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Generator questions - re. propane

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by maple1, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I've got a 5600w Craftsman, that works OK and does the house good.

    I'm not too impressed with it's appetite for gas though. It's a few years old, has a 10hp B&S motor.

    I've been thinking to maybe start looking for a diesel to replace it with. But I've got a couple of propane tanks here for the BBQ too.

    So the first question is, for anyone who's got one - how long would a 20lb propane tank last on a generator of about this size?

    Second question is - could the 10hp B&S be (relatively easily) converted to propane?

    I don't use this thing much - didn't get used at all last winter & not yet this winter. I'm not complaining about that though.

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  2. greg13

    greg13 Feeling the Heat

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    I think you have a few options.

    There are propane conversion kits for most gas motors, the last I knew they were around $100. If you have a propane source it may be worth it, but if you have natural gas that would be the way to go since you would have a fuel supply during an outage.

    For what a diesel would cost you could buy a LOT of gas to run the one you have, or buy a good used diesel generator.
  3. festerw

    festerw Member

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    Keep in mind propane can freeze up the carb in cooler temperatures. I've used some propane powered equipment and I'll say IMO unless you're concerned about emissions just stick with gas.

    I've seen some military surplus diesel generators go for cheap, there was a 3kw close to me that went for $150 with under a thousand hours on it.
  4. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    My neighbor fights with his all the time, converted his 7k from gas to propane. The problem is the 20# tanks freeze up and even with a 50# tank, they froze too. Instead of spending more money on heat wraps, He switched back to gas. Others may have other experiences but the "p" word makes him twitch if I even bring it up :)
  5. bubbasdad

    bubbasdad Member

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    Howell, Michigan.
    I have a whole house unit, 15kw on propane. Works great, I have a 500 gallon tank.
  6. Butcher

    Butcher Minister of Fire

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    If your having freezing problems it's cuz your pullin to much fuel outta to small of a tank or your regulators are crapt. If your gonna do it, do it right.
  7. loadstarken

    loadstarken Member

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    Loc:
    Redmond, WA
    I have a Coleman 8500 watt generator with a Honda engine and I bought a kit online to make it a tri-fuel unit (unleaded gas, propane and natural gas).
    So far I have only tried it out on unleaded gas and on natural gas so I can't answer question #1.

    My answer to #2 is I bought my kit from http://www.propane-generators.com/tri-fuel_kits.htm about 10 years ago.
    The next generator purchase I make will be one of the diesel units they have been selling off at govliquidation.com

    No financial interests in the above links.
  8. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the feedback - I think I'll forget about propane.

    I'll likely just keep what I have for now, & keep my eyes peeled for a used diesel in the meantime. It's a PITA running to the gas station for jugs to keep it going, and we've got a diesel tank here - but I might be better off just burning gas since I don't use it much. But diesels do that better too - just have to keep remembering to drain the carb I guess.
  9. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    Wasn't me, it was my neighbor. He now has a $10k generac system fed by 2 500 tanks. I got his 50# out of it though ;)
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I finally bit the bullet and got a Yamaha EF2400iSHC generator with factory tri-fuel, propane conversion. It handles our 120v loads well with clean power, yet is miserly with fuel consumption and quiet. So far I have only done test runs for a few hours, but I like it. With propane we can run for weeks to maintain refrigeration if necessary. No more concerns about stale fuel. Of course this means we won't have a power outage for the next 5 yrs.. :confused:
  11. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    I still say it works a helluva lot better than you expected. ;) (How else will a 2400W genny power you're whole neck 'o the woods?)

    DO NOT buy a cheap diesel genset for use in cold climates. They can be a mother----er to get started. And you better pay attention if you think you're going to hand/pull start one. It'll teach you all about timing and compression releases. Good potential for injury too.

    Mulit-cylinder glow-plug/pre-heater equipped diesels are a very different ball-game. All they need is good fuel and a good battery to get crankin'.
  12. loadstarken

    loadstarken Member

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    Another thing to think about on your generator is to get some of the foam filled tires because anytime you go to use it the normal tires will be flat...... just like a wheelbarrow! Hehe
  13. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    If used this seldom, why spend the money to upgrade to something you don't use? I have essentially the same gen and exercise it for about 2 hours every 3 months powering two 1500W electric heaters, one for each leg of the 240V output, just to make sure it will work if I ever really need it. After about 10 years, this has worked well. Don't need to use it -- scares away the power outages.
  14. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I think I've decided to just keep it, unless a decent diesel presents itself cheap. I'd like to have the thing permanently in an enclosure outside somewhere so I don't have to drag it out when the power goes out (along with the snowblower to blow a path to get out and a place to park it) - but I'm leery of keeping it outside year round even if enclosed & sheltered, as opposed to in my heated basement. Outside can't be good for the electrics?

    Do you drain all the gas (& carb) after every exercising? That's another PITA thing a diesel would avoid. Not sure how good Stabil really does with 'modern' gas.
  15. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Sometimes I drain the gas and sometimes not. I use stabil. Never a problem so far. I agree on moving it into location if needed. Would not be easy in winter, rest of the year would be OK.
  16. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Draining the carb doesn't have to be that hard. All you do is turn the petcock to off and let it run itslef out of fuel. Your geneset does have a valve on the gas line doesn't it? I use sta-bil on all of my jerry can gas all year and I've never had a problem even in engines that do not have a shut-off.
    woodgeek and heat seeker like this.
  17. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I had a bad experience once just shutting off the gas line valve & letting it run out. This was a tiller. When the thing died after shutting the valve off, I thought I was good. But there was still gas in the line - airlocked there, so to speak. It gradually seaped down into the carb over time. After two years of sitting, it was a real mess. With the generator, I like to also pull the gas line off at the valve to make sure it's really all out.
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I see what you are saying, but have never experienced that. If, a big if, the line full of gas could dribble down into the bowl you would only get a tiny amount of fuel that would mostly evaporate away. When you run into trouble is when the bowl remains full and as it evaporates more fuel is allowed in from the fuel tank. Over time the mixture in the bowl concentrates all the heavy ends that didn't want to evaporate and that stuff turns to varnish.

    A 1/4" line 4" long is only 0.65 teaspoons. Hardly enough to fill the bowl up to the first jet. Your rototiller had a faulty shutoff valve.

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