Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

openskyopensky Registered Users Posts: 13
I would like to take advantage of the auto generator functions on my Xantrex inverter. All I have right now is an electric-start, gas-powered portable generator. It's a manual choke, though, and won't start without it. I was considering a propane conversion kit and I saw where someone said that you don't need the choke on a propane engine. Forgive my ignorance but I don't know much about propane yet, is that true? Then I wouldn't need an auto-choke conversion kit.

Aside from the choke issue, are there any other potential problems I will run into?

THANKS!

Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,223 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    What kind of genny?

    I would look over here:http://www.smokstak.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=1

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,482 admin
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    Autostarting a genset not designed for autostart is a real pain... Besides choke issues, you have emergency shutdown for oil/temperature issues, maximum runtime, maximum cranking time, retry of cranking, etc...

    Stephen from Spain did a conversion:
    stephendv wrote: »
    Easier to buy the genset with auto-start already included. But if you have an idea of how the electrical system of the generator works, then you can buy the control unit and add it yourself. I did this with my diesel gen and used one of the basic units from http://www.deepseaplc.com/, cost about 50 GBP and is fully programmable using their PC software. They have models available to accomodate every type of gen setup, so I'm sure finding one to control a choke won't be a problem.
    EDIT: Assuming of course that you have an electronically controlled choke! (or can build one)

    A not very detailed blog post of my conversion here: http://www.casanogaldelasbrujas.com/blog/2009/05/25/new-control-unit-for-volvox-generator/

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • openskyopensky Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    It's a PowerPro 6800e. I didn't buy it so I don't have a manual for it.

    If I go the route of getting a new generator, what do I look for?
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,970 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    You should not need a choke for an LPG-feuled genset, conversion, or not.

    For gasoline engines, the choke gets the fuel moving into the air-stream. For LPG, (often) if there is vacuum to operate a solenoid valve (in some systems), the fuel vapor begins to flow into the "Mixer". Some other systems use a solenoid valve that opens when the engine begins to crank.

    A number of AGS controllers provide overcrank, start/die, undervoltage etc issues.
    YMMV, just my personal experience. Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • CDN_VTCDN_VT Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    I looked in Google for info on the Power Pro 6800e that openSky posted.

    I wouldn't fool with what works and that machine.. Myself.

    I run a few APU's that are LPG powered. All mine are choked electrically controlled, as with my LPG dump truck. What is not electronically controlled choke is manual (BY Me) .Chipper , log splitter and a few other tools.
    Now We don't know where opensky hails from , so it's all a guessing game, but the choke is for a richer start , the vacuum lock off valve is a way of shutting off gas flow or staring it if it see's a vacuum. I still have a electric choke , or controlled one. Im wet coast 49°15'30."N 124°35'40."W 100M above datum.

    I have always used and seen chokes on any engine, Even fuel injected engines use a starting cycle to start (anyway to make the mixture rich to start).

    Generac is one of the few I have , and for all the bad posts I've read on here about them , I haven't experienced any of them..BUT I bought mine much larger than required , wired & plumbed it myself . My few farm neighbours have similar units , installed by contract , 0ne i know was bought from Home Depot, has had a few service calls $$$$ i was told..

    I was asked to have a look , so as a good neighbour , I went and had a look at sloppy install and poor (just minimum gas sizing) I didn't take any specs , but as cheap as they could get away with.

    There is also mobile units they make , I have no experience with those in generac, Honda a few , Screaming Demon jimmy diesel/gen unit, 2 generac, plus a Vivan .. The LP3250 looks nice & the beauty about any LPG or NG is the fuel has got no real shelf life. One of my early generac install has the same propane bottles and fuel since 1995/97 . In 1997 it got the second fuel tank added (Boil off area increase - it is for snow in survival up the mountain behind the farm area) . This unit has got maybe 120 run hrs on it since then.

    My propane adaptions for some of the equipment around here is all manual choke. then again manual is me starting the machine and working it.. For the unattended starting and self maintenance of itself , best to buy quality once.
  • openskyopensky Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    It sounds like the consensus is to just get a different generator. I was hoping I wouldn't need to do so. But if I do, what generator(s) do you recommend?

    I will admit, I'm still confused though. Aside from electric start/stop and auto-choke, what else would a generator need? My system will tell it when to turn on and turn off based on the programmed specifications. Most of what I see when I look up auto start generators is redundant to what I already have.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,482 admin
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    By the way, is the install somewhere around Springfield Missouri (temperatures, altitude)?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • openskyopensky Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    Oh Sorry, I didn't realize a questioned had been asked of me that I hadn't answered. I'm located in Southeastern Nebraska, east of Lincoln and south of Omaha. The address is ... Unadilla, NE. The coordinates are 40 44 43N, 96 17 11W and the elevation is about 1300 ft. I believe Springfield generally has a milder climate/winter than we do. It gets pretty cold in the winter. I just moved out here this year, so we'll see just how cold it gets.
  • openskyopensky Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    I now realize that I'm missing the GSM (Generator Starter Module) required for my Xantrex PS series inverter to be able to control a generator. And, of course, because it's a PS series, they no longer make any parts for it, including the GSM.

    Does anyone know where I can find a GSM or ALM (Auxilary Load Module) for a PS or SW series Xantrex Inverter?

    Or do you have any further recommendations on alternatives to this? I never did get a recommendation on a generator that would come with the capability to auto start. Is there a good "entry level" model? I only need 3-5kw.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,482 admin
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    Are the Onan and other small electric start gensets equipped with automatic chokes and auto shutdown hardware?

    Tony/Icarus has said before that he could get used RV gensets for not too much money (at least up there in the far and frigged north).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,223 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    A quick look on Craigslist in nearly any city finds many Onans. Here is today's MSP (chosen at random) list.. Including an 85kw unit!

    http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/search/?areaID=19&subAreaID=&query=onan+generator&catAbb=sss
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,052 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    I have been researching inverter generators and if I buy one I want a ng conversion. Here is a yamaha dealer that converts them and sells them. Yamaha has a vidio you can watch that tells about the emmissions warranty. It was listed under the 2800 model. A ot of the cheap ones are only good for 125 hrs. Honda 240 hrs, yamaha 500 hts. They can put electric start and a remote control on some models. :Dsolarvic:D http://www.yamaha-propane-natural-gas-generators.com/
  • openskyopensky Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    Thanks for the responses! So, I still need an module of some sort to tell the generator to turn on/off. Since the PS series inverter has been discontinued for a while, I can't find the GSM/ALM that I would need to hook up to inverter. Does anyone know if the other Xantrex GSM/AGS modules can be fairly easily adapted to work with my PS series or is it not worth the trouble?

    If I can't find a Xantrex module to do the trick, what is my next best option? As you can tell by my questions, I'm no electrical engineer. So building my own from scratch is not an option but I could probably piece something together if I needed to.
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 886 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    First, question whether you really need auto start functions. (I haven't re-read the thread) I always like to know why and when for generator runs. I check the oil and coolant level after each run/before the next. Sometimes my generator manual/auto/off switch needs to be cycled before it will go into a start cycle (it's old, needs encouragement, like me). Just never felt comfortable leaving things to their own devices...devices are known to fail.

    If you're going to be around for any genset run then remote start is a great way to stay warm and in the house, but auto-start? What if it doesn't start "when it should" and you haven't kept track of battery SOC...hit battery LBCO level, not good for batteries unless you have LBCO set high...etc etc.

    Ralph
  • openskyopensky Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Auto Choke/ Propane Conversion

    I moved to this farm in March 2011. It is off-grid and has a 1kw Bergey turbine and 8 L16 batteries, all of which were installed 7-9 years ago. I don't own the place, so I'm limited as to what can be done. The landowner paid for solar panels and components, which I installed a little over a month ago. Now I have 1.2kw of solar added to the mix. The limiting factor now are the batteries which have lived way beyond their useful life and suffered a fair amount of abuse along the way. I don't know what their capacity currently is but it's not what it should be.

    I don't leave often but if I ever need to leave the farm for a day or two, I need to know that the power is going to stay on. Our biggest loads that can't be shut off while I'm gone are the water well, a fridge and a freezer. We have livestock that drink from waterers with float valves so they refill as needed.

    Also, I always seem to need the generator in the evenings and I can't always stay up for it to run long enough to make it through the night without running out of power. Which means I end up leaving the generator on all night, and wasting a lot of gas. A module that senses the battery voltage and turns off at a predetermined level would help solve that problem.
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