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Thread: New tower with propane generator back up Denver, PA

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    New tower with propane generator back up Denver, PA

    We’ve been having slow speeds in my area and I’m very happy to see Verizon put up a new tower to address to capacity issues.
    Is it common to use propane to power back up generators?

    What’s the average time it takes to get the ground box in place and the aerial antenna array’s mounted?

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    I think that has to do with fuel availability. My friend in NE PA says propane is quite readily available there and not so much oil, but diesel should be readily available anywhere. So not sure entirely, it may be a regional choice.

    I typically see diesel but I have seen a propane backup on a remote site on a mountain top in CO.

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    Mostly diesel generators here in Oklahoma. But on occasion, you’ll see some propane in very remote areas.

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    New tower with propane generator back up Denver, PA

    Quote Originally Posted by GusHerb94 View Post
    I think that has to do with fuel availability. My friend in NE PA says propane is quite readily available there and not so much oil, but diesel should be readily available anywhere. So not sure entirely, it may be a regional choice.

    I typically see diesel but I have seen a propane backup on a remote site on a mountain top in CO.
    Yep, Verizon has a lot of sites here (NEPA) that are recent builds with big propane tanks. Likely to do with the recent natural gas boom in the area/dip in prices.

    OTOH, AT&T almost always has diesel generators on nearly all of their sites, they have been retrofitted for a long time.

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    I mainly see diesel generators, sometimes it's a lead acid or lithium ion battery pack, or more rarely propane.
    For battery packs, the NFPA 704 sign will pretty much give it away...

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    @baaadandy
    propane /= natural gas. However you can also store natural gas the same way although at much higher pressures but then it's called CNG.

    I think CNG is the more versatile of the two since it works at any temp while propane won't even come out of the tank at -45F.
    Both have the benefit of long term stability the fuel doesn't go bad.

    While a diesel generator iiuc needs to have the fuel replaced occasionally as it degrades in the tank. Gasoline is terrible for a backup generator as even if you don't get the ethanol added fuel it still will still go bad within a few months.

    CNG is pretty rare but you can get propane easily in most any rural area.

    @i0wnj00
    Anything with a battery backup seems to say they are pretty confident that the power will be back up shortly as where i've seen propane used you would expect the power to be out for days if there was an ice storm.

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    The problem with CNG is that the energy required to compress the stuff is almost a great as what you get from burning it. Domestic NG is pretty reliable but requires a monthly minimal billing. LP (e.g. propane) is reliable, stable and has no monthly minimum. When it gets below -20ºF you may have to preheat the stuff to get it to vaporize. LP or NG has the advantage of being very clean and almost maintenance free.
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    IDK but IIUC due to just how cheap natural gas is atm it's still cheaper per btu than propane but no one's going to switch over all their appliances for something that requires a high pressure tank and is hard to get. I can get propane delivered from any of several local companies. AFAIK I can't get CNG delivered at all I'd have to go get it.

    Yes many rely entirely on domestic NG (in town where you can get it) here for their heating but as you mentioned there is a monthly minimum I did the math a few years ago and figured out that even if you had to pay for a emergency reconnect at 3AM on a sunday it would still save us over $250/yr to have it disconnected for the 8 months of the year it's not used due to the monthly minimum. Now if you had other appliances like a gas water heater or something that used it year round it wouldn't be that bad. However even with the added cost of the monthly minimum it is still cheaper than using electric (resistive) heat.

    In this part of oklahoma it doesn't get cold enough to have issues with propane (if it does we're going to have some serious problems!) but I still consider that an advantage of NG

    Yes although IME LP stuff tends to be slightly more sooty than NG but that may just be where we are getting our tanks filled from.

    Maintenance of both is composed almost is entirely of cleaning for heating appliances. The problems i've seen with motorized equipment have been entirely related to regulator problems.

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    LP generators are cheaper and require less maintenance than diesel, but diesel seems to be the gold standard for backup power. In urban areas with rooftop sites, there may be nowhere to put a generator, so they have to rely on lead acid backup. I wonder if at some point they will move to a Li-on based backup system for higher power density, like a commercial version of Tesla Powerwalls?

    You have to use somewhere around 250 gallons of propane a year here for natural gas to be cheaper due to the monthly meter fee. Today, electric heat pumps can be as efficient as Natural Gas. Propane is more expensive per BTU than heating oil, even after you account for greater combustion efficiency, but you have to burn a similar few hundred gallons worth for oil to actually be cheaper due to the service costs of cleaning the boiler and oil filter. Propane is a very versatile fuel for smaller quantities of use, as you can run a generator, stove, fireplace insert, boiler/furnace, water heater, wall heater, grill, pool heater and more off of propane. Propane does not scale up well in cost, so people using hundreds upon hundreds of gallons of it a year for heating would be wise to pursue alternatives, like high efficiency heat pumps or wood.

    Anyone using electric resistance heating in a single family house needs their head examined, around here it is the equivalent of something like $7/gallon for oil. Electric heat pumps can be 3-4x more efficient, and geothermal heat pumps can be more than 5x.
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