Alternative-fuel generators can be one of two types. They can be designed to not operate on gasoline under any circumstances. Or, they can be the type that has the capacity, depending on environment and fuel availability, to operate on several different fuel types.
Here are a few varieties of the alternative-fuel generator:
Whether looking for a diesel generator, a propane generator, or natural gas generator, T-Rex can help. Here are a few facts about some of these alternative-fuel generators that you might find interesting.
Propane is actually the residue or natural by-product of refining petroleum or processing natural gas. Propane is most often found in its gaseous form, though it can be compressed to create a liquid, the composition it takes to power a standby propane generator or portable propane generator.
The liquid propane (LPG or LP) used in propane generators is a combination of propane and butane, that sometimes also harbors trace amounts of propylene or butene – plus a scented chemical, otherwise harmless, to help make the fuel detectable in the event of a leak. The liquid propane burned by your propane generator is a much cleaner fuel than gasoline; this entails less in the way of internal wear and tear on an engine, and, because it is the carbon deposits associated with combustion in a gasoline engine that destroy the protective properties of motor oil, you can expect dramatically-longer oil-change intervals from the engines in propane generators.
Propane for a portable propane generator is usually delivered, bought, and stored in cylindrical steel tanks as a liquid, with a planned vapor space to accommodate heat expansion above the liquid. Pressure in a propane tank is dependent upon both ambient temperature, and the rate at which the propane is being withdrawn – since an increased removal rate entails an increased rate of vaporization that, contrary to the intuitive, actually cools a propane canister. If you notice that condensation on the exterior of a propane tank has frozen as a propane generator operates, it is probably the result of vaporization being produced by the liquid withdrawal. The flammability of a propane-tank’s contents also changes as the fuel inside is withdrawn by a portable propane generator, because high-octane compounds within the fuel – harboring a lighter weight – vaporize before their heavier lower-octane siblings. To reduce the degree of change that occurs within a tank, withdrawal is frequently done via a tube extending into its lower extremities. This helps prevent the removal of high-octane contents that congregate near its top. The low boiling point of propane means that it will vaporize immediately upon its release from a pressurized tank – so that no fancy devices external to the tank are required to facilitate vaporization!
Portable Propane Generator
The fuel for propane generators is normally purchased and stored in its liquid form (LPG). Propane harbors an advantage over gasoline and diesel in that a significant amount of emergency fuel can be stored in a limited space. There is one factor to be conscious of when considering propane storage. It is this: since propane weighs more than air, leaking fuel in those propane generators which are relegated to confined areas will pool at the lowest point and then resist dispersal (in other words, the fuel won’t leave via an open window or doorway, won’t even escape from a completely-roofless structure), vastly increasing chances of an explosion or fire. The same principle applies to leaky propane tanks, which are frequently kept in restricted quarters, often in a garage or laundry room, sometimes in a shed. The inclination of propane to pool at a lowest physical point is what makes it generally unsuitable as a fuel source for sea-going vessels.
Portable Diesel Generator
You already understand that under-loading your portable diesel generator, operating the unit at a load lesser than 65% of its running watts, can harm an engine. Here are a few ways how: low operating capacity entails that unburned fuel remains in the compression chamber after detonation has occurred – with no other place to go, this unburned fuel seeps past the piston rings, and contaminates oil in the crankcase, prematurely robbing the oil of its important lubricating properties. In addition, inept combustion leaves soot in and around the fuel injectors, eventually allowing them to clog. If you see a diesel generator, or any other diesel-engined machine, producing clouds of black smoke, it likely indicates that the fuel injectors need a good, old-fashioned cleaning. Operating diesel generators at a too-low capacity also keeps the engine from heating up to the degree it must - and this can enable acids and other combustion wastes that should be eradicated by the temperatures of operation there inside the crankcase to further foul your engine oil.
Did you ever wonder how come a small diesel generator that appears to be running poorly leaves quantities of blue-grey smoke behind? What does blue-grey smoke from a diesel engine indicate? In industrial diesel generators and portable diesel generators, it means that motor oil from the crankcase is burning alongside fuel in the combustion chamber. There is probably an issue with the piston rings, which aren’t functioning, as they should, to keep crankcase oil from reaching the combustion chamber. This can be a result of simple, normal wear and tear on an engine – or, as we’ve been discussing, under-loading the diesel generator. So, with blue-grey smoke, the rings aren’t sealing the cylinder properly. There may be an additional problem – namely that the cylinder walls have become “glazed”. Glazing, the result of searing combustion gases flowing past poorly-sealing rings, transpires when the thin oil film which is supposed to help the rings seal the cylinder is burned onto the cylinder-bore wall. The glazed bore surface will have an almost chrome look to it.
Natural Gas Generator
Natural gas is often referred to as the “cleanest” fossil fuel – because it produces less carbon dioxide for energy produced than fuels like coal or petroleum, and because it contains far fewer inherent pollutants than most other fossil fuels. For natural gas generators and similar natural-gas burning machines, the label “cleanest” is somewhat misleading. “Cleanest” does not entail completely clean. The natural gas used in a natural gas generator is a fossil fuel – and all fossil fuels, to one degree or another, contribute to carbon emissions in the atmosphere. At the present time, on a yearly basis, the amount of carbon emissions produced by a natural gas generator and similar equipment totals about half the carbon emissions of coal-burning and petroleum-burning devices. Perhaps more important, and most surprising to many folks, natural gas, while it pollutes less than other fossil fuels for the power created, is composed primarily of methane – and methane traps harmful radiation in the atmosphere at roughly 20 times the rate of carbon dioxide!
Small Diesel Generator
A small diesel generator should be selected based upon the load it will need to power. In figuring the mathematical particulars of a given load, be sure to account for the motor-starting capacity of that diesel generator. What motors will the unit be required to engage, and under what operating load will these motors be requisitioned? These are the critical questions to raise when you are seeking a small diesel generator for your job site, or even for home emergency backup – keeping in mind, as we’ve discussed, the perils of running a diesel generator with a load too miniscule. You will also need to look at certain environmental factors which could impact how a small diesel generator operates, things like altitude of a location, and ambient temperature of the climate in a location; and don’t forget about special emissions requirements of some locales, California for instance, or the State of Canada. Size your diesel unit right, and it will outlive, and out-perform, just about any other alternative or gasoline-burning generator there is.