Off- and On-site Refueling Options
There are a wide range of off-site refueling options available across the U.S. The Propane Education & Research Council offers a searchable map to help you find a refueling station near you: . For a complete list of alternative fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada, use the AFDC Station Locator tool at https://bit.ly/2SxKnQ8.
On-site propane refueling is another alternative, which can be tailored to your specific needs. There are two main options: a cylinder exchange program and on-site refueling tanks.
With a cylinder exchange program, propane cylinders are typically stored in a cage either at a corporate location or on a jobsite. You can work with a propane retailer to set a schedule to exchange empty cylinders with full ones for an easy, grab-and-go system for employees.
For larger scale application, a propane tank can be installed at a permanent location, or a portable propane tank can be set up on site for longer term projects. Propane fueling infrastructure is very similar to gasoline and diesel, typically with fuel stored in above-ground tanks ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 gal. Quick-Connect nozzles simplify the refueling process — drivers just click in the nozzle, refuel and go.
According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, the cost of establishing propane infrastructure typically ranges from $45,000 to $300,000, depending on the site, number of storage tanks and dispensers, etc.
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In addition to being more environmentally friendly, propane provides the lowest total cost-of-ownership compared with other fuels. Use one of the Propane Calculator tools to determine the cost and ROI of implementing propane into your fleet. With any of the tools, simply input a few numbers and the calculator will show you the cost of propane compared with gasoline or diesel. In each tool, there are assumed inputs based on industry averages — these inputs are noted in each of the tools.
While the calculators are specific to vehicles and commercial mowers, they could also be used to calculate costs for other types of equipment.
A Maintenance Cost Cutter
Propane's high octane rating, combined with its low-carbon and low oil-contamination characteristics, has resulted in improved engine life compared to conventional gasoline engines. Because it burns substantially cleaner than gasoline, propane leaves no varnish or carbon deposits that can cause premature wearing of pistons, rings, valves and spark plugs. The engine stays free of carbon and sludge.
Propane is also “all fuel,” meaning it doesn't require the additives usually blended into some grades of gasoline. Even without additive boosters, propane's octane rating range of 104 to 112 is equal to and, in most cases, higher than available gasoline.
Cold-start problems can often be reduced, as well. Because the fuel's mixture (propane and air) is completely gaseous when entering the engine's combustion chamber, propane engines do not require an enriched fuel mixture during cold-weather startups.
Propane cylinders can be transported to jobsites on trucks or trailers or stored on location. Unlike gasoline and diesel, propane doesn’t deteriorate in storage. And because cylinders aren’t stored on machines, there is no need to empty fuel tanks during periods of decreased usage. This also leads to faster uptime when equipment is restarted.
Another advantage with propane is that customers can’t inadvertently add ethanol fuel blends to fuel tanks, potentially damaging small engine equipment. Propane cylinders hook directly into fuel systems vs. requiring fuel to be poured from cans or other containers, reducing spills on jobsites or trailers.
Sources: Alternative Fuels Data Center, U.S. Department of Energy; University of Colorado-Boulder
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For the 2019 summer driving season, which runs from April through September, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (www.eia.gov) forecasts U.S. regular gasoline retail prices will average $2.92/gal., up from an average of $2.85/gal. last summer. It also forecasts diesel fuel retail prices will average $3.09/gal this summer, down from an average of $3.22/gal. in summer 2018 but still higher than the five-year average of $2.95/gal..
“One of the most attractive benefits construction business owners can see with propane is reduced fuel costs,” notes Jeremy Wishart, director of off-road business development for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “Propane costs less per gallon than gasoline or diesel.
“No contractors like to think about all the money their business has to expend just to purchase fuel,” he continues, “and we certainly hear more complaints from contractors when gasoline prices start to approach that $3/gal. mark…”
Propane consistently runs between 30% to 50% less per gallon than gasoline, and that margin only widens during the peak summer season. You can further protect your business from market fluctuations, and better forecast annual fuel costs, by entering into a fuel contract with a local propane retailer.
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