Choosing a generator.....

CBHunterCBHunter Solar Expert Posts: 39
Ok, I'm thinking of purchasing a new generator for my cabin. I have choice between gazoline or propane, what do you guys recommend?
The genny will not run often, it will have to operate in cold weather ( -20°F ), propane is easily availabe for me. My fridge, stove and water heater already use it. I have a 400lbs tanks with schedule deliveries.....


  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,108 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a generator.....

    Propane,,, every day of the week,, assuming it is not too costly for the fuel. Propane doesn't go stale,,, has a bit less 'power' per gallon.

    One caveat is if you have a big generator and you need to run it when it is very cold,,, below say -20c (~(0f). Propane doesn't vaporize out of the tank very well,, and some liquid delivery won't work at all at those temps. Find an expert in your locale to advise you on propane delivery system for your generator.

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,171 admin
    Re: Choosing a generator.....

    Normally, I would recommend a small fuel efficient inverter/generator (Honda eu2000i or similar genset)--but being it will seldom be used and needs to run in cold weather--perhaps looking for a unit that is designed for cold weather applications would be top priority. Yamaha has a multi-fuel version (IIRC)--the Honda's would be an aftermarket conversion.

    The other off-the-wall suggestion... Look for a used RV genset. Multi-fuel, compact, electric start, pressurized oil+filter, very quiet--and probably real cheap.

    Even if the "first one" you get does not work out--you would not be out a lot of money (from what I understand--I have not looked in the used RV genset market myself--earlier recommendation from Tony/Icarus).

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • 2manytoyz2manytoyz Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a generator.....

    Propane would obviously be the first choice since that's the fuel you already have available.

    But you might also want to consider a dual fuel type. It can run primarily on propane, but then have the option to use gasoline during colder weather, or if propane delivery isn't possible due to weather or something else.

    I have a Yamaha EF2400iS for use when camping, or during extended outages at my home. It's very quiet (53-58 dB), and fuel efficient (8+ hrs at 1/4 load on 1.5 gallons of gasoline). Details on my generator here:

    This same generator is available as a dual fuel model. I've talked with a couple of people that own this version, and there's no noticible difference in performance with either fuel. This does add ~$400-$500 to the overall cost of the generator, but might be worth it depending on your situation.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,108 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a generator.....

    Bill and Toomany make great suggestions as to dual fuel.

    Not withstanding the Eu series Honda's advantages for sound and fuel consumption, if you really aren't going to use it very often,, find a good used Onan propane out of a RV. They are really a dime a dozen for sizes up to 10kw. Many can run on LP/Nat gas/Petrol with little or no conversion. Many can be had with auto start remotes. For the money the used ones can't be beat. Many can be had for under $500 if you look around,, Craig's list, Kijiji, local E-bay.

    I still run my 1948 CCK every now and again,, as well as the neighbours emerald series,, or my 10.0 CCKB from the 1970's that still runs perfect under 10kw of load.

    For those that have Onan questions, here is a very useful forum:

    Some pretty smart/helpful folks over there who know their stuff.

  • EcnerwalEcnerwal Solar Expert Posts: 101 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a generator.....

    Propane since it doesn't go bad. Duct the cooling air (whether air or liquid cooled) out on the tank if the cold thing is a problem, or plumb to run the liquid cooling out to heat the propane tank - or put an electric heater on it. Varnished carburetors (bad gas, or having to do a great deal of dances to manage not having bad gas, but having fuel available to use) are more of a problem with a less frequently used generator - and at that, try to run it for an hour every month, whether you need to or not.

    Most other considerations that matter for a more frequently used generator matter less with a less frequently used one - but if you can, get liquid cooled rather than air cooled and 1800 rpm rather than 3600 rpm - both are quieter and generally longer-lived than the alternative (though some air cooled models manage to be long lived, at least). In new this will cost much more, in used, not so much.
  • CBHunterCBHunter Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Choosing a generator.....

    Thanks very much for your suggestions. You guys are really helpfull, I learned on this forum everyday!
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,114 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Choosing a generator.....

    CB, you have not told us the end use and what power demand you expect.. for how long. I would factor those items into the decision.

    ie if low demand for a short period, go for a small Honda 1000i / 2000i type. the excess unused fuel in the tank will be no more than a few liters, peanuts to a large outfit... or just let it run out.
    conversely if heavy demand is for a long time, then go larger, on propane if possible...

    issue I see is to match the power source to the expected demand plus fudge factor(s) of course...

    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
Sign In or Register to comment.