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Looking for a propane inverter generator with Auto Gen Start Interface

ElectricIslander

Solar Enthusiast
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British Columbia, Canada
One of our off grid neighbors has had many ongoing frustrations with a "Motor Snorkel" (US Carburation) propane conversion on his Honda EU3000. Even though it is equipped with a supplementary start mixture enrichment solenoid, it won't start reliably when T < 10 C (that's 50 F). Quite a few mechanics have tried to get the generator starting reliably but so far no luck.

So they are looking for a new quiet (inverter) propane genset that would work with their Magnum Auto Gen Start (AGS) module to be able to charge their batteries in the event of several days without sunshine. Champion has stated that non of their portable generators will work with the Magnum Auto Start modules (which seem to be able to start most two or three wire units).

Lots of small inverter propane generators are available in this size range and some have "remote start" which is actually a wireless dongle but with no way to connect to an AGS.

True Remote Start via an AGS seems to be a significant market segment that is not yet well served.

Anyone know of any mid sized inverter gensets that are propane native and have AGS support?

Thanks for a friend
 
I have yet to see AGS & 2-wire support move down into the portable class of generators (anything with wheels). For AGS to work, the gen must also be auto-start, auto-choke capable, all of which adds complexity and cost.

Whereas, AGS & 2-wire support is the bread and butter of the standby class of generators (like a Generac) ... all of these have always supported an ATS for the house, and inverters tend to act like an ATS and also have the AGS & 2-wire support. So these systems go well together.

Point your friend at a Generac-like standby generator, all of which have shells (makes them quieter), most of which also support propane, and all of which have the AGS 2-wire support. You'll just need to size them, or downsize them to fit the inverter need for recharging only.

I have a Magnum inverter, but being out in the country, Generac-like standby units just aren't suitable for a rural environment like mine (no authorized dealer wants to come out this far).

I use a Westinghouse wgen9500df, and just remotely start it with the fob when I see that the battery-bank needs help. This gen has a "smart-port", and if I add the Westinghouse ATS option box, I can basically make the gen autostart when a grid-outage condition arises (my inverter shuts down loads because battery-bank is depleted). I would use this function if I go on vacation, and there is nobody around to monitor the battery-bank.

That's as close as I can get to making a portable class generator act like a standby class generator, without diy surgery and much headache. Some assembly required. The westinghouse brand also has an inverter-gen lineup with smart-port, etc.

Hope this helps ...
 
They have $2000 Generacs at home depot. But I suspect the sizing and fuel consumption will be mismatched to that system's load.
 
Thanks for the thoughts re standby generators. I'll look into the Westinghouse lineup with ATS.

What our neighbor needs is a propane native inverter generator converted to AGS without DIY. Genconnex does conversions of the Honda EU3000 but they only ship within the continental US and not here to Canada.

Our places are all quite close together on the water's edge and the typical "Standby" generators are intolerably noisy. We have another neighbor that installed a 10 kW enclosed Kohler standby generator (3600 rpm aircooled) and the din from it totally disrupts the our community whenever it fires up autonomously at odd times of the day and night.
 
Thanks for the thoughts re standby generators. I'll look into the Westinghouse lineup with ATS.

What our neighbor needs is a propane native inverter generator converted to AGS without DIY. Genconnex does conversions of the Honda EU3000 but they only ship within the continental US and not here to Canada.

Our places are all quite close together on the water's edge and the typical "Standby" generators are intolerably noisy. We have another neighbor that installed a 10 kW enclosed Kohler standby generator (3600 rpm aircooled) and the din from it totally disrupts the our community whenever it fires up autonomously at odd times of the day and night.
My Champion 8.5k claims 59db. But when the doors are open it’s quite loud.
 
It’s pricing is dear, but the Koehler 48volt DC generator is the perfect battery charger.
 
Our places are all quite close together on the water's edge and the typical "Standby" generators are intolerably noisy. We have another neighbor that installed a 10 kW enclosed Kohler standby generator (3600 rpm aircooled) and the din from it totally disrupts the our community whenever it fires up autonomously at odd times of the day and night.
Very interesting, I'm fascinated about this so please understand I'm just making some observations / asking questions.

Obviously no governing body to make or enforce a quiet time in your area?

Even a modest battery bank that is fully charged by renewables or fossil fuel by sunset should be able to get an off grid residence through the night. What am I not seeing? It sounds like people don't want to spend money on proper batteries.

If you and all the neighbors are close enough together that your generators are bothering each other perhaps an AC coupled centralized power system (Sunny Island - Sunny Boy) would be good fit on a least some level. Yes, I know it's a ton of money up front, way more money than throw away generators, which is probably why it would never happen but still it would be so much nicer.
 
The V5 Autogen is half that price.
There are a number of Chinese powered DC Gen sets, for sure., most are not native LP and are high rpm/noisy. I have the Koehler and can vouch for it. It pumps out 6K watts into my bank all day long at 2300rpm on LP and start like a champ in -30F. If you need/want reliability, you gotta flash the cash.
 
Our location is on an off-grid rocky island in the cloudy Canadian Pacific Northwest. Thanks to the rocky cliffs sound echoes all around our bay. A low rpm DC generator would be ideal but they are indeed quite spendy here in Canada.

Winter is beautiful with all the wildlife and seabirds but is the difficult solar season. The need here is just a little power to keep key systems going like power to propane heaters, telecom and other essential baseloads. Winters are meager solar gain with days or weeks of no sun so having a reliable but small and economical to run generator is key.

Our neighbours have been looking at the propane Champion 8.5 Kilowatt Automatic Home Standby Generator which seems like the smallest quiet propane generator with 2-wire start. It claims to be 60 dB which is pretty good (on paper). Interested if anyone has experience with these units.

Champion 8.5 kW Standy Generator
 
Our location is on an off-grid rocky island in the cloudy Canadian Pacific Northwest. Thanks to the rocky cliffs sound echoes all around our bay. A low rpm DC generator would be ideal but they are indeed quite spendy here in Canada.

Winter is beautiful with all the wildlife and seabirds but is the difficult solar season. The need here is just a little power to keep key systems going like power to propane heaters, telecom and other essential baseloads. Winters are meager solar gain with days or weeks of no sun so having a reliable but small and economical to run generator is key.

Our neighbours have been looking at the propane Champion 8.5 Kilowatt Automatic Home Standby Generator which seems like the smallest quiet propane generator with 2-wire start. It claims to be 60 dB which is pretty good (on paper). Interested if anyone has experience with these units.

Champion 8.5 kW Standy Generator
As stated above I own a Champion 8.5 and it’s quite. To my ear it’s no louder than my champion 3100 inverter or my champion 2500 duel fuel. Or even my old Honda eu2000. Also it is the easiest generator in the world to convert to 2 wire start and incorporate the on board 24v battery charger.
 
One of our off grid neighbors has had many ongoing frustrations with a "Motor Snorkel" (US Carburation) propane conversion on his Honda EU3000. Even though it is equipped with a supplementary start mixture enrichment solenoid, it won't start reliably when T < 10 C (that's 50 F). Quite a few mechanics have tried to get the generator starting reliably but so far no luck.

So they are looking for a new quiet (inverter) propane genset that would work with their Magnum Auto Gen Start (AGS) module to be able to charge their batteries in the event of several days without sunshine. Champion has stated that non of their portable generators will work with the Magnum Auto Start modules (which seem to be able to start most two or three wire units).

Lots of small inverter propane generators are available in this size range and some have "remote start" which is actually a wireless dongle but with no way to connect to an AGS.

True Remote Start via an AGS seems to be a significant market segment that is not yet well served.

Anyone know of any mid sized inverter gensets that are propane native and have AGS support?

Thanks for a friend
1. You may have better luck asking Magnum which gensets their AGS works with.
2. For example, Atkinson Electric shows dozens of portable gensets that can be auto-started with their module. They'll write up instructions for other generators not listed here: https://atkinsonelectronics.com/content/product_pdfs/All Hookup Diagrams Merged.pdf
I use one of their AGS modules on my Westinghouse WGen7500DF (not an inverter generator though). This does require some minor wiring though.
3. Agreed that AGS portable generators is an underserved market.
4. These folks specialize in Honda generator auto-start modules. They may be a good resource:
 
With some minor electrical knowledge, I would think you could easily make any generator with remote start into a two-wire start.

That would actually be a fun little project.
 
With some minor electrical knowledge, I would think you could easily make any generator with remote start into a two-wire start.

That would actually be a fun little project.
You're correct. Even simpler is to buy an AGS module from DSE (Deep Sea Electronics), Magnum, Atkinson and wire it in. It takes some comfort level with reading a schematic and disassembling the generator to access the wires but it's doable. Westinghouse has made this easier with their 7-pin ATS receptacle but that still took me a few hours of research to figure out. My minor electrical knowledge is on the minor side.?
 
I have yet to see AGS & 2-wire support move down into the portable class of generators (anything with wheels). For AGS to work, the gen must also be auto-start, auto-choke capable, all of which adds complexity and cost.

Whereas, AGS & 2-wire support is the bread and butter of the standby class of generators (like a Generac) ... all of these have always supported an ATS for the house, and inverters tend to act like an ATS and also have the AGS & 2-wire support. So these systems go well together.

Point your friend at a Generac-like standby generator, all of which have shells (makes them quieter), most of which also support propane, and all of which have the AGS 2-wire support. You'll just need to size them, or downsize them to fit the inverter need for recharging only.

I have a Magnum inverter, but being out in the country, Generac-like standby units just aren't suitable for a rural environment like mine (no authorized dealer wants to come out this far).

I use a Westinghouse wgen9500df, and just remotely start it with the fob when I see that the battery-bank needs help. This gen has a "smart-port", and if I add the Westinghouse ATS option box, I can basically make the gen autostart when a grid-outage condition arises (my inverter shuts down loads because battery-bank is depleted). I would use this function if I go on vacation, and there is nobody around to monitor the battery-bank.

That's as close as I can get to making a portable class generator act like a standby class generator, without diy surgery and much headache. Some assembly required. The westinghouse brand also has an inverter-gen lineup with smart-port, etc.

Hope this helps ...
I have the Westinghouse Wgen7500DF and wired an Atkinson AGS module to the ATS recepticle and it's working well after two weeks. The Atkinson AGS module is triggered by the Victron Cerbo dry contact that can be set for many gen start conditions (batt. volts, SOC, time, AC load, etc.). I intend to write up an AGS post to provide some info on this frequently asked question. Your posts on your Westinghouse gens led me to buying one. Thanks.
 
Honda is quality and quiet however expensive. They don’t come from factory with propane or NG and you will void warranty if you convert, probably needing telltale alterations during the conversion. DuroMax Xp900iH is a reasonably quiet inverter generators dual fuel with some state side support. AIVOLT (10k)makes a nice generator Available on Amazon with dubious support. Predator 9500 (Harbor Freight) makes a nice inverter generator but it’s gasoline only but it would be the top choice for Natural Gas conversion (conversion warranty issues too) Predator makes a 5000 watt dual fuel but it may not be ready for prime time. The 10k and 9k watt units mentioned use the same power head, engine and probably came from the same factory just different electrical, plumbing, plastic and paint. All three shouldn’t be used over 7000 watts continuous load on propane and 6500 watts if converted to natural gas. All three are splash lubrication, no oil filter. I highly recommend break in on gasoline not propane or natural gas. I would use a quality non synthetic oil of recommended viscosity for the first 30 minutes with no to a very light load, change oil, then a few hours of moderate load, change oil to “pennzoil ultra high mileage”. It’s about as good as Amsoil, a lot cheaper and the “high mileage” designation is an additive to protect the rubber crankshaft seals from synthetic issues. Once you are broke in and on synthetic and don’t plan on using gasoline anytime soon, I’d drain the tank and float bowl (bowl drain bolt if equipped) to avoid bad gasoline problems later. An aftermarket dipstick with a magnet is a good idea but forget the aftermarket magnetic drain plug, the splash flow makes the dipstick more effective. The Predator has no provision for remote start. The DuroMax and the AIVOLT have remote fobs and a panel interface for wired remote control but terrible documentation. Perhaps easier to rig relay to the fob.
Food for thought if you are going void warranty, you can buy two of the “other than Honda” for the same money
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Always had my doubts about those aftermarket propane kits and starting enrichment, especially when cold.

Admittedly I have no experience with them but I just don't see how they would be able to perform all that well.
 
I forgot to mention, I own the Predator 9500 and love it. Its starts instantly, surprisingly quiet for its size and barely grunts up from eco mode when the old 2 1/2 ton central air kicks on. My only complaint is it isn’t liftable unless there’s two strong men tho it rolls around easily. It’s primarily a backup for SHTF if the grid is down and lots of clouds for days. I do run it an hour four times a year and charge the batteries to put a load on it and not waste fuel. Just remember to disconnect power, eco mode, then shut it down by turning the knob to “Off storage” so it drains out the carb( Lean surging when shutting down this way so no electrical connection!) Since it hasn’t used much fuel, I’m going to change it out even though it has Startron stabilizer in it. It’s on gasoline and will probably convert to natural gas and Jerry rig some sort of remote start at some point or sell it if something better shows.
Edit; yes it’s bigger than some need but if you can charge hard do it and get it over with.
 
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Always had my doubts about those aftermarket propane kits and starting enrichment, especially when cold.

Admittedly I have no experience with them but I just don't see how they would be able to perform all that well.
I had the Hutch Mountain kit on a Honda eu2000. Made it almost impossible to start in the winter. Could have also been the Honda had well over 1000 hours on it.
 
Anybody know why propane generators are harder to start in the cold?

Assuming that they are fed from a large tank so that vaporization rate isn't the issue. The regulator should be able to provide sufficient pressure to dose enough propane into the combustion chamber despite the cold, and the propane is already gaseous so it should be a suitable mixture.

Propane vaporizes at -44F and gasoline at -49 F so they have similar vaporization temperatures (apparently gasoline has a higher vapor density though)

Is the hard starting on propane because the optimum mixture for ignition change with temperature significantly?

As seen by their lower explosive limits (LEL) and Upper explosive limits (UEL), propane needs a slightly richer mixture to ignite than gasoline:

Propane LEL 2.1% UEL 9.5%
Gasoline LEL 1.2% UEL 7.1%

I do know that a propane-air mix requires a closer spark plug gap than a gas generator. For instance the Honda 3000 gap on gasoline is 0.028 to 0.030" and for propane is 0.020 to 0.022'. Apparently propane requires a hotter spark to ignite.

Perhaps the harder starting is because a propane/air mixture needs a higher ignition temperature 940 F than gasoline 450 F. So when cranking cold the compression induced temperature rise has a lower starting point and the mixture never gets up to ignition temperature (even with a spark present?)
 
Anybody know why propane generators are harder to start in the cold?

Aftermarket kit = How is it achieving cold-start enrichment? That hasn't been designed into those units.

They are barely able to compensate for load changes during normal operation.
 
I've been very happy with my small open frame Wen inverter.
Looks like they have larger options that may work for you.
 
Aftermarket kit = How is it achieving cold-start enrichment? That hasn't been designed into those units.

They are barely able to compensate for load changes during normal operation.
I don’t know what’s available for small engines but I remember that there was an enrichment solenoid option that you could use on the propane converter in forklifts and vehicles. You could hook it up to a button on the dash. If it was cold or you ran it out of fuel you could manually push the button to prime the converter. I believe this would move the diaphragm and allow more vapor into the engine. Also of note that the larger converters have an engine coolant warmed water jacket to warm them so they don’t freeze up especially when it’s cold.
 

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I don’t know what’s available for small engines but I remember that there was an enrichment solenoid option that you could use on the propane converter in forklifts and vehicles. You could hook it up to a button on the dash. If it was cold or you ran it out of fuel you could manually push the button to prime the converter. I believe this would move the diaphragm and allow more vapor into the engine. Also of note that the larger converters have an engine coolant warmed water jacket to warm them so they don’t freeze up especially when it’s cold.

The key here is remote start.
 
Aftermarket kit = How is it achieving cold-start enrichment? That hasn't been designed into those units.

They are barely able to compensate for load changes during normal operation.
US Carburation sells a variety of solenoid priming and regulator bypass start enrichment devices. Typically wired in parallel with the electric starter circuit so they inject a richer propane/air mixture during cranking, sort of like a choke solenoid on a gas engine.

The hard starting Honda conversion in question has a little solenoid valve tapped off upstream of the regulator diagram with a needle valve adjustment to allow setting the amount of enrichment. Some other setups sold by US Carburation have a solenoid attached to the regulator diaphragm push button that allows priming during the cranking time to achieve the same thing.

Just found out that this hard to start generator has been run low on oil in the past (very low in fact) so I suspect it has valve train wear and the valves may not be opening fully. Next step is to test compression and valve lash.
 

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