Convert Gas Generator To Propane
Article by Mark Trotta
Propane conversion kits for gas generators are becoming more popular all the time. The best thing about them is, you don't have to give up running your generator on gas - a dual fuel conversion kit will allow you to switch from one fuel source to the other.
The Problem With Gas Generators
Gasoline has a limited shelf life, and can gum up carburetors when left sitting for long periods. Unfortunately, this is exactly what most generators do most of the time.
Here's another downside. During an emergency such as a hurricane, tornado, ice storm, etc, the first commodity to be hoarded is gasoline. So unless you've planned ahead and have a few containers full of fresh gas, you'll find that at the time you need it most, it's the hardest to get.
Propane vs Gasoline
Propane is a type of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). No matter how long it's stored, it doesn't lose its quality or effectiveness. It's useful shelf life depends mainly on the quality of the storage tank it's kept in.
Unlike gasoline, propane does not gum up carburetors or leave carbon deposits on spark plugs. Your generator can safely sit for months without being run (provided you haven't left gas in the carburetor).
Cold Weather Concerns
If you live in a very cold climate, propane does not gel like gasoline does. This makes it a good choice for emergency power in areas with severe winters.
Disadvantages To Propane
Propane has several disadvantages. First is, it's more costly to use than gasoline. Although it costs less to buy, it has a lower energy density, so you'll need more propane to make the same energy that gasoline will make.
Another disadvantage is accessibility. Propane isn't as easily gotten as gasoline. And the propane you buy at gas stations cost much more than when bought from a dedicated propane provider. There's also the additional hassle of keeping and refilling portable propane tanks.
Of course, the best option is to be able to run either gasoline or propane.
Dual Fuel Conversion Kits
Installing a dual-fuel conversion kit on your generator allows you to run either gasoline or propane, and often times a third option of natural gas. Carburetor bolt spacing is pretty universal on gas generator engines (Honda GX series, Honda clones, etc) so these kits will work on almost any small engine. A main area of concern is clearance - some kits require you cut the frame for clearance.
Hipa Propane Conversion Kit
The dual-fuel conversion kit is sold by Hipa and designed to fit many portable gas generators, such as Honda, Predator, Cabela, Champion, and Generac.
Shop: Hipa Dual Fuel Gasoline/LPG Conversion Kit
The dual fuel kit below is a direct bolt-on for 196/212cc clone engines found on Predator generators. Since the carb bolt pattern is the same, it will fit many others too.
Shop: Dual Fuel Gasoline/LPG Conversion Kit
Dual Fuel Carb Operation
Once the conversion carburetor is on and the tank hooked up, operation is simple. Open the valve, push the button on regulator until you hear gas, then hold start button down for a few seconds. The engine will start right up!
Once the conversion kit is installed, you can run the gas out of carb, then switch to propane. Runs the same as if were running on gasoline.
NOTE: When two kinds of fuel are supplied at the same time, the carburetor will use LPG/NG first.
What Is LPG Gas?
LPG stands for liquefied petroleum gas. It is a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases such as propane and butane (bottled gas). LPG is not natural gas, but a product of natural gas processing.
What Is NG Gas?
NG gas is natural gas, also known as methane gas. It is found in deep underground rock formations. Natural gas is lighter than air (LPG gas is heavier than air).
Natural Gas vs LPG Gas
Although they are used for many of the same applications, the two are very different from each other. LPG is distributed in gas bottles and tanks. Not only is it portable, it's available virtually everywhere. Natural gas is carried through a pipeline, and if you don't have it plumbed into your house, you may not have access to a filling station.
LPG gas has more energy content then natural gas.
LPG requires a higher air to gas ratio for combustion (25 to 1 ratio vs 10 to 1 ratio for natural gas).
Rent or Buy Propane Tank
If you pick one up at the local grocery store, you're not buying a propane tank. You pay a one-time deposit, and when it runs out, you exchange it with a pre-filled tank for less money. The alternative to this is to buy an empty tank and refill it from a big tank and/or filling station.
Propane Tank Sizes
By far, the most common portable propane tank is the refillable 20 pound steel tank. These are roughly equivalent to 5 gallons of gasoline.
Although much less popular, several companies offer a 40 pound propane tank that can be used either vertically or horizontally.
Propane Tanks Have Expiration Dates
For your safety, propane tanks are marked with an expiration date, and not refillable after a certain age (about 10-12 years). Refilling an expired tank is illegal and may be unsafe.
Hopefully gasoline will never go away in my lifetime, but admittedly it has it's faults. Propane is a cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline, making it better for both the environment and your generator.
CAUTION: Modifying your generator may void the manufacturer warranty. Modifications may also lead to harm if you don't follow the instructions. Proceed at your own risk.