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Two new technologies that save you money on the jobsite

Commercial-grade light towers and prime-rated generators can now run on readily available propane.

By Jeffrey Lee

Staff Writer

Two new towable, propane-fueled technologies promise to make powering and lighting your jobsite more affordable.

Kohler Power Systems' new 30-125REZGT line of towable generators can be fueled by an onboard or external propane tank, as well as natural gas. Designed for prime applications, it's available in a 125 kVA model today; 30-, 50- and 70 kVA models will be launched in the coming months. And Magnum's new MLT4000S Solar Hybrid Light Tower offers long-lasting jobsite lighting with onboard propane generator backup.

Propane is a readily available, low-cost choice for fueling equipment on your jobsite no matter where the project is located. In fact, many construction firms are already familiar with propane due to its use in temporary construction heaters, construction equipment such as forklifts, or floor care products such as burnishers, polishers, and strippers. Your local propane provider can help you budget and plan for this equipment, and they provide expert and personalized service when providing and refueling onboard propane tanks or external propane storage.

The new mobile generators and light towers share one other cost-saving trait: They're both eligible for our Propane Heat and Power Incentive Program, which offers incentives of up to $8,500 to professionals who purchase the equipment and share their experiences with us. Applying for these incentives can make a smart investment pay off even faster. Get all the details and apply online here.

Mobile power

Mobile generators have traditionally been powered by diesel engines. Construction firms that needed to power construction trailers, auxiliary equipment, or specialty equipment such as dehumidifiers before utility power was brought to the site had little choice but to pay the high costs of diesel. Today, the cost of using and maintaining diesel products is expected to rise even further as the market transitions to the EPA's tougher Tier 4 emissions standards.

Kohler's 30-125REZGT line is a game changer. It's the first line of generators of this size that can accommodate an onboard propane tank or connect to an external propane source. It's also the first propane generator of its size with a ruggedized, prime-rated engine, meaning it has the hardened valves and other modifications needed to allow continuous operation.

In addition to providing a greener, cleaner alternative to diesel fuel, propane can also offer construction firms significant energy savings. Kohler estimates the hourly operations cost advantage of propane over diesel at 15 to 20 percent. That's particularly valuable on construction sites, where these generators typically operate full-time, rather than on standby, says Anne Feudner, product manager for Kohler Power Systems. "In construction, you're actually putting runtime on it, so the hourly fuel savings add up pretty quickly when you're running these 8 or more hours a day."

Without the optional fuel tank, the 125kVA model offers an immediate fuel savings payback over an equivalent diesel unit, Feudner says. With the fuel tank option, the payback timing is based on expected run-hours. In either case, the payback is even better with the Propane Heat and Power Incentive, which ranges from $1,000 on models without a tank to $3,500 on the 30-, 50-, and 70kVA models to $8,500 on the 125kVA.

Download the Kohler mobile generators fact sheet to learn more.

High-tech lighting

"Harnessing the sun to illuminate the dark is a bright idea," says Dave 'Mac' McAllister, vice president of business development for Magnum Power Products. "But ensuring that you have light even on a cloudy day is brilliant."

That's the idea behind Magnum's Solar Hybrid Light Tower, which uses propane backup to ensure the lights stay on even when the photovoltaic panel isn't charging. Magnum chose propane as the backup fuel early in the product's development process because it was the most environmentally friendly and readily available fuel, McAllister says. "The fuel was already used with the majority of our customers to power forklifts, floor sweepers, and portable heaters," he says.


"[Propane] was already used with the majority of our customers to power forklifts, floor sweepers, and portable heaters."


The unit carries two 35-pound propane cylinders (the same size as used in forklifts), and like Kohler's generator, it offers significant operational savings over diesel models. Operating 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, the unit would consume about $16 of propane per week versus $112 of diesel. The savings stack up to about $5,800 per year. In addition to a $3,500 Propane Heat and Power Incentive, the unit may be eligible for additional federal and state rebates and incentives.

Propane savings aren't the unit's only innovation. Magnum developed its own LED light fixture for the tower so that the manufacturer could control the cost and design for the specific application. "One of the LED light's biggest advantages is that they are instant on and off," McAllister says. "The metal halide lamps in our existing towers can take up to 10 minutes to come on and reach full intensity. They also require up to 15 minutes of cooldown before they'll restrike." LEDs also provide excellent localized lighting, McAllister adds, and they need to be replaced less often than metal halide bulbs.

With little maintenance needed and low fuel consumption, it's possible to operate the unit unattended. A 7-day programmable timer can be set to bring the lights on or off. The unit is ideal for residential, commercial, and industrial settings where silent operation is important, McAllister says.

Here's how to learn more:

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