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PTO driven vs Gas engine

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tamanaco
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 41 wellington, oh
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2004-01-23          74899


I'm looking at a Windpower 7000 watt PTO driven unit vs a Robin or Honda gas powered gen set. It would be used just for back up (power failure). I have mixed feelings about the best option. Comments

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F350Lawman
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 411 Goshen, NY
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2004-01-23          74901


If I was going to make more power say 12-15kw I would go with the PTO option. It would be cheaper as diesel gensets cost 3-4k minimum in that range and PTO gens can be had for $1600 with the shaft and cart.

Since your tractor is a little smaller than that and you are only going to make 7kws anyway I'd get a 6kw diesel portable which can be had for around $1500-2000 (see link). You 'll likely spend $1500 for a PTO setup anyway and why beat up the tractor? Plus you can move the portable to other locations easily

WHatever you do I wouldn't get gas, they burn 3 times as much fuel, you can't get gas easily during an outage, it doesn't store well and it's dangerous. If you heat with oil or have a diesel truck/tractor gas makes even less sense. ....


Link:   Ebay gen

 
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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4285 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2004-01-24          74908


Scott nailed it. Couldn't have said it better myself! ;o) ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2004-01-24          74931


A 6500W peak Honda gas is what I use. It runs pretty much the whole house through a transfer panel, but it does require selectively turning circuits on an off.

Most pto generators are large than 7,000W. Hours on the tractor and the hooking up the tractor during the middle of storms are negatives. The advantages of a small diesel standalone depend on how much the generator is used. Fuel economy and durability are small issues if a generator isn't often used. For fuel supply, you've got to store your own whether it is gas or diesel (most furnace oil works OK for diesels). Few service stations have generator backup for their pumps.

There certainly are gas storage and maintenance issues for seldom used gas engines, and I wish I wouldn't have had my initiation in the gathering dark at nearly -20F. Plus the house was already down to 50F when we got back from town. In that case it would have been easier to hook up the tractor, but I've learned my lesson and pay more attention to exercising the generator and use of fuel stabilizer. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2004-01-24          74934


If you don't care about portability and you have propane or natural gas at your house a gas engine with a propane/ng conversion kit makes a lot of sense. No need to store or haul fuel and you don't have to worry about the fuel going bad or gelling in cold weather. Sure, gas engines don't last as long as diesels but how often do you have outages? We have a Gillete propane generator with a Kohler engine and have zero complaints after four years and we have LOTS of outages where we are - sometimes a couple of outages a month. ....

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2004-01-24          74935


If you get a free standing gas model you must put yourself on a maintenance schedule where you run all the gas out of it every six months and refuel with fresh stabilized stuff.

Modern gasoline has a very short shelf life and there are also availability problems that have been noted in other threads. When the power goes off, so do the gas pumps.

So you really need considerable storage to get you through a crisis and if you are storing large quantities of gas you have to run it through your vehicles to keep the supply fresh. That alone creates several logistical problems.

Propane is a viable alternative, but you better have a weeks supply on hand as propane deliveries in a crisis are not too likely. And there are tank placement regulations and covenants that may come into play.

After wrestling through all the possibilities, I bought a John Deere PTO Generator sized for our smaller tractors, a 50 gallon diesel storage tank and a 12 volt transfer pump.

That should be enough fuel to get me through a couple of days and buy time to find more fuel if the crisis proves a lengthly one.

As far as the hours.... I don't care if I rack up an extra 72 or 96 hours running the tractor as a stationary powerplant. That's why I got it. If you think about it, those are not hard hours. You are not beating up the FEL or wearing out any rubber. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2004-01-24          74936


I suppose it depends on where you live, but if you are in the boonies and use propane for cooking or heating you could have your propane company install a 1000 gallon tank. We did, and they are VERY happy to fill it. We estimate about 10 days of 24/7 runtime out of a full tank and could stretch it out a lot longer by running the generator only as needed.

For us it would be difficult to store that much diesel fuel on hand and keep it reasonably fresh since the tractor is our only diesel engine and it only uses maybe 50-100 gallons a year. ....

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PTO driven vs Gas engine

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2004-01-24          74941


Diesel is much easier to keep fresh than gasoline.

Ken, I bought a square tank and put it on a pallet. I use the Rankin forks to load it in the bed of the truck and I filled it with off road diesel and saved 50 cents a gallon on the first fueling.

I am using Power Service and Red Line 85 Plus additive to keep it fresh and to bump up the cetane. ....

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4285 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2004-01-24          74942


I have a Generac 6500 watt gas generator that I ran enough to get the engine broken in and then ran the gas tank dry and put fresh oil in. I also ran the engine on WD-40 after I ran the gas out of it to purge any possible left in the carb. I know in advance it is a coin toss as to weather it will run without a major hastle if ever needed. If I even buy another generator in the future; it will be either a diesel that I have portability with or a propane powered with a huge tank. Rather than leave a diesel generator setting with diesel; it is also an option to fuel it with Jet-A (heavily treated with a lubricating additive) for storage purposes as Jet-A will store much longer and cleaner than #2 diesel. It is also treated with PRIST to prevent gelling/freezing & microbial growth. Even Jet-A has its storage limits. It is pricier but you can switch to #2 diesel once you have the generator in use and anticipate a lengthy run. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2004-01-24          74945


I keep thinking about those week long outages that we get. During a major snowstorm there would be no way for us to get out and fill up a tank so on-site storage is the only way to go. Diesel has longer shelf life than gasoline, but does it have a 10-year shelf life? This was my reasoning in going with propane. ....

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2004-01-24          74947


I think a year or two of storage for treated diesel is not beyond expectations, especially with half yearly refreshers.

Does anyone know if the small quiet Honda generators (1kw and 2 kw) have the option to run on propane? They would make a great night time generator (wood stove fan and a couple of lights) if they had longer "legs". ....

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2004-01-24          74950


I found some info on the portable Honda generators. Apparently they are gasoline only.

Honda does make a small (11 HP) unit that does run on propane. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2004-01-24          74954


I've always thought there were LP conversion kits for most Honda engines, but in a generator I don't know if getting the engine running on LP is enough. Maybe there would be some tweaks required to the governor as well. ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2004-01-24          74957


On a related subject - I have 3 full propane tanks for my gas grill and all of a sudden none of them give off gas when I open the valves. We called the propane supply place where we had them filled and they said to warm up the valves with hot water - which we did - but to no avail. They are still very heavy and I know there has to be propane in the tanks. I am perplexed. We had them filled at a very professional place that takes care of fire departments with CO2, etc and have been using them for years. Anyone ever have a similar problem? ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2004-01-24          74958


Are you sure the problem isn't with your grill? I remember reading something about a safety mechanism in our Weber BBQ manual that shuts the propane off if it has been on too long without heat. Or, maybe it's a regulator problem. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
PTO driven vs Gas engine

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2004-01-24          74959


Tanks are not attached to grill at moment. Maybe these new quick attach valves don't let propane out when they are not attached to grill? (Old style certainly did). ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2004-01-24          74960


FWIW I just went out and tested a brand new tank that I had filled a few weeks ago, and no gas is released when opening the valve while disconnected. ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2004-01-24          74963


Thanks Ken! I stand corrected! True safety features that work! I could have sworn in the past I have tested these tanks by opening valves while disconnected. I must be going senile. I will test regulator on the grill tomorrow. Its cold outside right now. Again thanks for your help! ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2004-01-24          74965


Happy to corroborate your experience. I learned something too. ....

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F350Lawman
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 411 Goshen, NY
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2004-01-25          74993


If you heat with home heating oil, diesel is a great choice, if you heat with propane or natural gas they are probably the better choice for you. I heat with diesel and have a 100 gallon propane tank for cooking so they are both viable options.

The one thing that hasn't been mentioned much is runtime. Take a look at these generators typical runtimes per gallon of fuel. Diesel stand-alone gens that make 10-12kw only burn about a 1/2 gallon of fuel an hour, gasoline gens are often more like 2 gallons an hour and propane is often 1.5 to 2 gallons an hour. (obviously if you have city natural gas, consumption isn't an issue) Even just keeping a 55 gallon barrel of diesel is likely to give you 4 days of constant run time. Even my tractor idling a PTO gen at 2600rpms( maybe a gallon an hour) burns much less than the gasoline gens. The price of HH oil is only $1.30, propane is around $2 and gasoline is $1.89 so diesel is also a winner there. I don't view price as that important as compared to availibility, but what the heck. With even a few day outage, you can quickly offset the higher price of diesel or even dual fuel gens. We all(almost) have diesel tracors so if you kept a 50 gallon barrel filled and used it for the tractor, refilling it when it hit the 1/2 way mark you would still have at least 2 days of constant run for a gen at any moment. Gelling, fungus, getting old is not an issue if you use it in this manner and just add about $2 worth of quality additive when you fill the tank.

Either propane or diesel is still more available in a pinch than gasoline. With no power, diesel or gasoline may not be pumping but my heating oil tank and all your neighbors tanks will still be available. I am quite sure my generatorless neighbor will trade me some HH oil or his extra BBQ tank in exchange for some elctricity or a place to keep his beer cold during the outage :) With my hand pump and a little bargaining skill I could probably "bum" heating oil" from friends and neighbors to outlast the longest blackout I'v ever seen. Propane is also still available (small tanks though) everywhere and the companies deliver to your large tank unless roads are blocked etc. Gasoline, even IF the pumps are running is a nightmare to get, EVERYONE runs out to fill the cars, gens, etc. and you can wait hours or find the tanks empty. You can go right up to the diesel pumps though because 90% of the cars take are at the gasoline pumps. At 2 gallons an hour, if the pumps are closed siphoning the cars or filling 5 gallon gasoline containers won't be a long term solution. I am aso less than enthusiastic about filling my 55 gallon drum with gasoline and transporting, unloading and refilling from it. It isn't even fun filling a hot gen with the stuff. If you can't get the gas from the station your neighbor will also likely be less than enthusiastic about giving you the last of his petro when no refill is in sight. At 2 gallons an and hour even if you "score" 50 gallons of fuel you have to do it all over again tomorrow or really ration your power comsumption :( Even if you go with the samller gens the % of comsumption differences for the various fuels apply.

Bottom line for me is I look outside right now and see the following.

100 gallon propane tank about 70% full ( 2 days use)

275 oil tank 3/4 full (5-6 days use)

Gas van 31 gallon tank 1/4 full (4 hours use)

I think many/most of us would have similar situations???

Even without considering run time for the various fuels, if I am relying on gas I have an almost immediate need to go out and leave the family at home alone under possibly very bad conditions.

Most of us heat with oil, propane or natural gas. In my humble opinion that leaves very few of us better off with a gas generator than the other options. I think gasoline is really only the best option if you don't use any of the other fuels and don't have a dieel truck/tractor. Then only other possible plus I see for gasoline is that for $500 dollars you have a budget generator. ....

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lumber
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 22 Oregon
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2004-01-26          75106


I recently went through the decision making process and ordered a 12kw diesel generator. Since I don't plan to run a generator more than 14 hours/day, I figure 25 gallons of fuel will go a long way. We don't use propane. We have fairly frequent outages here but most are less than one day, multi day outages seem to average once every couple of years. I should have gotten a bigger generator earlier (gas 5 kw now) as we recently had a 3 day outage. I'll probably keep the gas generator since our well is on a separate meter 0.1 mile from the house. I could just leave the gas generator at the well during the outage and run it a few minutes 4 or 5 times a day to maintain water.
Here's the link. ....


Link:   generator

 
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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7155 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2004-01-26          75107


My cottage is oil heated. So is my 'Bota, LOL.

I have a second 250 gallon heating oil tank in the garage that I get filled every spring with off-road diesel, what I don't burn in the 'Bota or one of the other diesel toys (full-size TLB, etc.) gets pumped into the furnace tank.

The fuel is never more than one year old and even them it gets a good dose of additives.

Ken, if you use 100 gallons a year for the CUT you could try the same idea, I imagine most of your outages are at the same time of year, winter. If you got the tank filled just befrore the bad weather season you would be all set.

What most fuel oil distributors WONT tell you is that the trucks pump OUT as well as into your tank. If you speak nicely they will usually pump your left-overs up into the truck and refill you with the newly 'blended' stuff. They usually do this when the truck is full so the ratio of 'old' to 'new' fuel is pretty low, nobody could ever detect the difference.

Best of luck. ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2004-01-26          75111


Wouldn't be worth the trouble and expense, Murf. We don't heat with oil so we'd have to retrofit an oil furnace to our existing geothermal heatpump. The payback would probably exceed my lifespan. ....

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