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Connecting propane to Generac Generator- why so expensive?

Connecting propane to Generac Generator- why so expensive?

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Old 04-30-14, 06:52 AM
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Connecting propane to Generac Generator- why so expensive?

I purchased a 14KW Generac standby generator 2 months ago and had an electrician do all the connections from the generator outside to the transfer switch inside and to my main circuit breaker. As this is my first generator, I had naively assumed that the electrician would do the complete installation. He explained before starting the job that he cannot do the propane hookup as he is not licensed to. I had assumed this would be a trivial thing that I could either do myself or get a local plumber to do.

Over the past two weeks I discovered that only my propane company (Suburban) would be able to do the job, and they charge $490 for it. Does this sound right? I would think that they only need to put in a T-connection, a 10' hose and an in-line regulator to do the job. Seems like extortion for something that looks like it take half an hour to do, tops. Am I wrong? The field tech who would do the job explained that they need to charge this to insure the job. Furthermore, he explained that the electrician needs to be present during the hookup and run the generator. Since that conversation over a week ago I've been trying to contact that tech to schedule a time that he and the electrician can be there, but the tech has been totally unresponsive, not returning calls and messages I've been leaving for several days now.

Anyone have advice for an alternative, or do I have no choice but to deal with the expensive hookup and poor responsiveness from Suburban?

Thanks!
 
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Old 04-30-14, 08:33 PM
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I don't know about the codes where you are but here, anyone licensed to do propane work can hook up the gas to the generator. I suggest you talk to the local authority having jursdiction over such matters. If someone other than the propane company is allowed to do the work, you can then select another contractor. It would be advisable to have the electrrician on site with the gas installer for start up.
 
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Old 05-01-14, 06:22 AM
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Thanks Grady,
I have called literally every plumber and plumbing company in the area. Every one of them, including the largest and most well known one has said they will not do this type of work. It really surprised me to hear this because the job seems so trivial, but I'm a layman whose only propane experience thus far is setting up my gas grill. The only reason I can think of for them shying away is not wanting to assume liability for tapping into a connection to the tanks, which are owned by Suburban. Despite leaving 3 messages with their regional office and a voice mail for the tech every day for the past week, still zero response.

I would gladly do the job myself, if I could be walked through the proper procedure. I would take photos along the way to document it for insurance reasons. If there is anyone here experienced that thinks this is feasible, I'd appreciate your guidance.
-Joe
 
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Old 05-01-14, 12:56 PM
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I like Grady's suggestion.

I suggest you talk to the local authority having jursdiction over such matters.
 
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Old 05-01-14, 07:33 PM
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Alot depends upon your installation, as to who will do it.

Is the generator a high or low pressure system?

Since you're talking "T" and an inline regulator I'm assuming you want to tap into the HP pressure propane line. This is almost always only something your supplier would perform.

If you have the option of installing a connection off of your existing low pressure lines, downstream of the low pressure regulator then almost any plumber could do the work. Your system would need to be able to handle the volume of gas required though.

A few years back I had an outside line installed to supply a grill but sized it to also handle a generator and added the quick disconnect (portable gen), no additional regulator needed.
 
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Old 05-01-14, 08:26 PM
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I have a customer here with a 1000 gallon underground Suburban Propane tank. The company doesn't allow customers to do their own attaching to their lines. If you stop and look at their liability I can see their reasoning.

We installed a 48K Kohler generator for this customer. Since the generator was on the opposite end of the house (estate) from the tank and the cost for them to run the line. He ended up buying his own 1000 gallon underground tank. The guys that delivered it installed it. He's also free to shop for low prices now.
 
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Old 05-01-14, 11:36 PM
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Gen Hookup

I lived for years with propane and my wife worked for one of the local propane companies. There was a lot of competition in that business. Are you stuck with Suburban Propane or are there other suppliers you could call. We had a 500-Gallon tank and it was nothing to see someone have a tank changed out by another company just to get the business. Maybe one of the other suppliers would be more interested in hooking up your generator along with making you a new customer. Otherwise you are probable stuck with Suburban Propane and their schedule and price.
 
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Old 05-03-14, 03:47 AM
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If you do it yourself you need to buy a regulator, copper gas pipe and pipe fittings. You will need a pipe flaring tool, leak check, pipe dope and water column test gauge. You may need to bury the copper pipe. So your expense would be pretty high anyway.

With my Suburban propane dealer if they own the tank you pay a very large premium for each gal of propane they deliver. I was able to buy my existing tank from them and it saved me a lot of money.
 
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