Onyx propane powered mowers?????

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Shaded Green, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. Shaded Green

    Shaded Green LawnSite Member
    Posts: 62

  2. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 4,666

    Not much of a market for propane power. Grasshopper built them for many years. However, due to low demand, they quit making them a few years ago.
    Dixie Chopper has recently introduced a propane-powered machine. This machine is a Zipper, which is a little known brand with maybe 15 or 20 dealers nationwide. If that many. One of the wheels at Zipper is a former wheel from Dixie Chopper who has an axe to grind. Thus, a competing propane mower for an almost non existant market.
     
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    GREAT if your running it indoors, and need the clean exhaust...that is why many indoor floor scrubbers, forklifts, and such are propane. But if you are looking at it as a fuel "alternative" to save money,...it is the wrong tree.
     
  4. grassyfras

    grassyfras LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,472

    Someone at my college converted their exmarks to propane and markets themselves as being more environmentally friendly. The news did a story on them. He claimed he saved a little in fuel costs. Not sure if he would or not.
     
  5. laxative

    laxative LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 147

    I've been tossing around the same idea and not doing much about it. Wonder how he's doing. Like to talk to the guy. It's a solid idea in a hippie town.
     
  6. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    My biggest problem with propane is the refueling aspect. You're going to have to have spare tanks ($$$) full at all times and ready to go. The availability of propane is abundant but inconsistant. Gas stations sometimes sell it but sometimes they're out or the girl working doesn't know how to do it. Commercial propane dealers sometimes don't have someone there to fill your tanks and their hours are limited. Just a pain in the butt to deal with.
     
  7. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    plus, if a motor is not designed from the get go to run on propane just slapping a propane kit on in the motor will make it even less efficient than gas. so you'll still be polluting less, whichis good, but you be spending the same if not more on fuel...

    the nice thing about propane is the that you went get charged "road taxes" on your fuel usage, but thats a moot point since if you keep good enough records.

    LPG has 74% of the energy output as compared to gasoline, has a much higher auto ignition point

    http://www.propanecarbs.com/propane.html for more info.

    Richard is also correct. you wills till have to carrya round gas cans for you two stroke, and 21" mower (if you have one) and carry propane tanks as well. and they are bit more expensive than most other tanks...
     
  8. JimQ

    JimQ LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,139

    There's no real fuel savings. The filling infrastructure is not in place. The only thing driving the technology is reduced emissions.

    Some state governments are trying very aggressively to reduces emissions.
    Check this out; Arizona Executive Order 2007-03. Check out section #4 regarding lawn maintenance equipment. In a nutshell, it orders state agencies and those doing business with the state to replace gasoline powered equipment with LP and electrical powered equipment.

    http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/download/Exec_Order_2007-03.pdf

    The OEMs are trying to prepare for the inevitable widespread limitation on emissions from turf care equipment.

    Q
     
  9. derbydon

    derbydon LawnSite Member
    Posts: 82

    Guys, I sold industrial forklifts for 10 years so I know a little bit about this:

    Pros:

    Increased fuel efficiency. LPG is cheaper to operate. Period.

    Pricing stability. You lock in your pricing for 6 months to a year contract with an LP supplier. Doesn't matter if a terrorist throws a handgrenade somewhere in Nigeria. Your price is locked in.

    Longer run times per tank. A standard industrial lp tank will give you close to 2 days run time per tank. You're not going to load your truck/trailer down with tanks everywhere.

    Cleaner burning. Less valve where, longer engine life.

    NO additional fuel tanks to buy. When you sign your fuel contract the lp company will make an initial drop based on your expected usage.

    Good PR. Just advertise on your truck and to customers how environmentally conscious you are. What's the advertising value? I'm not sure....something anyway.

    May position you to win bids with municipalities concerned with "Ozone Action Days" etc. Probably limited application but if it gets you one big contract I'd say worth it.

    Cons:

    Initial cost investment from $1000 to $1500 so make sure it's a newer machine or one you plan to keep a while. I came up with a ROI of about 12 months working on this last winter (1 1/2 seasons here).

    PITA if you do run out of fuel and no tank close by. (You can get fuel indicators though or run duel tanks). Full tanks or a wee bit heavy.

    Need a cage for storing full and empties at the shop.

    Propane is as likely to be stolen as gas cans - I'd call it a wash.

    Some HP loss. In my case I"m installing this winter on a Ferris DD Walkie 52" with 25 hp so I can take a slight hp loss. If I had the model with the 19 hp Kaw I'd have some serious reservations.

    Bottom line: My experience with forklifts was that gassers had a usable engine life of maybe 5-7 years in a normal 1 shift operation while propane engines typically went 12-15 years in the same application. Normally the propane models were retired due to other mechanical failures. Same concerns here - if the deck is worn out in 5 years are you going to put a new deck on a 5 year old mower just because the engine is still good? Doubtful.

    Hope this helps. I plan to convert one mower over the coming winter and will post pics and updates as I go.
     
  10. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,328

    The market is big in our area.......started with state and local government agencies require it for bidding and now it is spreading. The word is that within the next few years every lawn service that pays sales taxes will be required to submit a plan on how they will reduce emissions. Some will do it with inproved new technology blower/trimmers but conversion of trucks and mowers will be more likely. At this time we can get grants for the conversions cost don't know how long that will last.
     

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