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Old 04-06-2014, 04:07 PM   #1
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Diesel vs propane generators

Exhaust problems
Fuel consumption
Noise level

Any thoughts?
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:20 PM   #2
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I have an air cooled propane generator. I would much rather have a diesel so I could only use propane for cooking, hot water, and furnace.

Bob & Donna
'98 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager DP being pushed by a '00 Beetle TDI
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:38 PM   #3
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It depends on the vehicle/application. For a larger, diesel-powered Class A a diesel generator makes the most sense since it can share the main fuel supply and thus have a much longer runtime (which you need if you have to run the house A/C all day to keep things cool.) For a small Class C or B with a smaller main tank there isn't all that much more runtime, if any, so the advantage shrinks, plus there isn't usually the need to run the generator nearly as much. And for a 5th wheel that already has a propane system then propane makes more sense of course.

There are also other advantages attributed to diesel such as longer life, quieter operation, etc. but those attributes aren't so much related to diesel per se but that fact that a larger genset is probably water-cooled, shrouded, runs at 1800 rpm, etc. In the smaller sizes (Onan Microquiet line, etc.) the diesel model is air-cooled and runs at 3600 rpm and isn't any quieter or significantly longer-lived than the gasoline or propane versions. Diesel generators use less fuel but the difference is a few tenths of a gallon per hour which people love to amplify all out of proportion. Again, sometimes it matters and other times you won't pay for the fuel savings (since diesel versions tend to cost much more) if you own the rig 50 years. How you intend to use it is key.

So again, there's no universal answer. For a large diesel Class A unit it's a pretty open-and-shut case for diesel, but for other configurations it depends on the individual rig and application.
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:40 PM   #4
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We are going to purchase a 5th wheel by the way....
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:44 PM   #5
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The truck that we will use is a diesel...we will do limited boondocking...
Sorry for all the single posts...still trying to navigate the forums!
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:49 PM   #6
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Ah, OK, that helps . If you have a 5th-wheel then you already have a propane supply so that's an obvious advantage, and unless you have a very large 5th-wheel then you're probably going to use one of the Onan Microquiet line so noise level will be about the same regardless of generator fuel type. Fuel usage will be slightly less in a diesel but as above you'll probably never come close to making the initial purchase difference back in fuel savings, especially since propane tends to cost a bit less than diesel which nets much of the savings out.

If you don't have to have a built-in unit then you might want to consider one of the Honda/Yamaha inverter generators. They are about as quiet and fuel efficient as you are going to get and will cost less than half the price of a built-in model.

Also, if you are going to boondock much make sure you get a quality, multistage battery charger/converter. That can matter even more than the generator choice since a good charger can easily mean the difference between running the generator 1-2 hours vs. all day in order to bring the batteries back up.
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diesel, generator, propane

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