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Dual Fuel Generators

p220sigman
Explorer
Explorer
Starting the research phase of getting a "portable" dual fuel (LP/gas) generator for emergency back-up power for the S/B house. Any thoughts or experiences I should be considering? I say "portable" because I want the option of moving it around the yard or transporting (roll onto a trailer), but wouldn't be lifting it into a vehicle or taking camping. I want dual fuel because I have 5 portable propane tanks that can supplement the amount of run time I would have on just straight gas. Unfortunately, when there is an emergency here (usually hurricane), power can be out for a week or more and gas can be difficult to reliably get.

My plan right now is to get as powerful one as I can afford and put in a transfer switch to run most/all of the house with maybe the exception of the heat pump. We are on a well, so it is critical that I be able to run that. Looking to spend 800 to 1.2K on the generator.

I would love to just do a whole house automatic standby, but that just isn't in the budget. Plus, the "portable" can move with us.
22 REPLIES 22

ktmrfs
Explorer
Explorer
p220sigman wrote:
You are correct that I'm looking strictly for S&B house. I would love to have one for natural gas, unfortunately, we don't have gas lines where I'm at, so it isn't an option. I don't worry as much about gasoline. I use non-ethanol in all my small engines with stabilizer when they aren't going to be used regularly. I don't have an issue with running a genny monthly to keep it running well. I do that with my chainsaw and other less-used small engines now.


So stock up on what you want or expect to need for propane and then if something is coming in, make sure your vehicle(s) fuel tanks are full. That should give you 20+ gallons each of gas in a nice storage tank plus what you have in any gas cans. Before I converted my honda to trifuel I figured I normally have 10 gallons of gas in cans for my motorcycles and lawn gear plus two cars with 20 gallon tanks. that and a syphon hose gave me 50 gallons of gas if the need arose.
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Dtank
Explorer
Explorer
p220sigman wrote:
You are correct that I'm looking strictly for S&B house. I would love to have one for natural gas, unfortunately, we don't have gas lines where I'm at, so it isn't an option. I don't worry as much about gasoline. I use non-ethanol in all my small engines with stabilizer when they aren't going to be used regularly. I don't have an issue with running a genny monthly to keep it running well. I do that with my chainsaw and other less-used small engines now.


Not having access to natural gas is not really a big deal.
Plus you have a "bonus" that you can obtain non-ethanol gasoline!
Another "plus" - propane not only eliminates any carb problems (dirty jets, etc.) - but it burns very clean.

Back in the 70's (gas lines, etc.) several friends converted their pickups to (only) propane fuel.
One of those guys eventually had high mileage on his Chev 454 engine. Thought it was time to tear it down for a re-build.

He said he never should have bothered! Engine "internals" were in great shape - no signs of sludge, etc.

Costco usually stocks the Champion brand of "portable" dual fuel gens.
Not "portable" as what you would want to put in the back of your pickup - but portable nonetheless.

Good price, & Champion has a great customer service reputation.

.

Learjet
Explorer
Explorer
I have a tri-fuel converted Yamaha EF2600 that is 14 years old and has 308 hours on it. Ran it on gas for the first 20 hours or so, then oiled the tank and haven't used gas since....only natural gas or propane.

I use it on propane when needed for dry camping....only about once per year and natural gas for power outages. Works great and makes full power on natural gas or propane...doesn't handle large surges as well on vapor gas.

Extremely happy with the flexibility and performance.
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p220sigman
Explorer
Explorer
You are correct that I'm looking strictly for S&B house. I would love to have one for natural gas, unfortunately, we don't have gas lines where I'm at, so it isn't an option. I don't worry as much about gasoline. I use non-ethanol in all my small engines with stabilizer when they aren't going to be used regularly. I don't have an issue with running a genny monthly to keep it running well. I do that with my chainsaw and other less-used small engines now.

Dtank
Explorer
Explorer
ktmrfs wrote:
there are honda conversions that are tri-fuel. I have my honda 2000 and honda 2200 converted to run on gasoline or natural gas. I have the jet to switch to propane if needed. Conversion is easy and I have a hose for the generators that plugs into the NG BBQ line outside the house. Conversion kit is from hutch mountain. At least with NG no worry about running out of fuel!

Generator runs fine on NG or propane. Coupled it with a transfer switch that lets me run 6 internal circuits in the house. Furnace, Fridge, lights in some rooms and kitchen and living room outlets.


X-2

Note: The thread starter ("OP") wanted it for his "S&B" (sticks & bricks) house - *NOT* an RV.
As well as something in the "interim" before purchasing a larger (and more expensive) whole house generator sometime in the future.

My Yamaha 2200iS has been converted to tri-fuel.

I have *NO* intention of (ever) running it on gasoline!
NO problems with "bad" gasoline, adding StaBil or SeaFoam, and/or the need to clean a carburetor.
No need for (or to re-fill) propane tanks - but either gasoline or propane are always a "possibility".

It has been used successfully during power outages on Natural Gas (Unlimited supply!) and Propane - the propane was only for testing purposes.

It has performed flawlessly!
Powers everything I want to run at my S&B.
(*NOT* a central heating-A/C, system - but OK for a window A/C, fridge, TV, etc.)

Gen outside, heavy-duty extension cord with multiple taps to the interior of my house...:C

The conversion was done by Central Marine Diesel, (Google it).

Send the gen's carb, they convert it (was about $100 at the time), all done by mail. That included the mods to the carb, fuel block (adjust settings between/for propane and/or nat gas), regulator and hoses. Very satisfied with their work! (I'm in Calif - they're in Maine!).
They also sell new (all sizes) gens already converted.

Might add - I already had the gasoline (only) fueled Yam gen. On gasoline it would run my RV 15000 btu a/c with no problem.

Yes, I still have a "dedicated" gasoline powered gen for my 5th.

BTW - One more reason for tri-fuel for portable gens - even if gasoline is not in the cards. Sometime it might be for sale!
Just one more nice feature.


.

p220sigman
Explorer
Explorer
Thanks Robert. Your set up is kind of what I envisioned as I started my research.

2manytoyz
Explorer
Explorer
We live in Central FL. Hurricanes and tropical storms are all too common here.

For years, I've used a Yamaha EF2400iS to power our travel trailer while boondocking, and run essential equipment at the house when the grid goes down.

A couple of years ago, we added a Champion 7500W dual fuel generator. I also added a 10 circuit transfer switch to our home. Now powering essential equipment is a flip of a switch.





Here are details of the transfer switch installation (DIY):
http://www.2manytoyz.com/manualtransfersw.html



Most people are aware that stored gasoline degrades over time, even with additives. Propane doesn't. My plan of use is to run the generator on the two 100 lb propane tanks that were purchased just for this reason, then move to the multiple 20 lb tanks we have. All else fails, we'll run it on gas, and thoroughly drain the carb and bowl after the storm has passed.

A quick overview of how I'm using the large tanks with the generator, and how I change the oil on this heavy machine: https://youtu.be/wM_mMlQsOuM

Here's how I added a 15' propane hose, with a quick-disconnect, to the generator: https://youtu.be/XLCl4qDagBg

Sources of parts:
Brass fittings: https://gashosesandregulators.com/

15 foot propane hose: https://amzn.to/2PiPEe0

Propane quick disconnect: https://amzn.to/2IuKBqn

Teflon tape: https://amzn.to/2GhxXHF

Pipe thread sealant: https://amzn.to/2GqrGKR

Champion 7500W Dual Fuel Generator: https://amzn.to/2UDPGTz

Champion generator cover: https://amzn.to/2XjZCOV

Propane Tank Adapters - LP Tank POL Service Valve: https://amzn.to/2DjJ6qu

Worthington 100-Pound Steel Propane Cylinder: https://amzn.to/2VPP2yG

VELCRO Brand - ONE-WRAP Roll, Double-Sided: https://amzn.to/2Xk0Mdf

Creality CR-10S 3D Printer: https://amzn.to/2XhzTXq

Propane Tank Cap - Free 3D design: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1621938

Won't be long before hurricane season is here once again!
Robert
Merritt Island, FL
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TechWriter
Explorer
Explorer
I bought a 30A Champion for our AZ park model. Since the gen isn't rain proof, I boxed it.

I've only used propane so far, but so far so good.

Keep in mind that using propane will decrease gen power output by about 10%.
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time2roll
Nomad
Nomad
I would go with propane only. Get a large cylinder or two for supply. Propane can be stored forever without issues.

The good thing about a transfer switch would be the subpanel to only have the circuits you need during the emergency. This would be a bit more user friendly to prevent generator overload. Sure you can flip breakers and such with the the lockout but does everyone in the house know what they are doing?

Mike134
Explorer
Explorer
Dave H M wrote:
If you got a square D service panel, the interlock install is a no brainer. It is available on the internet, comes with template and instructions and my power company is OK with it.


38 years in the trade never seen it before. Yes I can see the value and it will work correctly/ safely if properly installed. One caveat check with the local electrical inspector to be sure they allow it. Don't want to kill a wire-man just trying to feed his family because your generator "back-fed" into the power system
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p220sigman
Explorer
Explorer
Thanks again for all of the input. I'll look into the interlock. I hadn't considered something like that.

Dave_H_M
Explorer
Explorer
If you got a square D service panel, the interlock install is a no brainer. It is available on the internet, comes with template and instructions and my power company is OK with it.

theoldwizard1
Explorer
Explorer
p220sigman wrote:
My plan right now is to get as powerful one as I can afford and put in a transfer switch to run most/all of the house with maybe the exception of the heat pump. We are on a well, so it is critical that I be able to run that.

If you are on a well, you will need at least a 5000W (240VAC) generator. Running one of those on a 20lb (4.7 gallons) BBQ tank is a joke ! 100lb should last 24-48 hours depending on how much power you are using. Forget running the heat pump ! Buy a tank, at least 150 gallons, and bury it.

Also, you don't want a "transfer switch". You want a generator interlock. Cheaper, easier to install and easier to use.

If your electrician doesn't know what that is, hire a different electrician. If you tries to sell you the transfer switch, he is just trying to make more money.

Without the tank, you can easily meet your budget,

2003silverado
Explorer II
Explorer II
We have a 15 year old briggs powered 4500 watt continuous generator that was originally only gas but we added a propane/natural gas conversion kit easily and cheaply that still allows it to be run on gasoline.

You might be better off to get a generator and adding a conversion kit to it that still allows you to use gasoline. That might limit you to machines with the big engine manufacturers (briggs Honda kohler etc). Many generators these days have Chinese engines on them that parts and aftermarket accessories aren't as readily available.

We got our kit off ebay. You search the kit by the engine model, not the generator model.

Just another option to think about.