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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2019, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Experience with portable propane gensets?

Starting to think about getting a portable propane unit. Currently have a Generac 3250 and 5500 gas. The 3250 is adequate for outage needs, but got the chance to "steal" the 5500 at an end of season sale at Lowe's. Have a 400 gallon propane tank for heating and cooking and would be easy enough to extend a line to service a propane unit. Which would eliminate keeping gas around, stabil, etc. etc.

I started looking in the 5-7KW size and didn't seem to find any "propane" units, dual and tri-fuel are readily available. I seem to recall reading that an engine designed solely for propane has hardened valves or something? Anyway have always been suspicious of "multipurpose" things, prefer "purpose" built. With Generac, as an example, propane immediately kicks you into a whole house unit, they did have a 5KW awhile back which came with a 20lb. cylinder, but that had very strict warnings not to adapt for quick connect to larger tanks. My propane supplier has a wall mounted quick disconnect with regulator which they'll install including the line for about $120.

My issue is that I don't want a whole house unit sitting on a pad outside, very willing to drag a genset out of barn and connect to L14 inlet. Several neighbors have installed whole house Generacs and they work fine, other than the ongoing battery/battery charger issues. Don't want to spend that much.

Anyone have experience with multi-fuel units on propane?

Thanks for your time,
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2019, 08:13 PM
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I converted a gas-only PowerMate unit (photo) to dual fuel with a motor snorkel from US Carburetion and so far, so good. I do believe that the factory multi-fuel units like the Duromax (link below) probably have valves/seats that will hold up better over the long term. A couple of folks have converted Honda EU7000 units and have had valve seat recession after hundreds/thousands of hours.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Duromax-...B&gclsrc=aw.ds
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2019, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response. May look into those. For some reason, the manufacturers seem to want them to be connected to 20 lb. bottles rather than bulk storage like a whole house unit. Seems like they're missing a selling point, but they must have a reason.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2019, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exmar View Post
Thanks for the response. May look into those. For some reason, the manufacturers seem to want them to be connected to 20 lb. bottles rather than bulk storage like a whole house unit. Seems like they're missing a selling point, but they must have a reason.
With proper regulation, you can connect to any propane source. I have 20, 40, 100 & 420 lb tanks. Note that in my case, I have two regulators for the two stages of regulation. Here's a simple explanation: https://www.tarantin.com/blog/propan...ator-do-i-need

Note that most small portable generators need to be stopped every 8-24 hours to check the oil level, so large tanks don't mean long periods of continuous operation. That's why the larger generators like the ones you mentioned previously are more expensive. They have pressurized oil systems.

Last edited by tabora; 07-06-2019 at 11:08 PM.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 04:15 PM
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The company that sold me the conversion kit for my portable 7500 kw Generac (I think it was US Carburetion) offers a wide variety of conversion kits for almost any small engine, and any gas source. They were very helpful on helping me select the correct kit for the use I intended. If you contact them and tell them what you want to do, they can offer the kit with the correct regulator/s and connectors you'll need.


That deal that your propane supplier is offering sounds like the way to go. Be sure that whoever you buy your conversion kit from knows what kind of regulator will be in the gas line.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-11-2019, 01:13 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses. Even in an extended outage I never run a portable more than 12-14 hours, for the reasons mentioned and I'm not comfortable sleeping with a gas engine running on the front porch.

Looks like I need to look into a conversion kit as mentioned by motormonkey. I had thought that it would be better to get a genset set up from the factory for propane, but they don't seem to exist as portables. Certainly cheaper to convert the 5500W than buy a new one.

I remembered that a buddy runs the service department of a janitorial equipment company, battery powered and propane powered scrubbers, etc. etc. He said that the engines they sell and service, Honda and Kawasaki, the only difference in the service manuals, parts lists, etc. are in the carbs between gas and propane. Valves are the same for both. That seems to answer that question, except those are kind of "top end" engines, he has no idea what the "generic" engines offered in big box stores use or are designed for.

Thanks again,

Ev
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