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Old 09-25-2012, 03:46 PM   #1
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Default 20KW generator anyone?

Does anyone use a 20K-ish diesel generator? Or have a recommendation?

I've thinking this is severe overkill for what I need on the truck, but then I can subsequently plug the truck into the house in the event a hurricane knocks out our power - thus making the generator into a twofer, so to speak.

Anyway, I've got a nice quiet Honda 6500ES but am interested in diesel generator suggestions, e.g. Onan (Cummings now), Perkins, etc.

Please share your experience and thoughts.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:11 PM   #2
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Buddy of mine has had multiple 20kw Kohlers on his Silver Eagle coaches and never had one go down. I bought my gen from martin diesel here in Ohio. They have been great to work with and will custom make any size and style gen you want. they are reasonably priced as well. they use yanmar engines, which are very reliable.
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Old 09-26-2012, 07:58 PM   #3
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Hi Doc,

What capacity is your genset and what are the dimensions?

I have a 4'-ish long space at the left rear corner of the truck and crawling around today (OK, not crawling, laying on my back on the crawler) with tape measure in hand, this seems like the best for placing the genset.

I figure if I leave 15" of ground clearance there's about 28" of height available and the unit can be as much as 32" wide (this allows as much as 3" of space for fabbing a mount).

I'm discovering a 20KW genset is not going to happen as they seem to all be about 42" high so I am back to square 1 with plans for a genset capable of running the house as well. It was a nice thought experiment - heavy sigh.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:41 AM   #4
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Martin Diesel Generators follow the link to the unit i bought
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:28 AM   #5
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You wouldn't need tons of power for the house though. Enough to run the refridgerator, furnace, tv, microwave, toaster. That should cover you for the duration of the power outage. And it won't have to power anything in the truck if you're at home, would it?
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:43 AM   #6
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When Hurricane Charley hit us we were out of power for nearly 10 days. Meanwhile, the pool got green because we didn't have the capacity to keep the 2 hp pump motor going. Moreover, potable water was an issue because our 2 hp well pump posed a considerable load (the refrigerator was the primary load). Add to it, and quite naturally, it got very hot and uncomfortable due to the humidity, which lead to frayed tempers. Furthermore, we burned a lot of gasoline through the little Honda ES6500 genset and due to widespread power outages, just getting gasoline was a challenge for many (though we were well prepared by having 80 gallons on hand, I still ended up tapping the 30-gallon tank of my step van).

Anyway, hurricanes aren't as common an event as folks would suppose for us here in Central FL but they do happen. And when the power goes it can be for extended periods of time. However, you're correct, we wouldn't really need to power the truck, e.g. just the house (though come to think of it, sleeping in the truck would be a workable alternative to sweating in our regular bed - I hadn't thought this through well enough because that would definitely change things).

Regardless, it's moot because there doesn't seem to be a generator large enough to run the house, which will fit in the available space. Thus, at present it's looking like 6.5KW will be as large as I can easily get (or maybe as much as 8KW), but nothing like the 20KW I had hoped to purchase. Thus, I suspect when it comes down to it, my little Honda will continue to do the duty because I can buy a lot of gasoline for what a replacement diesel genset will set me back. Especially when I consider I only anticipate using the truck a half dozen times a year. Add to it, the Honda is really, really quiet.

Like I said, it was a nice thought experiment.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:22 PM   #7
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but what if you split the draw between the 8k and the honda during outage?
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:19 PM   #8
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Definitely a possibility worth pondering. A bit of a cluster though.

Frankly, I've been thinking about a whole house genset for years but each time I stay my hand because it's a lot of trouble and expense for a week or so of discomfort. Trouble because they need to be tested monthly, which I do with the Honda along with our household maintenance chores like replacing water and air filters, spraying, etc.

Anyway, it's probably smarter to go visit friends and family by either taking the truck or the Bonanza: 1954 Beechcraft E35 Bonanza
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Old 09-28-2012, 05:14 PM   #9
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Anyway, it's probably smarter to go visit friends and family by either taking the truck or the Bonanza: 1954 Beechcraft E35 Bonanza
My friend used to have that same plane. nice
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Old 09-29-2012, 07:08 AM   #10
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man a 20kw gen in a coach is huge...ive got a 10kw oman and wish we had an 8k (for the fuel consumption)

we didnt own the coach during hurricane ike (sept '08) - we were out of power for 13 days....green pool too....thank god it was cool w/ low humidity. We did well on a borrowed 8kw but eventually i drove up to dallas and picked up a 10kw gas...the 10kw could run quite a bit more (pool pumps).

i "back fed" the house via my welder outlet in the garage (ive since added an outlet on the back of the garage)...i didnt like the 10kw (gas) "portable" in the end - i consumed way too much fuel (2gal per hour at full tilt)...ive since converted it to TRI-fuel (LP, NG or Gasoline).

now i figure we'd just live in the coach (for air conditioning) and/or use the coach's 10kw onan diesel (50a) to back feed the house

nice bonanza btw - friend of mine has a late 60s twin engine (6 passenger) w/ storm scope, nc bose com & 3 axis autopilot...really nice.
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Old 09-29-2012, 08:43 AM   #11
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With a handle like bushpilot I figured you'd appreciate the Bonanza. We use her principally for travel to model events. FWIW, my A&P/IA swapped out the existing equipment platform (aft of the rear bulkhead) for a larger one because now, in addition to securing the beacon, it also permits securing as many as four model helicopters. Best of all, they're completely out of our way (models are large and bulky but not very heavy - 32 pounds, give or take, with all four held down by plates, which fasten through the landing skids via Dzus quarter turn fasteners). This leaves the entire cabin available for the usual crap we also carry, e.g. a 10x10 pup up tent, a couple of folding chairs, a cooler, and a couple of small suitcases (the back seat lives on a shelf in the hangar).

The problems with using the Bonanza for travel is neither of us is instrument rated, which means traveling long distances on a schedule can be difficult due to crossing weather fronts. When there's no schedule it's no problem because we simply deviate to somewhere else or set down and let it cross us. Anyway, as a consequence of being VFR pilots only I have missed several model helicopter events this year, which I would have liked to attend.

Anyway, this is why we bought the truck to convert to a motorhome (to augment our capabilities of attending events). Since nothing I saw really suited my ideas of what I wanted, it became time to roll my own. FWIW, your pal's airplane with a good autopilot (ours is a single-axis), stormscope/radar in the nose (we use satellite XM-downlink weather, which is better in some respects and inferior in others), and being a twin would be the cat's meow as a traveling machine. In part this is because I'm rather uncomfortable with night flying a single because I cannot see where to safely put down in the eventuality of engine trouble if we are too far from an airport. Perhaps if we get our instrument ratings (Lynn's a pilot as well) we'd upgrade to a twin because absent the engine out concern I very much like night flying. Moreover, flying at night would let us depart later on Friday instead of leaving during the day and would be more economical of our time because it wouldn't take us away from the office for as long a period.

Back to generators, I've learned a 20KW isn't going to happen.

1. What's the real-world diesel burn of your 10KW Onan?
2. Do you know the real-world propane use of your converted tri-fuel genset/welder?

The genset I presently have, a Honda ES6500, weighs a little over 300 pounds wet and offers 50A, which should readily service the coach's needs without breaking a sweat. Moreover, a $300 propane conversion is available, which makes good sense if for nothing else because it obviates the need to refuel with gasoline as frequently. Especially if I equip the coach with propane for the versatility of using an RV type refrigerator as well as for cooking (though quite frankly I am ambivalent about sacrificing space for cooking because we would usually rather eat out). I basically want enough propane onboard to run the genset all week and your info on your propane genset should at least put me in the ballpark vice my 6.5KW unit.

3. Does anybody know if RV refrigerators are more efficient running on propane vs. electricity?
4. What's the typical consumption (in pounds I presume) for these units operating on propane?

Rather than leave the genset running all day it seems to be smarter to let the coach get hot during the time of day I am flying my models and hanging out with friends under the pop up tent out on the flightline while leaving the fridge to keep things cold running on propane. Naturally, I could be worng about how the truck is used (since I've never owned one) in which case the genset would run a lot because we'd keep it cold during the day as well. So many questions!

Many thanks.
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:41 AM   #12
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Anyway, it's probably smarter to go visit friends and family by either taking the truck or the Bonanza: 1954 Beechcraft E35 Bonanza
Nice plane. Nice story.

I learned to flew and worked at the Shawano, Wisconsin airport (K3WO) I think. Back in the 1970's or early 1980's I refueled a Bonanza a couple of times that flew up the Shawano from Dallas, TX. Very similar very similar to yours with the tip tanks. If the winds weren't working against them they flew non-stop from Dallas to Shawano! What a long time.

The FBO at Shawano had a Bonanza for sale for a while with a similar paint job.

Nice job in updating an older aircraft with all the Right Stuff!
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Old 09-29-2012, 12:45 PM   #13
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our 10kw QD Onan burns at least 1/2 a gallon an hour...i think its a bit higher but
havent measured it <yet>.

its rated to burn up to 1 gallon an hour iirc.

our home/portable has burned close to 2 gallons of gasoline per hour (full tilt, 2 pool pumps & other stuff)...its a northern tool unit....when not at full tilt it still sucks the better part of 1 gallon per hour (and its LOUD...i DONT recommend it).

I bought the fuel conversion kit from these guys - Generator Conversion Kits to Propane and Natural Gas.
ive never measure the consumption - was just happy to have it so that i didnt have to worry about getting gasoline during another hurricane.

the northern tool unit is NOT a welder...i have a sep hobart mig that i use in my garage & i have a 30a outlet on the wall for it....during a storm i pull the utility supply/main on my breaker panel & then back feed thru the garage/welder outlet.

regarding the RV fridge - my experience has taught me to cool the fridge (at least initially) via ac current...it cools down MUCH faster...and then i switch to propane or automode while traveling.

the consumption of propane by the fridge is close to immeasurable from what i can tell -
and friends of mine w/ travel trailers (w/ twin 20 or 30 lb tanks) have said the same, running their fridge consumes next to zero propane.

ive learned that i dont need to run the fridge as cold as i thought....settings 1 or 2 in moderately warm (80s) weather keep everything cold and prevents frost build up.

initially evne in 100* weather i was keeping the fridge on 4 - and even on a long 3 or 4 day weekend camping i could build up frost on the cooling fins inside the fridge.

i used to turn the fridge on 24 hours before i needed to load things in it (on propane)....
on a/c i only need about 6 maybe 8 hours to cool the fridge down before loading it.
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Old 09-29-2012, 01:30 PM   #14
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90#-GTSC - the nice thing about aircraft is they're made of aluminum and absent corrosion will last an indefinite period of time. Anyway, with the updates to Sweet-E, our 50+ year old aircraft is every bit as capable as a brand new $650k version (except she seats 4 instead of 6 and thus, being lighter has similar performance on 260hp instead of 300hp - essentially the same engine, which has been bored and stroked from 470ci to 550ci). Interestingly, owning an airplane isn't the province of the 1% because an airplane like Sweet-E can be had for about what a crew cab pick up costs these days. Basically within the grasp of mere mortals.

bushpilot - LOUD has a cheap solution. Pick up a $20 automotive muffler at Autozone. Any muffler shop can adapt it for 20-50 bucks, or do it yourself if you're reasonably handy. This quiets it down to if not a whisper, at least as quiet as my Honda.
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:12 PM   #15
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90#-GTSC - the nice thing about aircraft is they're made of aluminum and absent corrosion will last an indefinite period of time. Anyway, with the updates to Sweet-E, our 50+ year old aircraft is every bit as capable as a brand new $650k version (except she seats 4 instead of 6 and thus, being lighter has similar performance on 260hp instead of 300hp - essentially the same engine, which has been bored and stroked from 470ci to 550ci). Interestingly, owning an airplane isn't the province of the 1% because an airplane like Sweet-E can be had for about what a crew cab pick up costs these days. Basically within the grasp of mere mortals.

bushpilot - LOUD has a cheap solution. Pick up a $20 automotive muffler at Autozone. Any muffler shop can adapt it for 20-50 bucks, or do it yourself if you're reasonably handy. This quiets it down to if not a whisper, at least as quiet as my Honda.
same thing i said about our coach....for not much more than a crew cab 4x4 f350 the coach makes sense (for us).

yeah they have some muffler options and i could enclose it...but i learned, during IKE...it doesnt pay for me to invest in a quiet generator when your neighbors dont care ! our stuff is still more quiet than anyone else' and the guy behind us ran his 24x7, never changed the oil, never shut it down (even when they didnt need it)....i set our behind the detach garage - guy behind us (w/ the constant running noisy pos) heard more of ours (as if he could hear it over his own) than we ever heard of our own.

the 10k north star we have uses a honda 620cc v-twin (sounds like a mini harley).....it weighs over 500 lbs iirc - hardly what i call portable (i put it on a furniture dolly).
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:01 PM   #16
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Propane consumption for a week anybody?

I'm trying to size a tank for the truck so I can convert the Honda ES6500 to propane and thus, not around with gasoline (unless I run the propane dry).

Advice - with data - would be quite welcome.
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Old 09-29-2012, 07:42 PM   #17
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i think the tank on our coach is 50 gallons - in one fairly heavy camping season (spring to fall) we used LESS than 1/4 of the tank....we use propane for the heater (used it 2 or 3 evenings), hot water heater & fridge.

we always use propane for the water heater and coach living area heater, only the fridge switches to ac current when were on shore power.

of course we live in texas so ymmv (but showers for 3-5 people is our biggest point of LP consumption).
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:02 PM   #18
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Hi Don,

Thanks for the information. I'm just trying to figure out how much propane to size the tank for. I had figured needing the AC and the fridge but completely forgot the waterheater - oops! Also, of course television, lights, microwave and poissibly electric toilet.

Anyway, I am hopeful someone will chime in about consumption specifically when running the AC (more so than heat). I seriously doubt we need/use the truck when it's cold outside because for our purposes, attending model airplane and helicopter flying events, nobody wants to stand around a large flying field when it's colder than a witch's tit (maybe mid-50s). Colder than that, and speaking for my thin-blooded self, that's cold enough to be the right weather for watching Alabama play a little football

Roll Tide,
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Old 09-30-2012, 05:36 AM   #19
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propane consumption is very small.

our hot water heater (electric element) isnt working - i have no plans of replacing the water heater before the gas side stops working.

our grill & 3 burner stove (and oven) are gas as well...but again in an entire season
we barely used 1/4 of the 50g tank.

all things considered (i believe we use more LP than most would, w/ 3 teens and pretty high use) and we still consumed such a small amount of LP gas it will be a long time before i have to fill our tank (i just topped up the tank @ my local tractor supply).

our coach has two large ac units (were in texas, camp in texas & destine) we have an old english sheep dog...so we keep it cool, very cool (for the dog)...our 10kw gen has plenty of capacity to run everything and then some.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:04 AM   #20
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Hmmm, I must have missed it, but is the 10KW running off the propane tank as well? Also, are you running off the generator a lot, or plugged in mostly? Finally, a 50g propane tank; what are the approximate dimensions?
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