Trailer Rig w/ Propane Generator Plans?

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by montanadave, Dec 28, 2011.


  1. montanadave

    montanadave Monkey+

    I want to mount a NorthStar 13kW tri-fuel generator with a 250 gallon propane tank on a small trailer I can take off-road to provide power for a submersible pump and other equipment at a remote building site. Obviously, it would also serve as emergency backup to whatever other eventual power sources I ultimately develop at that location.

    Anyone have any plans, layouts, specifications for such a lash-up? Are there any DOT regulations related to securing a propane tank to a trailer if you're going to roll it down a public highway? I spoke with one fellow that recommended welding up a "roll cage" of sorts to protect the valve assembly on the tank in the event of an accident.

    Any advice, suggestions appreciated.
     
  2. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    A good place for you to start would be the weight of both of the units, tank full, and then to make sure your trailer axel, tires etc could handle the weight. Next would be to figure out with the two units being of different weights to try and get about 3/4 of the combined weight over the axel (s). If you put more then 1/4 all up front, then it will bear down on the back of the tow vehicle. If you put it in the back the trailer will fish tail going down the road. Very dangerous situation .
     
  3. montanadave

    montanadave Monkey+

    Sorry. Should have included weight specs. The generator is around 350# and a loaded 250 gal. propane tank is just shy of 500#. I figured a 3500# axle kit would allow for some rougher off-road use when required but if I can keep the total trailer weight down I can avoid having to install trailer brakes (and keep the cost down).
     
  4. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    MontanaDave. I think your off quite a bit on the full propane tank weight., A 5 gal bar-b-que tank when full weighs in about 25 lbs. An empty 250 gal propane tank is more likely around 4-5 hundred pounds without any thing in it. Better re check your thinking. In fact, just call your local propane co and ask them. They will know the correct answers to that situation. You may also want to ask them about hauling a loaded tank that size down any public roads. It is a very large bomb should something happen.
     
  5. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    I have been looking at gennies in your size. I couldn't find the info on the 13k anymore, but looked at a propane only 14k and it is running in about 520 lbs. Be very careful on weight as it could make a very huge difference in your getting to your destination safe or not.
     
  6. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama Monkey++

    most propane companies will let deliever a tank to your location and let you use it free if you buy propane frome them.
     
  7. montanadave

    montanadave Monkey+

    Yep, you're correct. That's an unloaded weight and it's a big no-no with the DOT to haul a loaded tank unless it's one specifically designed for propane-fuled vehicles.

    Lot to learn but that's why I'm asking.

    ETA: Local propane dealer says a loaded 250 gallon tank tips the scales at 1650#
     
  8. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader


    I was very sure on the weight , but not sure completely about hauling that large tank full down any public road. Empty, no problem. Can you haul it to your site and then have it filled ?
     
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Just a NOTE, here: There is a lot of information available on such issues, over on Antique Engines Antique Tractors Steam Engines and Old Iron in the Motor & Generator forum. The Resident SmartGuys over there have ManYears of Professional Experience dealing with Generators from 1Kw, clear up thru 10 Megawatt Units, fueled by ALL the different Fuel Sources.... ..... YMMV
     
  10. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Here is a possible solution for you at least on the temp note. I have a 25 gal tank which I bought at home depot a few years ago. I have an old range in my rock shop that I use to cook rocks for a few hours prior to polishing them. Those 25 gal tanks are usually around $100.00 ea, but sure do last a long time. A few years back, due to a pretty severe snow storm, the propane co. couldn't navagite our dirt roads as they are not plowed. My main tank ran dry. I took the 25 gal tank and moved it in place next to my large tank, switched over the flex fittings with an adaptor the propane guy made for me to the house and presto, we were set . A week later when they came in finally, I still had about 5 gal in the 25 gal tank. My whole house is heated by propane and we do all the cooking with it. They do last quite a long time.
     
  11. montanadave

    montanadave Monkey+

    I don't think I would have a problem getting the rural propane service to fill the tank once I had it on the property, as there is decent access to the property. I was more concerned about making sure the trailer was stout enough to carry the loaded weight should I want to move the trailer short distances on the property itself, say from the well location to my actual building site.
     
  12. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    I would mount the tank and generator by the building site on a small pad. Then, I would simply dig a trench and run about 1-1/2" burial conduit to the well and the building site, and run the correct wire to each place and a breaker box on a post if that was nec. Then you could fire up gennie and go either direction without the hassel of moving things around.
     
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    With moving only infrequently on site, I'd look into some other means than tying up a trailer as a permanent setting for both the machine and tank. There's a pretty good case to be made for skid mounting the Genset separately from the tank so it could be dragged with a tractor. Likewise, since you apparently have no plans to move the tank off site, there's no need for an over the road legal setup. There's also a pretty good case to be made for siting both near the building site and stringing u/g wire to the well. (Building a shed for the gennie is easy after it is sited, like maybe on a slab ---.) That same ditch can then be used for the water pipe when the time comes. You will need to check with the propane supplier to see if delivery to a privately owned tank suits them. Some do, some don't.

    ETA -Nadja and I are on the same page here, he beat me to it.
     
    Nadja likes this.
  14. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Ghrit, you may not know this, but I am a retired framer (wood butcher) LOL
     
  15. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    I have built many houses, buildings and shops using nothing but a generator. We moved onto a job, establish a semi-permanant place to put the gennie and fuel and go to work. Moving large equipment around all the time takes time and also presents risks in the event of a small accident. Then maybe a small gennie in the back of your truck if you wish to move around to cut trees etc where you need elect.
     
  16. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    I think I knew that; prolly forgot. We called them nail benders ---
     
    Nadja and BTPost like this.
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