Homesteading Forum banner

1 - 20 of 33 Posts

·
Volvo With a Gun Rack
Joined
·
2,552 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This isn't really alternative energy...but this is where the folks hang out who can discuss this!

We are putting a 27 foot camper on our property in MO in a couple weeks.

I want to put some solar up to keep a battery bank charged...but in the short term, I will use a generator (property is off-grid and about a $10k charge to get electrons to it!).

I am researching portable generators. RV shop says get one rated to at least 4,500 watts if I plan to ever use the a/c (I do!).

I love diesel power plants and have two diesel vehicles, but the diesel generators I've seen are so much more expensive I have dismissed them for the time being.

I am intrigued by the propane units. I really like the idea of not pouring/spilling gas, not dealing with ethanol in the fuel and having to treat for it, not worrying about the gas going bad between trips up, etc.

Who has experience with both gas and propane gen sets and would be willing to opine??

thanks!


Tim
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,606 Posts
We have used gas, because it's easier for short term use. The gas is right near the generator and my DH hasn't run the LP line to it. He is planning to do that soon, so we'll know soon which we like better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,883 Posts
There is no question which is better . . . propane means a far cleaner running engine.. .longer oil change intervals, no carbon build up . . .

A "tri fuel" setup is nice.........
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,120 Posts
We have a full house 15KW genny that runs on propane. During the ice storm a few yrs ago it ran flawlessly for 11 days. I prefer propane as the fuel doesn't go bad and you don't have to fight the weather to refuel it.

We have a 2nd 15KW gas to run the well and shop. Its supposed to be run for awhile every month to keep it in shape. That unfortunately doesn't happen. I do keep a trickle charger on it. Gas units take more maintenance.

We looked into a smaller unit to just run the frig and freezers to save fuel but find they do not have a great lifespan. They are made to use on occasional weekends for a camper or something.
 

·
Volvo With a Gun Rack
Joined
·
2,552 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
We looked into a smaller unit to just run the frig and freezers to save fuel but find they do not have a great lifespan. They are made to use on occasional weekends for a camper or something.
By smaller, are you saying a sub-3000 watt...or sub-5000 watt or???

I want to be able to run a well pump, and a camper a/c (not necessarily at the same time) and want to be able to top off my eventual battery bank.

Thinking I should get something at least 5 or 6,000 watts. Seems like you can get a 7-8,000 watt propane for less than $1k.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,120 Posts
By smaller I mean 5,000 or less. I tried to run my well with a 7,000 watt unit but it was too small. Our well is deep, 300 ft plus on 220 and 30 amps.
 

·
Volvo With a Gun Rack
Joined
·
2,552 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
By smaller I mean 5,000 or less. I tried to run my well with a 7,000 watt unit but it was too small. Our well is deep, 300 ft plus on 220 and 30 amps.
Sounds like if you wanted to run that well pump at half power, you'd need about 12kw?

Pumping that heavy water against gravity takes a lot of power!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
200 Posts
We currently have a portable 7500w generator that's gas. From everything I've read and heard from installers, propane is the way to go. Besides the fuel not going bad and lower maintenance costs, they're a lot quieter. If we ever upgrade to get one for the whole house, it'll be propane. Curt
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,567 Posts
I have three generators,
two of them set up to use propane, a 20kw and a 4kw, unit, I like propane for the units, I have a 1000 gallon tank that supplies them, (besides exercising them and one short outage,) the tank has been full for over 10 years now,

great for long term storage,

the other generator is a welder/generator, and it is gasoline, and on the back of the pickup, a 10,000 watt unit, it is gasoline and it is fine as it is used often, the gas does not go bad,

before propane I bet I lost more gas to evaporation than ever used,

propane there is no tax on it (road tax) here, the price is lower than gasoline,

propane you may have to derate your unit a little, (less BTU per gallon).

one problem I see, (running a generator is expensive, regardless the fuel you use,

running a tank full through, and having to go fill it will remind you on the cost and help you evaluate if it is needed,
if hooked up to a large tank (gas or propane) you have sticker shock getting the tank refilled,

you talked about solar and charging batteries, one could consider a small engine generator running a generator that would charge your battery bank, 24 volt alternators are used on some heavy equipment, so should be fairly easy to set up,

(one may still want a regular generator, for "more power") or well.

I have read that many of the smaller generators do a poor job of operating a battery charger to charge a battery bank,

if your in to diesel on cars, I would take another look at that, for the economy of it, for the generator put in a 300 gallon farm tank and call a fuel supplier and get off road diesel no road tax, dyed red, instead of clear taxed diesel,

I you do use gasoline talk to your supplier you may be able to get some paper work to send in for a tax refund, for off road use, (more complicated but you may be able to get your tax money or some of it back,
 

·
Volvo With a Gun Rack
Joined
·
2,552 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
propane you may have to derate your unit a little, (less BTU per gallon).

one problem I see, (running a generator is expensive, regardless the fuel you use,
I have seen several dual-fuel generators that specifically label them with two wattage ratings, one for gas and one (about 15% lower) for propane.

Yes...for sure...electricity produced by a portable generator running on grid gasoline or propane is expensive! Done in a big way on a regular basis would be a quick way to go broke!

Thanks for the reality check!


Tim
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,120 Posts
I don't think most people plan on running a genny 24/7. We had to during the ice storm as the furnance would not run without juice. Since then I installed a gas stove in the living room. Thermostat controlled by battery.

We figure on running the genny about 2 hrs a day, enough for laundry and showers. With heating with above stove we have enough propane for 8 months though a winter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,587 Posts
...............Several factors I'd be concerned with 1)Look into purchasing a unit that runs at ~1800 rpm and is water cooled ! As such engine lasts longer because of stable operating temp environment . Any engine running at lower RPM will have a longer service life than one running at 3,600 rpm . All engine's running @1,800 rpm will require larger displacement because most small engines up to about 26 hp don't achieve max torque until ~3600 rpm . This is probably true for engines larger than 26 hp as well . This why most gensets , today , run at 3600 rpm .
................As far as diesels , I'd look for a Turbo charged model , but they usually don't Tc small diesels until the 30kw range . , fordy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,233 Posts
You can take a gasoline generator and adapt it to run on propane or natural gas. Google "generator propane conversion" and you will find several companies selling conversion kits. There is also instructions from a guy who modified an old carb to run on propane. He has to switch back to the original carb if he wants to run on gasoline.
 

·
Volvo With a Gun Rack
Joined
·
2,552 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
...............Several factors I'd be concerned with :(1)Look into purchasing a unit that runs at ~1800 rpm and is water cooled !
I am not looking at anything over 10k watts. All the smaller units I've seen (say 17hp and below) are air cooled and run at 3,600 rpm. I suspect if anyone made a 10k watt or lower with a water-cooled engine, the cost would be enough higher that you could buy multiple air-cooled engines?

One thing I do like about the larger/more powerful engines is some of them have pressurized oiling systems vs splash.

What about units that have automatic idle-down? Seems like that would save wear and cut noise and fuel consumption.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,587 Posts
...........Automatic idle up and idle down features on gensets seem to be getting harder to find ! Most welders have them , but Honda includes them on their inverter models , where they are load sensing and increases the RPM to match the load and will decrease RPM as the load goes down . , fordy
 
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
Top