Generator Fuels - Gasoline vs Propane - Power Equipment Forum : Power Equipment Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2017, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Generator Fuels - Gasoline vs Propane

I have 3 generators. One Coleman Powermate 6520, one Honda EU2000i and one Predator 3500 Inverter. All currently run on gasoline.
Starting to explore the use of propane. I keep 60lbs of propane on hand at all times for cooking in case of power failure.

Here's what I've found so far......

PROS
1). Runs cleaner....no carbon buildup
2). Propane can sit in tanks for a VERY long time vs the relatively short "shelf life" of gasoline.
3). Propane is safer to store than Gasoline

CONS
1). Propane is more expensive (the basic rule of thumb is 5 gallons of gasoline is ~= to a 20lb tank of propane (~$19.00 vs ~$14.00) (shop around)
2). You need a regulator and special equipment that can cost up to $350 to convert your generator to propane
3). Many propane filling stations will charge you the full price whether your tank is empty or not...possibly further raising the cost for propane

By far, the biggest advantage to propane seems to be shelf life. If you happen to have a 100 gallon propane tank, the cost per gallon can become competitive with gasoline.

As far as the carbon buildup....you can minimize this in gasoline engines by using SeaFoam.

Gasoline can be stored in airtight containers with fuel stabilizer for up to 2 years, but after about 6 months, the fuel chemistry begins to breakdown and will not run as clean as when fresh. Time is not a friend to gasoline storage.

I think the ideal situation might be propane, stored in 100 gallon tanks outdoors. You could run high efficiency generators for a good while off of 100 gallons of propane. Imagine an inverter generator that could run 8 hours on one gallon (my EU2000i can) . That would give me 800 hours of run time.
Or, approximately 33 continuous days....or more realistically...100 days of running it 8 hours per day. Bada BING !!

And the beauty of it would be that it could sit for a very long time until I needed it. Even decades.

Yep....gonna start looking into propane conversion kits.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2017, 06:25 PM
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I'm a big fan of Propane gen sets. Just remember, you don't get the same btu's from Propane as Gas. I think it's about 12-15% less.
But the trade off is that it lasts for a very long time and there is no carb gumming issues and the engine runs clean.

Keep this in mind though, Gas acts as a cooling agent for generators and for the valves. If you convert a gas gen set
to a propane system that was never built or intended for propane you could burn valves very quickly.

Instead, I would look for a generator that was designed for propane so you know the valves were built to handle the extra heat.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2017, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Excellent information!

You know, I run into this with my Flex fuel vehicle. It feels sluggish and the mileage drops a good bit when I use E85 vs regular fuels.

I would imagine the genset might have to work harder to produce the same power utilizing propane?

I work on a LOT of engines ranging from car engines to motorcycle engines to scooter engines so I've practically seem it all. What I have NOT dealt with it propane powered vehicles. I do know the incoming gasoline charge cools the engine.

Very good point about the btu's.

Is it possible to adjust the mixture, so to speak, with propane as you can with gasoline engines? Does metering more propane per cycle have the same effect as enriching the mixture on gasoline engines?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 05:25 PM
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I have two generators, a 10hp Tecumseh 5kw and a 7 hp Briggs 3kw. Both are converted to run only on gaseous fuels.

Yes. You can adjust the mixture just as you would with gasoline.

As to power loss, I've not noticed any. For one thing, both engines run MUCH smoother than they ever did on gasoline. Secondly, the limiting factor is the load on the generator head not the load on the engine.

Another bonus, the oil stays cleaner. No fuel dilution.

Dual fuel is an option too.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by aandpdan View Post
I have two generators, a 10hp Tecumseh 5kw and a 7 hp Briggs 3kw. Both are converted to run only on gaseous fuels.

Yes. You can adjust the mixture just as you would with gasoline.

As to power loss, I've not noticed any. For one thing, both engines run MUCH smoother than they ever did on gasoline. Secondly, the limiting factor is the load on the generator head not the load on the engine.

Another bonus, the oil stays cleaner. No fuel dilution.

Dual fuel is an option too.
What about costs?
Do you buy it by the 20lb tank or in larger quantities?
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 07:14 PM
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Is availability even or close to if you need propane I say this thinking if you have a LP Distributor within driving distance, that would be good. Like others I have 3, a Honda 2000i, B&S 6250, and a 7K; I live rural, but have places to get LP about 30 miles away, but still feel better with the gas. I really like the idea how much longer it will last etc....i guess I am too old to change now. Ron
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 07:56 PM
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I can refill a 20lb (or bigger) tank at most any hardware store or exchange it - worst case.

Yes, I've run it off a 20lb but I have propane for the house and run it off those 250 gallon tanks.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by aandpdan View Post
I can refill a 20lb (or bigger) tank at most any hardware store or exchange it - worst case.

Yes, I've run it off a 20lb but I have propane for the house and run it off those 250 gallon tanks.
Ok, because I know that at least with Amerigas, if you buy it out of season (during the hot months) in quantities of 100 gallons or more, you can get a substantially better price than if you go get a 20lb tank filled impromptu.

IIRC, it's over $1.00 per pound difference.

That makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the cost of running it on Propane vs Gasoline. YUGE difference.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-25-2017, 09:51 PM
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I live in the country and have a 375 lb. propane tank for heat and cooking. We don't have enough outages for me to think about converting or buying a dedicated propane gneset. I've had no problems with leaving the gensets full with Stabil added, then, once a year drain and put into one of the vehicles and refill with fresh gas, stabil and a shot of sea foam.


Last time I looked, it's difficult to buy a "propane" genset in the smaller sizes, a.k.a. "portable" generators. Generac had one for a while, weird looking thing, had a bracket on the back for a 20lb. cylinder. I was mildly interested and called Generac and asked them about providing a quick disconnect to piping from a large propane tank. "Absoloutely NOT! That would void the warranty and is illegal. :-) It seems that "propane gensets" tend to be in the whole house range, 10KW+ However, it's been a while since I looked. Obviously any gas engine can be converted to propane, the only question would be how much do you value the warranty, if any, etc.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-26-2017, 03:18 PM
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I live in the country and have a 375 lb. propane tank for heat and cooking. We don't have enough outages for me to think about converting or buying a dedicated propane gneset. I've had no problems with leaving the gensets full with Stabil added, then, once a year drain and put into one of the vehicles and refill with fresh gas, stabil and a shot of sea foam.


Last time I looked, it's difficult to buy a "propane" genset in the smaller sizes, a.k.a. "portable" generators. Generac had one for a while, weird looking thing, had a bracket on the back for a 20lb. cylinder. I was mildly interested and called Generac and asked them about providing a quick disconnect to piping from a large propane tank. "Absoloutely NOT! That would void the warranty and is illegal. :-) It seems that "propane gensets" tend to be in the whole house range, 10KW+ However, it's been a while since I looked. Obviously any gas engine can be converted to propane, the only question would be how much do you value the warranty, if any, etc.

To clarify, there are dual and tri fuel portable gensets out there, but one dedicated to propane doesn't seem available. Just checked the Generac site and they've removed the one they had. It seems to me that they're missing a market. Lots of folks in the country have large propane tanks available. Add to that, in rural areas, outages tend to be more common and we all have gensets in the barn or wherever that we pull out when needed. All the advantages of propane over regular gas in an engine that doesn't get a lot of run time. If someone offered a propane genset with a quick disconnect (think of a gas grill with a connector to natural or propane gas on the patio, etc.) That would be great. The dual and tri fuel units seem to be set up for 20 or 30 lb. tanks, so a slight plumbing modification would be required, perhaps voiding warranties? Just musing, would be neat to drag out a genset, connect propane, start, connect your house and that's it. Shut down periodically to check, oil, etc. Perhaps offering a "propane" engine on a smaller, (5KW?) genset would put it beyond the acceptable price point.
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