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Converting Honda generator to propane

dave54
Explorer III
Explorer III
Anyone do it?
Pros and cons?
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So many campsites, so little time...
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40 REPLIES 40

red31
Explorer
Explorer
propane has ~73% of the BTU of gasoline/gal

For example, conventional gasoline has an energy content of 116,090 Btus per gallon, while propane has an energy content of 84,250 Btus per gallon. As such, 1.38 gallons of propane has the same amount of energy as one gallon of conventional gasoline.

https://nhcleancities.org/2017/04/can-compare-energy-content-alternative-fuels-gasoline-diesel/

I'm sure Propane 'cans' are easily pissanted!
Warm months I can only get 4.2 gallons of propane into a 4.6 gallon 'can'. That's 84% times the above 73% yields 61% 'can' for 'can'.

Skibane
Explorer II
Explorer II
Quite a few dual-fuel Chinese replacement carburetors for Honda-style engines are showing up online nowadays - Example here.

Considering that most of these carbs also come with the "zero pressure" secondary regulator (which typically retails for around $60 by itself), these are a very cheap way of doing a conversion.

Since these come with a brand-new carburetor, you can keep the original as a spare.

Dtank
Explorer
Explorer
Several years ago I converted my Yam 2400i to a Tri-Fuel kit from "Central Main Diesel". CMD sells all types of generators, large and small, for a multitude of uses (including commercial apps).

Thy also sell "pre-converted" generators - such as Honda 2000. Since Honda won't honor warranties for converted gens, CMD provides a 2 yr engine warranty (on new gens sold by them). Double check on that one - as I already had the gen to be converted.

Tell them what brand (etc.) of gen you have - they will quote you a price.

At the time, the conversion was about $100. - which included everything.
If your generator was "used", you sent them your carb, which they converted (as part of the kit "package"). If new, they required a refundable core charge - as they sent you a new carb. Now, the "kit" is about $160.:)

Caveat: I use that gen with natural gas -or- propane. It will never see gasoline - as I'm in So. CA....and ethanol free gasoline is a pipe dream! It's my emergency (home) backup usually on nat gas. Camping, I use gasoline powered Champion gens.

As stated I'm in Calif - CMD is in Maine! Service was great, my carb was returned in about 2 weeks. Gen works great, I mounted the reg on the exterior of the Yam. They advertise it takes "minutes" to set up.
I'll say - getting everything "just like I wanted it" - took about a 1/2 hour.

Very - :C


~

ktmrfs
Explorer
Explorer
dave54 wrote:
ajriding wrote:
The ONE guy that actually answered your question with a pro/con list is correct, and another added that propane does have a cleaner burn and cleaner exhaust.

He also forgot that propane can store a very very long time, but gas has a shelf life.

That's about it for pros unless you are parked on your land with a big underground propane tank or would be using natural gas from the grid. The varnish build up from gas is a minimal one as that can be negated. Worried about replacing spark plugs? Stop, you can't afford propane to begin with.

The big con is the availability of getting propane quick and easy. Gas is easy and everywhere and unless I drive into the big rig section at the back of the travel center gas station there is always a gas hose just inches away. Doing a BBQ tank swap at the gas station or store is not a quick transaction either. The things people come up with just to make a comment...

An e way....


Thanks. I'm the OP.

No natural gas at home, on propane at home too. My I have several 20# bottles. I figure it is easier to carry a couple propane bottles than a couple of 5 gal gas cans. I can plug into the RV grill gas port if I need to. I have 2x7 gal bottles there. I have never had any problem getting my 7 gal bottles filled on the road. 5 gal bottles should be easier. Plus, I am in California. Propane is cheaper than the cheapest gas.
My real question (which I should have addressed in my original question) was how long does a 20# propane bottle last compared to 5 gal gas? Is it any quieter on propane than gas (they are getting old and are not as quiet as they once were, although still pretty quiet), and is starting the same whether really hot or cold weather. Like I said they are now 15(?) years old and, like me, can be slow to start on cold mornings.


to answer your questions
1) no difference in sound level I could notice between NG, Propane or Gasoline.
2) Run time. A 20lb propane tank holds about 4.5 gallons of propane. Propane has IIRC about 80% of the BTU/gallon vs. gas. So, I suspect you will get about the same run time on a 20lb propane bottle as about 3.5-4 gallons of gas. But you won't need to fill it up as often as on gas, unless on gas you have an extended run tank system.
3) starting on propane at low temps seems easier than gas. At high temps not much difference.
4) My conversion from hutch mountain works great, I converted a 2000 and a new 2200. but if you go this route check carefully on your SN, below a certain SN their kit doesn't work. I don't know if other systems have similar issues with early honda 2000.
5) Honda of course doesn't spec max output on propane or NG, but if is like most other dual/tri fuel generators, max output on propane will likely be less on propane, especially on the 2000. It's engine is pretty much maxed out with the 2000 engine. The 2200 with only 200more watts, has a 25% larger engine. And it will still put out near or full output even at 7000ft altitude, so it may not have as much restriction on max power as the 2000.
2011 Keystone Outback 295RE
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dave54
Explorer III
Explorer III
ajriding wrote:
The ONE guy that actually answered your question with a pro/con list is correct, and another added that propane does have a cleaner burn and cleaner exhaust.

He also forgot that propane can store a very very long time, but gas has a shelf life.

That's about it for pros unless you are parked on your land with a big underground propane tank or would be using natural gas from the grid. The varnish build up from gas is a minimal one as that can be negated. Worried about replacing spark plugs? Stop, you can't afford propane to begin with.

The big con is the availability of getting propane quick and easy. Gas is easy and everywhere and unless I drive into the big rig section at the back of the travel center gas station there is always a gas hose just inches away. Doing a BBQ tank swap at the gas station or store is not a quick transaction either. The things people come up with just to make a comment...

An e way....


Thanks. I'm the OP.

No natural gas at home, on propane at home too. My I have several 20# bottles. I figure it is easier to carry a couple propane bottles than a couple of 5 gal gas cans. I can plug into the RV grill gas port if I need to. I have 2x7 gal bottles there. I have never had any problem getting my 7 gal bottles filled on the road. 5 gal bottles should be easier. Plus, I am in California. Propane is cheaper than the cheapest gas.
My real question (which I should have addressed in my original question) was how long does a 20# propane bottle last compared to 5 gal gas? Is it any quieter on propane than gas (they are getting old and are not as quiet as they once were, although still pretty quiet), and is starting the same whether really hot or cold weather. Like I said they are now 15(?) years old and, like me, can be slow to start on cold mornings.
=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=
So many campsites, so little time...
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Bobbo
Explorer II
Explorer II
Ummmm, Red31 is correct. With a 20# propane tank, that 20# IS 80% of the tank's capacity. The tanks are marketed with what they can be filled with.
Bobbo and Lin
2017 F-150 XLT 4x4 SuperCab w/Max Tow Package 3.5l EcoBoost V6
2017 Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB

red31
Explorer
Explorer
What is so difficult about 20# containers, 20# is 80%
Exchanges get less, 15#



When my S-10 was converted to propane, finding propane on Sundays could be an issue, a simple switch and I ran on gasoline.

StirCrazy
Nomad III
Nomad III
Skibane wrote:
^AmeriGas claims that they fill theirs to 17 pounds.

Even so, underfilling exchange tanks is a bum deal - particularly since there's not a lot of energy capacity in a 20 pound tank to begin with.


I dont know about the US but in canada they can only fill them to 80% of there capacity so 16#s in a 20lb bottle is full. this allows for expansion when it gets hot and concidering the BTU valuse of propane is twice that of natural gass, there is a fair amount of energy in that bottle.

Steve
2014 F350 6.7 Platinum
2016 Cougar 330RBK
1991 Slumberqueen WS100

Skibane
Explorer II
Explorer II
I've seen claims that engines start easier on propane than gasoline in very cold weather, due to the fuel already being in vapor form when it's drawn into the engine.

(Living in South Texas, I have absolutely no way of personally verifying this...)

valhalla360
Nomad II
Nomad II
pianotuna wrote:

And if, like me, you have a fixed tank propane becomes just that much harder.


Very true and makes running a generator off propane more of a hassle.
Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
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Full Time spliting time between boat and RV

Skibane
Explorer II
Explorer II
^AmeriGas claims that they fill theirs to 17 pounds.

Even so, underfilling exchange tanks is a bum deal - particularly since there's not a lot of energy capacity in a 20 pound tank to begin with.

Bobbo
Explorer II
Explorer II
Dusty R wrote:
Some places that swap 20# LP tanks, don't fill them to 20#.

Agreed. All of the places that I know of sell you 15# of propane. Read the label on the propane bottle. It will say.
Bobbo and Lin
2017 F-150 XLT 4x4 SuperCab w/Max Tow Package 3.5l EcoBoost V6
2017 Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB

Skibane
Explorer II
Explorer II
I generally use ethanol-free gasoline in my small engines - which entails finding a gas station that sells it.

Nowadays, propane exchanges are just about everywhere. Even Walgreens and 7-11 have them.

Basically, just about any place you can buy a bag of ice, you can also exchange a tank of propane.

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
valhalla360 wrote:
pianotuna wrote:

Diesel and gasoline are not always avaible at the same "delivery point". Stop for gasoline, move RV to get propane, move again to get diesel.

And yes, I've been at stations that have gasoline and propane but no diesel.


I've never been to a gas station that has diesel and not gasoline...easy enough to walk a 5 gal jug to the gas pump if they aren't at the same location (which they usually are unless you go to a truck stop).

Lots of gas stations don't have propane and vast majority do not have the ability to fill a tank (only swap, so you are limited to 20# BBQ tanks).

Yes, some gas stations don't have diesel...if you have a diesel truck, you probably aren't stopping there in the first place unless it's purely to get fuel for the generator.


And if, like me, you have a fixed tank propane becomes just that much harder.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.