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Diesel or propane genset

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2009-02-19          160450


After getting all the pricing for the site wind generator I am thinking of going for either a diesel or propane powered unit. The battery bank is an additional 20,000 dollars to supply power while off the grid, not worth it.

My current Coleman gas job is too small for what I need. Since I have a 275 fuel tank for my tractors, I thought diesel may be the way to go. Not to mention that the gasoline powered units suffer from storage due to E-10.

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Diesel or propane genset

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2009-02-19          160452


Propane is the perfect fuel for generators.. except maybe for price. Not sure diesel is much cheaper these days. The dealer keeps the tank full, there are no stale fuel issues, and the engine runs very clean on propane. Some LP gensets run at the perfect 1800 rpm as well (3600 is more common though).

Diesel generators are generally more expensive and last longer but there are more fuel issues. How often do you need the generator?

I'd say if you use LP already that may be the way to go, otherwise diesel. We already have a 1k gallon LP tank so it works well for us. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Diesel or propane genset

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2009-02-21          160488


Actually it will be used when the grid goes down, which seems more frequent these days. I like the shelf life of diesel and I do have a tank here. My propane tank is for the space heater in my garage and has only a 100 gallon tank which the company charges me rent on to boot. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Diesel or propane genset

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2009-02-21          160491


I'm curious, what do you like about the shelf life of diesel? It would be an advantage to be able to make your own diesel fuel when our next civil war breaks out.

We rent our LP tank, too, mostly because any tank changes mandated by the idiots in government aren't my responsibility. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Diesel or propane genset

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2009-02-21          160492


All I can say relative to the shelf life is that I have never had an issue with the stuff no matter how old. I do treat my current above ground tank but have pumped it out of underground storage at several years old and used it without an issue. Always filter it too.

As far as supply, I am with you, we can make it or use any number of products in a pinch. ....

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Diesel or propane genset

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bvance
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 280 The Great Pacific NorthWet, Olympia, WA
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2009-02-22          160494


What's every one's thoughts on a natural gas powered generator? I have a gas generator, have considered a PTO generator for my tractor, but have natural gas to the house and wondered if that was the route to go.

My neighbor has a NG generator that fires us automatically when needed and automatically runs for several minutes every month, but have wondered about their longevity.

I realize what you all are saying about the life of a diesel generator and that one could make diesel if absolutely necessary, but the availability of NG seems like a good idea.

Thoughts?

Brian ....

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Diesel or propane genset

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greg_g
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1816 Western Kentucky
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2009-02-22          160495


Personal opinion, no actual experience with natural gas; but isn't the purpose of an emergency generator to provide you with an alternate source of electricity during an emergency? Like when a natural disaster of some kind downs the public grid? What if that same storm/fire/flood/earthquake interrupts the public NG supply to your generator? Keyword public.

With that in mind, I'd prefer to have my emergency backup powered by a fuel that I already had stockpiled for just that purpose. Emergencies.

Not that I have anything against a NG generator. I'm just leading up to a suggestion to consider a tri-fuel generator. They run on NG, or propane, or gasoline. Assuming NG is less expensive than propane or gasoline, you could configure it to run on NG as the primary fuel supply. Then store propane and/or gasoline locally as your secondary fuel supply.

//greg// ....

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Diesel or propane genset

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2644 NorthWest NJ
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2009-02-22          160498


On the Natural Gas versus propane choice I have heard that propane can lead to more maintenance than NG. ....

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Diesel or propane genset

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2009-02-22          160499


Quote:
Originally Posted by DennisCTB | view 160498
On the Natural Gas versus propane choice I have heard that propane can lead to more maintenance than NG.


Dennis, do you know what extra maintenance may be required? The Kohler engine in our propane genset hasn't needed anything except oil & filter changes in 9 years. Even the plugs are original and still look new after ~5-600 hours. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Diesel or propane genset

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bvance
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 280 The Great Pacific NorthWet, Olympia, WA
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2009-02-22          160500


Greg,

You make some very good points but a few questions:

I assume a powersource with the ability to use all 3 fuels would be substatially more expensive?

Additionally, what is involed in switching fuel sources? I assume it is not as easy as a simple flip of a switch?

If there is considerable re-configuration required, that may take time and may not be available in a time of crisis, then you are back where you started?

Thanks for your help,

Brian ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Diesel or propane genset

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greg_g
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1816 Western Kentucky
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2009-02-22          160509


That's why they invented Google Brian, there's plenty of stuff on tri-fuel generators to study on. And yes, for the most part it's a matter of manually turning a switch or a valve to feed the engine with one of the alternative fuel sources. The ones I've seen had onboard gasoline tanks, and - I'm guessing here - probably a fitting onto which you'd connect a propane supply.

Reminds me of my bi-fuel Lancia Beta over in Italy. Regular gasoline tank from the factory, and a 110# cylinder of propane in the trunk. Switch under the dash. When the gas gauge started bouncing off empty, I hit the switch for the propane. The propane fill port was under the rear bumper. You could fill up with both propane and gasoline at the same service station.

As far as cost, the ones I've seen were only marginally more expensive than regular gasoline generators. When you get right down to it, you're really only paying extra for two extra fuel connections and the selection mechanism.

//greg// ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Diesel or propane genset

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2009-02-22          160518


That's what I was going to say Greg. At one time my company used dual fuel trucks and switching over was a matter of turning a selector knob. The fleet garage installed the kits. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Diesel or propane genset

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bvance
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 280 The Great Pacific NorthWet, Olympia, WA
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2009-02-22          160520


Greg,

Actually after my question to you I did go to the web and searched Tri-Fuel generators. I only saw Tri-Fuel for Gas/NG/LP options but none that included diesel as one of the fuels...for obvious reasons. But with these three fuels, one still has to rely on a public supply in the event of a crisis...but I suppose having 3 options is better than having only one.

Thanks for your help,

Brian ....

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