dslreports logo
site
 
    All Forums Hot Topics Gallery
spc

spacer




how-to block ads


Search Topic:
uniqs
11498
share rss forum feed


ITICharlie1
Premium
join:2003-01-22
Saint Louis, MO

Convert from gasoline to tri-fuel

With all the talk on generators, I thought I would convert mine to use tri-fuel. I have a 7000 watt Honeywell that uses a Honda GX390 engine. Using Google I do see a lot of conversion kits, but I don't know anything about them. Has anyone done one of these conversions, and which kit is the best? I also have to have a NG gas line run to the back of the garage where I have the inlet box for the 4 prong power cable.
--
Don't let my reality hinder your imagination!



alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

What`s your budget?

Running a NG line might cost more than the conversion kit.

This website is pretty popular AFAIK for buying kits
»www.propane-generators.com/order_page.htm

Kit C and kit 4 would be tri-fuel, their differences are kit C should be used on 12hp or less generators (yours is 11.7).

Im thinking Kit C would be okay, plus they say it's easier to install than kit 4.



nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
reply to ITICharlie1

Yes. My first was one of my Hondas. I think I'm going to do another here soon (B&S).
The "C" kit seems like its the easiest.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.



SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:1
reply to ITICharlie1

My generator is propane-only and I can quick-connect it to my home propane system which has a 500 gallon propane tank. Your NG setup would be similar to my propane setup, and trust me... it'll be awesome to have virtually limitless fuel right on site when you need it. It might be a bit pricey to setup, but it'll be a whole lot better than gasoline-only when needed. You'll avoid the gasoline availability issues that are plaguing Sandy victims in NY and Jersey.

I have never installed a tri-fuel kit, but I'd spend the money and do it... it'll be worth it the first time you really need it.



alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

said by SwedishRider:

Your NG setup would be similar to my propane setup, and trust me... it'll be awesome to have virtually limitless fuel right on site when you need it.

meh I wish I could do it too. Then again, so far I don't see the NG line upgrade cost amortize itself vs. price of fuel anytime soon


jack b
Gone Fishing
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
kudos:1
reply to ITICharlie1

I installed a type 4 kit from US Carburation on my 5KW Coleman with a 10 HP briggs & stratton engine. It got a little tight for the air cleaner cover clearance to the frame cradle after bolting in the carb adapter. The rest went pretty easy.

Run a large enough fuel line, you don't want to starve the engine. I ran about 60 ft of 1 inch black pipe out to my attached garage.

Works as advertised. I'm pleased as can be, with it!
--
~Help Find a Cure for Cancer~
~Proud Member of Team Discovery ~


robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

said by SwedishRider:

Your NG setup would be similar to my propane setup, and trust me... it'll be awesome to have virtually limitless fuel right on site when you need it.

meh I wish I could do it too. Then again, so far I don't see the NG line upgrade cost amortize itself vs. price of fuel anytime soon

I'm curious -- how do you quantify this? If you look at what happened after Sandy, the actual cost of fuel after a disaster appears to be the smallest part of the equation.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to ITICharlie1

My EU6500iS has a GX390. I am considering a propane carb and a quick disconnect so I can hook it up to the big tank. Only thing I don't want to do is drill the side and put an ugly regulator.

What do you guys do about the regulator?


kherr
Premium
join:2000-09-04
Collinsville, IL
Reviews:
·Charter

2 edits
reply to robbin

Just to throw this out, which would be ultimately cheaper to run, gasoline or NG?? Not counting having to run the pipe or added expense of either converting to a "tri/bi-fuel" add-on or added cost to buy it new that way??

Another thought, would you derate the output when fueled with NG??



alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

1 edit
reply to robbin

well by my calculations of what i pay for ng and gasoline, a 72h outage, running at 50% average capacity of the generator, i'd spend 110$ more on gasoline.

Problem is, for me i probably wont average more than 12h to 24h a year (my location is super calm). It would take me about 3-6 years to recoup just the cost of the tri-fuel kit.
Then there is the cost of running at least 30 feet of additional piping for ng in the house and buy a 40 feet flex hose for outside.

Of course, that's just for my situation.



ITICharlie1
Premium
join:2003-01-22
Saint Louis, MO

I know the prices in this are not current, but this will give some idea what it would cost to run a generator on gasoline, NG and propane...

The Relative Efficiency of Gasoline, Natural Gas, and Propane Fuels For Back-Up Generators
By Bruce Dishongh

When purchasing a generator as a back-up power supply for your home, one thing to consider is which type of fuel you will be using. While there are several other important factors when buying a generator, this article is only concerned with the method of comparing the relative efficiency between gasoline, natural gas and propane.

The first thing to understand is the equivalent ratio of energy output for the three fuels as expressed in BTUs, the commonly used unit of energy. The following table will demonstrate:

· Gasoline 1 gallon = 125,000 BTUs

· Natural Gas 1 CCF = 100,015 BTUs (CCF=100 cubic feet)

· Propane 1 gallon = 91,700 BTUs

You can see from above that 1 gallon of gasoline is more efficient than 100 cubic feet of natural gas or 1 gallon or propane. In fact, the ratio is approximately:

· 1 gasoline = 1.25 CCF natural gas = 1.36 gallons propane

In other words, you would need 1.36 gallons of propane to produce the equivalent BTUs of 1 gallon of gasoline; or, 1.25 CCF of natural gas.

As a practical example let's say that gasoline is currently $2.85 a gallon, natural gas $.95 per CCF, and propane $4.00 a gallon (these are today's prices where I live). Next, my generator uses 10 gallons of gasoline a day if run continuously for 24 hours. Therefore, for one day's usage I need:

· 10 gallons of gasoline, or

· 10 x 1.25 CCF of gas, or

· 10 x 1.36 gallons of propane

· 10 gallons of gasoline, or

· 12.5 CCF of gas, or

· 13.6 gallons of propane

If we then enter the prices:

· ($2.65) x (10) for gasoline; ($.95) x (12.5) for natural gas; or, ($4.00) x (13.6) for propane

The cost for running the generator 24 hours is:

· $26.50 for gasoline; $11.88 for natural gas; or, $54.40 for propane

As you can see, once you know the relative efficiency of the three fuels you can just plug in the current prices of the fuels to calculate the daily cost of running your generator for each fuel. However, in the case of propane, the cost per gallon can vary widely depending on the number of gallons purchased. In the example above, $4.00 a gallon was for filling up a small 4-5 gallon container; for larger purchases the price can decrease substantially.

If you are thinking of buying a generator it is best to consider more than just the initial purchase price. If you will be using it for extended periods of time it could be cheaper in the long run to buy a generator capable of running on alternative fuels.

Propane approximations
1 gallon = 91,500 BTU
1 cubic foot = 2,500 BTU
1 pound = 21,500 BTU
4.24 lbs = 1 gallon
36.39 cubic feet = 1 gallon
--
Don't let my reality hinder your imagination!



cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to kherr

said by kherr:

Just to throw this out, which would be ultimately cheaper to run, gasoline or NG??

The energy content of the three fuels:
1 gallon gasoline = ~1.25 CCF natural gas = ~1.36 gallons propane

National average price for gasoline is $3.46/gallon, natural gas is 1.45/CCF, and residential propane is $2.40/gallon.

So if we used 1 gallon of gas at 3.46, it would take $1.45*1.25 or $1.81 worth of natural gas, or $2.40*1.36 or $3.26 worth of propane.

Natural gas is by far the cheaper of the 3 fuels, but the least portable. Gas often has supply shortages during large scale natural disasters, but is most portable and usually fairly easy to get. Propane may already be stored in large volumes on site if there is a propane appliances or HVAC, so may be easier than gas for longer term use.

kherr
Premium
join:2000-09-04
Collinsville, IL
Reviews:
·Charter

2 edits

OK, I found the info on the conversion kit site and they basically said the same thing. I went back on my power bill and after you figure fixed costs such as meter fees and ........ My 10 therm of ng cost me $3.00/therm. But $21.00 of that was a meter charge soo... I payed $0.90/therm + a fixed $21.00, at the CURRENT price. They may have a higher rate in the winter.

So if I used 100 therms to run the generator it would be $90 + $21 m/f or $1.11/therm. So I would make out pretty darn good and would only have to scrounge for gas if my NG failed. I can see this happening. Since I haven't bought the genny yet, I'll certainly get a tri fuel one so the warranty will stay in effect.

Running a gas line would be ultra easy( 10' of pipe + fittings), but I don't have a threader/cutter/tri-pod pipe vise or any vise at all. Maybe the plumbing supply house might have a set to lend. The most expensive fitting would be valves. I'd have one in the basement and one at the drop. I'm glad I ran 1" the length of the house when I installed new gas lines way back when.



nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms
·surpasshosting
reply to ITICharlie1

I really don't think fuel cost is the main reason most people opt for tri-fuel.
My reasoning was fuel availability. As an example, let's look at the damage by Sandy.
People simply could not get gasoline. Gasoline is difficult to store in most suburban and urban areas. If the pumps aren't working, you are SOL. A dry generator doesn't do much good.
Now let's look at NG. In areas where there was major damage during Sandy, NG service was cut off to entire sections of towns. This is done to keep fires / explosions to a minimum. If you are in an are with substantial damage, but your property survived, you may still find yourself without a NG supply.
On to propane. Propane stores well. It doesn't go bad. Even in a power outage, it can still be dispensed (in many cases). There isn't quite the demand of gasoline (every swinging dick with a set of keys is looking for gasoline). While propane is expensive, I've not seen it near $4.00 in a long time. It's about $3.00 in small quantity. It's easy to store another tank or two under the grill or behind the potting shed.
Having each of those options available certainly increases your odds of having a fuel source of some sort available regardless of your circumstance.

While we'd like to think power can easily be restored in our suburban environments, situations like Sandy prove otherwise. Even being able to run your generator a few hours per day can mean the difference between keeping your home habitable or not.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.


kherr
Premium
join:2000-09-04
Collinsville, IL

... and in the case of my neighbor, a few winters ago we had what turned into 4 days without power. His wife was on O2 and he luckily found a genny early on to keep her Oxygen machine going.



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

said by alkizmo:

said by SwedishRider:

Your NG setup would be similar to my propane setup, and trust me... it'll be awesome to have virtually limitless fuel right on site when you need it.

meh I wish I could do it too. Then again, so far I don't see the NG line upgrade cost amortize itself vs. price of fuel anytime soon

This is a situation where return on investment can't be measured purely in monetary value. You may not realize that return in lower fuel costs.... but ask those folks down in NY and Jersey about cost and they'd tell you they don't care about price per gallon of gasoline, they can't buy any gallons of it to save their souls and keep warm in these freezing temperatures. Their generator setups are worthless without fuel to run them. Nobody could have predicted that their setups would not yield the intended result, but in their case... it happened. How many of them would have gladly spent the money for a NG or propane hookup if available to them to do so... my guess is quite a few. And this could go on for weeks more for them..

Sometimes you spend money knowing you may never get a monetary return on it, but use trumps return... and IMHO, this is one of those cases. I'd rather have my propane setup over a pure gasoline setup when the you-know-what hits the fan.


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

said by nunya:

On to propane. Propane stores well. It doesn't go bad. Even in a power outage, it can still be dispensed (in many cases). There isn't quite the demand of gasoline (every swinging dick with a set of keys is looking for gasoline). While propane is expensive, I've not seen it near $4.00 in a long time. It's about $3.00 in small quantity. It's easy to store another tank or two under the grill or behind the potting shed.

The only caveat of propane is the boil rate needed to power the generator. In warm weather... no problem. But get into sub-zero temps with a smaller tank, and you could be in trouble as you'll vapor lock the tank and it's just as useless as having no gasoline. For cold weather climates, I'd say to get AT LEAST a 100# tank, if not 2 tanks ganged together.

That's another beautiful thing about bulk propane tanks (like the typical 500-1000 gallon home tanks). At that size, there is really no concern about boil rate unless the ambient temp is consistently something like -44* F... which really isn't a concern in the continental US. If one has a big tank and can hook the generator to it, it's clearly the way to go.

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
reply to nunya

said by nunya:

Propane stores well.


But not inside. Not in a basement. Not in an attached garage.


cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse

2 recommendations

reply to ITICharlie1

The advantage of gasoline is that it's readily available and portable.
Yes, there was a shortage in some areas. But I'd be damned if I can understand those people in NY waiting 6hrs in line for $25 worth of gas when they could have found plenty of gas with a 1hr drive.
My boss has a propane generator. Trees blocked his road, trucks couldn't get in, he ran out of propane.
I ran my generator on gas pretty much 24/7 for 6 days (actually I went to work 2 days so it was off twice for 12hrs). Anyway I burned gas at a rate of 5gal/12h for a 7200W generator. Not a big deal, I have 2 cans that I filled once a day. Worst case scenario you can drive 1-2hrs to an unaffected area, buy a bunch of cans and fill them... With propane you depend on a more critical supply chain.


rjgogo

join:2003-10-22
reply to cdru

said by cdru:

said by kherr:

Just to throw this out, which would be ultimately cheaper to run, gasoline or NG??

National average price for gasoline is $3.46/gallon, natural gas is 1.45/CCF, and residential propane is $2.40/gallon.

I must be way below national average as I just paid about a dollar less than what you are quoting for propane.

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
Reviews:
·Optimum Online
reply to cowboyro

said by cowboyro:

But I'd be damned if I can understand those people in NY waiting 6hrs in line for $25 worth of gas when they could have found plenty of gas with a 1hr drive.

Maybe they didn't have enough gas to drive an hour.

said by cowboyro:

Worst case scenario you can drive 1-2hrs to an unaffected area, buy a bunch of cans and fill them...

I heard that gas cans were sold out as far away as Albany.

Pher9999

join:2011-07-06
Carmel, NY

Living 60 miles north of the city along the i84 coridor and we have gas shortages here at times. and our Fuel comes out of Newburg. The issue is people who live here and work in the metro area are buying gas to bring down to people there. Some are selling for alot of money. Gas prices here have started to rise.



alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

1 recommendation

reply to Bob4

said by Bob4:

I heard that gas cans were sold out as far away as Albany.

So the cheap way to live off gasoline for extended outages is: Buy large (or many) gasoline containers and fill them up when there's a chance things will go bad. If things don't go bad, use it up on the cars.

5 Gallon tanks are like 10$ each.
Buy 10, you have 50 gallons! That's almost 10 days if you ration.
They'd fit easily in a minivan.

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
Reviews:
·Optimum Online

said by alkizmo:

said by Bob4:

I heard that gas cans were sold out as far away as Albany.

So the cheap way to live off gasoline for extended outages is: Buy large (or many) gasoline containers and fill them up when there's a chance things will go bad. If things don't go bad, use it up on the cars.

That is certainly one strategy.

It's at odds with Murphy's Law, however.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

said by Bob4:

That is certainly one strategy.

It's at odds with Murphy's Law, however.

20 x 5 gallon cans!

I do admit though, that if my generator shed was close enough to the house, I'd plan on going NG.

So I had to sacrifice the convenience of NG to gain the convenience of running a generator in a locked, secured, discrete, weatherproof location.

A stolen generator is no generator (Yes people would steal a NG generator).


cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
reply to Bob4

said by Bob4:

said by cowboyro:

But I'd be damned if I can understand those people in NY waiting 6hrs in line for $25 worth of gas when they could have found plenty of gas with a 1hr drive.

Maybe they didn't have enough gas to drive an hour.

Get gas, drive 1hr, get more gas...
said by Bob4:

said by cowboyro:

Worst case scenario you can drive 1-2hrs to an unaffected area, buy a bunch of cans and fill them...

I heard that gas cans were sold out as far away as Albany.

They weren't sold out in CT. Gas stations, Home Depot, Lowes had a bunch of them. I am 1hr away from NYC (make it 1:30 with some traffic).

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
Reviews:
·Optimum Online
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

said by Bob4:

That is certainly one strategy.

It's at odds with Murphy's Law, however.

20 x 5 gallon cans!

That would guarantee the power would stay on.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

said by Bob4:

That would guarantee the power would stay on.

Until you give it/share it all away to those in need, then suddenly a second snow storm appears and then need it

Lesson: Hoard gasoline!


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to rjgogo

said by rjgogo:

I must be way below national average as I just paid about a dollar less than what you are quoting for propane.

Taken from the EIA website for Propane prices. That's residential price. Wholesale is $1/gallon. It's probably going to depend a lot on where you're at, how much you are buying, pricing contracts, etc. Even at a dollar less natural gas is still cheaper per equivalent unit of energy.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

said by Bob4:

I heard that gas cans were sold out as far away as Albany.

So the cheap way to live off gasoline for extended outages is: Buy large (or many) gasoline containers and fill them up when there's a chance things will go bad. If things don't go bad, use it up on the cars.

5 Gallon tanks are like 10$ each.
Buy 10, you have 50 gallons! That's almost 10 days if you ration.
They'd fit easily in a minivan.

I keep 4 cans. That's enough to last me over a week if I run the generator with limited service. I also keep the generator topped up with stabilized fuel, refilling with fresh fuel every time I do its exercise.

I'll probably buy 2-3 more cans.

I store the gas in a shed away from the house.