A question for Californians with electric stoves/ranges

This is another version of my question from last year (?) about cooking in a disaster scenario, but now the scenario I have in mind is much more frequently occurring. I’m currently shopping for a new (to me) gas range, or oven, whatever you call those things that have burners on top and an oven underneath. I love having a gas stove, but I know that they will be being phased out in the next few years. Here in California and probably in some other parts of the West, it’s pretty common now during fire season for the electricity to be turned off to prevent fires. This is also exactly the time when we are supposed to avoid generating sparks outside, so it’s not safe to cook on the porch with your camping stove. 

This has been occurring so frequently lately that it’s hardly even a disaster scenario. I’m usually unaffected by this problem because I can always light my gas range manually. (Plus I like the control a gas range gives me much more than electric). But if we are all going to be using electric ranges soon, how are we supposed to cook during fire season electrical outages? Many of you no doubt already face this problem. Would you share how you’ve dealt with it?


  • Comments (12)

    • 4

      I love cooking on gas so much more than electric as well. Try cooking pancakes on a gas stove and tell me you can’t see a difference. 

      What do you mean by they are trying to phase out gas stoves and you all are going to be using electric ranges soon? Is this a California law or act they are passing or is it just becoming harder to find a gas stove?

      • 3

        There is a big move in California to become more environmentally sustainable and that includes phasing out the use of natural gas. I should know more about the actual legislation and proposals, but I don’t, actually.

    • 5

      I wouldn’t give up on a propane camping stove and think it’s still the only real option.  A single burner hot plate or electric kettle will pull about 1500W, which would require one of the larger Yeti power stations and deplete it quickly.  Both at the same time or two burners would exceed their max output.  I looked at the CA Burn Ban rules and it’s mostly about open flames.  All of the bigger propane stoves I’ve encountered are contained.  I would of course suggest using it on an non-flammable surface with a few feet around it.  We are currently without our gas range and are using a two burner propane camp stove on the porch (concrete) and I have no concerns.  Between that and our propane grill we can cook just about anything.

      I don’t take the gas appliance bans very seriously for the near future.  I also don’t l live in the bay area which seems to be where these are popping up.  I think it will be the thing to do in a decade or so if/when our power is primarily renewable, we have lots more batteries, and the grid is more reliable.  For now though I think more electric appliances will mean more gas burned at plants miles away and then sent here through an inefficient and unreliable grid (though I admit I haven’t and can’t do the math to prove it).  There are many other code changes that could be made to move to a lower-carbon future, but they are boring, technical, and don’t grab headlines.

      • 6

        I think you should have a backup propane camp stove like AT says here. Jonnie, you have a Yeti 3000X, which is more than enough to power a hot plate or microwave, but you should reserve that for other things (i think you had some medical equipment) unless you had some panels to recharge it. So get a propane camp stove and a few gallons of gas to power it if possible.

        Solar oven is another alternative option. No fuel there.

    • 3

      Disclaimer: I am in California and have a gas stove, wall oven, hot water heater, fireplace and fire pit.  I have yet to be power cycled to mitigate fire risks.  No test data here 🙂 

      I prepare for both electricity and gas outages most likely triggered by earthquakes = shelter in place or camping in the backyard.  I have a propane grill with a side burner with two 20lb canisters stored below (propane has no expiration date unlike some other fuels).  It is on cement and next to a stucco retaining wall and doesn’t emit embers – fire risk is mitigated.  This is what I would use if my house were electric only and I didn’t have some way of powering the stove (reversing an electric vehicle or tapping a battery bank).  I have used the grill as an extra oven for a large holiday event and I must say the side burner hasn’t been used besides testing that it lights.  Backups:  I also have camping stoves that use butane canisters, alcohol or white gas.  Actually, one can even be set to use gasoline. 

      • 1

        I cooked up some burgers on my butane stove last night. It heated the cast iron pan so quickly. It brings me a lot of comfort that I have that as a possible backup cooking source

      • 3

        Actual experience during a 48 hour grid shutdown last year.  Used camping stove just fine -i have propane, iso-butane canisters and alcohol stoves which emit zero sparks.  We cooked minimally, mostly the all important morning cup of coffee .  Used solar panels and power banks to keep lights and cell phones powered up.

        i am sure this gear will come in handy after our next big earthquake…..

      • 2

        Is there anything you would have done different or have prepared for since your 48 hour forced experiment?

      • 3

        I’m chiming in on Jay’s question, as we recently had a transformer blow in our area (super creepy loud bang followed by an ominous blue glow & hum just beyond neighbors house at about 9pm) in a windstorm that left us without power for a couple days. Aside from wondering if aliens had landed, we borrowed a generator (since, of course our old one refused to start for the first time, & is now replaced) to keep freezer & fridge at a minimum of safety, (lots of outages at the time, so we expected a multi day wait) cooked on propane 2 burner camp stove, and generally reviewed our preps & checked on neighbors. Since we’re on a well & septic, we have a 550 gal. potable water storage tank hidden in a clump of trees, and we did tap that for wash up, drinking & toilet flushes. I change the water in it once a year & add a little bleach. Water is always clean & fresh coming out, no weird taste or odors. We have a woodstove too, that was handy to keep ourselves & a hot water kettle toasty. Basically a fun experiment, we’d have been fine for much longer if needed. Funny side note though, it’s certainly more labor intensive! Really missed those light switches…

      • 3

        I remember as a kid going through power outages and I would just instinctually go through the house and flip light switches when walking from room to room. Then I smacked myself on the forehead and reminded myself that we were in a middle of a power outage.

        What was your main source of light during that outage?

        Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • 3

        Yep, and when the lights come back on you sure knew it! We have candles & oil lamps, but it was most convenient to just use some smaller LED flashlights set with their beams on the ceiling to cast/reflect enough light or carry around. I thought about storing some of the cheap solar yard lights for such things. We have some on our outbuildings & they work great. Just not sure how well their rechargeable batteries would hold up in storage. 

    • 5

      I believe the requirements to use electric appliances and not gas was for new construction. I don’t think gas is going away soon, it’s just being discouraged.