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Old 09-08-2011, 06:57 PM
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thunderthud thunderthud is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 127
This is our first year with propane mowers. We bought a ToroG3 and a Scag Turf Tiger. We also bought a matching gas G3 and TT.

Our normal crews use JD Z960a's so this was a big change for us. The experiment was to see if we could live with propane as a source of power and if the machines cost less to run.

We alternated weeks with the machines on the truck, so one week as the propane unit and one week was the gas unit with the same crew. The cost of propane to gas was a minor difference, but the maintenance was a major difference. The propane unit ran cleaner and a bit quieter than the gas version and the oil lasted 4 times a long. We kept sampling and testing the oil on a weekly basis and it was consistently cleaner.

We did have a major outlay to install a propane refueling station at the shop, but the primary reason for that was we ordered propane trucks for next year. We also installed a CNG pump as we also replaced two trucks with CNG powered versions. The cost of the combined CNG/Propane island ran close to $100,000. Most of the cost was offset by tax breaks; as well as the feds and state kicking in money.

The biggest annoyance with propane is still having to carry gas for the Walker, the Stander and the other gas powered items. We tried to get rid of the gas trimmers and use li-ion trimmers, but they just weren't as good. Really we're loaded up with multiple fuels in smaller containers. It's more to think about when loading up in the evening for the next day.

A smaller annoyance was dealer support. No one at the dealership had come across one until ours and it was more of a novelty than help. We have an in house mechanic so we weren't down for any length of time due to dealer issues.

Performance was not impacted, and we're really pleased with the propane mowers. Our costs went up a bit having four machines that were orphans to the rest of the fleet. We're going to standardize next year on one mower again to keep the costs down for maintenance and parts. Or mechanic had no issues with the repair or maintenance work on the propane mowers versus the gas mowers. In fact, he preferred to work on the propane machines because they were cleaner.

We're waiting for a Dixie Chopper Eco-Eagle to test out in the fall. CNG on paper seems like the way to go. With the refueling infrastructure in place it should cost 50% less than propane per gallon, or about $2.00. The problem is the lack of CNG mowers aside from the Dixie.
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