Generator Conversion to Natural Gas

vgg659(Z9 LA)January 8, 2009

I am considering converting my Briggs 5500w/10hp Elite generator to natural gas. My primary purpose for this generator is hurricane related outages when gasoline is hard to come by. But, for portability, I would like to continue to be able to use gasoline, too. I see a few kits available on the web, but haven't decided on any.

1. Are there any issues to conversion?

2. Any recommendations on kits?

3. Other comments?

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canguy(British Columbia)

Dual fuel systems can give a lot of grief. LPG or NG will dry out the seals and gaskets and the thing will leak like a sieve when switched to gasoline. I learned this on a Mitsubishi lift truck.
Does your engine have the iron cylinder sleeve? If not, it will not last on NG.
IMHO, you would be wise to look at a stationary stand by and keep your portable as is.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 8:43PM
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vgg659(Z9 LA)

Given that I bought this generator for storm backup, I'd be willing to give up gasoline to run this on NG. So, leaking carb is not a problem.

How would I know if I have a iron sleeve? How many run hours before this is an issue?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 1:43PM
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If it is a 10HP Intek, it has a cast iron sleeve. There may even be a decal noting it. Keep us posted on your experience with the install.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 2:36PM
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broke_not(3 ND)

We have plenty of dual-fuel engines in the rental fleet here and see no issues with dried out/leaking gaskets or seals. These engines are in the range of 20 hp air-cooled v-twins up to 80 hp water-cooled inline fours.

There had to be something wrong with the Mitsubishi mentioned above. It would be downright silly and dangerous to have a system installed on a piece of machinery that was inherently prone to cause leaks from the fuel system.

About the only "issues" we ever experience with dual-fuel systems, (gasoline/propane), are related to one fuel type or the other not being used often enough. Things like regulator diaphragms, fuel switching solenoids, filter lock-offs, etc. can fail after sitting "unused" for long periods of time. Leaks are a rarity though.

I haven't seen any indication of differences in the engine blocks themselves on these machines but some manufacturers, (Kubota is one that comes to mind), do spec a different cylinder head on their engines for dual-fuel applications. I suspect that different valves/valve seats are installed for dry fuel applications.

As with anything else, there are probably "good" and "better" ways to convert your Briggs. Personally, I'd stay away from conversions that involve modifying the existing carburetor and instead source some built-for-the-application components from a supplier that deals with the engine model you have that's factory-installed or factory-converted to be used with natural gas.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 12:14AM
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Hello everyone, New member here. I just got a Porter cable 14 HP BSV800. It is an electric start. I was looking to convert it to NG only and was wondering if it is possible to connect it to my house so that it is a standby generator. Is there parts I can buy that would accomplish this? Id like to be covered in the event of a power outage when no one is home.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your help

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 7:54PM
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Dried gaskets and seals caused by LPG or NG sounds ridiculous to me. Natural gas causing excessive wear on engines without an iron sleeve sounds ridiculous too. I never saw any of those things happen in my experience.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:57PM
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I never noticed an issue with my generator. Its been running on Natural gas or propane for years. I got a really cool generator conversion kit from Century Fuel Products. Check them out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Generator Conversion Kits

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 11:48AM
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vgg659(Z9 LA)

To update this thread, I purchased a kit and have used it a couple of times over the past ~5 years. During and after Hurricane Isaac in 2012, we ran my generator on NG for ~3 full days, with one stop per day to check oil levels. It's amazing how many items you can power up with 5500 watts, if you manage it a bit.

The only problem I have with NG is that I have to remove the air filter to start it, otherwise it floods; but this is an extremely small problem. Compared to gasoline, NG is cheap, readily available even during hurricanes, and burns cleanly.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 2:49PM
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Whomever up above that stated "LPG or NG will dry out the seals and gaskets and the thing will leak like a sieve when switched to gasoline" is full of it.

A place right here in West Virgina builds and sell different types of conversion kits for many brands of generators and have did work for people and the military all over the world.

A Tri-fuel conversion kit for your generator only cost $187 from them..

Search US Carburetion Kit Center located in Summersville, WV.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 4:06PM
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I would question the logic of using NG/LPG for an emergency generator. Yes gasoline is sometimes hard to find in an emergency. But so is NG/LPG.

In my opinion you would be much more likely to find a gas station to fill up the 5 gallon gas can in an emergency situation, than you would to fill a NG/LPG cylinder with all of the safety interlock on the filling system. In a natural emergency the main NG/LPG lines will be shut down as a safety concern.

With gasoline, you can drive 10 miles into the country side and find a dilapidated station that will fill your can. They may have never heard of NG or LPG

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 8:54PM
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vgg659(Z9 LA)

>> I would question the logic of using NG/LPG for an emergency generator.

My logic of using NG is based on the following:
1. Natural gas is piped into my house underground, so I don't have to find dilapidated stations with mile long lines of angry customers. I'm not exaggerating!
2. I have lived in my house for 20+ years, and have never had an NG outage, including every natural disaster within those 20 years (Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Isaac, and more). NG is the most reliable, affordable fuel available to me during a crisis (at least the kind we have in Louisiana)..
3. I think your comments could be valid if my kit were exclusively LPG, but it's not. My kit is actually a tri-fuel kit, which means that I can use NG, LPG, or gasoline to power my generator. So, if for some reason NG isn't available, I can use one of the other fuel sources. My preference is NG.

No doubt about it. The kits are an awesome investment in disaster preparedness for weather related events, which is the most likely disaster in my area. Perhaps NG would not be a great choice for earthquake areas, but we don't have many of them!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:47AM
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"I would question the logic of using NG/LPG for an emergency generator. Yes gasoline is sometimes hard to find in an emergency. But so is NG/LPG. "

I can understand LPG. But say that Natural Gas is hard to find during an emergency is about stupid.

It is very clear that you have no clue as to what NG is or how it is delivered to ones home. I have had free Natural Gas for over 40 years (I own the mineral rights on my property) and have yet to see it even hick up as far as supply goes since I have had NG. I ran my standby generator 24 hours a day for 36 days straight back in 1993/4 during a winter storm that nearly closed down the entire East Coast while nearly every one else was having to drive up to 150 miles just to find a gas station open or one that had gasoline in stock.

In that 36 days it shut itself down twice due to low oil level. Once topped off it fired itself back up and went back to business.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:15PM
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