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Thread: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

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    Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    We just ordered a BigHorn Silverado including the generator prep. I don't think the LP generator would meet our needs as the Onan sounds like a propane hog. We also drive a diesel, so wouldn't want to add a third fuel in going with gas. Is there any reason I couldn't have a diesel generator permanently installed in the Silverado? Thanks

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    Moderator jimtoo's Avatar
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    Re: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    Hi Youngbuck,

    Welcome to the Heartland Owners Forum and Family. We have a great bunch of people here with lots of information and all willing to share their knowledge if needed.

    I will agree with you on the diesel genny. I don't know of any reason why you could not install one... don't know if the factory will install a diesel, but you could have your dealer check. If you have placed the order, you need to check right away.

    Enjoy the forum and the wait for your new BigHorn.

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    Senior Member Urban350's Avatar
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    Re: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    The only problem I could see is fuel source/storage. I know the tanks on my Cyclone are not rated for diesel.
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    Senior Member brianharrison's Avatar
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    Re: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    I know diesel gennys are installed in factory motorhomes etc, they are typically larger units from my knowledge (8000 watt or higher). My concern with installing an aftermarket diesel genny would be the potential smell of diesel fuel in the 5th wheel, both from the diesel holding tank (fuel tank), lines and vapor systems (breathers and exhaust). I was once in a motorhome (front engine) that had been converted from gasser to diesel and whew, what a smell with the diesel fumes/exhaust. It permiated the whole unit, even while parked after a long time......

    The LP consumption is a valid concern - maybe there is an option to add a larger (automotive?) style horizontal LP tank to the trailer? Just a thought.

    My 2 cents.....

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    Senior Member wdk450's Avatar
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    Re: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    I thought about this long and hard, did my research, found that diesel generators are much heavier than gas/propane. I finally settled on a Boily 3000/3600 watt portable gas generator, which I now keep in my truck between the hitch and the cross bed toolbox, along with a couple of jerry cans. I also bought a 30 amp RV extention cord at WalMart. I have sucessfully used this setup boondocking several times.
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    Trouble Maker mattpopp's Avatar
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    Re: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    I would love to switch to a Diesel 5500 Onan. My current Gas Onan will burn 30gals in 40hrs of run time. That is pretty horrible if you ask me.

    We looked at a used trailer before buying this one. It had a 5500 Diesel Onan in it. The owner said it burned about 6 gals per 24hrs running the 15kbtu A/C along with the rest of the RV.
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    Moderator danemayer's Avatar
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    Re: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    The Onan manuals specify fuel consumption for the same generator using different fuels. As I recall, there's some difference, but it's not that much. With the big fluctuations we see in the pricing of LP, Diesel and Gasoline, I'm not sure I'd have confidence that I'd save money on one choice or the other over time. At the moment, it seems like the abundant supply of LP is keeping prices relatively low whereas Diesel and Gasoline are pretty high. Will that change - undoubtedly.

    If you're planning on a lot of generator runtime, where to keep the fuel tank(s) and how close you are to a refuel location are probably the bigger questions.


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    Re: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    Quote Originally Posted by mattpopp View Post
    I would love to switch to a Diesel 5500 Onan. My current Gas Onan will burn 30gals in 40hrs of run time. That is pretty horrible if you ask me.

    We looked at a used trailer before buying this one. It had a 5500 Diesel Onan in it. The owner said it burned about 6 gals per 24hrs running the 15kbtu A/C along with the rest of the RV.
    Our Diesel generator has quite a bit more vibration than the gas or LP units. It is older so maybe the newer ones are cushioned better with vibration absorbers. If not it will shake you.
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    Re: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    All depends on how much you want to spend. I have stood next to 50-100 KW gensets and you barely knew it were running.
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    Trouble Maker mattpopp's Avatar
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    Re: Diesel Generator instead of Gas or LP

    Quote Originally Posted by porthole View Post
    All depends on how much you want to spend. I have stood next to 50-100 KW gensets and you barely knew it were running.
    THose are units that have as much engineering invested in sound deading as they do in the engine/generator. I have used many 400Kw units offshore, Surprisingly Grecko makes a very quiet unit for the size. 20ft away and you question if it is that unit running or not.
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