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Old 08-01-2011, 08:32 AM
 
Location: Log "cabin" west of Bangor
5,505 posts, read 6,463,164 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineah View Post
Diesel?? No way! Diesels won't start when it's cold and when it's REAL cold you have a tank of gelled fuel.
Do truckers park their rigs in Winter? An additive prevents gelling.

Propane has it's own problems when the temp drops very low- Cold negatively affects volume and pressure. As the temperature drops, so does gas volume and pressure. Release of pressure also *causes* a temperature drop in both the regulator and the tank. The regulator can freeze, or malfunction at low temps. At -44F propane remains liquid and gas pressure drops to zero. At higher (but still low) temperatures there may be inadequate pressure for the regulator and/or attached equipment to function properly.

Burying the tank may [help to] prevent the tank itself from freezing, but then there is still the matter of the regulator and attached equipment. If I were choosing a generator, and I was in an area that was subject to below zero conditions in Winter (which I am), I think I would choose gasoline or diesel over propane.
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Old 08-01-2011, 08:39 AM
 
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We have a propane generator made by Kohler. So far no problems, but I certainly don't want to put a jinx on myself!
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:49 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,783 posts, read 47,689,470 times
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I have heard folks say that diesel engines are low maintenance. I have also heard this about propane. Which one is truly lower maintenance?

I can see where gelled fuel is bad. However, it seems that nearly everyone cuts their #2 with kerosene, so it does not gel.

Diesel can be hard to start when it is chilly outside, but that can be dealt with. [fresh charged batteries, or jumping from a gasoline vehicle, block heaters, building a fire underneath the block, or running a propane flame-thrower on the block to warm it, ... ]

Does a fuel stabilizer do any good? I see them advertised, some seem to believe in them.

I have experienced propane regulators 'freezing' on us. I can not say that it was honestly outdoor temperature related though. When the regulator gets itself covered with ice, it's internals may decide to simply stop working. This can happen on a hot summer day, or a cool evening. IMHO it is simply a characteristic of that propane component.

I have experienced propane valves simply being wonky. [right now we have a 20-pound propane tank with a wonky valve, it refuses to release propane to anything without just the 'right' regulator. We have seen this before, so I will swap that tank for a different one] If it were any kind of crisis, having a propane tank that simply refuses to release propane would be a significant pain.

To my observation, both propane and diesel have their good points and their bad points. I find it hard to say that either one is superior to the other.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:07 AM
 
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Last winter I arrived at my Aroostook house. The driveway, all 400 ft of it, was under almost 2 feet of snow. I had brought my snow thrower - large walk-behind with an aftermarket, 10 hp diesel engine on it, up with me, but it was in the back of the pickup and it was -15 or so and the engine wouldn't begin to start. Completely chilled as it was by the ride up in the frigid air, the fuel had gelled in the tank. I could see that, but it was certainly gelled in the fuel line and (single!) injector as well.

Well, I left my truck out on the road and trudged to the house. The house was completely cold because I had drained the plumbing and water heater and turned off the heat. (The house as of yet, was not too well insulated and I didn't trust the oil burner to stay running, never mind the oil cost.) I got the heat up and running and opened up the water system. I then heated some pots of water up on the stove and even put a small jar of diesel fuel in a pot of warm water to have something warm to pour into the fuel tank of the snow blower engine. Then I went back outside, put the warm (to almost hot!) fuel into the tank (the small fuel filter is located right in the tank too, so it likewise got un-gelled almost instantly), and poured the warm water all over the engine. Two pulls and it started. (Yes, a pull start diesel came to life at what was now -20.) I did the driveway, put everything away in the garage, and that was that.

The thing is, I wouldn't care to do that all the time. I think I'd bury that diesel or propane generator tank to keep it somewhat warm.

Our 60 KW standby generator at work has a block heater that works automatically and keeps the thing ready for power outages. I'd suppose that most permanently installed standby generators all do even the smaller ones, or can have one added.
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Old 08-01-2011, 09:39 PM
 
8,760 posts, read 16,150,350 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zymer View Post
Do truckers park their rigs in Winter? An additive prevents gelling.

Propane has it's own problems when the temp drops very low- Cold negatively affects volume and pressure. As the temperature drops, so does gas volume and pressure. Release of pressure also *causes* a temperature drop in both the regulator and the tank. The regulator can freeze, or malfunction at low temps. At -44F propane remains liquid and gas pressure drops to zero. At higher (but still low) temperatures there may be inadequate pressure for the regulator and/or attached equipment to function properly.

Burying the tank may [help to] prevent the tank itself from freezing, but then there is still the matter of the regulator and attached equipment. If I were choosing a generator, and I was in an area that was subject to below zero conditions in Winter (which I am), I think I would choose gasoline or diesel over propane.
No they leave them running. Ever tried to start a really cold diesel??....it's called ether..fun stuff to deal with in a blizzard. OR you have to keep the block warm. Do you want to heat your standby generator's block all winter with electricity? It would cost you $100.00 a month. You'll have to run 50% K-1 in the tank. Cha Ching$$...Propane makes gas well below zero. It hasn't been 44 below in Maine for just about ever except at Nine mile bridge three years ago for an hour.. Diesel however gells at 20 below.That happens a lot. The only time you get a regulator problem is in high humidity. Not a factor in winter. If you go from a high pressure manifold to a low pressure regulator you'll have all the gas you can burn in an engine. And you CAN bury a propane tank in the ground alleivaiting all of the cold problems but you can no longer bury a diesel tank. They just built a creamatorium near here and buried two huge propane tanks in the yard.
Gasoline is no good after two months. Do you want to siphon the gas from your generator every two months?? The people that sell back up generators recommend propane as it has the least maintenence problems. If the pros recommend it perhaps I'd listen to them.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:28 PM
 
296 posts, read 655,409 times
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I have a whole-house 10 K Generac that keeps me worry-free. I ordered and it delivered it from online, then paid an electrician a days wages to install it. The dealers wanted completely asinine prices to do a turn-key install, so avoid them at all costs. My total cost was like 2500 less to order and find the labor myself.

I use propane in two tanks for the fuel, but live in a very close in an accessible area.
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:28 AM
 
Location: Log "cabin" west of Bangor
5,505 posts, read 6,463,164 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineah View Post
No they leave them running. Ever tried to start a really cold diesel??....it's called ether..fun stuff to deal with in a blizzard.
Not anymore. Many of the newer trucks have an automatic 10-minute idle shutdown and ether is strictly verboten- it will destroy the motor. And yes, I have tried to start really cold diesels- it's my job. I work for a freight company and for the last two years I have been the resident yard-jockey, which means I have to start, run and drive every truck in the fleet, on a daily basis, to get them loaded and prepped for the drivers, no matter what the weather/temperature happens to be.

Quote:
OR you have to keep the block warm. Do you want to heat your standby generator's block all winter with electricity? It would cost you $100.00 a month.
It's not really that expensive. Nowadays, most block heaters are thermostatically controlled and don't use much juice.

Quote:
You'll have to run 50% K-1 in the tank. Cha Ching$$.
Even if one uses a blend of 50% K1 instead of a commercial anti-gel agent it's not that bad. Sure, they price K1 a little higher than No. 2 Home Heating Fuel or Off-Road Diesel (basically the same things- just no Fed excise/road use taxes) but it isn't like it's going to be running all day, every day.

Quote:
...Propane makes gas well below zero. It hasn't been 44 below in Maine for just about ever except at Nine mile bridge three years ago for an hour.. Diesel however gells at 20 below.That happens a lot. The only time you get a regulator problem is in high humidity. Not a factor in winter. If you go from a high pressure manifold to a low pressure regulator you'll have all the gas you can burn in an engine. And you CAN bury a propane tank in the ground alleivaiting all of the cold problems but you can no longer bury a diesel tank. They just built a creamatorium near here and buried two huge propane tanks in the yard.
Gasoline is no good after two months. Do you want to siphon the gas from your generator every two months?? The people that sell back up generators recommend propane as it has the least maintenence problems. If the pros recommend it perhaps I'd listen to them.
If you compare the extra cost of the blend (considering that it's for occasional use and might only rarely be needed) against the expense of excavating and installing an underground propane tank, it's far cheaper to go with the blend (unless maybe you happen to own an excavator or know someone who does...and who'll do the job for free).

Many people already have an oil tank, either in the basement (if they have one) or outside, for their furnaces. If the tank is outside, then they probably already take the necessary measure to prevent gelling. The generator can run off the same tank.

I'm running gasoline now, that I bought *last* Summer, in my mowers and chainsaw. It's perfectly good, all I did was add a little Stabil to it.

I agree that it might be nice to have a snazzy propane generator that requires little care and a huge buried tank to feed it...but I don't know too many people who can afford to part with that kind of money for a stand-by generator set-up. I know that *I* certainly can't.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Maine's garden spot
3,109 posts, read 5,455,298 times
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There is no need to bury a propane tank. My gas stove works just fine and the tank is right outside. The neighbors propane generator works fine and their tank is out by the garage.
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:15 AM
 
4,494 posts, read 7,992,379 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zymer View Post
At -44F propane remains liquid and gas pressure drops to zero. At higher (but still low) temperatures there may be inadequate pressure for the regulator and/or attached equipment to function properly
I have a propane monitor heater and so do many people I know. I've never heard of any issues, nor have I encountered any. All of our tanks are outside, not buried. I've used 20lb tanks up to 100lb tanks without any problems.
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:43 AM
 
Location: Central Maine
1,472 posts, read 2,621,670 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zymer View Post
Not anymore. Many of the newer trucks have an automatic 10-minute idle shutdown and ether is strictly verboten- it will destroy the motor. .
Just curious, but how do they sleep in the sleepers if the motor cuts off after 10 minutes?

Been awhile since I worked with truckers, but they all slept with their motors running. I sat in truck stops last year in my U-Haul and saw many running for an hour to power their air conditioners (I suspect).

Used to be funny in Aroostook county many years ago. Southern semi drivers would turn their diesels off at -40 and stay in a motel. Next morning their truck engine was a brick (along with their fuel) and they had to be towed into a heated garage to thaw out.

Other then that observation, I think you'd be crazy to use anything but gasoline. I haven't had to use a generator (other than to test it) for, at least, five years. Gas goes bad, but I use stabel and burn it through my lawn tractor every summer. Nothing goes to waste. I always have gas around for my tractor and snowblower, so don't need to keep different things around. Gasoline generators are very cheap, but I don't know the cost of a diesel generator (haven't seen one in Sam's Club lately).
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