First, though, it's worth talking about what we didn't go with. Many tiny housers choose to heat water and cook with propane, especially when they're generating solar power for other energy needs. Keeping those two energy-sucking activities off a solar setup is a good idea. But we're trying to move away from fossil fuels, and we support anti-fracking efforts. Plus, poorly vented propane setups can be a major health hazard.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is a clean-burning fuel with no toxic byproducts. It's a renewable fuel, easily available and safe to transport. If we ever got enterprising enough, we could even make our own alcohol. Another bonus: An alcohol fire can easily be put out with water--and, with no gas lines or canisters and nothing under pressure, there's never a risk of leaks or explosions.
We were introduced to alcohol-burning stoves at the tiny house conference we attended last April. We ate cookies fresh out of one oven (thanks, Kelly Ross!) and drank steaming coffee prepared on someone else's stove. We had first-hand testimonials that they worked. And now we can add our endorsement: we've made our own coffee, done our own baking, cooked our own chili, etc. Though we had read complaints about how long it takes to heat up an alcohol oven and boil water on an alcohol stove, that hasn't been our experience. It may take a little longer than a traditional stove/over, but, hey, we're not in such a hurry these days.
This stove suits tiny house living. It's compact. (Adorably so, one of us would say.) Its stainless steel surfaces are a cinch to keep clean. And, with no electronics, people report using these stoves for years and years without a hitch.
The mechanics: each burner has a reusable canister, which gets filled with 40 ounces of denatured alcohol and will burn for 4-10 hours, depending on how high the heat. The oven has its own canister. Wool inside the canisters hold the alcohol so securely, you can even turn one over without the alcohol dripping out. It's the vapor of the alcohol that burns after lighting, and, to keep the alcohol from evaporating when we're not cooking, we have rubber discs that sit atop the openings.
In sum: The Origo 6000 is efficient, clean-burning and attractive. It's also expensive (more than $1500!), but it's an investment we're happy with.