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gas vs propane powered generators....input??

  1. #1
    suburban ghetto living... black's Avatar
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    gas vs propane powered generators....input??


    Have the electrician doing some work today at the house. and i inquired about hoking up a transfer panel for a generator to run the basics of the house.... ( boiler, lights etc) maybe 5000W.

    But some non focused reading I keep hearing about propane powered generators and their benefits
    more stable fuel for longer time.... no worries about fuel gumming up the generator.

    Our house hasnt lost power yet and only once in the past 25 years did the fellow we bought it from said it lost power. However since we have an oil burner.... I'd like to avoid the fact that if we lose power in the winter for more than a day and we have hot water pipes for heating... I dont want to worry about burst pipes or the wife bemoaning the fact the house is now 72 degrees instead of 74 degrees

    So... anyone run propane generator? pros // cons? our hot water heater runs on nautral gas ( 125lb?) tank in the back of the house...
    one generator i saw just looking...
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...pf_rd_i=507846

    frankly not having to store 5 - 5gallon gas tanks in the shed makes me feel better

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  2. #2

    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    I have a Gas generator and a 10 circuit transfer switch. My gen is 5500 watt and only used about 2300 watts everytime i used it in the winter. It's gas and never an issue. Did you ever have an issue with your lawnmower? Just put Stabil in and run it a few times a year. I have never had a Gas station run out of fuel or power around here. My gen runs about 11-12 hours at half load. A propane runs about 8hrs. If you need propane at 2am where r u going to get it? I turn off the gas and let it stall out everytime it's used. I have had this setup since the 2008 ice storm. ask the electrician about an interlock switch they seem to be the go to these days...I just have 3 , 5 gallon emptys incase ....My basement is finished so a frozen pipe wouldnt be good...There is a few 5500 watt gens on craigslist NH for sale, ones a Briggs storm responder 5500 watt and a craftsman 5600 watt for around 450ish.
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    Last edited by zxme; 07-01-13 at 03:47 PM.

  3. #3
    calm like a bomb mikeb's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    i work in propane. by far the best way to go. stores forever, burns much cleaner. have customers converting everyday. there's so much less work evolved. no gas cans or running to the gas station. clean and simple. hell in a pinch you can hook a grill 20 pounder up to your gen.

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  4. #4
    ^ It's my bike and my car tls25rs's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Completely uneducated question from someone who reads all the post about generators but will likely never buy one. (live in the heart of my city right next to a hospital and very rarely lose power)

    Do they make auto transfer generators that you can run off of natural gas? Or, is there a way to get a fitting on the natural gas line in the house that you could hook up a generator to in the event it is needed? Quite a few homes have natural gas in them and I don't recall the last time I heard of the natural gas supply being affected by weather or supply outages.

    Joel

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  5. #5
    Lifer
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Quote Originally Posted by tls25rs View Post
    Completely uneducated question from someone who reads all the post about generators but will likely never buy one. (live in the heart of my city right next to a hospital and very rarely lose power)

    Do they make auto transfer generators that you can run off of natural gas? Or, is there a way to get a fitting on the natural gas line in the house that you could hook up a generator to in the event it is needed? Quite a few homes have natural gas in them and I don't recall the last time I heard of the natural gas supply being affected by weather or supply outages.

    Joel
    Yeah, it's common to have a generator with an auto-transfer and have it hooked up to natural gas. I've been thinking of wiring one at my house, but we don't lose power often, and I'm lazy.

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    calm like a bomb mikeb's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    the supply won't be affected. all natural gas is underground. in a power outage it's the power to the system that burns it that's affected. you need electricity so some sort of gen will be needed. whether they make a converter for natural gas i haven't a clue but could see one coming down the road.

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  7. #7
    FYYFF Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeb View Post
    i work in propane. by far the best way to go. stores forever, burns much cleaner. have customers converting everyday. there's so much less work evolved. no gas cans or running to the gas station. clean and simple. hell in a pinch you can hook a grill 20 pounder up to your gen.
    ....Unless it's cold out, in which case it better be a small generator, and you aren't going to run long.

    Quote Originally Posted by tls25rs View Post
    Completely uneducated question from someone who reads all the post about generators but will likely never buy one. (live in the heart of my city right next to a hospital and very rarely lose power)

    Do they make auto transfer generators that you can run off of natural gas? Or, is there a way to get a fitting on the natural gas line in the house that you could hook up a generator to in the event it is needed? Quite a few homes have natural gas in them and I don't recall the last time I heard of the natural gas supply being affected by weather or supply outages.

    Joel
    Yes, they are similar to the carb mods required to run propane. The supply was generally considered to be totally reliable, until Hurricane Sandy. The system was reliable: but because of homes torn up creating leaks, the supply to hard hit sections was shut off.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeb View Post
    the supply won't be affected. all natural gas is underground. in a power outage it's the power to the system that burns it that's affected. you need electricity so some sort of gen will be needed. whether they make a converter for natural gas i haven't a clue but could see one coming down the road.
    See above. You can even buy a "Tri-Fuel" kit for Honda Inverter generators and take your pick.

    OP, the "Preppers" would answer your question with a question: since you have oil, why not a diesel generator? Yanmar makes small, portable ones and a lot of guys buy Milsurp generators that will easily run an entire house for days.

    Here's my strategy. I looked at the most likely disaster scenario for where I live (right near Boston Harbor) and it's a Northeaster that brings cold temps, heavy snow and flooding. I wanted to be able to run the heat, fridge and a few lights for a few days.

    In a Hurricane Sandy scenario, fuel supply becomes the problem. Don't forget that if you run out of propane, you're not going to be going to the corner store to get some. I also wanted generators I could use for other purposes.

    Standard construction generators run at a full 3600 rpms to produce 120V and guzzle fuel. Inverter generators can create 120V at low rpm depending on load. A Honda EU2000i would just barely run the heat and fridge - maybe. But you can daisy-chain two together. I was guide by a guy in NH who often loses power. He runs two EU2000i's during the day, and one at night.

    [Gotta go, more later]

    One Eu2000 will run up to 9 hours on one gallon of gas at partial load. With the fuel in my two motorcycles and some cans I stored, we have enough fuel for 5-8 days.

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    Last edited by Garandman; 07-02-13 at 01:09 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member caddydaddy's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    I have a 3,250 watt propane fueled generator. I ran it for almost week after Hurricane Isaac last year. Propane was easy to find, every store had it! People were having problem getting gasoline, since with no power, the pumps didn't work. People were siphoning it from their cars to fuel the generators.
    I had no problems getting propane. I have about 32 hours worth of propane on hand at all times.

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  9. #9

    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    If the gas stations lost their power then the stores that carry propane would be closed because of no power also. we can compare apples to oranges all day. I have done it and will still do it with gas. In the future i will buy a kit from U.S carb (tri fuel kit) very easy to install. But what i have has worked for me. If your in an area that lost power for a week or two then i would hook it up to your natual gas line. But city folk usually lose power for a day or 2...I will fill my gas cans up if we have a big one coming, then if we dont lose power it goes right into my truck. doesnt get any easier than that. works for me.....

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  10. #10
    FYYFF Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Quote Originally Posted by caddydaddy View Post
    I have a 3,250 watt propane fueled generator. I ran it for almost week after Hurricane Isaac last year. Propane was easy to find, every store had it! People were having problem getting gasoline, since with no power, the pumps didn't work. People were siphoning it from their cars to fuel the generators.
    I had no problems getting propane. I have about 32 hours worth of propane on hand at all times.
    In Louisiana? The problem up here is running a 20 gal propane tank with a good sized generator below freezing starts to cool the fuel until there isn't enough pressure to run. So most people up here counting on Propane for generator are buying 100 lb tanks or more.

    I always fill my 20 lb tank in the fall. Coleman sells an adapter tube to run their camp stoves and lanterns off the bigger tank so I wouldn't have to rely on the 1 lb canisters.

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    Last edited by Garandman; 07-02-13 at 01:18 AM.

  11. #11
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Honda has kits for there gen and the carbs run either gas or propane. And they do not eat gas! one more point Sleeping Zzzzzz not a problem with a Honda.

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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    I have a Yamaha generator and if I did it again I would get a Honda. They run so quiet and sip gas. I would get either a big Honda generator EU6500is or 2 EU2000i and run them in paralleled. I just need the heat to run and some lights, power needs from you might be different.

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    Last edited by imstuner; 07-02-13 at 06:28 AM.

  13. #13
    ^ It's my bike and my car tls25rs's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Quote Originally Posted by burnham View Post
    Yeah, it's common to have a generator with an auto-transfer and have it hooked up to natural gas. I've been thinking of wiring one at my house, but we don't lose power often, and I'm lazy.
    That is what I figured, just don't often read about people running their generators on Natural Gas. I figured it would be the easiest thing to do, no running to the store to warehouse gas and/or propane prior to or during the storm. Obviously the Sandy thing changes that a little but if, as others have mentioned, the generator has the Tri-Fuel kit than if they shut off the natural gas then you can grab a propane tank or gas if needed.

    Thanks everyone for throwing the info up here. I hope to one day not be living where I live and be in a much more rural area and this knowledge will help me determine what I want to do at that point regarding the generator issue.

    Joel

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    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    In Louisiana? The problem up here is running a 20 gal propane tank with a good sized generator below freezing starts to cool the fuel until there isn't enough pressure to run. So most people up here counting on Propane for generator are buying 100 lb tanks or more.

    I always fill my 20 lb tank in the fall. Coleman sells an adapter tube to run their camp stoves and lanterns off the bigger tank so I wouldn't have to rely on the 1 lb canisters.
    buying tanks ?

    for home heating, LPG has been an advantage cause ya don't have to buy the tank like kerosene or oil, the gas company owns the tank, the only thing you pay for is the gas in it

    I assumed the gas company would treat a LPG tank for generator fuel the same way

    if I were to have a LPG generator, I'd have a buried 500 gallon tank minimum

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    FYYFF Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    I had an electrician in last fall to wire the shed in the back yard from a conduit used for a swimming pool. He mounted an external plug, then wired in an interlock switch so I can remove the house from line power and run it via generator if need be. Transfer switches are more automatic but I didn't need one and they cost more.

    Some people run their generators through a clothes dryer plug. These cables are known as "Suicide cables" because you are putting all the current from a circuit back to the fuse box, so if something goes wrong, you have no protection. Supposedly insurance won't cover you if you burn down your house by doing this, but I don't know that for a fact.

    BTW if you are looking at a Honda EU2000i, I recommend you buy the Companion model first. It has the plug you can use for the house, which the standard model does not. It's only $50 or $100 more and gives you a lot more flexibility.

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  16. #16
    suburban ghetto living... black's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Wow good info.. head is swimming a bit... but great info...
    I'm leaning back towards gas....... as we dont lose power that often and it seems pretty simple
    however.... propane folks are making some noise.

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  17. #17
    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Neither gas nor propane.

    You already have access to 2 fuel sources, use (at least one of) them.

    Natural gas is reasonably reliable. There can be cases where the supply of Natural Gas is interrupted. Evaluate how important that factor is.

    You have an oil burner, so you have another fuel source. I assume you have a storage tank for the oil burner. Use it. With something like a 7kW Diesel genset you're talking about 1/2 Gal. / Hr in consumption.

    If you were adding a 3rd fuel source that could be re-purposed for other uses, fine, but adding a fuel source that is single purpose, for this, doesn't make sense.

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  18. #18
    suburban ghetto living... black's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    another good point.....

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    Lifer
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    I had an electrician in last fall to wire the shed in the back yard from a conduit used for a swimming pool. He mounted an external plug, then wired in an interlock switch so I can remove the house from line power and run it via generator if need be. Transfer switches are more automatic but I didn't need one and they cost more.

    Some people run their generators through a clothes dryer plug. These cables are known as "Suicide cables" because you are putting all the current from a circuit back to the fuse box, so if something goes wrong, you have no protection. Supposedly insurance won't cover you if you burn down your house by doing this, but I don't know that for a fact.

    BTW if you are looking at a Honda EU2000i, I recommend you buy the Companion model first. It has the plug you can use for the house, which the standard model does not. It's only $50 or $100 more and gives you a lot more flexibility.
    The real problems with a suicide cable are you can have exposed live terminals at either end of the cord, and when you back feed a house that way you can send voltage back on the utility lines if you don't open a main service disconnect. Back feeding through a 30 amp breaker (like the dryer uses) is a very common way to connect a house to a generator, you just need to use an interlock device to make it legal.

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  20. #20
    Senior Member caddydaddy's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    In Louisiana? The problem up here is running a 20 gal propane tank with a good sized generator below freezing starts to cool the fuel until there isn't enough pressure to run. So most people up here counting on Propane for generator are buying 100 lb tanks or more.
    The generator I have has the tank mounted to it, so the hot air from the engine blows around the tank. I'd think it'd stay plenty warm in cold weather. I haven't used it up North yet.

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  21. #21

    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Black, your more than welcome to swing by the Lawrence/Andover area and check out my Gas setup

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  22. #22
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Will have to say...... the NESR forum is ready for domes day!!!!! the rest of the world is screwed!

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  23. #23
    suburban ghetto living... black's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Zxme.... I appreciate the offer and will take u up on that....

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  24. #24
    suburban ghetto living... black's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    Wanted to bump this up for some new/current info tell me if my logic is solid

    Wife is pregnant, kid is due in January. I'd like to have some peace of mind in the winter that house will stay warm.

    Any recommendations people could propose of what to buy/etc? what wiring to do? am I missing something?

    Looking for something simple to get by not live in luxury when power is out

    - A generator with elec start (so wife can start it), low oil notice. Any brands to stay away from? whether I need one with seperate alternators for each outlet on the gennie ( heard multiple alternators is better not sure if i can eloquate exactly why though) Noise is not a big issue but still a factor as 2 neighbors are about 200 feet away buffered by trees no one else close to us

    - Enough power to run a oil furnance fan (not sure size of fan blower), gas water heater , frig some lights, gas dryer/ washer /gas stove ( we have no sump pump), and a wine frig. need to run more than a boiler and a light or two more than bare necessities but not to run the house seamlessly) thinking 5k generator? ( 500$ ?)
    crap.. under estimated this website says i need about 10k runnign watts and 13 k starting (dryer/washer/tv, 2 lights, microwave,frig, furance fan motor) but this with everythign runnign at same time, i'm assumign people play the shell game( use some at oen time, turn off others at the other time)
    http://www.briggsandstratton.com/us/...need?sort=home


    - Figuring to do gas generator with possible future purchase of a tri fuel adapter. If we're down for a week with no Elec we have bigger issues
    - Will have a seperate breaker box with a manual transfer switch thinking to pay someone and materials for it will be about 1200$ , This is outside of my skill level

    Anything I'm missing?
    Someone recommended a diesel generator as I already have an oil tank etc , I looked up the cost for a diesel gennie and they seem high (2kplus dont have that much with a baby coming) also not sure how I'd get the oil out or transfer or the cost to do that

    We have a propane tank ( 120 lb but its about 90 feet away from where the generator would get plugged in) I could get a conversion kit for about 250 that will allow me to run on gas/ propane/ natural gas for 250$ I could get a gas gennie and then when $ frees up do the conversion kit
    http://www.propane-generators.com/tri-fuel_kits.htm

    Eastern propane refuels my tank how fast is their turnaround time when a storm hits? I have to follow up with that. we have a propane fueling place about 3/4 mile away


    so am I really off base? any comments?

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    Last edited by black; 07-29-14 at 11:18 AM.

  25. #25
    Dictionary quoting knob stoinkythepig's Avatar
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    Re: gas vs propane powered generators....input??

    5000 watts is plenty to do what you want to do. A 5k electric start model should be fairly cheap. I'd buy one with a name brand engine so that repair and tune-up parts are easy to get.

    An interlock will make the installation very cheap, no need to do transfer switches and you will have the option of using every outlet/light in your house when the generator is running.

    Propane is nice and clean and you never have to worry bout storing it, but is it really that hard to annually pour 10 or 20 gallons of gasoline from gas cans into your car, then refill the gas cans with fresh gasoline (and stabil)? I find it wicked convenient to have 25 gallons around all the time. I always have plenty on hand to fill my gas powered tools like chain saws, lawn mower, string trimmer, lawn tractor etc. Just like any other gas engine, always run the engine until the carburetor is dry and you'll never have any gummed up carb issues.

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