Grilling Season And A Squidix Update


Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer, and the start of summer grilling season.  Apparently, Memorial Day is the second most popular holiday for grilling in the United States.  With an estimated 65% of the population grilling at some point during this long weekend — that’s a lot of grilling!

Grilling makes food taste fantastic (of course!), and that’s something I’m completely onboard with….but not at a high cost.  

Mainly, the ongoing cost of operating a grill is going to be the cost of filling those 5 gallon propane cylinders.  You may be familiar with those tank exchanged places at gas stations and grocery stores.  They look something like this:

Propane exchange

The cost to exchange an empty tank for a new tank (in my area) is $19.99 before taxes.  This is a standard 5 gallon propane tank.  At a cost of $4 per gallon, those tank exchange places are expensive.  That’s what I call a retail price.

Propane exchange detail
At $4 per gallon, that’s very expensive propane! What’s the advantage of exchanging your tank? A clean looking tank!

I recently needed to refilled my own propane tank and came to the conclusion that retail propane sold in this manner is overpriced.  

As usual, doing things a little different yields outstanding financial benefits.  My solution?  Find a local propane tank refilling station!

Despite the large number of RV’s on the road these days, actual propane refilling stations are hard to find in my area.  I happened to be aware of only one refilling station near my house.  It was selling propane for $2.95 a gallon.  A 25% discount.  The station was a U-Haul truck rental store.  Strange place to get propane, right?

Receipt detail
My actual receipt.  Yes, refilling is cheaper than exchanging. The closest place to my house was 25% less.
Finding Cheap Propane With The Internet

Yay, savings!!  Yes, it’s true, I only saved myself $5.  That’s how millionaires are made!  Five dollars at a time.

After refilling my tank and realizing 25% savings, I couldn’t help but think, “I could do even better”.  I was barely even trying!  There had to be even cheaper locations, because I know the wholesale cost of propane is less than $1 per gallon.  

But how would I find them?  Why isn’t there a GasBuddy for alternative fuels like propane?  It turns out, there is: Altfuelprices.com.  

Altfuelprices
Find cheaper propane prices with Altfuelprices.com. It’s not pretty, but it works!

It’s not a beautiful website, but it does the job!  The site handles different alternative fuel types, but I was mainly interested in propane prices.  

I called several places in my area to verify the accuracy of the posted prices.  Sure enough, the site is legit!  The cheapest price I could find within a few minutes of driving was $1.89 per gallon.  If I wanted to drive further, I could find even bigger discounts!

Like GasBuddy, it’s community driven, so some stations may be missing or not have price data.  This also means larger U.S or Canadian cities will have the data advantage over small towns due to a larger population.

After using the site, I found I could have paid significantly less to refill my propane tank.   $1.89 per gallon is a savings of 53% over the tank exchange places.

Unfortunately, it’s going to be a long time before I’ll have to refill again.  I only use a small Weber Q grill, and it gently sips the propane like a fine glass of spirits.  Efficiency FTW!

When I do refill again, I’ll definitely be using Altfuelprices.com!  Anyone know of an even better tool?

 

A Squidix Update

OK, for part 2 of today’s post, I think it’s high-time to give an update on our hosting company Squidix.    

Mr. Tako Escapes has been in existence for almost 6 months now.  Back when I created this site, I did significant research into many different web hosting companies.  What I found looked like a giant scam.  

I decided keep my business well away from the largest hosting companies and ended up choosing a small hosting company out of Indianapolis called Squidix.

Rather than sign-up for multi-year service to get big discounts, I decided to go with a “month-to-month” service.  While I am paying more for hosting this way, if anything goes wrong I can quickly switch hosts.  Worst case, I’m only out the price of one month’s service!

I was also worried if Squidix could handle the site’s growth on their shared servers (the cheapest hosting option).  Ideally, as the site grew I didn’t want performance to degrade.

Well, I haven’t switch hosts yet!   I was expecting good service, and excellent site performance from Squidix.  What did I end up getting in the last 6 months?

 

The First 6 Months

So far, Squidix has been a great host.  Their servers have been serving-up close to 70,000 pages of Mr. Tako per month.  Website performance has been able to maintain its speed, despite the increased traffic.  

Using various website performance testing tools, I can see that our website performance matches that of large internet websites.  

Squidix has been fairly reliable too.  In the 6 months Mr. Tako Escapes has been hosted by Squidix, we’ve seen one outage.  The site was down for about 1 hour.

Clearly I would prefer that the site was up 100% of the time instead of 99.99% of the time.  But what can I expect for less than $4 a month?

 

How About Service And Support?

I’m so glad you asked!  During these first 6 months, we’ve had 3 service issues for which I created support tickets.  They were all email related issues, and nothing I could fix on my end.  Within a couple hours, someone from the Squidix team was able answer my support tickets.  All three issues were resolved within 24 hours (or sooner) of submission.

Overall, the support guys were efficient and friendly.

 

The Next 6 Months

Based on the service I’ve received so far, I’m pretty happy with Squidix.  We’ve had no issues with WordPress or site performance.  I feel like I’m getting a good value, despite the occasional issue.  I don’t see any major reason to shift providers.  They’ve met my expectations (and I have really high expectations) by quickly fixing any problems I encountered.  Pricing remains fixed at a very competitive $3.73 per month.

I think we’re going to keep hosting Mr. Tako Escapes at Squidix.  The value for my dollars is excellent.

While I won’t get the large affiliate fees for promoting big hosting companies, my personal ethics won’t let me promote a service I won’t use.  I’m happy with this state of affairs, even if my wallet is a little thinner because of it.

 

Wrapup

That’s it for this week folks!  If you don’t like these multi-part posts (and would prefer shorter posts), please let me know in the comments.

Have a great Memorial Day!!  Enjoy the long weekend!  Grill safe, and save yourself some money on propane!

 

[Image Credit:  Mrs. Tako!  Thanks for taking photos of the tank exchange place!]

13 thoughts on “Grilling Season And A Squidix Update

  • May 27, 2016 at 5:06 PM
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    Though I started following your blog few days back (I think this is the 2nd post I am reading on your blog) but I enjoyed this multi part post 🙂

    PS: Good to see somebody recommending a host other than Bluehost!

    Reply
  • May 28, 2016 at 9:06 AM
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    I never knew that about the propane refilling. That’s great to know there are cheap alternatives. I always keep a spare tank and right now it needs to be refilled so I’ll have to look up and find filling locations near me. Thanks!

    Reply
  • May 29, 2016 at 3:17 PM
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    Thanks for sharing your fuel story Mr Tako. Would you say it’s worth your time going the extra distance (is 10/? minutes extra driving worth the savings?). Or is it more along the lines of ‘I’m leaving the house anyway, may as well get the best value I can’?

    Interesting reading about your experience with Squidix, we will be changing our blog over to a hosted version soon. We haven’t yet 100% decided, so thanks for going through this. It was very useful info.

    Tristan

    Reply
    • May 29, 2016 at 6:37 PM
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      Yeah, we have to drive to go pick up propane regardless. So it’s the difference between 4 or 9 miles. That probably equates to a few pennies difference in gasoline. Totally worth the savings in my mind.

      Also, I really recommend going with a smaller hosting company. Smaller companies like Squidix actually care about their customers.

      Reply
  • May 29, 2016 at 4:36 PM
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    Happy grilling, everybody!

    I grill with natural gas, which is cheaper although not at all portable. If you have the option though, it’s pretty sweet. I homebrew year-round and make maple syrup in the early spring, so I go through a lot of gas.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    Reply
    • May 29, 2016 at 6:31 PM
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      How much does installing a natural gas adapter go for? I’m curious about what the ROI on that is.

      Reply
  • May 31, 2016 at 7:17 AM
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    Nice, I go for refilling too. The last time I went, the tank was over 5 years old and they won’t fill it. I took it to Home Depot to exchange.
    Squidix sounds good. I’m not a fan of giant hosting companies either. They are fine when you’re small, but you definitely need to get better hosting when your traffic grows.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2016 at 7:30 AM
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      Really, they wouldn’t fill your tank? I’ve never had anyone actually check the age of my tank!

      Reply
      • June 1, 2016 at 11:57 PM
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        I believe this has to do with the valve on the older tanks. They are only supposed to refill tanks with the newer round (safer) handle vs the older “star” shaped handles. During the exchange process they don’t care, because the valve gets replaced before it’s re-sold.

        Reply
  • June 1, 2016 at 3:10 AM
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    My friend buys his propane for just over $7 at his local Costco. Unfortunately, mine doesn’t sell propane. Worth checking out to see if yours does! I do about 75% of our cooking on the deck using a Camp Chef double burner stove. Something about that blue flame and cast iron combination.

    Reply
    • June 1, 2016 at 7:16 AM
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      Reeeaally. I’ve only seen tanks sold at Costco, not the gas itself.

      Reply
  • June 17, 2016 at 11:16 AM
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    Another note on propane exchanges…the majority of propane exchange kiosks like the one in your photo only have propane tanks filled to ~15 pounds, not the 20 pound capacity (at least here in Minnesota). So, the rate you are paying is far more than $4/gallon. (additionally, nobody uses the last bit of propane in the tank, so you are giving them propane back!)

    They should take the tare weight and only charge based on what they added. Thankfully, it looks like the place you went to get a refill did just that 🙂

    Reply
    • June 17, 2016 at 12:11 PM
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      Yep, they only charge me for what was added. I didn’t know those exchange places didn’t fill the tanks full! What a ripoff!

      Reply

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