We've had a portable generator and a transfer switch in our house since we moved in here in 1989. It isn't a very elaborate arrangement. The goal was principally to run the heat (in the winter) and the refrigerators and freezer. We are still running the same Coleman 3750W portable we started with, although a few years ago we added a Honda EU2000i to provide safe power for electronics.
The weak link has always been gasoline. Storing any reasonable amount of it presents a significant fire hazard for us. Even with stabilizer, it doesn't stay fresh forever. Worse, ethanol has proven to be a potential problem when stored.
With these things in mind, I decided to convert our generators to a propane/gasoline dual-fuel setup this fall. I did a lot of research and reading, and talked to a few people who have done the same. Although I thought about replacing the generators with a single, larger unit, in the end I decided to convert the two generators to run on propane. I purchased a kit for one of the generators, figuring that I'd see how it went before buying a kit for the other one.
The first one (the Honda) went so well that I converted the Coleman and we've had a few chances to test them under real life conditions. I am totally satisfied by both how the conversion process went and how the generators perform on propane. And, in the event that I ever run out of propane and can't find some place to fill some bottles, the generators continue to be gasoline-capable.
I did have the one-time conversion costs of buying the two kits (roughly $225 each) and buying and filling a number of 20# "barbecue" propane bottles, but considering the advantages, I am completely comfortable with the overall costs and benefits. The benefits are really persuasive for me:
- No more storing highly flammable gasoline
- No more gasoline going stale/no more filling our vehicles from 5-gallon cans with the associated bother and spills
- No more ethanol issues
- Faster starts in cold weather
- Cleaner exhaust emissions
- Cleaner oil/longer oil service intervals
Installation of these things was a snap, although I've been fiddling with large and small engines for 45 years. The instructions were somewhat opaque, especially about tuning the regulators for optimal performance, but it's not rocket science and is pretty straightforward, though you should have a multimeter that includes an accurate Hz meter.
I included a few pics below showing the converted generators. Not everyone needs a generator and propane won't be the solution for everyone, but I think it's worth consideration.
Stay safe (and stay warm)
The Coleman generator showing the regulator mounted on the frame.
Another picture of the Coleman generator.
The propane adapter is the bright aluminum part between the carburetor (RH) and the air cleaner (LH).
Another picture of the adapter, from the other side.
The Honda with the propane adapter installed. Note that it still closes up.
Interior picture of the Honda showing the adapter and hose routing.
One of the things I particularly liked about this particular conversion kit was the bracket for the propane regulator.