Join Date: Oct 2012
Honda EU6500IS with tri-fuel conversion
Well, I was in the market to get a generator to replace my old one, and after some research, I decided to go with the Honda Eu6500is. I also decided to convert it to tri-fuel. However, when I Google searched to find any information, I was blown away by how little information (essentially none) that I could find. So I decided to share my story so that if anybody else is in the same boat, this may help.
I live on the Gulf Coast near Houston. I bought my first generator a couple of months before Hurricane Katrina. It was a gasoline 6500/5500 unit that I bought from a big box store for around $550. I used it off and on using extension cords to the refrigerator, freezer, etc for about 6 hours after Hurricane Rita and during a few local power outages.
Fast forward a number of years, and I was in a different house, and we just had a number of bad luck scenarios with storms, cars hitting power poles, etc where the generator was used about 8 times for a minimum of 2 hours in under a year. At that point, I hooked up the always frowned upon back-feed. I installed a plug on the side of my house next to the breaker box. I'd just wheel it out of the garage, turn off my main, turn off the breakers, plug in the gen, fire it up and then start turning on the desired breakers. This worked fine, but I couldn't do it during a storm that would knock out power.
Then we had Hurricane Ike, and my house was without power for 17 days. Luckily the weather following the hurricane was relatively pleasant. We slept in one room which I had threw in a window a/c. It worked; however, the generator was really loud, finding gas became a problem, the gas costs were expensive, I was always worried about it getting stolen (even though it was locked up) and I worried about a storm in the middle of the night destroying it.
Well, before the beginning of the hurricane season (that just now is ending), I decided to make a change. I decided that I wanted to get a Honda quiet generator and a quick search showed me that I could get one with the same wattage. I also noticed on eBay that there were tri-fuel kits available. On a bit of an impulse, I went ahead and purchased my Honda EU6500is from the place that most campers go for the best deal (not sure if we can name names here or not). So, I got my generator new at the best price.
A few weeks after it arrived, I began looking for a tri-fuel kit. Since my natural gas line/meter was 8 feet from the breaker box and back-feed box, my plan was to pour a concrete slap with eye bolts (for locking up) where I could park the generator when needed and hook it up to the natural gas and house.
I searched for the kit, and ended up going through Maine Diesel (I think I'm safe here since they seem to be the only non-eBay dealer). Instead of sending in my carb, I bought the kit that came with the carb.
The kit arrived, and I'll just tell you there are essentially no instructions.
While trying to figure out when I was going to install the kit, I began to think more about my project, which I should have formulated before this began. It wasn't long after Hurricane Ike that I ran a 50 amp 220 volt circuit out to my garage, because it only had 1 15 amp circuit out there, lol. I installed another panel in the garage (detached). I thought how nice it would be to back-feed from there where the generator could stay in the secure and dry garage.
Of course, I had two problems. 1. Exhaust fumes. 2. Natural gas.
I found on eBay and exhaust kit build specifically for the eu6500is that essentially bolts a flexible exhaust pipe right on. I purchased it. Now, I'd be able to vent out the exhaust.
Next came the bigger problem. I had to run a natural gas line to the garage. The total run was about 110'. After I did some research, I found there was really nothing to it but the cost. I bought a 150' spool of the flexible plastic tubing designed for natural gas along with the two risers. The cost for all three was around $260. I then paid someone to dig a 20" deep trench the whole way (by hand) for $120. Then I bought the additional hardware, galvanized pipe, fittings, valves - another $135. At this point, I also decided to have an outlet for a natural gas grill, since it is right next to my patio.
So, now everything was in place, and I decided to hook up my kit.
Like I said, it came with no instructions, and Maine Diesel said they didn't have any but that I could ask their techies any questions I had. I looked online and found a YouTube video of a guy changing out the carb on a eu6500is. So, I used that as a guide.
The kit was nice and had everything I needed (other than instructions). I did have to drill 3 holes in my generator (2 for mounting the regulator and 1 for routing the fuel line). The first time I did the kit (notice "first time"), it took me about an hour. There really isn't too much to hooking it up, in fact, it's pretty easy. It took me this long, because I wanted to make sure I was drilling in the areas that would be best functionally and esthetically. Additionally, there are a couple of clips that are difficult to get to and down right annoying to get back in place.
Well, I finally get the kit on and go to start it up for the first time.
At this point, it was lucky that I had done my natural gas grill connection and bought the grill. When I first hooked up my grill, I could hear the gas flowing, but it just wouldn't light. Finally, I laughed at myself, and realized than it would take a little bit to purge the regular air out of the 110' of 1" gas line. Duhhh!!!
So, I start cranking and cranking (by battery of course) the generator and adjusting the regulator with no success.
One of my goals, was to never put gasoline in the tank or run it through the carb. I called the kit provider, and he said that maybe there was a problem with the generator since I didn't even know if it ran.
Well, I ended up putting gasoline in, and no starty. I was pissed. I'd have the generator for nearly 3 months, and now I had drilled holes in it. I knew the warranty was considered void, but felt that I could put the old carb on and maybe Honda wouldn't notice.
I put the old carb back on and removed the regulator and lines.
I'm glad the lines didn't take long to remove and attach, because once my brain fart cleared, I turned the key and fired up the generator. It ran like a champ, and purred like a kitten.
Did I make a mistake during my installation of the kit and not reconnect something? Well, one way to find out. I put it all back on and tried to start it. No luck.
So, I pulled off the carb and called Maine Diesel.
About this time, there was a hurricane heading toward the gulf.
I told the guys at Maine Generator to send me a replacement carb immediately, and told them just to charge my credit card for it and then do a refund when they received the one I was returning back. I said I'd pay for rush delivery since the last thing I wanted was to be stuck on gasoline again if I got the hurricane. Needless to say, my return arrived to them before they even got my replacement out the door. Figures. Luckily for me, and not New Orleans, Louisiana got the storm.
The replacement carburetor showed up about a week later. I could immediately see this was a used carb, even though I had technically paid for a new one. But at this point, I just wanted it to be done, and I figured that at least, in theory, it was a working carb.
I bolted everything back on (15 minutes this time) and started it up. It ran rough, but after a few seconds of adjust the regulator (a single screw), it began purring like a kitten. I then turned off the auto-idle to get the engine revs up, and it ran a tiny bit rough until I did another 5 second adjustment. Now it purrs at any RPM.
BTW, I did run all of the gasoline out of the tank.
I really wish I had video taped the kit installation to put on YouTube for others, but it's too late now.
It was definitely not a cheap project. Per dollar, I'm guessing I couldn't get a more pricey per watt return unless I had paid somebody to do all the work. That would have been crazy expensive.
I like the fact that it's still a portable generator on wheels that I could take anywhere and run on gas.
It would have definitely been cheaper to go with a 17KW natural gas generator for the whole home that would have ran one of my central a/c's, so I still wonder in my mind if I went the best route. Obvioiusly, it would NOT have been the same in terms of quality and reliability as the Honda, but since it's just for emergencies, it's still a tough call.
I'll post what photos I have now, which, unfortunately, does not include the kit installation process.
If anybody has any questions, just let me know.
Additionally, I take criticism well, so if you think I'm an idiot for the cost, backfeeding, installing my own natural gas or sub-panel, just voice your thoughts, because it won't hurt my feelings.
Last edited by PeterB123; 10-05-2012 at 06:06 PM.