Kerosene Genny

20 Apr 2007
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United Kingdom
Will diesel generators run on kerosene? I have oil fired (28sec Kerosene) heating and cooking. A small genny to run on the heating oil to supply the oil burner (about 200watts max) and a couple of lights during power cuts would be very useful. I can run on invertors but batteries (even big b*****s) dont last more than an hour or so.
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Is kerosene really that much cheaper than red diesel?

I'm no engine expert so I don't know if kerosene would work
Not much difference in price but I have a tank for kerosene heating oil.
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As others have said, check with maker as first port of call

But, if memory serves, and its an upsophisticated engine (as opposed to common rail), then a 50:1 mix of kerosense to cheap motor oil *should* be ok* ... maker probably wouldn't condone it though!

*obviously I cannot garentee this

It's a great deal easier to obtain.
is red diesel hard to get these days? Have they tightened things up?... though its probably understandable... hard of many people abusing it!
A petrol / TVO engine will run on kerosene or 28 sec gas oil but most diesel engines require 35 sec gas oil. There were some 300 cu inch bedford engines used in old TK Bedford which with the Simms injection pump could run on multi-fuel but not when fitted with the CAV pump. In other words you word need military version.

Petrol engines tend to run a little hotter on tractor vaporising oil (TVO) and have to be started on petrol. With an old engine using a carb you may be able to modify but with fuel injection I would not want to try it. I seem to remember the old A and B series BMC engines worked OK with a long stroke but the Fords were not really suitable with being an over square engine.

With the increase of LPG the idea of TVO has really gone and finding anyone who still remembers exactly how to convert may be hard. I remember the fuel line was lead very close to the exhaust manifold to pre-heat the fuel and they started on petrol and if you forgot to turn back to petrol before switching off they were really hard to start.

I seem to remember there were some Honda generators with TVO set up but not seen any for years.

As to question on re-jetting I know the space heaters we used on the Falklands could be re-jetted and were but setting them up so they did not smoke was quite a fiddle and we ended up having to reduce jet sizes well below what the book stated to stop them smoking and the heat output was as a result well reduced.
A diesel generator will run on kerosene, but there are two problems that need addressing.

One is that the lower lubricity of the oil is not good for the pump, and in modern vehicle diesels this can lead to very expensive pump failure. But as pointed out above, an unsophisticated diesel engine may be OK. As Adam says, adding a lubricant such as motor oil, (or an additive such as those made by Millers) may be the answer.

The second problem comes when you try to restart a hot engine, and the oil evaporates before it can reach the injectors. This means you have to keep cranking the engine for a long time until it eventually starts; pouring water over the pump could help.

However, with a standby generator is the running cost the primary concern, or is it reliability?

I would use red diesel. It's not that cheap, and I do resent the tax that's payable on it, but at least it's not as bad as paying around 80% of the purchase price straight into Mr Brown's pocket.
it's not as bad as paying around 80% of the purchase price straight into Mr Brown's pocket.
You don't really, honestly, believe that Taxes go into the pocket of whoever happens to be Prime Minister?

Who pays for schools, hospitals, roads, pensions and the Army, then?
The in line simms pump did have it's own lub supply but I don't think it is because of this that you can't use a DPA type pump but more to do with clearance within the pump and higher leakage with lower viscosity of the fuel oil.

kerosene is sometimes added during winter months under licence to prevent waxing of the fuel. But only up to around 10% and the multi-fuel ex military engines did have a few extra mods as well but it has been a long time since I have worked on them.

I am unsure as to engines using the PT injection system heating the whole tank of fuel may have some fire risks.

But I think the Stirling external combustion engine may fit the bill. I seem to remember a new invention used with these engines has resulted in them becoming a viable option and nearly silent. Mainly designed for sailing boats to give power while under sail. These do run on many fuels being an external combustion engine. 4 cylinder units using something called a wobble shaft which turns the reciprocal action into rotation.
When you buy 28sec heating oil the VAT is only 5% for up to 5,000litres which I believe is similar to 35 sec Gas Oil. ( The Red Diesel that farmers use.) I believe that the comments about starting on petrol and then switching to kero can work, provided that you switch back to petrol before shut-down. I think that some pleasure boat owners used to do this.
However why risk all the "maybe" factors when you only need your genny for short irregular periods. Why not use a genny with a, for instance, 10 hour supply petrol tank. There are some around. I'd also be looking at how much noise they made!!
There is another option provided that your heating is provided by a "pressure jet" burner and not a vapour pot like an AGA. You can change completely to 35sec Gas Oil. (i.e Diesel) Most pressure jet burners can run on Gas Oil. The fuel pump pressure needs increasing to ensure atomisation of the fuel. This needs to be carried out by reference to the burner manufacturer's manual and you will need a pressure gauge plus manifold and a Flue Gas Analyser to set up the combustion correctly. This can be done easily buy a competent heating engineer. You can then supply an unmodifed diesel powered genny from the same tank.
The 12V or 24V diesel-powered WhisperGen™ heat and power system provides DC power to automatically charge the batteries that run the household electrical appliances (directly or through a DC to AC inverter). The unit automatically provides hot water and space heating for a warm and dry living environment.

And has 28sec gas oil as one of the fuels is no good then?
Sorry I don't quite understand your last sentence but 28 sec is heating oil (i.e. kerosene) and 35sec is gas-oil (i.e. diesel). I believe that 28sec gas-oil is a contradiction in terms.
I am suggesting that the OP gets his boiler converted to 35sec gas-oil by increasing the fuel pressure with an adjustment to the pressure-jet burner fuel pump and running a diesel genny, such as the one that you suggest, from the same tank of fuel.
Every time I see the title of this thread I wonder what sort of girl she'd be....

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