Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

General Talk

Moderators: OutBack, OutBack Moderator Team

Post Reply
AllPawDrive
Forum Whiz
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:08 pm
My RE system: Still shopping
Location: Prince Edward Island

Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

Post by AllPawDrive » Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:31 pm

Ive read most of the google results. The pros. The cons.

I’m looking for real “off grider” experience. When it positively, absolutely has to work, what is your “go to” generator?

A diesel is generally twice the price but costs half as much to operate compared to propane but will run for tens of thousands of hours with the low 1800 rpm. I’m looking at low hours though:

- 30 hours a month in the winter
- 15 hours a month in the spring and fall
- Exercise time in the summer

Call it 300 hours a year.

Assume for this review that all three fuels are equally available.

However, I’d favor propane as I plan to install a large buried propane tank for heat and cooking.

Let’s hear your thoughts,

Dave

AllPawDrive
Forum Whiz
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:08 pm
My RE system: Still shopping
Location: Prince Edward Island

Re: Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

Post by AllPawDrive » Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:46 pm

I’ve even looked into a wood gasification generator http://www.allpowerlabs.com/products/gasifier-kits

It’s super expensive, it’s a batch operation and you are producing hydrogen gas.

My wife will drive home from the piggly wiggly one day and find a crater on our property.

fcwlp
Forum Czar
Posts: 541
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:40 am
My RE system: GS8048A, FM80 w/3,600 W PV Fixed, FM80 w/2,700W on Zomeworks tracker, Mate3, 24 Trojan 2V L16 1100AH @ C20, Grid-Tied with Kohler 14RESA LPG Generator and MEP-803 Diesel if needed
I also install and maintain grid-tied and off-grid systems, details will be given for these system if required
Location: 80 miles NE of Phoenix at 5500'

Re: Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

Post by fcwlp » Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:30 pm

All of my off-grid customers use propane. Gas especially with ethanol is problematic to store due to moisture absorption.

Diesel can be stored but after some period of time you have to treat it with biocides, fungicides, stabilizers, and filtering. Good review at https://www.bellperformance.com/blog/bi ... rage-tanks. Whereas for LPG, you fill the tank and forget about it.

Most of the good diesel generators start at 20+ kW unless you are looking at surplus military units like the MEP-803 which is 10kW. You need a good size load/battery bank and inverter/charger to justify a 20+ kW generator.

I am grid-tied but have a Kohler 14RESA LPG generator as the primary and a MEP-803A on a trailer available for my use or others in need.

If you are concerned about life, buy three Kohler 14RESA generators for the price of a new 20+kW diesel unit.

AllPawDrive
Forum Whiz
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:08 pm
My RE system: Still shopping
Location: Prince Edward Island

Re: Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

Post by AllPawDrive » Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:55 am

fcwlp wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:30 pm
All of my off-grid customers use propane

I am grid-tied but have a Kohler 14RESA LPG generator as the primary and a MEP-803A on a trailer available for my use or others in need.
I’d be looking at an extra $750 to $1000 per year in fuel costs for propane over a diesel genset.

With regular use and an appropriately sized diesel storage tank, I shouldn’t face any fuel storage issues.

Is there a significant difference in standard yearly maintenance costs between propane and diesel?

fcwlp
Forum Czar
Posts: 541
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:40 am
My RE system: GS8048A, FM80 w/3,600 W PV Fixed, FM80 w/2,700W on Zomeworks tracker, Mate3, 24 Trojan 2V L16 1100AH @ C20, Grid-Tied with Kohler 14RESA LPG Generator and MEP-803 Diesel if needed
I also install and maintain grid-tied and off-grid systems, details will be given for these system if required
Location: 80 miles NE of Phoenix at 5500'

Re: Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

Post by fcwlp » Thu Aug 20, 2020 9:16 am

According to the referenced article. If you use diesel within a year there are minimal issues if you store at 70F or below and minimize the amount of moisture accumulation in tank.

Interesting cost differential between PEI and AZ for diesel and propane. I just did my pre-buy of propane for next year and at $1.99/gallon. Over 750 gallons there was a price drop, but I do not use that much. Getting "off-road" (~$0.50 less tax in AZ) diesel delivered to me costs closer to $3.00 per gallon.

sodamo
Forum Czar
Posts: 843
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:55 am
My RE system: Totally off grid - Hamakua side, Big Island, Hi

36 Trina 280 & 16 Phono 250 in 48 volt array (fixed) 14080w
Radians GG8048/GS4048 w GSLCs
4 FM 80 charge controllers
Hub 10.3
FNDC w/3 shunts
Mate 3s
OpticsRE - MMKL - Ninole Hi
12 SimpliPhi 3.8
14Kw Kohler 14RESA Propane

Charging Only
2FX3048T
Hub
FNDC. - shared shunt feeds from Radian FNDC
Mate 3s
10Kw MEP 803a Military gen

Honda EU7000i

Davis VantagePro2 Wx Station
On line at: https://www.wunderground.com/dashboard/pws/KHININOL2
Location: Ninole, Hi

Re: Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

Post by sodamo » Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:13 am

Do do an extensive forum search as there is much posted here. I know I have posted both good and bad over the years. Have been totally off grid 15+ years. Don’t be shy to ask specific questions.
Do not overlook something that may say grid tied because often there is info that pertains to both
A current thread - viewtopic.php?f=40&t=15405

You have a diesel tractor so figure that into the fuel consideration.
David
Please visit http://vacation.ninolehawaii.com

pss
Forum Czar
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:40 am
My RE system: 8330 watts in three strings, Flexmax 60 x 3, Radian 8048A, GSLC load center, Mate 3S, Hub 10.3, FN-DC and 900 Amp, 48V Trojan T105-RE battery bank.

Re: Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

Post by pss » Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:54 pm

Take a look at the Kohler liquid cooled LP or nat gas generators, 1800 rpm, 5 years/2000 hours warranty, networking control and very reasonably priced too. Usually 4 cyl 2.2 L turbos I think.

sodamo
Forum Czar
Posts: 843
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:55 am
My RE system: Totally off grid - Hamakua side, Big Island, Hi

36 Trina 280 & 16 Phono 250 in 48 volt array (fixed) 14080w
Radians GG8048/GS4048 w GSLCs
4 FM 80 charge controllers
Hub 10.3
FNDC w/3 shunts
Mate 3s
OpticsRE - MMKL - Ninole Hi
12 SimpliPhi 3.8
14Kw Kohler 14RESA Propane

Charging Only
2FX3048T
Hub
FNDC. - shared shunt feeds from Radian FNDC
Mate 3s
10Kw MEP 803a Military gen

Honda EU7000i

Davis VantagePro2 Wx Station
On line at: https://www.wunderground.com/dashboard/pws/KHININOL2
Location: Ninole, Hi

Re: Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

Post by sodamo » Thu Aug 20, 2020 2:47 pm

pss wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:54 pm
Take a look at the Kohler liquid cooled LP or nat gas generators, 1800 rpm, 5 years/2000 hours warranty, networking control and very reasonably priced too. Usually 4 cyl 2.2 L turbos I think.
Likely not covered under Kohler warranty for off grid. Their website doesn’t list any 1800 rpm LP/NG for off grid. They are listed as commercial utility backup only (for warranty).
David
Please visit http://vacation.ninolehawaii.com

pss
Forum Czar
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:40 am
My RE system: 8330 watts in three strings, Flexmax 60 x 3, Radian 8048A, GSLC load center, Mate 3S, Hub 10.3, FN-DC and 900 Amp, 48V Trojan T105-RE battery bank.

Re: Off Grid Generator: Diesel, Propane or Gas

Post by pss » Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:49 am

38RCLB SINGLE PHASE OR THREE PHASE, NATURAL GAS|LPG The warranty is for backup to a grid connection, not as a stand alone off grid.

This unit is 1800 RPM. 4 cyl, 64 HP, standard warranty is 5 years, 2000 hours, whole home or utility grid backup.

It is not marketed as a "prime", a continuous use source of power where no other source is present.

But is is high quality, 38,000 watts. So maybe it would need a little maintenance here and there or repair. It only stickers for $13,930 retail. It has 5.43 times the power output of a Honda EU7000 at 3 times the price and it's burning natural gas or LP.

Just saying.

Post Reply