The favorite choice for powering refrigerators, hot water heaters and for cooking on boats is by far LPG, whether propane or butane. It is preferred due to its convenience, portability, and energy efficiency. By following simple precautions, and regularly inspecting and maintaining the system, it can deliver years of safe service. Testing the system weekly is recommended.
Propane (LPG) must also be considered dangerous and be treated with respect. Keep in mind that the gas is heavier than air and any leaks accumulate in the bottom of the boat. Much like soup settles to the bottom of a bowl. Any spark can ignite the fumes and trigger an explosion.
Aluminum tanks are recommended for marine use and should be placed on the deck. If they are stored elsewhere they need to be placed in a vapor tight locker separated from the boats interior. Also, the locker should be completely gas proof except for drains at the bottom of the locker that vent overboard in an area away from any other openings in the hull and above the water line.
A simple propane safety measure is to install a natural gas leak detector. Special propane detectors can detect a propane leak and sound a warning long before the propane reaches a dangerous level. Some models will also shut off the propane supply automatically. If the alarm sounds, shut off the propane supply, ventilate the area and correct the problem. It is also recommended that CO2 detectors be used along with the propane detectors to help prevent CO2 poisoning if problems develop with the appliances.