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SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1

2 edits

2 recommendations

Portable Propane Generator Project- Complete!

After much planning and research, my propane generator project is finally complete. It's a unique setup, and many who have seen it have thought it is pretty clever and not anything they'd seen before. So I thought I'd post some pics here hoping it might be helpful for someone else in my situation- maybe provide some ideas or inspiration.

Once I decided to install a generator system, I researched different panel setups and generators. Since my home runs off propane pretty much exclusively (and I have a large capacity tank), I decided to go with a propane-only portable generator. I was never really interested in the standby generators for a variety of reasons, and focused on propane-only and tri-fuel generators.

After lots of homework, I chose the Sportsman GEN7000LP generator and had the propane regulator hose modified to fit into my home system. A small run of copper piping sized large enough for the generator btu load was already installed and terminated at the end of my deck with a BBQ grill quick disconnect box (by the propane company).

That was then connected to the gas inlet hose modified by the propane company (regulator removed from generator hose, coupled to btu-sized hose, and permanently joined together with a quick disconnect ending) to supply the generator with fuel.

On the electrical side, a licensed electrician installed the GE Generator Interlock Kit (manufactured specifically for my panel), ran a length of cable from the panel to the GenTran 30A Inlet, and made up a 25ft. length of heavy duty weather resistant cable with 4-prong plugs. Electrician said a separate grounding electrode was not needed for this installation, and that position was confirmed by the AHJ.

Once all connected together, my generator can supply 6000 continuous watts of power, and under real test loads, performed very well. I ran the furnace, well pump, tankless hot water heater, fridges and freezer, and a few lights with no problems whatsoever (for a few hours actually). It performed very well under "simulated" power outages. AHJ inspected and approved the entire installation.

This project took a lot of time, research, thought and planning, and to be honest, I'm pretty proud of the result. I'd recommend a similar setup for anyone who has a large capacity propane tank on their property and doesn't want the install cost of a standby, needs portable use as well as home use, and/or doesn't want the hassles of gasoline.

All in all, a project well done I think. I am very pleased with the results.


Msradell
P.E.
Premium
join:2008-12-25
Louisville, KY
Looks great! One of the neatest portable generator installations I've ever seen.

patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
reply to SwedishRider
Whats with that ugly rusting coupler near the quick connect in the white box? Shouldve used schedule 80 stainless steel flange joint fittings


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1
said by patcat88:

Whats with that ugly rusting coupler near the quick connect in the white box? Shouldve used schedule 80 stainless steel fittings

That was the propane company.. when it comes to propane, I let the pros handle it regardless how it looks..

But that is why there is a plastic cover

patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
said by SwedishRider:

But that is why there is a plastic cover

The cover isn't IP68 rated


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1

1 edit
said by patcat88:

said by SwedishRider:

But that is why there is a plastic cover

The cover isn't IP68 rated

That cover is standard for other installed propane gas grill quick disconnects i have seen... and I know the connections used on those were not stainless steel either. Not sure if it is required by code.. I don't think so as there were no problems red flagged. The pipe that connects my house to the 3/4 poly isn't stainless either.

I was just kidding about the cover by the way..


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1
reply to Msradell
said by Msradell:

Looks great! One of the neatest portable generator installations I've ever seen.

Thank you!

patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
reply to SwedishRider
said by SwedishRider:

I was just kidding about the cover by the way..

I'm joking about doing your propane to nuclear power plant plumbing code. But that coupler looks like they found it outside in the mud next to their depot. The galvanized or black should take atleast a year or 2 before its pure surface rust.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to SwedishRider
What is the drain line coming from the regulator for? And what's the purpose of what effectively becomes a trap?


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1
said by cdru:

What is the drain line coming from the regulator for? And what's the purpose of what effectively becomes a trap?

The white PVC is there to "backpipe" the regulator vent. If the regulator fails, it can discharge propane at 10 psi. By code, vent discharge point must be at least 5 feet from appliance intakes and sources of ignition. The pvc moved the discharge point 8 ft away from anything critical so everything meets code.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12

1 recommendation

reply to SwedishRider
Everything looks good. The only thing I don't care for is the generator itself.

The propane setup makes good sense.
--
...because I care.


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1
said by nunya:

Everything looks good. The only thing I don't care for is the generator itself.

The propane setup makes good sense.

I really shopped around before I bought that model and honestly, there aren't too many portable propane-only models in the market right now. Generac has one and its only 3250 watts! Most portables top out around 5500 watts when propane powered. There were a few higher wattage units with the trifuel kit, but they were really expensive.

That buffalo tools generator has solid reviews overall and performed really well in my test runs... we'll see how it holds up in the long run.. I am optimistic.

Speedy Petey

join:2008-01-19
reply to patcat88
said by patcat88:

Whats with that ugly rusting coupler near the quick connect in the white box? Shouldve used schedule 80 stainless steel flange joint fittings

It amazes me how every plumber and even utility/gas companies use black pipe and fittings outdoors.
This is SOP in my area, and no one has ever had a reasonable reason for it.

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
reply to SwedishRider
Beautiful job, you should be proud.

As for that coupler, wipe it down with Naval Jelly, clean it off and prime/paint it with Rustoleum.

All and all excellent work, may you never need to use it.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
reply to SwedishRider
You could have gotten a 7 kW Briggs + a tri-fuel kit for about $300-$400 more than what you paid for the Chinese unit. The bonus would be you could use Gasoline (or NG) if need be.
--
...because I care.


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1
said by nunya:

You could have gotten a 7 kW Briggs + a tri-fuel kit for about $300-$400 more than what you paid for the Chinese unit. The bonus would be you could use Gasoline (or NG) if need be.

True to a point... I would also have needed to pay someone to install said tri-fuel kit, and that would have added cost and travel expense to the project. I called around... none of the small engine shops around here wanted to do the install... and none sold propane-only or tri-fuel generators from their shops.

Plus, you are assuming that my generator will fail miserably in the short run, which really isn't fair. It has yet to prove it's worth over time, but I'm sure even the brand names have made some lemons. Time will tell if this unit is quality or not, but I'm willing to give it a fair shake.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Most of the kits I've seen are fairly easy to install. No shop needed.
--
...because I care.


Anorexorcist
Premium
join:2005-08-21
Stamford, CT
reply to SwedishRider
I think the install looks fantastic. Congrats. I hope it serves you well!


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to nunya
cmon Nunya, I know you are very fancy about generator choices, but of all his setup, the generator is the most non-permanent part/choice. If one day he sees things "your way", it will be easy to change, unlike the rest


49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3
reply to nunya
said by nunya:

Most of the kits I've seen are fairly easy to install. No shop needed.

That is if one has a drill press and a matching vise to hold the carburetor just so, plus all of the properly sized drill bits (lets not forget we are going to be modifying the engines carburetor and things have to be just right), now failing to do so, one can plan on tossing a few carburetor bodies in the trash and then be ordering a few more as time advances.

Or one can do it the proper way and send off their carburetor to a company, who will not only properly modify that carburetor, they will send it back with a “NFPA” complaint conversion package, which by the way I cannot find on the Net, anyone else who sells conversions that meets that particular fuel gas code”…

»www.propane-conversions.com/

Wayne
--
"It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence." - Charles A. Beard


aannoonn

@optonline.net
reply to SwedishRider
Now all you need to do is pray for a power failure!

I'm over 50 years old, and the longest power failure we've ever had anywhere I've lived was less than 10 hours. I can live with that.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
Yeah well us modern technology junkies cannot go without it more than a few hours..... And only by keeping busy at something else that doesn't require power.


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1
reply to aannoonn
said by aannoonn :

Now all you need to do is pray for a power failure!

I'm over 50 years old, and the longest power failure we've ever had anywhere I've lived was less than 10 hours. I can live with that.

Please, no more power failures... CT has had enough recently to last another 25+ years!

There were people here in Connecticut who were out of power for 14+ days. I lost power for about 2 days during Hurricane Irene, and not at all for the freak October snowstorm.

I see CL&P furiously cutting limbs and making repairs to their infrastructure locally... I think they know CT residents won't tolerate another round of power outages like we had last fall. But I can't be sure of how long I'll be out with certainty anymore...

I think my solution didn't break the bank, and is simple and effective. It leverages the main house fuel I use (propane), supplies enough power to get through an outage with critical circuits intact (Furnace, well pump, water heater, fridges, freezer and a few lights), and lets me pick and choose what circuits I want rather than be set with a specific set in a transfer switch. Plus I can get propane currently in the $2.15/gal range at the moment... far cheaper than oil or gasoline.


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1
reply to 49528867
said by 49528867:

Or one can do it the proper way and send off their carburetor to a company, who will not only properly modify that carburetor, they will send it back with a "NFPA" complaint conversion package, which by the way I cannot find on the Net, anyone else who sells conversions that meets that particular fuel gas code"...

Which, while very cool, costs money... driving up the price of the overall project. Not to say that it would be money wasted... just money that I couldn't justify for this project.

And I suspect your analysis of what's needed to modify a generator carburetor to accept propane and/or natural gas is correct as none of the shops I called wanted anything to do with a propane conversion.


Dell User
Premium
join:2002-01-21
Waterford, CT
reply to SwedishRider
Nice Job!
Looks like you have put a lot of thought into the project.

I have a couple of questions if you don't mind..

How often do you start the generator ?
Where or how do you store it when not in use?
Is it ok to run these thing in the rain and snow
or do they need to be covered?


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1

1 edit
said by Dell User:

Nice Job!
Looks like you have put a lot of thought into the project.

Thank you! I did put a lot of thought into this generator project.. my wife would probably think I put too much time into thinking about it.

I have a couple of questions if you don't mind..

How often do you start the generator ?

Once in a while... since it's propane, it's not susceptible to carburetor gumming or fouling. It does need to run for maybe an hour or so every other month I guess. I've been trying to get out there with it on and off at least once a month. I've read that propane portables can go 3-4 months before needing to run them, but I don't think I'll go that long. Once every month or every other month for a short time sounds about right to me.

Where or how do you store it when not in use?

In the Garage. I have seen some housing units that claim to allow you to run them while enclosed, but that would make me nervous. You can also just buy a plastic enclosure or a cover and leave it outside, but again... I spent good money on it and want to keep it in the best shape possible.

Is it ok to run these thing in the rain and snow
or do they need to be covered?

They need to be covered. My propane generator cannot be run in inclement weather, and for me, that's okay. I have seen as least one generator that is All-Weather rated (made by Stanley). You could also opt for a standby generator (fixed and hooked to a propane or natural gas source) and they will work in all weather, but as with everything else, have pros and cons.

Hope that helped!


Dell User
Premium
join:2002-01-21
Waterford, CT
said by SwedishRider:

Hope that helped!

Yes, Thank you

KirkyInCT

join:2008-11-04
Higganum, CT
kudos:1
reply to SwedishRider
Good job, nice to see a code compliant install, rather than what many people have been doing. I just spent probably 6K on my install (14Kw Kohler propane powered standby). I'm praying for a decent power outage though, because I need to make all that work worth it.

The inspector was telling me all sort of horror stories of what people were doing during our outages. I'm surprised we didn't hear any reports of dead linemen quite honestly.

Kudos to you!

BTW - I'm testing mine about every three months, I don't want to cause un necessary wear on the engine. Most wear is during startup, and doing a weekly test just doesn't make sense.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2

1 recommendation

reply to aannoonn
said by aannoonn :

Now all you need to do is pray for a power failure!

I'm over 50 years old, and the longest power failure we've ever had anywhere I've lived was less than 10 hours. I can live with that.

He bought the generator. He's not going to have another power failure until the generator isn't working anymore.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to nunya
said by nunya:

You could have gotten a 7 kW Briggs + a tri-fuel kit for about $300-$400 more than what you paid for the Chinese unit. The bonus would be you could use Gasoline (or NG) if need be.

Briggs are just as bad. Most of them these days *are* Chinese units.