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View Full Version : Propane powered mowers...Good or bad for the industry?


mrlpg
01-29-2013, 03:42 PM
Recently, propane mowers have been getting a lot of attention as a viable option in the lawn-care industry. Local conversions and OEM mowers are showing up more and more often. There are plenty of incentives for the end user to make this an attractive option, most notably tax credits (.50 per gallon), rebates (in several states) and lower cost of fuel to name a few. As a non lawncare businessman that can help your industry drive down costs, I would like to gauge an interest level from the professionals here. Have you used them, or converted a mower? Have you had any performance issues if you are using one? How easy was it to convert? What would be a concern of yours? Good, bad and all solid opinions welcome. Thank you.

mrlpg

djagusch
01-29-2013, 04:21 PM
mrlpg

Here is the deal. I have knowledge on the benefit's of propane. Last year I looked into it and this year again. Here are the results.

Last year looking to convert 3 mowers.

Talked to the promoter on LS last year and honestly it sounded like they were setting the price of propane based on the price of gas, which is normal but they were setting such price that you would be maybe saving some but not alot. Also the market price (home propane, auto gas) was much lower than what they were wanting to set you up for. This pissed me off greatly. Trying to jack the price. A gallon is a gallon is a gallon so it should be somewhat close in price. Enough on that.

Local suppliers two didn't offer any service. Another is offering a decent service and I would work with him in the future. The big deal was price compared to the volume of fuel. If I also converted both my trucks I would of had enough volume to add a on site fueling station and get really good price per gallon. Bad thing is that it would take at least a year to get my ROI of all the conversion kits. This was a risk I didn't want to take due to costing over $10K with the vehicles done also. Lastly I couldn't find any state or federal assistance to help with costs (mn/wi)

This year I went to the state green expo. Found out that MN and Fed's are offering $1500 and $1000 rebate. Great I thought, read the details only for OEM mowers new or a converted mower less than 5hrs (or something like that). So buying 5 new mowers at one swing wasn't going to happen this year, but I needed a new 48" w/b. Found that Exmark has a OEM propane w/b (didn't find many others), great I can get a $2500 rebate on a w/b. This should be great I thought. Well the Exmark propane w/b is $2500 more than the gas model. So the up grade is a wash and still have a risk that I won't like the propane mower (or propane gouging for fuel price) and resale price would suffer. I'm pretty sure that the propane engine shouldn't cost more due to parts, just lack of volume (which the volume won't come if the price is to high). Guessing just like last years ls propane promoter the mfg is jacking the price because of the rebate money.

So in short I think propane isn't catching on because the propane industry is trying to gouge the LCO due to clean air money. They need to get out of their own way I believe.

I am the person you are trying to get to switch. I do want to run propane but keep on running into the industry giving me a bad feeling on switching. It's a pretty bad if I want to do and can't justify it, just think how hard it is to sell the guy that knows nothing about it. Those are my thoughts, hope it helps. You can pm a number if you would like to talk about it.

cdqat1432
01-29-2013, 10:53 PM
I want propane mowers also. I hope they dont play games. The market is theirs to lose. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. Hey, why only 500 for the conversion? Sending mixed messages.

Richard Martin
01-30-2013, 07:01 AM
My biggest concern with Propane is availability. I know is some places they sell propane at gas stations. They don't do that where I live. You'd have to go to a bulk retailer to get propane. For me it would be a pain since none of the bulk retailers are along my route. And 9 times out of 10 it would probably require multiple trips to get the tanks filled. I'd hear something like "Tommy's not here right now, you'll have to leave your tanks and pick them up later".

andy'slawncare
01-30-2013, 09:47 AM
djagusch- We are in the same boat as you. Went to the green expo talked to the Minnesota Propane council about converting over to propane. Just like others have stated the cost of a new propane mower is about $2500 more the a gas powered engine. I was told I could use my house propane tank as a refueling station. Just needed to purchase a pump to fill the mower tanks.

The biggest concern I have is the liability insurance of the filling station and employees filling these tanks.

I would like to know what the weight difference is from a propane mower compared to a regular mower.

If someone has a difference experience from what I have wrote please pm me.

DR J
02-17-2013, 09:50 AM
Sorry to hear ya'll are having propane cost problems. Been a great thing here in texas, become even bigger with the big companies lately because of the price. Companies getting set up with cost of about 1.50 a gallon. Doing about 3 to 4 truck conversions a week and selling more factory converted scag,snapper pro and ferris than gas models right now. Also converting walk behinds and 21" honda commercials at a rapid pace. May want to use this method with propane provider. I will pay you your lade in cost plus 30 to 40 cents a gallon.

cdqat1432
02-17-2013, 10:43 AM
Planning on buying some propane powered scags regardless. I like the longevity they give to the engines. I don't believe the talk about the 2500 premium per mower. I think it is about 1000 before the tax credit.
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djagusch
02-17-2013, 01:10 PM
Planning on buying some propane powered scags regardless. I like the longevity they give to the engines. I don't believe the talk about the 2500 premium per mower. I think it is about 1000 before the tax credit.
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Call any mn exmark dealer. $2500 up charge from a regular gas 48" turf tracer. I stopped by 2 dealers (both have wanted my biz) and a large metro dealer. If I went fleet its $2200 differnce.
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newz7151
02-18-2013, 12:45 AM
One of the major benefits that many of you are overlooking comes in the areas that are subject to "ozone action days", like Austin, TX and other large metro areas during the summer months where lawn crews cannot legally mow before something like 10am or after 3pm due to that being the time the figure the most cars being on the road and polluting. Running a propane powered mower, a company with a fleet of these can be out there mowing whenever they want due to the low emission rating of these mowers. That is the reason that a large number of state and local bids (schools, etc) are going to these companies that can provide mowing with LPG mowers, they are not restricted to the days. And as far as having to go have tanks filled, set yourself up with a locked cage and a local company to do regular tank exchanges like they do to places that have propane tanks for retail sale.

djagusch
02-18-2013, 07:40 AM
One of the major benefits that many of you are overlooking comes in the areas that are subject to "ozone action days", like Austin, TX and other large metro areas during the summer months where lawn crews cannot legally mow before something like 10am or after 3pm due to that being the time the figure the most cars being on the road and polluting. Running a propane powered mower, a company with a fleet of these can be out there mowing whenever they want due to the low emission rating of these mowers. That is the reason that a large number of state and local bids (schools, etc) are going to these companies that can provide mowing with LPG mowers, they are not restricted to the days. And as far as having to go have tanks filled, set yourself up with a locked cage and a local company to do regular tank exchanges like they do to places that have propane tanks for retail sale.

Up in mn/wi we don't have ozone days and rarely have smog issues in the cities. Switching over is more of a proactive approach then a must like it sounds down in texas. Surprised DRJ didn't mention this when he talked about his selling more propane then gas. Selling them due to gov regs is much different then consumer demand.
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cdqat1432
02-18-2013, 05:39 PM
Hey Mark, can you send me that information that we talked about the other day. Email would be great. Thanks, Carmine.

andy'slawncare
02-19-2013, 11:57 AM
I am in the same region as djagusch and have found the same pricing of exmarks. So in turn we are just going to purchase 2 new 2013 john deere mowers with efi engines to help save some money on fuel cost. Just can't justify converting over to propane at this time. My local John Deere dealer has been great to me for years but Deere does not offer a propane powered mower yet.

mrlpg
02-19-2013, 12:30 PM
From what I heard earlier today, JD is due to come out with one I'n the very near future. The fuel savings for your operating expenses will be significant enough to justify. I'd be happy to discuss it further with you if you would like any more info.
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