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Gasoline vs. Propane vs. Diesel Fuel

Discussion in 'Alternative Fuel Forum' started by Armsden&Son, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,358

    Hey Folks...

    Wanted to get a discussion going about the Gasoline vs. Propane vs. Diesel fuel vs. Battery/Solar...

    In particular, I wanted to discuss the recent focus on Propane in our industry. All of the trade magazines, web sites, and even forums are abuzz with rhetoric of Propane being a seriously viable option for green industry companies in the future.

    However, if you guys have been paying attention this winter, the price of propane is skyrocketing. In some parts of the country rising to 6 dollars a gallon!

    Now, when natural gas prices rise, so does Propane because Propane is a bi-product of natural gas. Therefore, it seems that there is a synonymous relationship between the two which leads us to ask where and when the benefits of cost come into play.

    EFI engines are also gaining traction and with Kohler's new closed loop technology, the fears of being "handcuffed" to the dealership are starting to abate. If we are being honest, the Kohler EFI engines have absolutely proven themselves in the past decade.

    And then there is the tried and true diesel fuel. And off road diesel. From frequenting forums and paying attention, it has become apparent that some folks in our industry aren't even aware of the off road diesel option for fueling our equipment.

    Where do you guys see this all heading? Machines that are gasoline and propane ready and interchangeable? Depending on where prices are at will this dictate what gets used? Will solar or battery powered equipment gain more popularity? Do you see a group of venture capitalists getting behind some sort of new technology?

    Tell me your thoughts ladies and gentlemen.....
  2. exmarkking

    exmarkking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    I think gasoline will be around for a lot longer in the industry. I like Diesel engines and the fact that off-road diesel is cheaper due to the tax exemption. I think Diesel engines are more reliable and durable with better fuel economy. Battery and solar power will be an option later on once the technology is there to keep batteries charged longer. Battery operated items usually are lighter and more quiet. It's gotten to the point now that the EPA and other organizations have put so many regulations on the small engine market they about can't get them anymore Fuel efficient and they barely run now(2-stroke). Diesel technology has come light years from what it was 30 years ago with direct injections and the induction of computers to control fuel, timing, turbos..etc. I wish they would loosen up the regulations on emissions for small engines and find other ways to reduce emissions in cars, aircrafts etc. I like gas, and I think most of Americans like gas and aren't ready to make a switch anytime soon.
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  3. Jaybrown

    Jaybrown LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,160

    I see battery lowered being number 1. They are super quiet and instead of let's say $5 an hour to run a gas mower it's like 30 cents an hour on battery But right now the mowers and battery's cost $30,000 or so bucks I thought about this selling point. Super quiet cutting and zero emissions. Go with the green trend. Many people hate the loud mowers
  4. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,109

    Wait another 10 years until it's cost effective.

    As much as people want to believe that they can charge a premium for being green. I haven't been able to. No one cares as long as their grass gets cut. They don't care if you use scissors or a 60 inch ztr. I work in one of the most hippy prone areas lol
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  5. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,358

    That is a great point whiffy....

    Since there is such a distinctive partisan line drawn in the media, we would like to think that that is how everybody really is....


    Most folks are more central than the powers that be would have us know. Or, more importantly, most folks don't care. Not in an apathetic way, they care about issues and what happens, they just aren't as frothy mouthed as described on certain media outlets... (both sides of the isle)

    So back to your comment, a perfect example of where the green trend would work is in your area and folks aren't biting. Now, are there other benefits to going green other than our bottom lines? Of course, funny enough, one of the advantages to battery powered for operators would be less destruction on the ear. I for one know that my hearing is jacked after all these years of running equipment...

    But what about the big picture? I assume our industry pays a huge chunk to natural gas interests every year. The folks that own those interests do not want to see all of us start "Plugging in" and not using gas, propane, diesel fuel. If we can all agree that solar/battery powered equipment will be a contender in the future, how is that going to play out with natural gas?
  6. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,109

    I'm deaf. That's irrelevant to me :laugh:

    One of the things I've been thinking about is on commercial grade battery zero turns. What would the weight be like for us to be able to cut 8 hours a day?

    Naturally you don't want something you can pick up and carry cause you'll have no traction. But traditional batteries now are heavy. I wonder how much the battery in a Prius weighs?

    It's easier to make a hybrid/electric car because they can recharge them self through braking. Mowers generally don't have brakes.

    Cat has a few loaders coming out in hybrid. They may be out already
  7. mrlpg

    mrlpg Inactive
    from US
    Posts: 17

    True... propane prices have spiked this winter, but that is a result of supply and demand. The winter usage across the nation has lead to the increases, but that should not have any bearing on cutters who mow during a time where prices are historically falling (Spring/Summer). If you look over the last few weeks, you will see propane prices falling and gas prices inching up consistently over the last 5 weeks. This is even before the summer driving season kicks in. The price should not be judged based on the winter prices. The largest benefit to propane is the cost vs. gas & diesel, but the other benefits such as better quality of fuel, longer engine life and being green should not be ignored. Propane EFI engines are the way to go.
  8. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 2,717

    I'm curious about the difference in efficiency between diesel and propane.

    One of the main reasons for running diesel is we have bulk storage at the shop. This fuels all of our equipment minus hand helds.

    I feel Transferring to another fuel source would cost too much to be feasible.

    Great topic armsden.
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  9. ITL

    ITL LawnSite Member
    from SW OH
    Posts: 188

    Diesel engins now are required to meet Tier 4 emission requirement for tractors and power equipment. This is driving added purchase cost and content. I am starting to like the equipment choices that are set up for dual fuel - gasoline and propane. This allows you to use propane when it is priced better than gas. Plus if you want you could have the gas and propane tanks full and switch over to allow more hours before fuel refills. The only negative is you will pay more for the dual fuel options than gasoline only.
  10. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Posts: 4,231

    Ordered house propane for $2.39 yesterday. Buying for mowers tend to be higher (less volume bought). Anyways propane at $2.39 gas could be $3.10 just to be equal as it uses more. Add the factors or harder resale and cost of getting propane it doesn't make sense.

    Add the fact the propane industry in general jacks the price up so its slightly under the summer gas price to make more profit while screwing the mow guy. Its a no brainer to stick with gas.
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