is completely mechanical. For $50 it was mine. Honestly I probably over paid because I've seen them cheaper after I bought this one.
I've seen junk campers sell for $200. One could easily salvage the stove and scrap the rest for a nice profit. It seems when people are done with junk RV's they just want them gone. Additionally I've seen plenty of RV stoves for sale on Craig's List. I'm sure a little digging around and you can easily find one.
To remove lift the stove top just above the knobs, remove and set to the side. Loosen the gas line but don't beat it up - we will need to keep a long piece of it. Remove the 4 screws that secure it to the cabinet. Pick up the stove and remove it form the cabinet avoiding banging up the copper gas line.
Cut the gas line as far away from the back of the stove as you can. We will reuse this line.
Other parts you need:
Copper flare Union,
Double male flare union
Stain or sealer
Propane line with low pressure regulator valve.
Step 2: Cut Wood Sides and Bottom
Finish carpenter I am not - but I had good help.
3 sides of the stove have a slight lip so it can sit in the cabinet box. I used some scrap plywood I've had laying around for 6 years. The stove in the camper had a storage bin under it - and looking under the stove you find some sort of vents. So to be safe I wanted to put a storage cubby under it.
My board was already 26 inches deep so I only had to cut it to length. Using a large straight edge and a circular saw I cut three mostly straight pieces. The left, right and rear. I did a quick test fit and amazingly it fit snug.
With the oven still sitting in the box marked the bottom panel with a pencil. Removed the stove from the box, set the box aside and cut the bottom board. Attach the bottom board to the the cabinet.
I used 1.5 inch screws I had laying around.
Step 3: Add Feet
I had some old couch feet collecting dust in the shop. I wanted the base board to be off the ground, table, deck etc. These can also be purchased at home improvement stores for about $2.
I also wanted to be able to elevation squares under the stove at a later time.
Using 2x4 scrap pieces as a guide I screwed the feet to the bottom. This allows me to build elevating blocks out of 2x4's, 2x6's, 2x8's or 2x12's - and the stove will be secured in place by the feet.
Step 4: Secure to Cabinet
Once the feet are finished flip the cabinet over and put the stove back in.
Secure the stove to the cabinet with screws - one in each corner.
Step 5: Add Handles
Add handles for easy transport. These were $2 each at a major home store in the hardware section.
Step 6: Attach Propane Line
Drill an access hole for the gas line.
Put the salvaged line back through the access hole and attach to the burner fuel rail.
Measure cut and flare the copper line so that it sticks out the backof your cabinet.
Step 7: Propane Tank Setup
I have a long propane line and a low pressure regulator around that I use with my multi fuel generator. It also fits this setup with a double male 3/8 flare union.
You will need a low pressure regulator and a piece of flexible propane line. These are easily salved off of a gas grill that is being thrown away. Home improvement and camper stores also stock these items for a relatively low cost.
I like the long line because it gets the gas away from the open flame. It also allows me to utilize the 100 gallons of propane I have stored on site that is attached to my home gas logs.
Step 8: Done!
Thats it. We are done. It works really well. This build for me was done with mostly scrap parts.
I've got plenty of space for 3 different pots (or 2 pots and one coffee percolator - lets be honest) on the stove, a roasting pan in the oven and storage on the bottom.
I'll apply some stain, mineral oil or beeswax as soon as I can decide on which I wan to do. I might add some sort of a wind screen if it proves to be an issue. As of now I have not needed it.
Now I'm ready for fall tailgating, summer storms and lots of canning.