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Old 08-07-2019, 08:49 PM   #1
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Difference in Generator Fuel

I am planning to purchase a diesel Sprinter which comes standard with the LPG-fueled generator. The diesel generator is an option and at a cost of a few thousand dollars (perhaps 3-4 thousand). Currently, I have a diesel generator in my Synergy which is fine. Sometimes the diesel gas emission can be strong especially when initially starting, but I have no other complaints. Does anyone have any input on the pros and cons of each, especially anyone who has actual experience in using both? Thank you for your help!
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:15 PM   #2
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Cant speak to a LPG genset, but I had a LPG powered delivery van at my shop and it was a pain. It took more fuel and cost more to maintain. I replaced it with a gas van and never regretted the decision.
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:44 PM   #3
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My LPG generator is a 20KW for the house but based on my experience with it I wouldn't hesitate to have one in an RV. Burns clean and has always been reliable. Also, I haven't heard of an LPG unit gumming up like gas units do.
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:54 PM   #4
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My Tiffin has got diesel-power up front, and under the RV...
They include the diesel generator as standard, because they wanted to save the propane for heating, cooking, and refrigeration usages.
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Old 08-07-2019, 10:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by JosephC View Post
I am planning to purchase a diesel Sprinter which comes standard with the LPG-fueled generator. The diesel generator is an option and at a cost of a few thousand dollars (perhaps 3-4 thousand). Currently, I have a diesel generator in my Synergy which is fine. Sometimes the diesel gas emission can be strong especially when initially starting, but I have no other complaints. Does anyone have any input on the pros and cons of each, especially anyone who has actual experience in using both? Thank you for your help!
I used to RV with my brother who had a Sprinter based coach with LPG 3,600 watt generator. The big problem was fuel consumption. With a 10 gallon tank, he could run the generator and A/C for about 20 hours before the tank was empty.
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Old 08-07-2019, 10:56 PM   #6
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When I had my Winnebago ERA Class B motor home, it had a propane generator. I now have a Thor Siesta that has a diesel generator. Both are built on the Mercedes Benz chassis. I think I like the diesel best at this time. It runs on the fuel tank and not propane. The propane is saved for heating the water and coach. I do not use propane for cooking since I have induction cook top and the microwave/convection oven. I just have to remember not to go below 1/4 tank of fuel.
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:24 PM   #7
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If you are a boondocker, calculate how long you can run just the gennie on LP before the tank is dry and how much that costs. That is the big problem with LP gens, plus the fact that they are less powerful than similar sized gas or diesel sets.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:56 PM   #8
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We camped alongside my sister with propane-fueled generator on 5th wheel with two A/Cs running 100% of time (very hot weekend). They went through most of their 2 X 40-pound tanks which required us to refill. They traded for a motorhome that takes generator gasoline from 80-gallon vehicle tank (about 60 gallons useable) and now run 4 kW Onan and their single A/C through the weekend without any concerns of running out of fuel. They are much happier and feel salesperson sold them propane generator for previous 5er by exaggerating generator propane fuel economy. I ran numbers for them using Onan specs and propane fuel usage was as it should have been.

Before deciding, Iíd run the numbers based on your tank size and intended generator use. Running A/C for long periods can use a lot of propane.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:02 PM   #9
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One thing that might be an issue: the propane generator is a 3.6 kw unit; but the diesel genny only develops 3.2 kw.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:18 PM   #10
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Diesel...diesel...diesel! LP will use tons of gas and it's two fuel systems you will have to manage. You can always find diesel and carrying extra jugs for boondocking will be much easier and convenient than trying to find a bulk propane station on the road. A back up system at home with LP is great...you have a 250 or 400 gallon tank in the back yard...not so on the road.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:21 PM   #11
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Most generators, under load, use very similar gallons per hour. For the size you are looking at lets call it .4-.6 gallons per hour.

Most sprinters have around 12 gallon propane tanks or less. At best you can run the generator for 24 hours with a load before needing a refill. Does that meet your camping profile?
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Gritz Carlton View Post
Diesel...diesel...diesel!...
agree...agree...agree...
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Old 08-10-2019, 02:49 AM   #13
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One thing that might be an issue: the propane generator is a 3.6 kw unit; but the diesel genny only develops 3.2 kw.
I didnít see what model the OP is looking at, so donít know generator sizes.

I was just at La Mesa a couple of days ago and saw some diesel Sprinters with 2.5 kW propane generators. Smaller motorhomes including most Class Bs and some Class B+ use the smaller 2.8 kW Onan gasoline generator (on gasoline chassis) or its equivalent 2.5 kW propane version on diesel Sprinters.
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:27 AM   #14
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You're talking about Class B rigs...
I was talking about the larger Class C size.
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Old 08-10-2019, 03:30 PM   #15
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How will you use your RV

As with most things, it depends how you will use your RV. I've had gas, diesel and now have a propane generator. For the way we travel, I like the propane the best.
1) Propane generators cost less to purchase.
2) Propane generators are lighter. (If weight is a concern.)
3) Propane generators are quieter to run. (Not a major factor.) And probably a bit more environmentally friendly. Not a factor for us.
But:
1) They are not as efficient as diesel. It will cost more to run them
2) You'll have to manage two fuel systems - propane and diesel. Fill up the diesel, pay for it, move to the propane and do it again. Takes time and effort.
3) I've not yet had to have my propane generator serviced, but I'm betting it would be easier to find service for diesel.
If you are plugging in most of the time, (which is how we travel) in my opinion propane is the better option. Mainly because you're not using it heavily. I'm betting we were putting on about 25 to 35 hours a year on the generator.
But if you're boondocking lots, then diesel would probably be worth the extra costs up front.
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Old 08-10-2019, 04:45 PM   #16
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Thank you all for your input. I am appreciative of all the pros and cons. What I cannot bring myself to doing is spending almost $6,000 more for a diesel generator. We currently put on the 2-3 minimum hours per month always for service/maintenance and perhaps 3-4 hours additionally per month on an average (total 6-8 hours per month). It just seems like with that usage, LPG is the way to go!
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Old 08-10-2019, 06:15 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by JosephC View Post
Thank you all for your input. I am appreciative of all the pros and cons. What I cannot bring myself to doing is spending almost $6,000 more for a diesel generator. We currently put on the 2-3 minimum hours per month always for service/maintenance and perhaps 3-4 hours additionally per month on an average (total 6-8 hours per month). It just seems like with that usage, LPG is the way to go!
With only 3~4 hours of actual generator use a month, LPG seems a clear winner to me versus spending $6,000 more.

In my opinion, usage of only 3~4 hours a month is the perfect scenario for not having a generator at all; particularly if it comes in multiple short-duration uses. Since thatís not likely an option anyway, the lowest-cost option you do have makes most sense given how little you use it. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:54 PM   #18
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Don't you think that it's better to have it; and not need it: than need it, and not have it?
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:08 PM   #19
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No, not always. Depends on cost, budget, need, etc....

Last time I looked, trailers out sold motorhomes by something like 7:1 ratio, and few have generators at all. Yet owners, who mostly stay in campgrounds with shore power, enjoy camping just fine.

If planning to run A/C boondocking at night to sleep, I wouldnít want to refill propane tank every other day or so. That would get old for me, so Iíd buy the diesel. However, 3 to 4 hours a month of generator use would make very little difference on how often Iíd have to refill propane tank, so why spend $6,000 more for something that might also be heavier and louder (depends on generator models being compared).

As Iíve stated before, other than boondocking at football games the last couple of years, weíve camped for over 20 years and used generators very little. And when we did, it was usually for short periods that could have been handled by an inverter. Running A/C overnight without shorepower, however, changes electrical ďneedĒ and therefore required equipment. One solution doesnít fit everyone.
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Old 08-12-2019, 02:15 PM   #20
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2016 Siesta Sprinter 24ft- (new 2015) At 4 years and 45,ooo miles I have right at 200 hours on the propane generator. It works well for the way I travel. Seldom boondock but I often use the generator on the road for AC to keep the dogs comfortable. I have not had a problem finding propane. (Flying J, RV park, RV dealer, U-haul, and Propane Co. etc)
Agree the deciding factor is intended use. Propane is cleaner and requires less maintenance. Prior 36ft DP had propane generator and it served us well for 15 years.
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