Generator uptime ...

lasitterlasitter ✭✭Solar Expert Posts: 56 ✭✭
I'm still considering installing a generator in addition to panels, and of course the most affordable units you see are for natural / propane / LP gas.

While more expensive, diesel generators have the potential to be much more reliable (or with proper packaging, even more quiet) than these cheaper units.

How many days (or weeks) can non-diesel units run without requiring stops for servicing? What is the probability they would fail due to overwork compared to a diesel?

My new home will have something like 660 gallons of fuel oil available to power a generator or heat the home, and I like the idea of being able to power the home for up to a month without a refill ...

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot ✭✭ Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Generator uptime ...

    Around here propane/NG gens are the most expensive. Fuel costs aren't cheap either due to their lower efficiency. Diesels are not in and of themselves more reliable; their are cheap diesels that will fail before a cheap gas engine will.

    Any quality generator that is properly serviced can last a long, long time. It is important to change the oil - which removes the contaminants that ultimately damage the engine. Looking out for problems before they occur is far cheaper than fixing them afterwards.

    Having no need for a large gen myself I've had good luck with my little Hondas. 6,000+ hours each, oil changed every 50 hours. The 1000 now burns oil but still starts fairly easily. The 2000 has a damaged pull cord (someone reefing on it at the wrong angle) that had to be retied. Otherwise no problems at all. Someday I may even change the spark plugs. :D

    I don't think you're looking at a prime power application here, just some occasional running when the sun doesn't co-operate. A larger unit with a larger oil sump would not require as frequent oil changes.
  • lasitterlasitter ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 56 ✭✭
    Re: Generator uptime ...
    Around here propane/NG gens are the most expensive. Fuel costs aren't cheap either due to their lower efficiency. Diesels are not in and of themselves more reliable; their are cheap diesels that will fail before a cheap gas engine will.
    I'm looking at the 20kW Perkins 400 Series (404A-22G1) right now. Recommended service says 500 hours before oil and fuel filter change.

    It's water cooled vs air. One poster on Amazon (didn't buy it there) said his came without a muffler, so he installed a big truck muffler on it. Got it pretty quiet.

    The Kohler 20RESAL-SE is supposedly 76db @ seven meters. I don't think that is all that quiet.

    Since the Perkins unit arrives "bare", you pretty much are on your own in terms of coming up with a quiet enclosure for it.

    It looks like the Perkins consumes three liters per hour at 50 percent, and with home heating oil at $3 per gallon, the fuel costs look to be within 10 percent of natural gas.

    The reliability angle is looking pretty appealing to me. Of course, you could max out on redundancy by buying a pallet of smaller generators and leaving them in the basement ...
  • CariboocootCariboocoot ✭✭ Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Generator uptime ...
    lasitter wrote: »
    The reliability angle is looking pretty appealing to me. Of course, you could max out on redundancy by buying a pallet of smaller generators and leaving them in the basement ...

    Nah, by the time you got to using them they'd have all set up and need a rebuild. The famous Fast Ferry disaster here experienced this: the new motors sat in crates so long they had to be rebuilt before they could put them in once they finally got the boats built!

    One question: is your system of such a size that you need a 20kW gen? Running a big one lightly loaded will not be good for it, or the fuel economy.
  • lasitterlasitter ✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 56 ✭✭
    Re: Generator uptime ...
    One question: is your system of such a size that you need a 20kW gen? Running a big one lightly loaded will not be good for it, or the fuel economy.
    Good feedback. The 15kw model is only $800 less. I'm not sure that small output diesel units are that common ...
  • CariboocootCariboocoot ✭✭ Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Generator uptime ...
    lasitter wrote: »
    Good feedback. The 15kw model is only $800 less. I'm not sure that small output diesel units are that common ...

    No, they're not.
    My neighbour tried to give me one: single cylinder pull-start diesel. I doubt I have to explain why he wanted to get rid of it - or why I wouldn't take it. :D
  • oil pan 4oil pan 4 ✭✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 766 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Generator uptime ...

    The smallest generators I have ran for more than a few days were 4 pole 5.5kw kohler generators behind 900cc 3 cylinder liquid coold Kubota diesel engines.
    I have ran 3 cylinder Kubota diesel generators for weeks at a time. Only time I stopped them was every 1000 or so hours I changed oil, fuel and air filters.
    Plus that was in Afghanistan. Very hot very dusty.

    I guaranty these 4 pole 3 cylinder diesel generators are quieter with their access doors wide open than a single cylinder screamer gas engine in an enclosure.

    Plus if I had a liquid cooled generator I would figure out a way to pipe heat from the exhaust and cooling system into the house during the cooler months. You cant really do that with an air cooled screamer engine.

    I don't understand why every one assumes why all diesel generators are so much louder than gas engines. Guess everyone has only ever dealt with crap generators.

    Solar hybrid gasoline generator, 7kw gas, 180 watts of solar, Morningstar 15 amp MPPT, group 31 AGM, 900 watt kisae inverter.

    Solar roof top GMC suburban, a normal 3/4 ton suburban with 180 watts of panels on the roof and 10 amp genasun MPPT, 2000w samlex pure sine wave inverter, 12v gast and ARB air compressors.

  • CariboocootCariboocoot ✭✭ Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Generator uptime ...
    oil pan 4 wrote: »
    I don't understand why every one assumes why all diesel generators are so much louder than gas engines. Guess everyone has only ever dealt with crap generators.

    Yep. A badly made any type of engine will be louder than a good one. As a rule water-cooled engines are cooler, so are slower-running ones. 3600 RPM single-cylinder air-cooled gas engine 5kW gen? Noise, noise, noise.

    In the old days of the hit-or-miss engines that rolled over so slowly you could count the firings noise was not an issue. Often they had no mufflers of any kind or else a 'trumpet mute'. It was all they needed.
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