AR15.Com Archives
 Propane Generators Vs. Gasoline Generators.
iNuhBaDNayburhood  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 12:01:16 PM
I've been wondering about buying a generator for the house...

I've been thinking that a Gasoline Powered generator would be the best option for me, but last night on TV my fiance & I saw an ad for a propane powered generator. It looked like any ordinary Central A/C unit outside the home.

The thing that I thought was interesting was in the advertizement they just showed the house with the lights magically turn on, and they were talking the whole time in the ad so you couldn't HEAR the generator running.

I was wondering what would be the best option in a long-term power outage / SHTF situation?

I have a buddy who has a Suzuki Samurai running on a Propane (LP) engine, and while out on his first off-roading run he ran out of fuel when everyone else only went through 1/4 tank of Gas. So this tells me that Propane doesn't run an engine as efficiently as gasoline might...

What do you guys think?
Are propane generators loud?
How loud would they be (are they comparable)?
Would they run longer than Gasoline?
What are the storage issues related to propane vs. gasoline?

I could rotate stored gasoline reserves more effectively than propane...
I live in Minnesota, so gasoline generators have an edge over diesel in that they're easier to start in the freezing cold winters, etc.
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scrum  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 12:15:34 PM
I looked at them for the convenience, especially running on NG, but in a SHTF event (like earthquake ) the LNG/LP/NG option seemed harder to resupply than gasoline or diesel.

I also looked at the # of cubic feet to get the equivalent BTUs, which seems to correspond reasonably to how much power you get per $. To my eye, gas/diesel offered more cost effective power generation per $.
Furner  [Member]
4/4/2007 12:22:53 PM
Gasoline is much more universal, transferrable, and available than propane. Propane needs a burdensome container, and is hard to trade in small amounts.
I also think it would be easier to have a "fleet" of various gas-powered generators than propane ones.
Propane would be better suited for cooking gas. I run nat. gas in my house, but all my appliances can be adjusted for either NG or propane.
Halffast  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 12:24:36 PM

Originally Posted By iNuhBaDNayburhood:

What do you guys think?
Are propane generators loud?
How loud would they be (are they comparable)?
Would they run longer than Gasoline?
What are the storage issues related to propane vs. gasoline?



First, I am no expert, but I have a propane powered Onan in my slide in truck camper.

How loud a generator is has more to do with the design than it does what it runs on. A lawn mower engine genny is going to be loud. I have seen people who built elaborate exhaust systems for them in order to quiet them down, but most of the noise comes from the engine and not the exhaust. My Onan is very quiet. If fact, if I have the AC running in the camper, you can hear it more than the genny.

The good thing about propane is that it doesn't degrade over time like gasoline does. Even treated gasoline will start going bad in a year. The bad thing about propane is that it doesn't contain as many BTU's per gallon as gas. So you will use more of it than you do gasoline. However, (this is a SWAG) I don't think your usage would be more than 10 to 20 percent more.

Storage issues are where propane really shines. Like I said before, it doesn't go bad. Also no one is going to have a problem with a 500 or even 1000 gallon propane tank in your yard. The EPA, local FD, and your neighbors are not going to like that much gasoline lying around. HTH

David
Furner  [Member]
4/4/2007 12:30:21 PM

Originally Posted By Halffast:
Also no one is going to have a problem with a 500 or even 1000 gallon propane tank in your yard. The EPA, local FD, and your neighbors are not going to like that much gasoline lying around. HTH

David


good point.
JoshAR  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 12:42:15 PM
It realy boils down to what works for you.

Propaine has less BTU's than gas, not buy a huge amount but by some, Natural Gas has even less, Deisel has obviously the most. So you DO loose some performance going to Propane and even more going to NG.

I am switching over to Propane for my primary and secondary power back up systems. Here is why:

We are on Propane for the house; Heat, Stove, Hot water. I have 1000 gal of propane on hand right now. Common fuel +1.

Propane last forever, no need to rotate, Gas dose not. +1

Propane burns cleaner and will not "varish" a carb, less maintnace. +1

Fuel container: Propane are steel tanks, much more durable than the red plastic my gas is curently in. +1

I am acutaly going with Tri-Fuel generators, not propriatary, so I can in fact run Gas if the need comes abought. +1

Propane works for me, may not be the best thing for some one with out other things running on it. Farm with other equipment I would go with Deisel. In town with only electric service I would recomend Gas. Out in the stics on propane already, go propane. Have your own NG well, go NG.
iNuhBaDNayburhood  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 2:05:26 PM

Originally Posted By JoshAR:
It realy boils down to what works for you.

Propaine has less BTU's than gas, not buy a huge amount but by some, Natural Gas has even less, Deisel has obviously the most. So you DO loose some performance going to Propane and even more going to NG.

I am switching over to Propane for my primary and secondary power back up systems. Here is why:

We are on Propane for the house; Heat, Stove, Hot water. I have 1000 gal of propane on hand right now. Common fuel +1.

Propane last forever, no need to rotate, Gas dose not. +1

Propane burns cleaner and will not "varish" a carb, less maintnace. +1

Fuel container: Propane are steel tanks, much more durable than the red plastic my gas is curently in. +1

I am acutaly going with Tri-Fuel generators, not propriatary, so I can in fact run Gas if the need comes abought. +1

Propane works for me, may not be the best thing for some one with out other things running on it. Farm with other equipment I would go with Deisel. In town with only electric service I would recomend Gas. Out in the stics on propane already, go propane. Have your own NG well, go NG.
THANK YOU for the good points there Josh!

I guess I never really thought about it like that.

SO, in my case, the issues are this:
1.) I Live in a 2nd Tier City Suburb of Minneapolis (Crystal/Plymouth border), almost 3rd tier. According to the lot size, zoning regs, and the grading (I live on a hill), keeping a large propane tank anywhere in the yard is NOT POSSIBLE for me.

2.) The HOUSE is primarily run on electricity, but the FURNACE and FIREPLACE run off Natural Gas. Those are the only two appliances that use Gas in the house.

3.) The only PROPANE thing I have is a HUGE propane BBQ/Grill that I got as an engagement present from my in-laws. (Price tag was like $350! Hell of a GREAT engagement present )

4.) I live in MN and have no deisel vehicles so Diesel is out of the question at the HOUSE. BoL is a different story altogether.

5.) I can get a couple like-new 13 gallon gas cans for pretty cheap from a friend.

So I'm going with Gas. I can get two 13 Gallon tanks, and a smaller 3 gallon tank, and a hand pump. I can store it in the garage and rotate fuel stock every 3-6 months with our cars... The Generator will be anchored/located in the back yard (uphill), so I'll use the 3-gallon tank to transport the fuel from the garage to the generator location.

Filling the cars with the fuel tanks & pump will be pretty easy for rotating stock. I can also use the 3 Gallon tank to fill the Cars, The Generator, The Snow Blower, and Lawn Mower (not a mixed-fuel engine). This should keep things pretty simple for me.

Also, if the situation appears to be a fairly PROLONGED SHTF event I'll be able to gas up the car, and GTFO of Dodge if we need to head down to the Long-Term BoL.

I'm thinking that a Gas Genny bolted down inside our backyard tool shed with a large vent cut into the side, and a decent exhaust addition ported through the vent could serve us well. It can also be insulated a bit for noise reduction.

Thanks for the good info!
JusAdBellum  [Member]
4/4/2007 2:57:58 PM
You need to sit down and decide what you really need the generator for: what is the bare-bones, essentials to continue living where you do?

For most people it's water - which, if city water, comes to your home via pressure from the mainlines which drop from those water towers to get pressurized. So long as the city can generate juice to pump water from their giant treatment plants to the towers, all is well.

For those with a well, water gets into your pipes thanks to a pump - an electric pump and usually passes through the water pressure pump (electric too) and possibly also a water softener, Reverse Osmosis or whole house filter (all electric).

So no electricity = no potable water. For me, that's the absolutely first priority to figure out how to handle. Some pumps are 220 AC, others 120AC. It's important to know this because even some small gas generators might not be able to power the pump or for long (and if you're on a well, this means you'll need to pump water into cisterns or holding buckets as a standard 44 gallon water pressurizer tank doesn't hold all that much...)

The next vital need apart from water: refrigeration to keep fresh/frozen foods

Then cooking foods

Then the civilized needs which are relatively easy to handle - the smaller appliances that make life civilized: lights, fans, smaller appliances, re-charge batteries, lap tops, communications (tv, radio, etc).

You can get light from the sun or candles or dynamo flashlights and you can cool or heat the home the old fashioned way.... but unless you (and above all the kids) are used to playing with toys and their imaginations, the Lap top dvd player might be a lifesaver.

If you can cook on solar,charcoal, wood, propane, alcohol, butane, etc. and heat the home with back up space heaters running on propane, kerosene, wood... your electric needs really boil down to getting clean water and maybe keeping foods cold.

A Dynamo system like http://store.sundancesolar.com/plsoensy.html and some batteries could do the trick for basic civilized needs indefinately so you can reserve your fueled generator for the essential water pump need.

TheNorm  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 3:33:54 PM

Originally Posted By Furner:

Originally Posted By Halffast:
Also no one is going to have a problem with a 500 or even 1000 gallon propane tank in your yard. The EPA, local FD, and your neighbors are not going to like that much gasoline lying around. HTH

David


good point.


This is exactly my thinking.

Propane stores much safer than gasoline. If you have multiple 30 lb or larger containers in an even marginally ventillated room, the risk of explosion is minimal in the case of a leak. If even a small amount of gasoline leaks from your storage, it can be bad news very fast.

I'm looking at multi-fuel carbs for my generator, but in a pinch you can run a gas one by feeding propane into the intake (start it up with gas, then switch over). I'm definitely NOT saying this is safe for operator or engine, just that it's possible...
iNuhBaDNayburhood  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 6:07:14 PM
So you're saying 26 gallons total of Gas is way too much to keep on hand and rotate frequently?

It'll be stored on a covered rack in the garage out of sight (off to the side).

Personally I don't think that's too much Gasoline. At my buddy's place he has a 29 Gallon Gas Caddy he uses to fill up his 4-wheeler & lawn mower (in a different suburb city).

He's got a caddy kind of like this (but an older version):


So is 26 gallons (2 medium size tanks) on a rack too much?
NRA2  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 6:48:07 PM
I got rid of a $3,500 propane only generator. Multi-fuel generator might be right for you. It was northern tool 8000 watt model with a 2 cyl Honda engine. It was a one speed loud as hell propane guzzeler. Two gallons/hour! and one speed regardless of the power load.

I went with a 3000 watt Honda EU3000 (5000 EU might be perfect for you?) that has an econo switch that is able to run what ever load might be happening and saves lots of gas. To run my 220 well pump, since the rest of my system is 110, I had a 400 dollar transformer installed that will pump my well water into my pressurized holding tanks.

We can overload the system but we figure out when the 220 well pump will be going on and make sure there are no, or mimimal loads on the system when that happens.

I don't have more than four 5-gal cans of gas stored. One could get a larger gravity fed holding tank depending on where you live. We do whatever we want up here.

Grove  [Member]
4/4/2007 7:59:29 PM
This is my generator advice based on my experience this year.

I live in MO and in January this year we went through an ice storm and I was without power for 13 days. My parents were without for 8 and 10. The frustrating thing about this was that I live inside the city while my parents live in a rural area outside it. I am on "city utilities" with pressurized city water, sewer, and my furnace and hot water heater are natural gas. My mother lives on 37 acres with a well, septic, and uses propane for heat and her water heater. My father is on 5 acres and is also well, septic, propane. The only utilites provided to them are electricity. Propane is stored in tanks and delivered via truck.

We had small gasoline lawn mower engine powered generators running our houses this entire time. Coleman 5500/6500 watt models to be exact. While this is the cheapest/easiest way to prepare for bad weather or SHTF situations it is also the biggest PITA and most unreliable. These portable generators are exactly that PORTABLE, they aren't called portable because they are meant to be permanent long term devices.

I spent several hours every day checking/changing oil and filling gasoline. Based on my experience your 26 gallons would run a small house with minimal applicances for a couple days. Most people will now argue that a couple days is more than enough for the average situation. Thats true but I've been through worse than average and thats what I'm telling you about so those people can shut up or quit reading.

Like I said before 26 gallons will get you a couple days. When you run out of gas on day 3 is where it gets interesting. Now you need to go the gas station. The gas stations that have power are most likely out of gas, the ones without power however do have gas...Quite the funny joke... Once you find a station with both ingredients it has a line down the street. After you wait in the line you then fill up your vehicle and as you start to fill your gas can (make sure you have containers b/c every single one is gone) someone starts screaming at you that you can't do that. Fortunately for me there was another very large gentlemen doing the same at the pump next to me and I was wearing my Glock 26 and had 2 clips so we decided if need be we would take the mob on together. Finally you get your gas and all you have to do is get home and fill your generator every 6-8 hours and keep it from getting stolen. All ours had log chains securing them. Our neighbors weren't that smart and their electricity left in the back of a black pickup.

I have tons of other interesting stories from that storm that I'm not getting into in this post but 2 things that suprised me the most were that I living in the middle of town was w/o power twice as long as my parents who were in a rural area. This was because in town they negleted to trim trees whereas the slash and burn method worked great outside of town. I made it a point to comment to my hipped tree hugger neighbors that had they not stopped the utility company from trimming the trees we might have had power. The other thing I learned was that its very hard to get GASOLINE.

Since this we have purchased Guardian 16KW automatic start generators that run on propane/natural gas for our homes and our businesses. The following are reasons I chose permanent auto starting LPG/NG generators over diesel or gasoline portables.

-permanent installation reduces possiblity of theft
-they automatically start themselves weekly to ensure operation and lubricate moving parts
-when the power goes out they start automatically (imagine being on vacation knowing your pipes are freezing and your fridge/freezer full of meat is melting onto your kitchen floor)
-if you have Natural Gas you have an unlimited supply of fuel (in the case of SHTF I realize the gas line might be damaged at some point but if thats the case all you gasoline and diesel people are just as screwed)
-if you have propane I strongly suggest renting/buying an extra tank strickly for your generator. My mom's house is large and her hot water heaters and furnaces use lots of propane. If something happened when the tank was low running the generator with those applicances means running out fast. This way we are insured that we will have appox 3-6 weeks of juice if needs be.
-permanent generators are quiet, comparable to an A/C unit
-permanent generators are made to run long periods of time and have pressurized oil systems
-its nice to have it wired into your entire house, no extension cords

I'm not saying portables are bad nor am I making fun of people that use them but these are the negatives I have experienced personally.

-they are loud like a lawn mower. That doesn't seem bad but try running your lawn mower outside your bedroom window for a few weeks. About the time you get to sleep its only because it ran out of gas.
-most portable gens have lawn mower engines which are made for occassional or temporary use. Not 24- or 312 hours in my case.
-easy to steal
-if you leave fuel in them it goes bad, gums up the carb and you are trying to clean a carb and gas tank in the dark
-if you don't know how to wire it into your breaker box yourself then you have to leave a window or door open for the 58473854 extension cords running through your house.
-gas and diesel are a pain to store and rotate, plus its dangerous to have xxxxgallons of it sitting around

If you still choose to use a portable generator simply because its cheaper or maybe you already have one I suggest you do the things listed below. Only do these if you generator is large enough to run the things in your house or you are smart enough to flip off the breakers of what it can't run. There are tons of charts online that will estimate applicance wattage. Gas blower in a furnace and a fridge don't take that much.

Put a plug like this on your house and wire it into your box. Its pretty easy but if you can't do it call an electrician.
Generator Outlet

By this cord to plug it in. Cord I made my own out of SO wire for alot less but you get the idea.

Have a long chain and something to attach it to. ie house, car, metal spike in ground

If you are running the generator non-stop I suggest changing the oil every few days.

At the end of each use of your generator you must do these things if you want it to startup easily the next time you need it.

-Drain the gas tank
-Run the engine till it dies then try to restart it. This gets all the gas from the carb.
-Change the oil
-Dribble some oil in the cylinder and turn the motor over.
-Put in a new plug (its only a $1)

Somebody mentioned the tri-fuel generators. These are very cool but they just weren't "automatic" enough for me.

Whit
Grove  [Member]
4/4/2007 8:07:08 PM
Propane tanks are available in underground configurations as well. Most companies won't rent these and they are about $2/gal to purchase. Above ground can be had for about $1/gal.

snakeshooter1  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 8:20:37 PM
ok propane tech here , lots of good points. 1 propane powered does cost you 10% in horsepower, not a big deal if you get a generator designed for propane or nat gas its already factored in. auto change over with propane system , the lights blink and come back on. propane actually is quieter when running than a comparabile gasoline engine. long term storage is good 11 yr old propane will run just as good as 11 day old propane. buried 1000 gallon tank is way to go but hey you can get tanks up to 30,000 gallons but any more than about 6,000 gallons and you get into permits. one gallon of propane liquid boils off at a rate of 270 gallons of vapor which is what the gens run on. i have one and wouldn't think of changing to gasoline or diesel period. one other thing an engine will last longer on propane than on gasoline, it burns cleaner. we normally get 250000 miles out of an engine and it spends lots more time pumping than running down hiway. so u can atleast double the mileage in actually run time. hope this helps.
Going_Commando  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 8:33:00 PM
Well, last year in February I think it was, we had a huge windstorm and the power was knocked out for a few days. The temps were definitely below 0. Now, my Dad used to be an Onan generator dealer, so we have a couple hanging around (3, 2 gas and 1 propane) and we loaned them all out to other people (we were in town and only lost power for a little while; town water, sewer, and run propane just about everything) and I must say that having to fill up the little tanks on those portable gas gennys is a pain in the ass. The propane one took a little while to start (he hadn't run it in a few years), but having those 100 lb. cylinders were handy. We have about 4 of them and I think the tank lasted at least a couple of days. That Onan was an older one that was a 10kw I think it was, and it was a little loud, but I don't think it was as bad as the portable gas ones. For gas gennys we had 1 3500 and 1 5000 if I remember correctly. One family we loaned the 3500 to didn't have power for 2 1/2 days or so, same with the family we loaned the propane genny to. The guy who had the gas genny had to run into town to get gas quite often. Something to keep in mind. Propane in any quantity is heavy, but like others have said, it doesn't go bad and you can buy it cheap enough in large quantities that you can fill up a 500 lb cylinder or some such just for the genny and not have to worry about it for a long time. If you can do it, then definitely go with a permanent genny around 10kw or so and you can run just about your whole house for a while, or run just the necessities for longer. As far as propane permanent generators go, Guardian is one of the less expensive models, but still good. You should also get a transfer switch so when the power goes out the generator automatically kicks on and gives power to whichever circuits you hook it up to. Transfer switches add an extra $400 or so, but at least you don't have to go and fire the generator up yourself in the -20 degree weather.
iNuhBaDNayburhood  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 9:40:13 PM
My other question is this:

How many of you actually know how to FIX your LP/NGas generator if it breaks?

I can fix & maintain a Gas engine with no problems. In the event of a winter power outage we're going to be mostly using it just to keep the furnace running, and provide us a limited amount of lighting in the basement. No lights allowed on upstairs besides flashlights/candles at night. Don't want to attract attention.

I'm thinking a more permanent NatGas genny might be good, but I'm only planning on bugging in for a short-term event.

Depending on the weather we're not planning on running the generator 24/7. If we ever have a long-term SHTF event (more than 2-3 days) we're bugging out no matter what anyway. We're heading to the BoL and most roads will be fairly plowed/cleared in 2-3 days. At least enough to get through.

A 5000watt might be suitable for my limited needs... If we have a prolonged situation I'll lock things up as best I can, and bug out. If someone steals my bolted & chained down little genny they can have it, the same with some items in my house. I've got insurance for theft, I'll be getting a decent gun safe, but taking most (I don't own many) guns with me, the BoB's, and some light food/water supplies.

Once at the BoL there's no need to worry about power, heat, fuel, or guns & ammo as there will be plenty.
EndGame  [Member]
4/4/2007 10:14:19 PM
iNuhBaD, we're practically neighbors. If the SHTF I'll just come to your place. Please stock up on some extra Doritos.



Actually I don't have a generator, because I'm not willing to store enough gas to last for more than a few days, and I'm more worried about events that last longer than that. Besides, I've got the heat and light things pretty well covered for a month or two with kero heaters and lanterns, propane heaters, and LED battery lights.

If you're mostly worried about heat in the winter, you might look into the ventless natural gas heaters that don't require electricity because they'll at least keep one room perfectly comfortable and there's a decent chance the natural gas will still work in most emergencies. Just crack a window and get a CO detector.
snakeshooter1  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 10:23:16 PM
i can fix it, actually only difference is that propane will have a regulator AND OR VAPORIZER on it depending on size! it still works on same principles and the regulator and vaporizer are just chambers with a diaphram in them. people freak out over the word propane fueled but its almost entirely same as gasoline engine. look at a forklift powered by it or a car. edited to add although you will only have vapor going through carb instead of liquid gasoline.
back40  [Member]
4/4/2007 11:12:21 PM
I don't understand why some people talk of running their gennies 7x24. Why do you need it running all night? If it's cold outside, heat the house up real warm, then shut it off for 8 hours.

I went with a two generator solution. I've got a gas sucking loud noise making Generac 7000EXL to run the well pump, washing machine, water heater, etc. I can't see needing to run that more than an hour a day.

I've also just picked up a Honda EU2000i to run things like the furnace blower, small TV, laptop, lamps, fridge, etc. Probably not all at the same time, but in reasonable rationing.

I also like the EU2000i as backup power for my sump pump. Right now that's going off about once every 5 minutes, which is down from about every minute last week. The water would be deep in my basement if the power went out after a rain storm, which is when that's most likely to happen.

For those pushing the virtues of permanent Guardian type generators, that's all fine and dandy, but what do these things cost to run? I remember watching the news a couple years ago and one guy down in Florida was bragging about his whole house genny, but it was costing him $100/day in NG to run!
EJSANDSTROM  [Member]
4/4/2007 11:12:56 PM

How many of you actually know how to FIX your LP/NGas generator if it breaks?




Ohohoh Pick me.
I can most defiantly fix one but then again if I couldn't I would be out of a job. IMHO Your best solution is a NG/LPV. Its not going to be portable and there for much tougher to steal. As far a a vaporizer goes here in MN we have to heat them. This costs money every month whether or not you use it. Then you run on NG on a weekly basis but if SHTF and they shut off the gas, you automatically switch over to LPV. Stay away from the high speed unit (3600RPM) they are way louder and wont runt for as long in a SHTF months on end run. Most people do no bury there tanks in your Hood, but that doesn't mean that you cant. P.S. If you do go with a guardian opt for a start up by the local Generac USD. You can call Generac and they will give you the number. This could save you a lot of headaches in the future.

P.S. If you need any help, I do work for ammo. If you have more questions PM me...
Thanks
-E
back40  [Member]
4/4/2007 11:28:19 PM
I also highly recommend getting a Kill-a-watt power meter to measure things before connecting them up to the genny.

They are also just fun to have to measure stuff.

I have been thinking for a whiole that if I ever build another house, I'll probably bury a 1000 gallon pig in the yard as backup juice in case the grid NG goes down.

I'd never recommend putting in an above ground LP pig if you're relying on it for SHTF. One round of .30 cal and it's all over with.

iNuhBaDNayburhood  [Team Member]
4/4/2007 11:37:59 PM

Originally Posted By EndGame:
iNuhBaD, we're practically neighbors. If the SHTF I'll just come to your place. Please stock up on some extra Doritos.
That'll kind of depend upon my wifey & what she says...

Actually I don't have a generator, because I'm not willing to store enough gas to last for more than a few days, and I'm more worried about events that last longer than that...
Yeah, that's a big issue for most people. Thankfully I don't have to worry too much about long-term SHTF...yet.

...you might look into the ventless natural gas heaters that don't require electricity because they'll at least keep one room perfectly comfortable and there's a decent chance the natural gas will still work in most emergencies. Just crack a window and get a CO detector.
Actually, we already DO have a Natural Gas fireplace (heater) in the finished 1/2 of the basement. It works quite well for the one half of the basement (and we can crack the window), but ideally keeping the whole house heated would be better to reduce the chance of water pipes bursting (which I know first hand happens in the cold MN Winters).

I still need to pick up a battery powered CO detector though. We've got an outlet-fed one, but if the power is out and we're running that for heat, THAT's when we'll need the CO detector the most.

As for power outages, anything lasting 3 days and I'm buggin out on that third day REGARDLESS. I only care to prep for 3-4 days w/o electricity in the cities. If it goes longer than that I don't want to be around. Last year around the 4th of July and Easter the large chain grocery stores like Rainbow Foods were CLEANED OUT the morning of the holiday! The meat department was EMPTY, the seafood department was almost cleaned out, and the shelf-stocked items were pretty slim... That was during a HOLIDAY WEEKEND. People were swearing/screaming over the last steaks in the meat dept (I got 'em), and almost fighting over the last packs of packaged/frozen chicken.

I've been through the U of MN Hocky Riots, the 2000 & 2004 Election Protest/Riots (Mace is your friend; Peaceful assembly my ass)... The civil unrest & mob mentality here are CRAZY. A 2-day power outage is TOUGH for MN people to handle. A 3-day or more could be catastrophic. I'd hate to see what would happen if a Tornado ripped down the main lines between the Monticello Nuke Plant, and the Cities here, and something happened to the Xcel plant in StPaul. Hysteria on an unprecedented scale.

If anything appears to be going on longer than 3-days I'm OUTTA HERE. I'll make food/meds/water preps for about 1-2 weeks (which will help in a summer situation), but at the first sign of civil unrest I'm packing as much important stuff up (given time, capacity, and immediacy of threat level) and we're gone.

For my purposes (charging batteries, running a select few lights, and powering the furnace and basement refrigerator), I think I'll be pretty well off for a few days just using a 5000W Gas Genny (although the Natural Gas Genny sounds GREAT, but what's the total cost difference?), and keeping Gasoline on hand and rotating supplies isn't a problem for me. I actually LIKE changing my own oil & working on stuff (small engines, oil changes, changing brake pads in my cars, etc.), it's theraputic, and gives me peace of mind that it was done right and not by some high-school drop-out working @ the instant oil change place who doesn't know how to change the air filter, or can't find where he put the oil filler cap .

In the event of a major blizzard or power outage, I can work from a laptop computer at home and weather out the storm for 2-3 days. Anything longer than that and we're gone to the BoL.
EndGame  [Member]
4/5/2007 12:42:18 AM

Originally Posted By iNuhBaDNayburhood:
If anything appears to be going on longer than 3-days I'm OUTTA HERE. I'll make food/meds/water preps for about 1-2 weeks (which will help in a summer situation), but at the first sign of civil unrest I'm packing as much important stuff up (given time, capacity, and immediacy of threat level) and we're gone.


Okay, just leave the Doritos at home.
graywolf  [Team Member]
4/5/2007 12:20:59 PM
I have a propane generator, they run quiet and they will last much longer than gas, I know a guy who has several LP tractors on his farm they run and run and run ,,,one has 9000hrs runs like new
MiamiARFan  [Team Member]
4/5/2007 12:35:44 PM
Last year we installed a 16kw propane generator with automatic transfer switch. We were selective as to which circuits were powered on the genny to reduce the size of the generator. We went with propane because we have natural gas to the house. After several hurricanes, natural gas is a requirement for me, not an option. While our neighbors had no hot water or ability to cook, we had both. Now with the generator, we will have power too. Yes, the generator is suseptible to gas supply interruptions, but we haven't had a problem with the underground lines before, during or after any of the hurricanes to date. I also have 2 gas powered generators as backup that were bought before we got the whole house unit.
NukeThemTillTheyGlow  [Team Member]
4/5/2007 12:57:40 PM
OST. This is a very interesting topic. I've learned a lot since I picked up a 5550w portable gas unit.

ETA: One thing I've learned is that you want a transfer switch if you have a portable (its a given for a built in). The TS will give you the maximum flexibility to run your various equipment in your house as well as much more convenient and safer (cords not running all over the place, open windows, etc.).
FS_653  [Member]
4/5/2007 3:17:08 PM
Propane definitely has its strong points, fuel storage being one of the main factors besides longevity factor when it comes to engine life. I had originally intended to convert the 10KW Generac unit that I have, but finding the parts to convert a 4cylinder engine was easier said than done. I did end up getting a lit from a Generac dealer, but it ended up being the wrong one and would need a lot of modifications to work.

In the end I went with a 12KW diesel of the non-electric variety, once started all it needs is fuel and the only way to stop it is to shut off the fuel supply. The non-electric factor was one thing that I considered when it comes to any kind of EMP event. Most of the larger home standby units that are powered by propane or gasoline have some pretty extensive electronics for regulating the functions of the engine and electricity production, aka engine controller.

If an EMP event were to occur the only piece that I would have to change is the voltage regulator if it were to get zapped rather than the entire control, and possibly ignition, system on a propane or gasoline engine.

Just my $.02, YMMV

c0

98% of the population is asleep. The other 2% are staring around in complete amazement, abject terror, or both.
falloutshelter653.org
EJSANDSTROM  [Member]
4/5/2007 6:09:44 PM

but finding the parts to convert a 4cylinder engine was easier said than done


If you had a NG and want to switch to LPV you take the spring out of the secondary reg and flip it over. No part required. NG to LP you need a vaporizer, hich pressure shut off, and replumb the heater. FWIW anyway....
FS_653  [Member]
4/5/2007 7:39:25 PM

If you had a NG and want to switch to LPV you take the spring out of the secondary reg and flip it over. No part required. NG to LP you need a vaporizer, hich pressure shut off, and replumb the heater. FWIW anyway....


My Bad! I should have noted that the 10KW Generac is a gasoline model.

c0

98% of the population is asleep. The other 2% are staring around in complete amazement, abject terror, or both.
falloutshelter653.org
snakeshooter1  [Team Member]
4/5/2007 9:48:07 PM
generac should have parts in stock to convert. but if its 4 cylinder car engine all you need is a lock off and vaporizer and mixer off any propane forklift or older motor fuel application.
paul1911  [Team Member]
4/5/2007 10:59:07 PM
Question for the guys with the propane systems any idea on costs?

Grove how much propane does your system go through. I am thinking about a propane system b/c I have a 1000 gal tank on site already. I saw some systems at home depot that were gerac, but I thought people here were not big fans.

JoshAR  [Team Member]
4/6/2007 12:17:52 AM

Originally Posted By paul1911:
Question for the guys with the propane systems any idea on costs?

Grove how much propane does your system go through. I am thinking about a propane system b/c I have a 1000 gal tank on site already. I saw some systems at home depot that were gerac, but I thought people here were not big fans.



Great Charts here Paul:

www.yamaha-propane-natural-gas-generators.com/fuel_consumption.htm
_RAGNAR_  [Team Member]
4/6/2007 12:33:01 AM
Another advantage is you can slowly relace every appliance in your house with a propane model. Then your eletricity needs will go way down.
Wipeout  [Team Member]
4/6/2007 12:49:08 AM
I'm tagging this thread since there is a lot of good info here. A genny will probably be one of my first purchases once I find a house. Thanks Inuh
FS_653  [Member]
4/6/2007 1:08:33 AM

generac should have parts in stock to convert. but if its 4 cylinder car engine all you need is a lock off and vaporizer and mixer off any propane forklift or older motor fuel application.


The parts that the Generac Dealer provided were wrong in a big way, though I cannot totally fault them. The NP100G model is older and many of the parts are nonexistent for the most part, only the common parts like the controller board and voltage regulator are readily available (at a price!)

This is one of the reasons that I made the move to Diesel for backup power. The 10KW will still have its uses, but no longer as the primary backup power source for my house.

c0

98% of the population is asleep. The other 2% are staring around in complete amazement, abject terror, or both.
falloutshelter653.org
Grove  [Member]
4/8/2007 12:26:40 PM

Originally Posted By paul1911:
Question for the guys with the propane systems any idea on costs?

Grove how much propane does your system go through. I am thinking about a propane system b/c I have a 1000 gal tank on site already. I saw some systems at home depot that were gerac, but I thought people here were not big fans.



Since propane tanks can only be used down to 20% I figured that provides about 3 weeks of heavy run time or a max of 6 weeks. In one situation we put a dedicated 1000 gallon on the generator alone.

Whit
Tight-group  [Team Member]
4/8/2007 5:57:18 PM

Originally Posted By Grove:

Originally Posted By paul1911:
Question for the guys with the propane systems any idea on costs?

Grove how much propane does your system go through. I am thinking about a propane system b/c I have a 1000 gal tank on site already. I saw some systems at home depot that were gerac, but I thought people here were not big fans.



Since propane tanks can only be used down filled upto 20%of water capacity. I figured that provides about 3 weeks of heavy run time or a max of 6 weeks. In one situation we put a dedicated 1000 gallon on the generator alone.
Whit


I have a friend with a 7K generac that says he would get about 24 hrs on 4.5 gal
of pane (he used the 20 lbers)under light load house building conditions

now those might not be 100% accurate numbers as I would guess more like
20 gallons per day under normal running cond.

And I would deffinetly NOT buy more gen than I needed.
paul1911  [Team Member]
4/8/2007 6:36:51 PM
Any recomendations on a stady by propane genny?

Tight-group  [Team Member]
4/8/2007 7:13:48 PM

Originally Posted By paul1911:
Any recomendations on a stand by propane genny?



how much you got to spend?

I'd look for the small generac propane unit 7K and a used 330 gallon tank
with the fill and shell out around $3,700.

that would give me about 1 month of use @12 hrs per day.

On the short a 4K electric from harbor freight and used pane equip from ebay
for a total of $800 and three 100lb tanks filled for another $450

that should give me about 10 days at 10 hrs per day
AGreyMan  [Member]
4/9/2007 8:15:26 PM
Another factor may be the cost of the fuel. Before last winter, I filled my LP tank for $1.67/gallon. Diesel in our area is $2.89. Gasoline is $2.79.

I know that there's not as many BTUs in a gallon of LP as in gasoline or diesel, but I wonder how it averages out in $ per KW.

Been considering a Honda powered Coleman Powerstation. I try to do my preps in such a way that if I wasn't around, my wife could manage it despite caring for two kids. To me, that means an automatic transfer switch and an autostart generator, coupled to a 1000 gallon LP tank. I'd love a diesel, but any quality diesel I have found (Kubota, Onan, etc) is about double the money.

Stay Safe,
AGreyMan
Aardvark  [Member]
4/9/2007 8:46:05 PM

Originally Posted By Halffast:
The good thing about propane is that it doesn't degrade over time like gasoline does. Even treated gasoline will start going bad in a year. The bad thing about propane is that it doesn't contain as many BTU's per gallon as gas. So you will use more of it than you do gasoline. However, (this is a SWAG) I don't think your usage would be more than 10 to 20 percent more.

While my generator is gasoline, the long term storage advantage of propane is one reason I am looking at bi-fuel or tri-fuel conversion kits (gasoline, propane, methane). Gasoline is great for its convenience but lousy in storage. At least with a multi-fuel support, I have options. Methane would probably be useless since if there is no electricity due to TEOTWAKI there probably won't be any gas service either.
paul1911  [Team Member]
4/9/2007 9:29:58 PM
I already have a 1000 gal tank for the house, so that is not an issue. Does anyone have a generac and like it? I thought they had issues. As for the cost of LP, I filled mine for 1.59 over the winter.
POG926  [Member]
4/10/2007 1:56:51 AM
I have a Generac model 4390. 16KW At the time I was looking it was the largest air cooled unit that I could find. I did think about going with a liquid cooled unit but the initial cost was too high for my budget. I paid $2700 for mine. Now I'm not a mechanic by any means but I figured parts would be more readily available should something go wrong and cheaper to reapair kind of along the lines of having my riding mower repaired vs having my truck repaired. I'm adding a pretty big addition to my house so I'll be adding another generator. I thought about just getting a bigger unit but again the cost and ofcourse Murphys law would strike because I did decide to go with one unit. I just upgraded to a 1000 gallon tank and that will run my house on a full load for roughly 11 days. Now if something really bad were to happen and I lose power for a prolong period of time I can always shut my generator down and only run it for a few hours a day, enough to run my well, freezers and heat.

Oh and by the way I like really like my Generac.
_RAGNAR_  [Team Member]
4/10/2007 3:20:40 AM
POG926 have you thought about propane appliances? it also looks like you need a much bigger tank!

When I worked in Africa, we had two generators , each large enough to run the house. We ran each twelve hours a day. Thats what everyone that wants power does. These are houses that ran off of those generators for years, not weeks or months. It was the only power those houses and compounds would ever have.
Grove  [Member]
4/10/2007 6:18:26 PM

Originally Posted By POG926:
I have a Generac model 4390. 16KW At the time I was looking it was the largest air cooled unit that I could find. I did think about going with a liquid cooled unit but the initial cost was too high for my budget. I paid $2700 for mine. Now I'm not a mechanic by any means but I figured parts would be more readily available should something go wrong and cheaper to reapair kind of along the lines of having my riding mower repaired vs having my truck repaired. I'm adding a pretty big addition to my house so I'll be adding another generator. I thought about just getting a bigger unit but again the cost and ofcourse Murphys law would strike because I did decide to go with one unit. I just upgraded to a 1000 gallon tank and that will run my house on a full load for roughly 11 days. Now if something really bad were to happen and I lose power for a prolong period of time I can always shut my generator down and only run it for a few hours a day, enough to run my well, freezers and heat.

Oh and by the way I like really like my Generac.


Have you thought about adding a 2nd tank that is always full. You could isolate it to the generator or have it on a tee.

Whit
paul1911  [Team Member]
4/10/2007 9:22:19 PM

POG926, thanks for the info. Did you put it in yourself or pay to put it in?

sniper1886  [Member]
4/10/2007 9:27:37 PM
propane doesnot degrade, storage can be as much as 1000gals per tank and you can put them underground so nobody knows you have them.
GTZ  [Member]
4/10/2007 9:49:35 PM
Tri fuel kit for about $260 and you can run on all 3 and switch back and forth at will.

POG926  [Member]
4/11/2007 1:04:00 AM
I have propane for my heat downstairs and a heat pump for upstairs and my cooktop is propane as well. I did think about going with another tank in addition to the 1000 gal tank I have now, but my addition ain't cheap so the additional tank is on the back burner for now. It was either have another 1000 gal. tank and give up my walk in vault or get the vault and the tank later. I bet you can guess which one I opted for.

Several buddies and me went in and bought 7 generators and that’s how we were able to get a good deal. I did not do the install myself. I did pour a concrete foundation and bolt it to that so I wouldn’t come home one day and find out someone had taken it for a ride in their truck. I had several contractors come out and give a bid, one for the electric hookup and one for the gas line work. Those two damn near were the cost of the unit. There were several things I learned and I didn’t do the install. One thing you have to keep in mind with the Generac unit is in order for it to be covered under warranty you need to have an authorized Generac installer hook it up. They do the startup check sheet that has to be sent to Generac for warranty purposes. Another thing I learned is if you get a unit and want the full KW output from propane you have to get the adapter from Generac. My contractor told me that if they ordered the part it would cost almost $300 but if I called Generac it was free. I also needed to get a bigger circuit breaker for the unit itself, I think 60 amp to 70 amp. One thing I’m going to do that my buddies did was install and quick disconnect / connect line so I can run a hose to my grill.

If I can ever figure out how to post pics I’ll show you all my hook up.

I like the Tri Fuel kit idea, I’ll have to investigate that some more.
AGreyMan  [Member]
4/11/2007 10:40:34 AM
Grove brings up an excellent point: Switching between larger tanks.

For instance, I have a 500 gallon tank that runs the house (stove, furnace, water heater, dryer) currently. When I get the 1000 gallon and put it right next to the 500 gallon (or optimally, bury it) is there a flexible line and connectors rated for LP at LP pressures? For instance, minor TSHTF, and I was lazy and didn't have my 500 gallon filled, so 3 weeks into the event in January, I am looking at no furnace. Is there a way I can quick disconnect my feedline to the house and connect it to the 1000 gallon tank, then change it back?

Thanks.

Stay Safe,
AGreyMan

Tight-group  [Team Member]
4/11/2007 11:18:43 AM

Originally Posted By AGreyMan:
Grove brings up an excellent point: Switching between larger tanks.

For instance, I have a 500 gallon tank that runs the house (stove, furnace, water heater, dryer) currently. When I get the 1000 gallon and put it right next to the 500 gallon (or optimally, bury it) is there a flexible line and connectors rated for LP at LP pressures? For instance, minor TSHTF, and I was lazy and didn't have my 500 gallon filled, so 3 weeks into the event in January, I am looking at no furnace. Is there a way I can quick disconnect my feedline to the house and connect it to the 1000 gallon tank, then change it back?

Thanks.

Stay Safe,
AGreyMan



there's a quicker way that that, get a 2nd regulator for the 1000 and tee it into the
line to the house then when one tank gets low just turn onthe other valve

the line going to the house is only 5-8psi, the regulators are cheap $30-40
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