Propane-powered mower?

Discussion in 'Alternative Fuel Forum' started by mowinginva, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. mowinginva

    mowinginva LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 440

    Anybody use propane-powered mowers? If so, what are the benefits and do you prefer it above gas.
  2. jonathanone

    jonathanone LawnSite Member
    from Ct
    Messages: 122

    mowing-we did an awful lot of research on propane a few months back for an bid that specd propane had to be used and learned quite alot, the most important is that any engine can be converted so long as the heads/valves and valve seats are hard. We found out that the cost of a new propane mower is still crazy high and simply not worth the outlay, a conversion may be the best option if your equipment can be converted.

    The benefit really comes down to one thing, the engines run clean compared to gas or diesel, real clean; oil comes out nearly as clean as you put it in. What you lose in increased consumption-you derate by about 7%, you gain many times over in engine life and reduced maint PLUS no stale fuel worries-and perhaps most importantly no ethanol concerns....

    Why Cub Cadet is the only one that offers a small deck propane mower is one of the great mysteries to us-
  3. enviromow

    enviromow LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    I have a "60 Dixie Chopper propane with a Generac engine and it's two years old. So far my experience with propane has been great. I have the tanks delivered to my business at approx. $20 each and I cut about 40 jobs for each tank give or take a few. If you have a major propane facility nearby(Amerigas) the tanks can be refilled for considerably less. I plan on converting my walk behind Honda soon and getting a used stand up to convert also. The only issue I have had was the propane regulator that was factory installed had a problem. Dixie Chopper fixed this under warranty and I believe it solved the problem permanently.
    When I originally started looking into propane about 4 years ago nobody had equipment for lawn care. Last year at the GIE Expo there was an entire section for propane mowers. It was well worth the extra cost of the mower as compared to gas. Also, when I tell prospective customers about the Enviromental impact that using propane has it almost always gets us the job.
    Propane doesn't spill, the tanks are easy to change. You don't have to worry about someone stealing. The savings are huge. Engine oil stays clean. I bought my mower new and it was meant to run on propane but I can see no reason why converting won't work. Good luck.
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  4. thunderthud

    thunderthud LawnSite Member
    Messages: 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.
  5. TRL

    TRL LawnSite Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 15

    Carburetion & Turbo Systems Inc.
    1897 Eagle Creek Blvd.
    Shakopee, MN

    Tel. (952) 445-3910

    Ask for Neil. Beam T60 Kits for Kawasaki Twins were about $315 including replacement carburetors or adapters.

    The conversion process is very straightforward and can be done in one to two hours. We are very happy with the results. The crews prefer the clean burning fuel and didn't notice a performance difference. Fuel consumption is close to the same, we've been paying about $2.00 per gallon average this year.
  6. retrodog

    retrodog LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,429

    Hey, zipper is the parent company of enviro-guard, and they make the lowest priced propane converted mowers. I think they are really good mowers too. They will custom powdercoat mower for an extra $300, and they offer a 5 year parts and labor warranty standard. Might be worth looking into since you are running all propane. Their decks handle grass really well, and the blade tip speed on their mowers is screaming fast. I don't know the exact speed, but I heard like 25000, I know the deck would save you a ton up front in costs, and over 5 years. Not to mention they would prolly be more hands on....
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  7. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,546

    What does a regulator cost? Do you make your own carb for propane?
  8. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,546

    Carb for Kohler 19hp $200 and regulator $80 and tanks $250 each.
  9. Jungle J

    Jungle J LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Most companies want an EPA CARB certified conversion kit that upholds the mfg's warrenty. In Some states they are required. There's only one Kawasaki will uphold the warrenty on and you will see others follow soon! That's the one Terry is talking about with Metro Lawn. If your not concerned with warrenty or gov. regulations in your area then there are all kinds of kits out there at all price levels.

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