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Topic: Sprinter Diesel - Propane Generator

Posted By: TMBLSN on 01/27/12 01:14pm

It looks like all of the Sprinter chassis RVs (at least Class B, like Road Trek, etc.) have propane generators.

Why?

I was looking at the Onan website, diesel and propane have the sound rating, 68dB @ 10ft.

Diesel is much easier to fill than propane (can be acquired 24/7 without the assistance of an attendant).

What is the appeal of a propane generator?


Posted By: My Roadtrek on 01/27/12 01:26pm

Diesel generators are too big to fit, no easy fuel supply for a gas generator, so that leaves propane.






Posted By: naturist on 01/27/12 01:59pm

Diesel's too big to fit? I'm not so sure of that. But I am sure that there is a large cost difference, with the diesel engine being more expensive than a propane engine.






Posted By: gerrym51 on 01/27/12 02:05pm

price. 3000 additional over propane


Posted By: TMBLSN on 01/27/12 02:21pm

That cost difference is quite significant. Does anyone, that both has a propane generator and uses it A LOT, find it inconvenient?


Posted By: Big Katuna on 01/27/12 02:49pm

Sportsmobile offers the 3KW Powertech diesel genset as an option. Propane burns about a gallon per hour so ok if you don't run it much, not so good if you want to tailgate a raceor football game in hot weather.


My Kharma ran over my Dogma.


Posted By: midnightsadie on 01/27/12 03:22pm

we have a sprinter with propane, its four yrs old now and have not had a problem , you can get propane most any where if you look.


Posted By: My Roadtrek on 01/27/12 04:51pm

naturist wrote:

Diesel's too big to fit? I'm not so sure of that. But I am sure that there is a large cost difference, with the diesel engine being more expensive than a propane engine.


It's too big to fit in the Roadtrek Sprinter, which is what the op is asking about, plus I think it weighs about twice as much. So in a Class B that doesn't have a lot of CCC's it's not very practical.


Posted By: vstreano on 01/27/12 05:08pm

We just bought a class B Xplorer on a Dodge 3500 chasse with a 4KW Owan generator that runs on gasoline from our fuel tank. Does anyone have any idea how much fuel it uses, in say an hour of run time?


Posted By: Atlee on 01/27/12 05:17pm

vstreano wrote:

We just bought a class B Xplorer on a Dodge 3500 chasse with a 4KW Owan generator that runs on gasoline from our fuel tank. Does anyone have any idea how much fuel it uses, in say an hour of run time?


Have you tried the Onan site? I know they have all the stats for the 2.8kw genny, including gas usage at various different load levels.


Erroll, Mary, Duffy the Badger Dog plus "Ollie"
"The Traveling Koala"
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Posted By: Big Katuna on 01/27/12 08:18pm

I don't know why Roadtrek doesn't offer a diesel genset but the Onan 2800 and the Powertech 3000 both fit under the stock Sprinter van.


Posted By: Skid Row Joe on 01/27/12 11:02pm

Big Katuna wrote:

I don't know why Roadtrek doesn't offer a diesel genset but the Onan 2800 and the Powertech 3000 both fit under the stock Sprinter van.

Cost
Noise
Size


“I want to die in my sleep like my Grandfather... Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.”



Posted By: vstreano on 01/27/12 11:59pm

Thanks for the suggestion I go to the Onan web site. A lot of great information there that I didn't know about my generator. The site did have the specs on gas usage. The 4KW generator uses .7gal/h under a load, and .5gal/h without a load.


Posted By: TMBLSN on 01/28/12 10:12am

Skid Row Joe wrote:

Noise


What are you basing this on? Side-by-side comparisons? The Onan site lists both the diesel and propane at 68dB @ 10 ft.

Again, does anyone use their propane generator A LOT (say more than 4 hours / day)? What has been your experience with the hassle of refilling propane?


Posted By: TMBLSN on 01/28/12 10:25am

Big Katuna wrote:

I don't know why Roadtrek doesn't offer a diesel genset but the Onan 2800 and the Powertech 3000 both fit under the stock Sprinter van.


The Onan 2800 is gasoline. 3200 is the smallest diesel; 30"Lx17"Wx18"H.

The Roadtrek Sprinter uses the Onan 2500 LP that is 24x16x12.

http://www.cumminsonan.com/rv/

The PowerTech 3000 is 28"x23"x15"

That Onan 2500 is very compact. But, if you are using this unit in cold weather, there would be a lot of propane use for heat and generator. Granted, the Roadtrek Sprinter has a 50# propane tank. Under full load, the generator can use 2.4lb/hr, half load is 1.5lb/hr. Assuming half-load, that 50# tank (@ 80% = 40#), the generator could run for 26 hours. At 3 hours/day, that's about 9 days.

With my current Class C, and it's 90# propane tank and gasoline generator, I'm accustomed to filling propane twice a year, whether it needs it or not.

So, again, how does this work in practice? How often are you heavy generator users filling your propane?

Thanks.


Posted By: Handbasket on 01/28/12 11:44am

No experience with using an LP generator, but IIRC, someone posted here maybe 2-3 years back about having their gas Roadtrek burned down by a clumsy propane attendant.

I've bought LP at the local U-Haul, and find the attendants are always different, and usually poorly trained. Same for once at a truck stop, and a long wait for service. So I try to get my infrequent refills at a local distributor or an RV LP specialist.

Jim, "Teenagers: Nature's punishment for having sex."


'06 Tiger CX 'C Minus' on a Silverado 2500HD 4x4, 8.1 & Allison (aka 'Loafer's Glory')


Posted By: 1775 on 01/28/12 10:45pm

Because of how the fuel situation is going in this country, I suspect that the Roadtrek will start installing propane generators in all of their models. The current Chevy based Roadtreks are designed for Flex Fuel but the Onan cannot be run on Flex Fuel or beyond the amount of ethanol that is currently added to gasoline. As there is a trend now to look to alternative fuels and adding more ethanol to the gasoline, the Onan gas generators that we have now will be useless. Either Onan (and the other generator manufacturers) have to come up with an engine that will run properly on Flex Fuel and/or higher ethanol content in the gasoline or they will be out of the gas generator business and focusing on propane.


Roadtrek 190 Popular 2011

Meryl and Me Hit the Road


Posted By: dicktill on 01/28/12 11:34pm

Robert: Good point about needing to go to propane because of all the Ethanol in gasoline, and the gumming problems with that. Does anyone know how much it would cost for the parts to convert a gasoline Onan 2.8 to a propane Onan 2.5? On a scale of 1-to-10, how difficult would it be.

Thanks, Dick, Marti, & Glen RT09/10C190P “no more deadlines”
Allegany NY (currently in Morro Bay CA)


Posted By: FaireCat on 02/03/12 08:17pm

This isn't really on-topic, but one big reason I selected gasoline in a pre-owned Class B was for the generator.

My comparison was:
Gas: Cheaper acquisition, easier to find with generator, easier to fuel.
Propane: Gotta carry another fuel which isn't available as many places, not any quieter than gas.
Diesel: Most efficient per dollar of fuel, but heavy, expensive, noisy, hard to find.

In the end I opted for lower gas mileage which, for us, will never hit the savings of the lower acquisition cost, and more fuel flexibility. Typically, if we're likely to need the generator, I refuel not long before hitting the campsite.

But our driving this year is scheduled to be under 4K miles. Lots of trips, but not going across the country. If you're packing on the miles, your equation may be different.


Posted By: TMBLSN on 02/04/12 12:13pm

Thanks for that perspective, FaireCat.

The primary reason that I want diesel is that I really like the size of the 3500 Sprinter. There are, to my knowledge, no other Class Bs that are in that size range.

I like the 6'8" width and the 23' length. It is the longest B that I've seen, yet has the narrow width that makes my wife more comfortable behind the wheel.

If they put a gasser in the 3500 Sprinter, with a gas generator, it would probably jump to the top of my list.


Posted By: Davydd on 02/04/12 01:53pm

I'm at a loss as to why the agony about a propane generator with a diesel engine. Propane supply has never been an issue with us and it should be noted that most of the converters install 3-way fridges (propane), water heaters (propane), furnaces (propane) and stovetop (propane) in gasoline Bs. So you don't easily get away from propane. From everything I've read it seems propane generators are more maintenance free and reliable compared to gasoline. I know nothing about diesel generators but suspect they may be more problematic and more costly. For me it is not a big deal. We use our generator only as a luxury backup which is seldom. If we didn't have it I am sure we would just modify our habits just a little more carefully.


Davydd
2011 Great West Van Legend Sprinter B Camper Van
Visited states in an RV



Posted By: gdoug83 on 02/04/12 08:30pm

TMBLSN wrote:

If they put a gasser in the 3500 Sprinter, with a gas generator, it would probably jump to the top of my list.


Mmmmm..doubt that will happen. Maybe when Ford brings their Transit over, and Chrysler brings the Fiat Ducato they may plunk a gasser in there's for the USofA. MBZ may or may not follow, but I wouldn't hold my breath. The diesel was the main reason I looked at the Sprinter. Glad I bought it. I use the LP for cooking and hot water only. Never had trouble finding it in our travels.


Doug
2010 RT RS Adventurous
Sprinter 3500


Posted By: AsheGuy on 02/05/12 01:20am

Davydd wrote:

I'm at a loss as to why the agony about a propane generator with a diesel engine.
Exactly, David.

We have never had an issue getting propane or the frequency of need. It's a non-issue in my opinion.


David & Margaret - 2005 LTV 210B 3S
- Our Blog -




Posted By: amacrae on 02/05/12 07:21am

TMBLSN wrote:

Skid Row Joe wrote:

Noise


What are you basing this on? Side-by-side comparisons? The Onan site lists both the diesel and propane at 68dB @ 10 ft.

Again, does anyone use their propane generator A LOT (say more than 4 hours / day)? What has been your experience with the hassle of refilling propane?
I've run mine for several hours at a time, more than 4, and propane use hasn't been an issue. Last May on a trip to the Outer Banks, it ran for the better part of a day and, even on a 5 day trip, I had propane to spare. While I have thought about a diesel, the cost and additional weight tell me that Roadtrek made the right decision in putting a propane unit in my RS Adventurous.


Alan
2007 Roadtrek RS Adventurous
FMCA F386555
W1ALM


Posted By: TMBLSN on 02/06/12 05:00pm

Davydd wrote:

I'm at a loss as to why the agony about a propane generator with a diesel engine.

We use our generator only as a luxury backup which is seldom.


Thanks for your input, but it appears to be irrelevant. You are basically saying that you don't understand why someone would USE their generator.

The next thing your going to tell me is that I don't need a satellite dish because YOU don't watch TV.


Posted By: TMBLSN on 02/06/12 05:01pm

amacrae wrote:

TMBLSN wrote:

Again, does anyone use their propane generator A LOT (say more than 4 hours / day)? What has been your experience with the hassle of refilling propane?
I've run mine for several hours at a time, more than 4, and propane use hasn't been an issue. Last May on a trip to the Outer Banks, it ran for the better part of a day and, even on a 5 day trip, I had propane to spare. While I have thought about a diesel, the cost and additional weight tell me that Roadtrek made the right decision in putting a propane unit in my RS Adventurous.


THANK YOU ALAN!!!

This is exactly the kind of real-world experience that I was looking for.

To clarify, are you saying that you ran it 4 hours/day for 5 days?

Thanks!


2001 Bigfoot 24DB (Class C)

2006-2011: 2006 Jayco 275BHS (5th wheel)
2002-2006: 2003 Northern Lite Ten-2000CD (truck camper)
2002-2011: 1998 Chevrolet C2500HD for hauling camper and towing 5er

Lee



Posted By: Davydd on 02/06/12 06:17pm

TMBLSN wrote:

Davydd wrote:

I'm at a loss as to why the agony about a propane generator with a diesel engine.

We use our generator only as a luxury backup which is seldom.


Thanks for your input, but it appears to be irrelevant. You are basically saying that you don't understand why someone would USE their generator.

The next thing your going to tell me is that I don't need a satellite dish because YOU don't watch TV.

No, I am speaking from experience in using a B and I noticed you carefully edited my original comments to slant your response. I haven't a clue why you asked your original question other than you may not understand Bs or know much about them. That's my opinion by the way from using a B for several years and knowing several B owners. I noticed from your profile you are not a B owner.

* This post was edited 02/06/12 11:00pm by an administrator/moderator *


Posted By: Handbasket on 02/08/12 07:42am

A dissenting opinion from a former owner of 2 B's and current owner of a B-sized C.... tho' all were gasoline. Living in the southeast and rarely staying in developed CG's, I find the Onan a near-necessity in the summer for running the A/C, a handy option for heat in the winter, and more than 'nice' for running the microwave and such. My travels would be far, far less flexible & enjoyable without.

It also came in very handy when the remnants of 2 hurricanes 'washed over' the area, and knocked out power to my stick house. I ran 2 extension cords in from the B and powered the house reefer, TV, lights, and computer for over 36 hours.

Jim, "I'd like to give you a going-away present. But first, do _your_ part."


Posted By: Davydd on 02/08/12 08:45am

Jim, I am going to run my generator to recharge my batteries when necessary or maybe use my coffee pot in the morning or my microwave other times for a few minutes. Generally campgrounds have strict hours you can run a generator which means you are not going to run at night and I doubt many could sleep anyway with a generator running right underneath them in a B. My experience and observations of the many other B owners are few stay inside their Bs closed up and run their generators. Most will live outside every chance they can unless they have an electric hookup. If the heat is overwhelming we simply will avoid such situations, stay outside or seek a campground with electrical connections.


Posted By: TMBLSN on 02/08/12 09:55am

Davydd wrote:

No, I am speaking from experience in using a B and I noticed you carefully edited my original comments to slant your response.


Wow, you have some thin skin. If you read the thread, you would see that the entirety of my 2nd post (the 5th in the thread) states:

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/25755862/print/true.cfm
Quote:

That cost difference is quite significant. Does anyone, that both has a propane generator and uses it A LOT, find it inconvenient?


Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not interested in the opinion of someone THAT DOESN'T USE their generator.

I'm not new to RVing. I KNOW that I will use my generator A LOT.

I didn't 'carefully edit' your response. I pulled out the relevant items. The most relevant being that you almost never use your generator.


Posted By: My Roadtrek on 02/08/12 12:00pm

Let it go guys before a good thread gets closed.


Posted By: Admin on 02/08/12 12:11pm

.


Posted By: TMBLSN on 02/08/12 12:39pm

Davydd,

You are assuming way too much. I'm not locked up inside my RV. On the contrary, one of the most important uses of my RV is to tailgate. I'm not talking about an hour or two before the game starts. We tailgate for three nights in a row, 5 weekends each fall (pull in on Thursday and leave on Sunday). We use a satellite dish and a TWO TVs outside. We use the A/C in September and use the microwave a lot.

Football games in the Pac-12 tend to be later, generally 3:30 or later. East coast games start at 9AM Pacific. That's 6 hours of pre-game right there. ESPN GameDay starts at 6:30AM, another 2 1/2 hours. Then, there's the night game, generally 7:15PM.

So, aside from the 3 hours that we are in the stadium, the generator will be running from 6:30AM to 10PM. That's Saturday. A bit less on Friday, usually an evening game.

I'd like to not have to fill the propane every week, but it looks like I might have to with an LP generator.

I guess I'll just keep using my Honda EU2000 (with external extended run tank; I can go all weekend on 3 gallons), regardless of the type of generator when I get a B.


Posted By: Bikeboy57 on 02/08/12 06:35pm

I have had a gas B with gas Onan. Convenient.

I now have a diesel Sprinter with propane gennie. It has a aux setup so I can pack a standard grill propane tank for extended summer camping setups. Yes, a little more trouble than a huge built in tank, but all in all doable.

I also have a diesel gennie in my class A. Although the dB ratings may be the same at 10 ft for a gas versus diesel gennie, I can assure you that the low frequency vibes from a diesel gennie will rumble the entire chassis of an class B unless an elaborate vibration isolation system is used.

Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time sleeping with a low frequency rumble just under my bed. Others may think of it as magic fingers.

And I agree, boys, let it go.

* This post was edited 02/09/12 06:37pm by Bikeboy57 *


Richard, Rhonda, Ty, and Alex
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Posted By: senf on 02/09/12 06:50pm

We went to Newfoundland during the summer of 2011 and found that while propane was plentiful, there were not very many places that could fill an onboard RT tank. We found one on the whole west coast and were very pleased that we had a gas generator.


"Drive with Care, Life has no Spare!"
2008 Roadtrek C190V 6.0L Hella Fog, Nighthawk Driving, Halogen Reverse Lights, Fiamma Air Horn, Firestone Air Bags, Custom Bed & Mattress, Custom O/Head Tray. website www.sen-f.ca


Posted By: Herculez on 02/12/12 01:38pm

I noticed that the question has not really been answered.

I hope some day to be able to answer the questions.

I own either 4 or 5 gens.
None of which are a propane gen.

If I aquire one, I will run it as close as I can under full load untill the tank is empty. PERIOD.

Then I will respond back to this post.
I would like to have the answer to this question.

As a side note I will also make sure that I have the option of having a way to connect a 30lb or a 40lb tank as a back up.
Britt







Posted By: Big Katuna on 02/12/12 02:41pm

Herculez wrote:

I noticed that the question has not really been answered.


The OP asked "What is the appeal of a propane genset".

They are installed because it is cheaper and most people don't care if it runs on LP because they don't use it much.

If you don't use your genset much, it wouldn't matter. I wouldn't have one myself. I want to run a genset 50 hours without refueling.


Posted By: Handbasket on 02/12/12 02:45pm

I'm pretty sure the Onan owner's manual for the gas 2.8 gives its fuel consumption in gallons per hour at various fractions of full load (1/3, 1/2, 2/3, full?). I'm thinking that you could probably find the same info for the 2.5(same generator derated for LP, used in almost all Sprinter B's) if you nose around on their web site a bit. That should give you a fairly accurate idea if you know the tank capacity at 80%.

Jim, "The older I get, the better I was."


Posted By: Davydd on 02/12/12 03:24pm

It could be a simple answer as whether it would fit under a Sprinter Class B or not. Here are Onan's smallest generators of which the propane generator is the one used by Class B Sprinters. There is nearly a 6 inch height and length difference and a 92 lb. difference. I think the height kills it.

Onan LP
RV QG 2500 LP
Weight 113 lbs (51 kg)
Length 24.0 in (610 mm)
Width 16.4 in (417 mm)
Height 12.3 in (313 mm)
Sound 70 dB(A) (readings at 10 ft (3 m) half load)

Onan Diesel
RV QD 3200
Weight 205 lbs (93 kg)
Length 30.2 in (766 mm)
Width 17.3 in (439 mm)
Height 18 in (453 mm)
Sound 68 dB(A) (readings at 10 ft (3 m) half load)


Posted By: NewsW on 02/13/12 06:27pm

Anyone tried to hook up an alternator driven by the engine either directly or via a power take off?


Posted By: Sebtown on 02/13/12 06:53pm

Wouldn't te existing alternator do the same?


Posted By: NewsW on 02/14/12 04:53am

Sebtown wrote:

Wouldn't te existing alternator do the same?



Depends on your power needs.

The surplus power from the existing alternator is less than 300w.

If you need to run a microwave, that is 1500 watt or more.

Air conditioner, easily 2000 watt.


Posted By: FaireCat on 02/16/12 06:13pm

NewsW wrote:

Anyone tried to hook up an alternator driven by the engine either directly or via a power take off?

That's way too much engine for the task. Instead of near 1/2gph, you'd be running at double that, and stressing your cooling system too.

Someone else posted on propane availability. For me it was both the higher cost and lower availability. Ignoring generator acquisition cost (where gas is cheapest, then propane and then diesel), there's fuel-per-KW... where I think diesel is cheapest, then gas, then propane. The same Onan engine/generator puts out 2.8KW in gas and 2.5KW in more expensive propane. I can and do refill gas all the time. We seldom refill propane. While we have a water heater, stove and furnace, we seldom use them. We use the microwave a lot more than the stove, and the AC/heater far more than the furnace. Only the fridge gets any real propane use (though it can run AC also), but that really just means one or two fills per year. Can you tell it's usually hot wherever we go?


Posted By: mlts22 on 03/22/12 04:56pm

I hope gasoline generators don't go the way of the dodo. Where I live, it is a PITA to find anyone refilling propane, especially somewhere RV friendly. I'd probably end up using an Extend-A-Stay system, a luggage rack for the back and some 20# bottles.

I'd like to see Onan make a tri-fuel generator with materials good enough to take E85's corrosive effects. That way, the generator can run from the main fuel tank in winter (saving the propane for the furnace), and in the summer when the propane isn't in use, use that for the generator.


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