[aprssig] Generators and LPG Conversion (was APRS in NOLA)

Ray McKnight shortsheep at worldnet.att.net
Fri Sep 2 00:23:14 CDT 2005

After my new generator went bust due to bad gas, I looked into an LPG
conversion for it.  First, it will cost roughly $300 for the conversion,
a bit less if you don't want to have multi-fuel capability (keep in mind,
places that fill portable tanks need electricity to pump it, so availability
LPG may not be any better than gasoline in a disaster).  Converting a
gasoline genset with void the warranty if it's a newer unit.  You will have
a slightly reduced output (roughly 10%) compared to gasoline due to less
BTU content in LPG (but LPG is better than LNG as a comparison).
If you need remote starting capabilities, LPG/LNG is difficult to implement
due to complex valve/selenoids required for priming and choke, but there
are systems that are available, albeit rather pricey.  Fuel consumption is
about the same as gas, so a 20lb portable tank will last about 8-9 hrs
running a 5KW genset at 1/2 load.

Conversion kits are generally only available for generators about 4kw and
So if you want something other than gasoline, you might consider a 2kw or
larger marine/RV style diesel genset, but keep in mind diesel fuel also has
storage issues with fungus growth (kept in check again with additives).
Also, there are a lot fewer diesel mechanics than small gas engine mech's,
it will probably be costlier to repair, and harder for the home mechanic.
initial cost will also be much higher than a gas genset.

A really good alternative might be to investigate a permanent standby LPG
system for your home.  Don't bother with the Guardian units sold at Home
there are an abundance of 10-15kw units available surplus as many companies
installed these for Y2K and now don't want them.  But of course you'll
need more than a BBQ grill sized tank, a fixed above ground tank gets into
building code/permit issues.  Nothing hard, just need to be installed

Of course, they aren't portable.  One other nice benefit of LPG is it
burns cleaner and thus you may be able to run longer between oil changes.
Most people don't plan on needing to do maintenance during an emergency,
but it may be nesesssary for prolonged situations, so have enough spares
on hand (fuel/air filters, oil, spark plugs, etc).

For any genset, I'd recommend an engine with steel piston sleeves for
longevity and reliability, as well as a pressurized oil system with low oil
cutoff.  I'd steer clear of the $400 specials at Harbor Freight and discount
chains like that.

Most generator mfg's offer a quieter muffler, and you can always add
one yourself with a bit of plumbing.  One last thing, if you intend to use
it in a national forest and most state parks you'll need an approved
spark arresting muffler.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: <scott at opentrac.org>
To: "'TAPR APRS Mailing List'" <aprssig at lists.tapr.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 20:52
Subject: RE: [aprssig] New Orleans APRS digi still on the air

> Is anyone out there using a propane or natural gas conversion on their
> generator?  I've been told they solve a lot of fuel storage and
> problems.  I suppose diesel would be the best choice for larger units, but
> I'd rather have something unobtrusive like one of the smaller Honda
> ultra-quiet generators, but with storable fuel and the option to run on
> natrual gas if it's available.
> Are there any major drawbacks besides the lower energy density of the
> Scott
> N1VG
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: aprssig-bounces at lists.tapr.org
> > [mailto:aprssig-bounces at lists.tapr.org] On Behalf Of Richard Amirault
> > Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 8:41 PM
> > To: TAPR APRS Mailing List
> > Subject: Re: [aprssig] New Orleans APRS digi still on the air
> >
> > Sure you can store gas ... I do it all the time .. BUT, never
> > more than those 60 days .. About every 4 to 6 weeks I run the
> > car's tank below it's normal minimum of 1/2 full, so that I
> > can empty the stored gas into the car and re-fill the gas
> > cans. That way the stored gas is always reasonably fresh.
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