Unless you run a construction firm specialising in ancient Egyptian building practises, it's a fair bet that you'll be using a lot of power tools to create your projects, and finding a ready, reliable source of power when erecting structures in isolated areas (such as farms or newly developed suburbs) can be a challenge. Generators are therefore a common sight on construction sites across the country, but while most of these generators are powered by petrol or diesel, alternatives do exist.
Generators powered by compressed propane gas are becoming increasingly popular, and they have a variety of advantages over their conventional brethren that are powered by petrol or diesel. However, propane generators also have a few disadvantages, so it's important to know what you're getting into before you buy or hire a propane generator.
What are the advantages of propane generators compared to petrol or diesel generators?
The chief advantage of choosing propane over petrol or diesel as your fuel source is that it burns considerably cleaner, and a propane generator will produce far less airborne pollution that a conventional generator powered by liquid fuels. This makes them ideal for powering tools in enclosed areas, and they can be used much more safely once the walls go up on your construction project, without the risk of asphyxiating your employees. Since they can be used indoors more safely, you will also find yourself using shorter, easily-managed cables to transmit power to your tools.
Lower fuel costs
Propane gas is generally considerably cheaper than petrol, and it is often cheaper than diesel when bought in bulk, making propane generators an excellent choice for long-term projects where your tools will require constant power for weeks or months on end. The price of propane gas is also less closely linked to the constantly fluctuating price of oil, allowing you to plan out your long-term budgets and fuel costs with more confidence.
Safer fuel storage
In its liquid, compressed state, propane gas is far less of a fire hazard than petrol or diesel, and it will not perish over time as petrol and diesel reserves tend to once they are exposed to air. Refuelling your generator is also safer with propane, since the gas is pumped directly from the cylinder into the generator, rather than poured into a fuel tank. This prevents dangerous spillages, which can often go unnoticed and create hidden fire hazards.
What are the disadvantages of propane generators compared to petrol or diesel generators?
Harder to transport
The main disadvantage of using a propane generator on your construction site is having to cart around multiple heavy canisters of propane, which can dent the fuel economy of your transport vehicles. Finding adequate on-site storage space for multiple bulky propane canisters can also be a challenge.
Less fuel efficient
Pound-for-pound, propane is less efficient than diesel or petrol, and you will need to burn more propane to achieve equivalent power output to a petrol or diesel generator. While this does mean you'll have to carry around more fuel, the considerably lower cost of propane means that the running costs of most propane generators remain lower or equal to those of petrol or diesel generators.