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Old 11-04-2011, 09:02 PM   #1
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Diesel or propane?

When I look at used DP coaches, I see that they all have generators. Most are diesel, but some are propane. I'm assuming that the propane engines were cheaper, which gave a price advantage when new. Now that they are older, used coaches, I'm wondering if there is any real advantage to one over the other. My first thought is that I'd rather have a diesel generator, and save the propane for the stove, but are there other reasons for preferring one to the other?
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:19 PM   #2
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The other issue with propane generators is the reliability issue. On average a diesel generator will run for thousands of hours trouble free. On average a propane generator will not.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:28 PM   #3
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Propane generators will use more fuel per watt/hour due to propane having less BTU value than either gasoline or diesel. Propane does burn the cleanest of the three, and the exhaust doesn't stink as badly as the others. I'm very sensitive to the exhaust smell of both my gasoline and diesel gennys, and would spec. a propane unit for just that reason.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:34 PM   #4
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The smell of the exhaust is about the only reason for choosing LP over diesel. I can't think of a single other advantage, and the disadvantage is the greater fuel consumption and relatively harder to re-fill fuel. If you have even a half tank of diesel onboard, you can generate power for a long, long time, whereas you would have to find an accessible LP filling place fairly soon.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:37 PM   #5
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Thanks for the quick responses. I think that, all other things being equal, I'd prefer a coach with a diesel-powered generator over one with a propane-powered one. If we decide to go with a DP, we'll see what we find.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:42 PM   #6
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i had a 6500 watt lp genny in our last fiver.
fantastic unit, never a worry.
but it would run through two 30 lb bottles pretty quick if i ran both a/cs

pretty much up to you...is the coach ideal for you? then go for it
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
The smell of the exhaust is about the only reason for choosing LP over diesel. I can't think of a single other advantage, and the disadvantage is the greater fuel consumption and relatively harder to re-fill fuel. If you have even a half tank of diesel onboard, you can generate power for a long, long time, whereas you would have to find an accessible LP filling place fairly soon.
Good point. The amount of projected genny time would be important to consider. Short times would favor the propane, longer times the diesel.

As far as propane refills, if you stay a lot at campgrounds with LP filling stations or near populated areas that can fill/swap portable tanks, it shouldn't be much of an issue. A lot of boondocking, not so much.

I will say that I do love the convience of my diesel - only one fuel fill to deal with. Just remember that many diesel gennys will only pull fuel when the tank is above 1/4 full. That's so that you won't run out of fuel for the main engine.



Ahhhh....................

If only all solutions were this easy:

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Old 11-05-2011, 04:44 PM   #8
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If the exhaust odor bothers you you are doing something wrong.I connect my exhaust extension whenever running the generator to get the exhaust away from people.If you smell the exhaust the odorless carbon monoxide is also present.
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Old 11-05-2011, 05:22 PM   #9
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A lot of the DP that have a LP generator usually have a separate mounted LP tank. Most around 40 gal. You don't take it off and carry to a exchange place or to have it refilled. Refill it the same as you do the House LP tank.

My 6.5 LP Onan has averaged for the last 6 years between .59 to .84 GPH
So far all refills have been below $3 a gal.
Maintenance wise it takes 3.5 qt plus filter.

A Diesel Generator does get by usually on .50 GPH
Maintenance wise I don't know the oil capacity. But it also has antifreeze & belts that need replaced. If you don't do your own maintenance and take it to a shop for service. Then $$ more to the shop then a LP one.

I don't boon dock so only use mine when needed to run the roof AC when traveling and to exercise it. I never have ran the tank dry and even Full Time I only fill it and the house tank once a year. The most used in one year in the last 6 was 17.9 gal out of the usable 32 gal. House tank has a usable 20 gal.

The fuel savings $$$ between Diesel or LP usage on a generator is probably not enough to notice on just occasional use.
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Old 11-05-2011, 05:41 PM   #10
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Generally a propane generator is easier to start than a diesel.. However the difference is not worth talking about since it's not that great.

The big difference is fuel supply.... If your main engine tank is full.. Then you have 3/4 of however many gallons of diesel fuel you hold.. and diesel is a fairly "Dense" fuel when compared to propane.. You'd need a small tank truck to get the same run time before refueling.
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Old 11-05-2011, 08:42 PM   #11
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I prefer to run my generator connected to a 90 gallon diesel tank rather than a 20 gallon propane tank.
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Old 11-05-2011, 08:52 PM   #12
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Does Power Svc Diesel Fuel Supplement Give Onan Good Breath?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluepill View Post
Propane generators will use more fuel per watt/hour due to propane having less BTU value than either gasoline or diesel. Propane does burn the cleanest of the three, and the exhaust doesn't stink as badly as the others. I'm very sensitive to the exhaust smell of both my gasoline and diesel gennys, and would spec. a propane unit for just that reason.
I was choking on the sooty output of an adjacent rig at the ABQ Balloon Fiesta, and my neighbor on the other side remarked that my generator "didn't smell at all."

Well, my Fleetwood is a former NASCAR bus, and its Onan is sitting at 2,300 hours.

Could it be the Power Service additive? He thought that might be a good explanation.

Also, at home, I noticed that my rig idling next to a buddy's Newell is clean and soot-free by comparison.

Using the PS or similar Cetane product might bridge the gap between diesel and propane generator exhaust quality.
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:10 PM   #13
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I must be the odd man out - I don't like the exhaust oder of propane generators. I've had gasolene, diesel & propane generators and there is something about the propane exhaust oder that bothers me. That said - if I found an RV I liked and it had a propane generator I'd still buy it.
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:41 PM   #14
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Had a propane 6.2 KW gen in our 2000 DSDP. In 5 days in 90° weather we went through 2 15 gallon tanks and most of our onboard 40 gallon (32 usable at 80% fill). Plus it kicked the breakers off twice when it overheated.
Another consideration is that the engine in the unit will be derated when propane is used. Our old gen was 6.5Kw on gas, but derated to 6.2Kw.

It was also MUCH noisier than we wanted to hear and other voiced their displeasure too.

Will NEVER have another propane powered gen set.
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