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Author Topic: So are the diesel gensets really better?  (Read 2971 times)
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« on: October 04, 2011, 12:37:49 PM »

I suspect that I know the answer but here goes.

I do not own a diesel genset, only a gas. Aside from the negatives of having to haul another type of fuel with the gas type are the diesel really better for the price? I hear they run smoother and quieter and maybe cooler?? Do they get better fuel consumption or similar, all things such as size being equal? A big water cooled genset costs bucks and weight!
Bottom line, can I justify the cost to the boss??

Lastly, any brands to avoid?
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 01:04:05 PM »

The main factor is longevity. A diesel will easily run 30-40, even 50 thousand hours, many times longer than a gas unit.  Fuel consumption is a lot less too.

So, it all depends on your intended use.  I have seen a lot of motor homes and bus conversions that are 12-15 years old and the generator has only 7-8 thousand hours on it.  Had to justify the expense of a diesel for that kind of use.
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2011, 01:40:39 PM »

It really depends on how much use it will get.  It is just like getting a diesel engine in a pickup truck.  Sure the diesel is more efficient but you can buy a LOT of gas with the extra $ used to buy the diesel.  They make gas generators which are plenty quiet now so that is not a big difference.  If you plan to "Dry" camp a lot and use the generator for climate control while you are driving then the diesel is a good choice.  If you just plan on occasional use for a day or two maybe save some $ and go with a gas or propane unit. 
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2011, 04:27:43 PM »

Our MC5C came with a built in propane Honda 6.5 KW genset. Feeds off the main LPG tank that also supplies the furnace, cook stove and fridge. Works great, quiet, remote start in the kitchen. Happy with it, although we don't use it a lot because there are also solar panels and a 3000 watt inverter.

JC
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2011, 06:12:39 PM »

I have a 6KW Honda gas liquid cooled genset in my 4104 and think it is probably the best thing made, quiet, no vibration and efficient. However, the 4104 has a stock 24 gal gas tank so it is an easy fuel setup.

My 4107 had a Kubota diesel genset which failed the first trip I took. I'm not saying it failed because it is a diesel, but replacement costs are double the Honda cost. If the 4107 had a separate gas tank I would have replaced it with another Honda.

There is a myth that because most gas gensets are 3600rpm they are noisier, not true. The noise factor is not based on rpm alone by any stretch. My diesel is 1800rpm, the Honda 3600rpm, and there is little or no difference in noise or vibration between the two. The loudest and shakiest genset I've ever seen was the 1800rpm gas, air cooled Onan I had before the Honda.
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2011, 06:33:37 PM »

Honda generators are good generators but they are a throw away parts for the 6 k  and 4k are ridiculous in price you can buy a new unit cheaper than repairs on a Honda,the ones I been around and worked on usually throw craps at 1800 to 2500 hrs  


good luck
« Last Edit: October 04, 2011, 06:41:42 PM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2011, 06:38:06 PM »

Basically it comes down to a few things.  How you will use it?  Do you need it to run cooler? Do you like dealing with diesel fuel only?  Is the Diesel gen out of your price range?  If you answer yes to all of these....you may want to really consider buying a diesel.  If you answer no to any of these....give a gas gen some more consideration.  Personally fwiw I have a diesel and love it.  If I have a choice there is no thinking....I will buy diesel.  Both will do what you want them to do if you make sure you buy one with enough power for your consumption.  It is truely up to the individual.  We all have reasons for and against every thing we do in/with our buses.  Good luck and hope our comments have helped.

James
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2011, 06:51:11 PM »

For some balance, I'll say there's nothing wrong with a gas or a propane or a diesel generator.

The "best" generator is the one that meets your various needs.

There may be a bit of "keeping up with the Jones's" when it comes to diesel generators.

Depends on what you can get your hands on for the right price.

Depends on the duty cycle you expect to run it.

Silent operation is a big motivator for me.

Gasoline has a bad habit of gumming up your carburetor when the coach is sitting unused.

Propane solves that one.

Diesel engines suffer from being lightly loaded.

You pays your money, you takes your chances.

happy coaching!
buswarrior



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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2011, 08:25:27 PM »

I have an Onan 6.5 kw commercial 1800 rpm that I got locally from a gentleman who got it from his work when he retired.  It has 460 hrs on the Hobbs and I paid about that for the thing so I'm not complaining. It's better than the Generac 10k I had.
On the other hand, it would be nice to maybe have diesel for running while I'm moving, I really don't think my solar panels and battery bank will run the air etc for long.

There are drawbacks I suppose to diesel as with anything but I just sort of wonder if I run across another diesel genset if I should really try for one or if for the money I'm alright with my little gas Onan.
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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2011, 10:07:10 PM »

I had an Onan 6.5kw Commercial Emerald III in my truck.  The first one lasted 12,000hours which the Onan people thought I was lying about the hours-they had never heard of a 2 cylinder air cooled go that long before giving out. The first one was also a pain since it had points.  The second Commercial Emerald III was better since it had electronic ignition-but still had a carburetor that had to be adjusted according to the altitude you were at, and periodically cleaning or replacing the spark plugs, and decarboning it by pouring Onan's decarb liquid down the intake.  If you could find an overhead valve (that would solve the carboning problem) electronically injected (that would solve the altitude adjusting problem) with a catalytic converter (that would solve the possible poisoning by carbon monoxide)-it might be alright to run a gasoline powered genset.  Propane takes care of the carboning problem-but you still have to adjust the carburetor for altitude.

Personally-I'll take a Diesel genset everytime.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2011, 04:15:08 AM »

I have a ramsond 6500 which is a pos... I has never run properly. But when it did produce way too much heat in my ac bay.  450 from the exuast and 180 on the intake. I fixed that with a 14 dollar radiator fan from eBay. I attached it to the screen and now have 140 on the exuast and 65 on the input. I hooked the wire to the battery charging lugs so it will only run when unit is on.  B.t.w  if  you leave a battery connected to the charging lugs it will run the hour meter up even with the genny off.
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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2011, 08:28:15 AM »

Hook the vent on the propane regulator to the vent on the mixer with a 3/8" hose and your generator will be altitude compensated, and will also compensate for dirty air filters.  It will also boost reference if you want to turbocharge it Smiley)))

Rick A. Cone
owner/driver of propane powered race car.  Shocked
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« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2011, 11:13:48 AM »

My Powertech has run real good up until this weekend.  I now have to start it about three times before it will generate electricity.  It will only make 3.5 volts when it doesn't work.  I'm waiting on a call back form Powertech as I've been through all the troubleshooting in the manual.  I only have 500 hours on this unit so I am hoping it isn't a major repair.

I do like having a diesel because it is quiet and I don't have to have a separate fuel tank.
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« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2011, 12:17:41 PM »

Diesel generators fall off at altitude Kubota says they lose 3 % HP for every 1000ft above sea level that is why so many entertainers run the turbo on the generators helps but does not completely solve the problem on a mechanical engine


good luck
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« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2011, 03:25:42 PM »

mr belfart: sounds like it could be the stator? do you have a hard time getting it started? i had the same problem with the honda ev6500. engine ran fine after i applied 12 volts to the brushes but would not even start after i let off on the switch.once it was hotwired it ran fine but only 5 volts out.
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« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2011, 03:44:39 PM »

In most other applications; yes.  In a Bus Conversion; maybe.  Too many variables and situations.  Service life?  In a coach, one will PROPABLY never see any life advantage with a diesel gen set.  Noise?  Some water cooled 1800 rpm hi end gasoline plants are very very quiet.  Some excellent gasoline sets are cheaper than diesel.  Usually speaking, gasoline sets are smaller and lighter than diesel.

However, a nice water cooled 1800 rpm diesel gen set will be as quiet as a gas set and be about the same size INSTALLED, but will probably be more expensive.  Good answers already about fuel consumption and same fuel type.  Finally, the cheap noisy 3600 rpm gas plants do work fine if you don't mind the noise and potential less reliablity.  It all may be about personnal engineering choices.  HB of CJ (old coot) 

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« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2011, 04:14:59 PM »

If I were looking for a new generator, I would look for diesel first because of the fuel issue.  I might also look at propane.  Right now my ancient Kohler (I think it was originally put in service during the Civil War) is running fine.  For no reason at all, I believe that these old gas generators just keep on going.
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« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2011, 04:25:05 PM »

Fwiw, We have a propane Onan 3800 in the Trek those puppies will burn some fuel about 1 gal+ per hour the old 6500 twin cylinder Onan we had in another MH wasn't all that bad on gasoline

good luck
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« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2011, 06:08:23 PM »

If I were to choose it would be a diesel gen fueled off of the main tank.  Set it and forget it type of deal. 
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« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2011, 07:04:16 PM »

Heck, I thought the whole bus was going to be "set it and forget it."  It did not turn out quite like that though, so I would not expect anything in it to live up to that standard.
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« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2011, 04:39:45 PM »

With the ethanol that is in the gas now it doesn't last long. Unless you use a fuel stabilizer or run it real often then you can look forward to cleaning out carburetors and  gas tanks. If I was going to buy a new generator I would either buy a propane unit but my first choice would be a diesel.
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« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2011, 06:41:58 PM »

  I did a lot of research years back concerning home backup power. Diesel is number one. Hospitals, circus's, road shows, police dept's, whatever you name, all commercial setups run diesels for standby/aux power for many reasons. Number one is economy. Number two is reliability. Burns less fuel and dont quit, cant think of two better reasons. Third, diesel fuel in underground tanks can last years, decades even with some additive. And they can run on other oil type fuels.

  I was lucky, the Bounder came with a Kubota 3 banger liquid cooled diesel gen, and the Bus came with a power tech 3 banger Isuzu diesel liquid cooled Gen. I would buy a used high quality name brand diesel gen over any new gas powered one any day, if price/power output were equal.
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« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2011, 07:33:19 AM »

Study Kubotas 6600w lowboy, liquid cooled diesel , 3600rpm though. Check the dimensions and ease of maintaining. I know of one in Eastern Pa. that may be for sale with <200hrs. Fanatically maintained by a friend. He's upgrading his home backup genny and may sell the Kubota. Present cost is $5-6000, he'll probably take half that number. It's the unit in an orange enclosure. just google kubota lowboy 6600w. This unit has been in his climate controlled garage since new. .....too answer the "Better" question , yes , and why deal with E10, soon to be E15 gasoline, if you don't have too. I saw boat fuel tank yesterday ruined due to ethanol. Good news it's exposed in a vintage raceboat and an easy replacement with a custom aluminum tank. My local small engine repair guy can't keep up fixing every brand of small engine that have failed due to ethanol....fuel lines degrading, tanks melting, O-Rings shot, carbs gummed , water accumulates, etc.
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« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2011, 09:44:32 AM »

My local small engine repair guy can't keep up fixing every brand of small engine that have failed due to ethanol....fuel lines degrading, tanks melting, O-Rings shot, carbs gummed , water accumulates, etc.

  No kidding. If industry created that crap the gubermint would be all over it. But the gubermint created it, mandating our gasoline be almost worthless. Destructive actually. If they can find a way they will screw up diesel for us too. I have various small engine power equipment, log splitter, cement mixer, chain saws, etc., its a constant struggle trying to keep it all running. I have a friend who restores Ferrari's. Trying to find hose that can last 5 years with no risk of failure is almost impossible.
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« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2011, 11:13:34 AM »

Same crap is going on with the Bio Diesel now

good luck
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« Reply #25 on: October 09, 2011, 11:49:52 AM »

observation:It seams if they could control % to exact numbers there would be less problems. Both bio diesel and gas with eth. the problem is if it is suppose to be 10% it is actually between 5 and 25 %  There doesn't appear to be a way to control mix to exact specks.    Bob
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« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2011, 06:49:32 PM »

I think ethanol is about to take over this thread!!

The answer to that problem is frequent use of the genset, that should be done anyway for the sake of the gen head alone.

Bottom line is gas gensets are roughly half the cost.

The myth about 3600 rpm gas sets being noisier is just that, myth, at least for my liquid cooled Honda. This simply is not true. It is 1/5 as noisy as the gas air cooled 1800 rpm Onan I had and no noisier than my 1800 rpm diesel set.
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« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2011, 07:06:13 PM »

I have a Powertech diesel, but I wonder if the Honda water cooled RV models would have worked just as well.  My biggest problem would probably be finding room for a 40 to 50 gallon gas tank.

There is a station locally that sells non-oxygenated gasoline that is 91 octane.  Not that much more expensive than regular gas and I buy it for all my small engines.  One of the local Boy Scout camps buys it for all of their small engines even though they paid about $6 a gallon delivered in 2008!  They said it is cheaper than paying for parts and labor for repairs.
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« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2011, 07:14:28 PM »

The 4104 gas tank is 24 gal, plenty for the Honda and a 12-15 gal tank would probably do just as well unless you do long-term dry camping.

A smaller tank will ensure fresher gas.
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« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2011, 07:27:18 PM »

Study Kubotas 6600w lowboy, liquid cooled diesel , 3600rpm though. Check the dimensions and ease of maintaining. I know of one in Eastern Pa. that may be for sale with <200hrs.............

That looks like the successor to my G6500S, also known as the worst POS machine I ever owned.  If that is in fact the case give your friend my sympathy but on no account should you relieve him of his junk.  I think our 1800 RPM air cooled Onan is actually quieter than that Kubota and it will wake the dead.   

Run - don't walk - run away.
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