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Old 08-06-2020, 12:47 PM   #1
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Small generators, propane vs gas

We just bought a used Airstream and are having some upgrades done, including Lithium batteries installed (4, I think) and a 2nd a/c unit. We want to be able to boondock at times and have been told to get two quiet generators to help with the a/c. Out tow vehicle is a Ford Econoline passenger van. We are researching small generators and wondering if the smell of gas carried in the back of the van will become a problem. Can we or should we carry the gas can(s) in the trailer? Or, can the Honda and Yamaha small 2200 generators be made to run on propane? To keep the generators away from the trailer, would we need to get one or two propane tanks? Thanks for your help!
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:02 PM   #2
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Have been using a dual fuel Honda 2000i conversion since 2006.
Petrol universally available, easier to set up at home for emergency use.
LP cleaner, no smell.

Really no preference, although we do use LP almost all the time with the AS.

POI...we store in the AS, in a 24g ActionPacker, no smell.
I did have to seal the lid with a foam gasket.

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Old 08-06-2020, 01:17 PM   #3
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Small generators, propane vs gas

Also, LP gas does not gum up carburetors or leave deposits when it evaporates. Iím not a lover of having gasoline of any sort inside a vehicle passenger compartments due to smell and potential fire danger.

I use a Champion 3500 watt dual fuel inverter only on propane from my Airstreamís tanks with a couple of 12í extension hose sets and 3/8Ē quick connects. I can still run it off a separate propane bottle if I need to.

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Regulator for a stand-alone tank. Female quick connect added after the two OEM regulators were carefully separated.

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Championís OEM low pressure regulator that connects to the generator inlet fitting and an extension hose as well. Male quick connect added.

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Self-installed 3/8 quick connect on my A-frame with a shutoff valve behind it. The valve is needed to enable shutting down the generator when running on propane, and it also lets the generator burn off leftover propane in the system for safety. Itís a quirk with the Championís fuel system.

Propane has no internal shutoff valve inside the unit that is controlled by the generator ignition switch.

I suspect something similar happens on gasoline because there is a gasoline solenoid valve and a dump valve on the carburetor bowl. I never use gasoline in it so no good data on how it actually works on gasoline.

And, yeah, a 3500 on a 30-amp trailer is overkill, but thatís how I roll. It easily runs everything in the Airstream on the road. Keeps DW happy and the doggies very comfortable.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:39 PM   #4
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Gas or Propane

We also tow our AS with a Ford Passenger van (2013 E150 XLT Premium). Get yourself a Champion Dual Fuel 3500 watt generator and be done with it. Run it only on propane. You have 2 big tanks of propane already on the front of the AS. No need to carry gasoline. No need to buy 2 small gensets and no need to use any kind of conversion kit.

The 3500 will power everything you need in a 30 amp AS. We have had ours for 3 years and it has never missed a beat. Electric start, 30 amp RV plug, 2 120v outlets. Just doesn't get any easier. I have run mine as long as 16 hours on a 20 LB tank at my home when the electric has been interrupted. Where I live you have to have a reliable back up genset as the electric goes out often.
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Old 08-07-2020, 08:28 AM   #5
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GAS Generator
(+) Stock , no mod needed. (For Honda people)
(+) More power
(+) More power density (small amount lasts long time)
(-) More dangerous to store in trailer or van
(-) Gas can go bad and cause generator failure
PROPANE generator
(+) Less dangerous to store
(+) Can use trailer propane
(+) Will not cause generator failure, propane lasts forever
(-) May require a generator modification (Honda people)
(-) May also require some plumbing
(-) Less power
(-) Less power density compared to gasoline
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Old 08-07-2020, 09:20 AM   #6
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Hi

With two A/C units, your trailer *hopefully* will be upgraded to a 50A 240V service connection ( = normal RV 50A plug ). That's the only practical way to fire up two A/C's when on shore power.

To run them both on generators, you would need *two* Champion 3500's or something similar. Those are out of the "small generator" category. They are 95 pounds each plus the weight of the propane cylinder(s). Running A/C, you will go through a lot of propane.

The classic issue with doing this is:

Pull up to the campsite after a long day's drive. It's a billion degrees out in the sun and there's no shade / no breeze. The crew wants a cool AS right *now*. Look at the thermometer and it's 98 degrees inside the trailer and hotter outside.

Firing up a single AC *might* get things cooled down by sunset. You likely will be lynched long before then. You need both A/C units to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time.

In addition, the trailer battery charger wants to do it's thing and pull 5 or 10 A off the generator. Then there's the fridge trying to pull a couple amps. Maybe somebody wants to fiddle with dinner and needs some light ....

Bottom line is you need a *lot* of power all at the same time. Yes, you can play with this or play with that to try to schedule when loads do this or that. It's a lot of fiddling and everybody is *hot*.

So what's the answer?

One answer is a generator up in the 10KW range. You will need to get one that is quiet or the lynching party will be made up of your campground neighbors. Even running a pair of 3500's may be a bit of an issue.

Another answer is: Don't head down this road in the first place. If it's going to be that hot, book a site with 50A power. Things go way smoother that way.

Third answer: Why are you camping out someplace where it's a billion degrees out? You are mobile, head to someplace else. It's not like a cottage where you *have* to be in one location.

When you start adding up the "stuff" you likely will have along, plus the tongue weight of the trailer, plus passengers (you don't mention how many)..... it is not uncommon to be "payload challenged". Tossing 300 pounds of generator on top of all the normal load generally puts you way past the limit ....

Bob
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Old 08-07-2020, 09:42 AM   #7
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we run a champion 3400 dual fuel on LP would never go back to a gas
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Old 08-07-2020, 01:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmkrum View Post
Also, LP gas does not gum up carburetors or leave deposits when it evaporates. Iím not a lover of having gasoline of any sort inside a vehicle passenger compartments due to smell and potential fire danger.

I use a Champion 3500 watt dual fuel inverter only on propane from my Airstreamís tanks with a couple of 12í extension hose sets and 3/8Ē quick connects. I can still run it off a separate propane bottle if I need to.

Attachment 375061

Regulator for a stand-alone tank. Female quick connect added after the two OEM regulators were carefully separated.

Attachment 375062

Championís OEM low pressure regulator that connects to the generator inlet fitting and an extension hose as well. Male quick connect added.

Attachment 375063

Self-installed 3/8 quick connect on my A-frame with a shutoff valve behind it. The valve is needed to enable shutting down the generator when running on propane, and it also lets the generator burn off leftover propane in the system for safety. Itís a quirk with the Championís fuel system.

Propane has no internal shutoff valve inside the unit that is controlled by the generator ignition switch.

I suspect something similar happens on gasoline because there is a gasoline solenoid valve and a dump valve on the carburetor bowl. I never use gasoline in it so no good data on how it actually works on gasoline.

And, yeah, a 3500 on a 30-amp trailer is overkill, but thatís how I roll. It easily runs everything in the Airstream on the road. Keeps DW happy and the doggies very comfortable.
"Also, LP gas does not gum up carburetors or leave deposits when it evaporates. I’m not a lover of having gasoline of any sort inside a vehicle passenger compartments due to smell and potential fire danger."

All true. However, if the concern is gumming up carburetors, I have used fuel stabilizers (purchased almost anywhere) in my Honda and it's companion auxiliary fuel tank for years without having my Honda failing to start at anytime.
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Old 08-07-2020, 02:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Betsydog View Post
Or, can the Honda and Yamaha small 2200 generators be made to run on propane? To keep the generators away from the trailer, would we need to get one or two propane tanks? Thanks for your help!
To answer your question, check Hutch Mountain's propane adapter for the Honda 2200; it converts it to a dual fuel generator. Did the conversion, works fine.

You can run it on separate 20lb propane tanks (use them for your BBQ as well) or run it off the low pressure propane connection on your AS (requires the proper hose and connector).

With one 2200 and an Easy Start installed on the AC you will run one AC while boondocking with one 2200. If you want to run both ACs then either you get a companion Honda 2200 generator for a total of 4400W or switch to a single larger (and heavier) generator such as the Champion that others have mentioned.
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:11 PM   #10
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I'm with Hermes.

I recently purchased Honda eu2200i and eu2200i Companion generators with parallel kit. I ordered the propane conversion kits, all the required plumbing, and 2 MicroAir Easy Start units from Hutch Mountain.

Using the propane quick connect on my Airstream, I can run 1 AC off 1 generator or I can run 2 AC units off both generators running in parallel. I could also use bottled propane or even gasoline, should I choose.

The propane conversion kits were very easy to install. The Easy Starts were a bit more complicated, but only because the installation required working on the roof. Hutch Mountain provides really great customer service and great products.
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Old 08-08-2020, 04:58 AM   #11
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I can easily out smart the Honda carb, it called Maintenance, E-free and running it once it awhile.
I have LP & petrol, I use both. TETO

Bob
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:07 AM   #12
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Thanks for the info. Do you think the 3500 would run two a/c units? If you attach the 3500 to the AS propane, will the propane still power the fridge or whatever else it (propane) supports? Thanks again.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:11 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the info.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:12 AM   #14
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Great. Thanks for your reply.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:13 AM   #15
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Thanks for the reply.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:47 AM   #16
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Small generators, propane vs gas

If the two A/C units both have MicroAir EasyStart modules on them, and they are set to slightly different temperatures to prevent both from starting at the same time, yes. It will depend a bit on altitude and outside temperature but the 3500 is a stout generator.

The fridge and other propane stuff will work ok as long as your Airstreamís current propane regulator can handle the total flow rate needed. Itís usually not a problem if the regulator is in good shape, and an easy fix if itís in need of replacement. They make ďhigh flowĒ regulators. Just need to maintain full pressure of 11Ē Water Column when everything is running. I have a gauge to verify my regulator is keeping up with the demand.

For a data point: My system is a single 15,000 BTU A/C unit. The 3500 running on propane barely comes off idle when the A/C compressor starts in very high temperatures (100 degrees in Texas last year). I donít have my EasyStart installed yet.

I do use larger 1/2Ē hoses and 3/8Ē quick connects on my rig because I can put my generator up to 20 feet away for quiet.

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3/8Ē quick connect and shutoff valve added to Airstream propane system in A-frame.

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Modified Champion low pressure regulator and 1/2Ē hoses.

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Modified Champion high pressure regulator so I can use a separate tank if needed.

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Added front power inlet so I can run generator in the back of the truck on the road. Not while driving, however.
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Old 08-09-2020, 01:48 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Betsydog View Post
Thanks for the info. Do you think the 3500 would run two a/c units? If you attach the 3500 to the AS propane, will the propane still power the fridge or whatever else it (propane) supports? Thanks again.
Hi

A 3500W Champion will put out 29.6A running on gasoline. It is rated for a bit less on propane. Each A/C *with* a soft start gizmo will pull around 15A to 16A while running. Even with the soft start, there still is a surge at startup.

In the scenario where you *need* two A/C units, it's not going to do the job. There are things like the converter charger and other random loads that are a PIA to disable, they will make it even more of a challenge.

Move up to something in the 5KW range at least. Honda makes a very nice 7,200W unit.

Bob
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Old 08-09-2020, 02:28 PM   #18
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I converted my single Honda 2000 to propane. Run it off my rig's two propane canisters. This combined with my 900w solar cells / 600 Ah of lithium cells have served me well. I guess if I didn't have that amount of cells I might need another generator. Not sure.
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Old 08-09-2020, 02:34 PM   #19
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Small generators, propane vs gas

Good points, Bob. Iím probably being way too optimistic on the ability of a single 3500 to handle two A/C units. Iím trying to remember if the 3500 can be paralleled, but Iím going to have to dig out the manual...

Hm, a close look at the photo shows a spot to plug in a paralleling harness. That means it may be possible to get two of them to provide lots of power to a 50 amp trailer. That as dimes they make parallel harness for 50 amps on the Champions.

I do know it works in my 30 amp situation perfectly. And DW likes the fact that we can have air conditioning on the road anytime we need it. (After she bugged the heck out of me for ďcarrying all that heavy stuff alongĒ)
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Old 08-10-2020, 01:58 PM   #20
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I have US Carburetion's Snorkel propane conversion on a Yamaha 6300. It is really quiet, with remote start, automatic choke, tach, mixture adjustment block (for higher altitudes), and starter controlled solenoid shut off valve. US Carb says their tri-fuel snorkel has the same output on propane, natural gas, as gasoline. They make kits for all generators. The only noticeable difference is the large low-pressure regulator attached to the outside of one end of the unit. I keep mine in the pickup bed under the camper shell. It is plumbed to connect in to a quick connect on the TT tongue. And, it connects AC to a 50amp connection on the front of the TT. I did get a Marshal MERC HD two-stage regulator for more total flow in the the OEM when other propane appliances are in use. This is my second US Carb trip-fuel generator. I decided to power up both A/Cs for quick cool down on hot day stops. I have never had any problems with Yamahas.
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