Using Propane Fuel In Backup Generators. Good or Bad?
In modern times, it’s not about wanting a reliable backup power solution, rather, it’s a major necessity and the absence of the same can cost an individual massively, both financially and emotionally. This is because not only do we completely depend on the gifts of technology to supplement our industrial output, but our lifestyle is so accustomed to the comfort and relief that electronic appliances provide us that the mere thought of not being able to use the theme is nightmare-inducing. All in all, we rely on technology, and technology, in extension, fully relies on electricity/power supply. Hence, going back to the initial statement, this is why backup power plays such a humongous role in keeping problems at bay.
A small power outage holds enough influence these days to incur millions of dollars in financial ruins. The businesses that are savvy to the problem will have a backup diesel generator pre-installed for exactly these crises, while the remainder of the firms will be left scratching their collective head at how could they be so inconsiderate towards their own life’s work. However, when you purchase a new backup generator, its overall efficiency and performance levels have a lot to do with the type and quality of fuel that is fed into the machine.
Needless to say, a poor grade of fuel will hamper the machine’s power output in the long run, whilst birthing starting problems and poor exhaust in the short run. But what about a potential generator fuel source that may have never crossed your imagination before? Propane, for instance, has been a revelation in the modern automotive industry and is now seen with bright hopes as a promising candidate for all future backup generator units.
So, what are the perks and challenges of using propane as a generator fuel source? How does it stack up against ordinary diesel fuel? Without further ado, let’s find that out:-
# Major Benefits of Propane fuel:-
- Propane is readily available:
Propane fuel is readily available during a normal day and at a random location. Although not as readily available as diesel and gasoline, you’ll still not encounter too many setbacks when looking for abundant propane supply from stations or vendors nearby.
- No need for a fuel stabilizer:
Most types of fuel generators make use of a fuel stabilizer in order to maximize the storage life of the fuel. Due to high longevity of propane fuel, there’s no real need to have a stabilizer nearby and test the usability of the fuel, you can rest assured knowing that your propane is ready to be used, more so than the rest of the fuel alternatives.
- Propane is eco-neutral:
The biggest concern associated with using most conventional fuel types (diesel, gasoline, etc) is their implication on the environment. While the criticism of diesel gensets is somewhat unwarranted, as they are also cleaner than ever before, propane fuel alternatives are still better for the environment.
Not just that, the amount of clamor (noise) produced by diesel gensets can be a matter of concern for densely populated neighborhoods, a concern that’s somewhat eliminated when using propane-fueled generators.
- Fewer maintenance concerns:
While a diesel generator is perhaps the genset type with the longest shelf-life, you’ll still need to maintain the machine for it to deliver power as per the required standards for years. This is somewhat easier to handle when using propane fuel as it provides the long shelf life of diesel generators with fewer maintenance requirements.
- Spill-free fuel source:
All propane storage tanks have pre-installed safety valves, thereby making them spill-proof to a large extent. Without the safety valves, the fuel can spill beneath the surface and damage the nearby objects at best, and cause life-hazard at worst.
# A Few Drawbacks:-
- Propane is fast burning:
You are likely to run through your stored propane than diesel and petrol fuel alternatives. As a result, when it’s apparent that the power blackout is here to stay, you’ll naturally need to keep the propane in plentiful proportions, which is a potential hazard in itself.
Due to its lower energy density (about 36 MJ/Litre), propane fuel burns through a lot quicker and hence your device will need to be replenished more frequently, and you’ll have to be available nearby to do so manually.
- Lower shelf-life than diesel:
Propane fuel generators have a shorter life-expectancy than diesel generators as well as gasoline gensets. A diesel generator that’s well maintained will continue to answer your power demands for a total of approx 18,000 hours, which is far more than the duration of service afforded by the best of propane generators.
So, you’ll need to replace your propane powered generators far earlier than its diesel counterpart, thereby making them less desirable for residential purposes.
- Storage issues:
Propane as a fuel has a much lower storage life than diesel, and you can simply store your diesel fuel in an ordinary generator for weeks without really affecting the fuel’s efficiency, which is not at all the case with propane. And while you can purchase a fuel storage tank to mitigate the storage concerns, but then again, propane fuel storage tanks that you find at gas stations cost far more than if you purchase the same model from a certified propane tank vendor, who are not plentiful out there as it is.
- Not as easily accessible as diesel or gasoline:
For proper storage of propane fuel, you’ll have to purchase propane storage tanks which will launch a hit on your wallet. Not just that, but propane is less accessible than major fuel sources such as diesel as petrol thereby making it a hassle to find enough propane fuel in the event of a long period of a power blackout.
Propane fuel costs can go sky high when the power outage is expected to continue over the coming days and weeks.
With all said and done, it’s perhaps fair to conclude that propane is a worthy enough choice for your residential power supply needs. However, if you’re looking for longevity and uninterrupted power supply from your gensets, or want commercial levels of power output from your machines then purchasing a diesel generator still remains the safest bet out of all other variants.