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Extended run time portable generator fuel tank

September 12, 2008 by Tony Cornett · 40 Comments  
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From the desk of the Firedude

Since becoming a full-timer 6 years ago, I have researched many money saving tech tips. I found many ways to save some serious money. I finally put them all together in my Tech Tip eBook and this one was one of the most favorite . I  have saved myself hundreds of dollars, time and effort with my projects.

While dry camping I got tired of fueling the Honda 2000 once or more times a day depending on use. I decided enough of that and after a little surfing on the web decided to make my own extended run time fuel tank. I found these on line for $100 or more + shipping. The exact same thing. Mine cost me a whopping $40! Somebody is making some serious profit on these!

All that is needed is….

*A 6 gallon marine fuel tank. Mine is an Atwood marine tank from Walmart ($15!) A Honda mower gas cap. Make darn sure the one you get fits the generator you’re using! They make different sizes with different type threads!
*6′ or so of fuel line
* A 1/4″ bulkhead fitting of some kind All for under $45! The fuel line simply is ran from the marine fuel tank which has a 1/4″ pickup tube in it and then connect the other end of the fuel line to the 1/4″ nipple on the gas cap. Everyone asks what about venting since the original 2000 gas cap comes with a ventable cap.

Well the 6 gallon  marine fuel tank (which can be bought at Walmart for $15) is vented so it accomplishes the same thing as the original cap with the ventilation knob. The fuel line and stock Honda mower gas cap was bought at a local Honda and mower shop. Talk about extended run time! You first fill the Honda 2000 tank then attach the fuel line from your 6 gallon marine tank. After about 2 minutes of run time the generator starts pulling  fuel from the 6 gal tank. So basically you went from 1 gallon of fuel capacity to 7 gallons! Depending in the load on the generator you could run for several days without the hassle of having to ad fuel ever day or more often! It’s really nice not to have to go out every morning or evening and have to hassle with fueling the generator, especially in bad/cold weather. Additional info….. I have had many say they cannot find the 1/4″ nipple for placing in the generator cap. A great substitute as my son can say and works well is a simple valve stem for a set of air bags.

This can be bought at most automotive stores. Look closely of the pictures below. On the table you will see the valve stem. You simply drill  the hole just big enough to accept the stem and with rubber washers or O-rings on each side of the cap-the nuts tighten down holding it in place and sealing the fitting.  Out the bottom side (of the cap) we placed a short piece of plastic air line about 2″ long  (compression type) for the fuel to run out of. works perfectly! You slide the fuel line over the threaded valve stem, tighten the hose clamp and you’re ready to ride! When not in use you simply screw on a valve stem cap and all is well. If you decided to run the generator without the extended tank simply loosen the valve stem on the cap and away you! No need for 2 different caps!

Here’s some pics of my setup…… The 6 gallon marine tank itself with the Honda mower cap (replaces the stock gen cap) (Keep your stock cap!)…..with 1/4″ bulkhead and fuel line….. The setup running…..Please note the tank is only sitting on the picnic table for photo op. It works at, below or above ground level. It creates its own vacuum.

Such a sweet deal for $40, but like I said earlier if you’re the adventurous type you can always order this setup for $100 plus shipping!  I and others have seen this almost exact thing for sale in booths at RV events for nearly $100.

** Please note:

The Atwood tank I suggest and depict is an industry approved marine fuel tank and used in many outboard boats in this same manner. It has a vented cap so the system in NOT airtight. The only time fuel is drawn from the tank is when the generator is runing. Never disconnect the fuel line from the generator or refuel the extended tank while the generator is running. Like anything please insure all fittings are tight and properly installed. For best performance generator should be sitting at ground level with the generator. Mine in the picture as I stated was  for photo purposes only.

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Last 5 posts by Tony Cornett


Comments

40 Responses to “Extended run time portable generator fuel tank”

  1. Glen Odom on September 12th, 2008 1:47 pm

    Using the 3000 watt Honda what type air unit can it support. Since it supposedly only pushes 28 amps I wondered if it actually providing enough amp/watts to support a 15000mtu ac?

    Thansk for any feed back.

  2. Tony Cornett on September 12th, 2008 2:48 pm

    Glen, it all depends on the starting and running wattage of your specific A/C. I can run my Carrier AirV with my Honda 2000 due to very low starting wattage and even lower running wattage. You’ll need to check the specs on your own A/V….. Tony

  3. GMAs on September 12th, 2008 3:33 pm

    NOPE…. what if the gas cap leaks and you have the tank above the gen set… too much chance of fire starting …. or vapor locking the gen set and causing it to run too lean and burn up the valves…

    As to Glen’s question… you would need a 5kw gen set to power your 15000 btu ac

    Your 3000 watt would pull a 10,000 AC but where things go wrong is when it cycles… the head pressure on the compressor then requires about 35 amps to get it started again… way short of your current 28 amps. max.

    for the 5 kw calc gen set….. for the 15000 btu ac….
    At the curren prices of fuel you would be using about 1.25 gal per hour thus about (1.25 gal @ 3.97/gal) = $4.93 per hour/ comes out to be about 0.986 cents per hour… ouch too much over the 0.15 cents per kw hr comercial… your 5 gallons of gas would only last about 4 hours…

    stay away from the 3600 rpm gen sets… they are not made for long running… the best right now are the inverter gen sets… but as you add black boxes your can hear the cha-ching $$ of the cost….

    Happy dry camping… solar is nice but not enough to run the AC …. yet…

  4. Tony Cornett on September 12th, 2008 3:47 pm

    Thanks for the feedback on Glens question however I’ve ran this setup for 3 years now with no problems. They are sold retail as well. A fuel line on your car can come loose just like anything and result in fire. As a fire captain and arson investigator I can say like anything if you do it properly and make sure your fittings are tight and airtight you’ll be just fine. It is not a fire hazard if done properly like anything else. Fuel lines on cars come loose, a major cause of car fires yet we don’t quit driving them because the fuel line “might” come loose. I’ve ran my extended tank dry and let the generator run out of gas. All that happens is you just run out of gas just as if you would normally.

    As far as Glens question your answer depends. Like I said my Honda 2000 runs my Carrier Air v A/C fine. Of course you have to start it first due to the starting wattage then run other stuff and no you can’t run the microwave, coffee pot etc without shutting the A/C down first. I have ran my air, had the TV on and on the computer. Been there done it.

    This of course was a money saving tip for dry camping obviously . You have to know what your specific generator draws in wattage both starting and running to make the determination in Glens question. I did and found out I can run mine with my Honda 2000.

  5. Jim Montgomery on September 12th, 2008 6:49 pm

    While we are here talking about the loads, don’t do like I did and forgot and left the refrigerator in “auto.” That really drew a lot of current and my 2000 could not even run the microwave. We are smarter now and set the refrigerator to gas only when boon docking. I haven’t tried my AC yet, but will soon, since I now know someone has been successful at it.

  6. Allan Calder on September 12th, 2008 8:43 pm

    We have a 35′ fifth wheel and a 3000 watt Yamaha gen. mounted behind the cab of our truck,we have no problem running our a/c ,frig. and lights all at the same time,however we switch off the water heater when the a/c is running.This gen .is designed to take the extra starting current of the a/c for mater of a few seconds so there has no problem ,and is very quite and good on fuel.Hope this of help.

  7. Ian McKee on September 12th, 2008 9:50 pm

    You know, you can couple two Honda 2000 gens, which I do, and then this fuel feed begins to seem complicated. Not that I don’t see the need. I guess I don’t boondock enough to go to this trouble.

  8. RV LAD on September 13th, 2008 11:07 am

    TO IAN McKEE—–JUST WONDERING HOW YOU SYNCHRONIZE THE PHASES WHEN YOU COUPLE THE TWO HONDA 2000 GENERATORS TOGETHER

  9. RV LAD on September 13th, 2008 11:13 am

    ANYONE EVER TRY TO ADAPT AN ABSORBTION TYPE SYSTEM TO COOL LIVING SPACE USING PROPANE AND A SMALL FAN BLOWING ACROSS A HEAT SINKED CONDENSER TO SUBSTITUTE FOR A MOTOR DRIVEN AC UNIT?

  10. RV LAD on September 13th, 2008 11:13 am

    ANYONE EVER TRY TO ADAPT AN ABSORBTION TYPE SYSTEM TO COOL LIVING SPACE USING PROPANE AND A SMALL FAN BLOWING ACROSS A HEAT SINKED CONDENSER TO SUBSTITUTE FOR A MOTOR DRIVEN AC UNIT?

  11. mr_whit on September 13th, 2008 10:01 pm

    thanks for the info of the extended tank. I like the idea of the extra tank sitting on the ground-whit

  12. Lenny on October 30th, 2008 12:26 pm

    Im an over the road truck driver that bought the honda eu2000 in april of this year, i can not aford a traditional truck apu yet. I store my genny in the cab and with the fuel cap have had no fumes come out of genny, I usually let it run dry which helps. I store my two one gallon tanks behind the cab on the cat walk usuing two bungie straps. I set up the genny on my catwalk when im parked. The problem i see for winter is the constant refuels and this set up is the best set up i have seen yet. I run a 5,000 btu ac unit that sits out of the passenger window when i am parked. This winter i am using a 1500 watt personal space heater that i use on low I also plug the truck engine block heater in the winter time. I also use a laptop and fan all year round. Some of the best ideas i have seen to save me fuel cost come from these type of forums just thought i would put my two cents in thanx for all the great info.

  13. Roy on February 23rd, 2009 7:44 am

    I had a little problem finding the gas cap.I bought another gen cap and removed the venting system and drilled it out a bit.

  14. 91kuhndog on January 14th, 2010 7:45 am

    Thanks Tony for the post. I run my 28′ 5th wheel with a 3500W generator (Honda replica) from Tractor Supply (it comes standard with a 30 amp receptacle). It’s got about 3200 hours on it; and continues to run great. I primarily run my generator while set up at NASCAR races. Daytona, for example, I run my gen for 5-6 days straight, without shutting it down. I use this exact set up, except I used a 12 gallon Atwood tank from Walmart. Works great! With the original 4.5 gallon, plus the additional 12, I can run my generator for about 56-58 hours. Doing the math, at $2.50 per gallon, It’s costing me .65$ per hour to power up. As for watts and amperage use, I keep my fridge and water heater on propane, run the air (15K BTU) and can run the mirowave (700W) and coffee pot at the same time. As for the concern about fire safety,…..if your concerned about the “how to”, please don’t do this. People looking for a “build it, and walk away”, extended range renerator, please buy one. As with any generator though, constant observation is the key….. happy camping and “Lets Go racin Boys!”

  15. Theodore Frost on October 19th, 2010 8:40 pm

    Just purchaced a Hyundai 2000 invertor and had issues with the poor run time. Advertized 5.5hrs run time.When I got it home I took the side panel off to add the oil and saw the fuel line and fuel filter right there.I just happen to have a extra cruiseaday for my Yamaha 40hp 4stroke.I removed the end that would normally attach to the motor and attached it to the bottom of the fuel filter on the generator,and the hose just happened to be a perfect fit. I squeezed the bulb on the fuel line and started the genny,but it would not stay running for long. I then elevated the fuel tank higher than the genny and away it went. Now I can take this setup out with me to my iceshanty and should be able to run it all weekend on one tank full of gas……

  16. Jim Schrankel on September 27th, 2011 11:29 pm

    Firedude, I built the tank you described following the directions to the letter and it has worked great for these past many months. Recently however, it has stopped drawing from the big tank and is only running of the genny tank. All the connections are tight, with the exception of the one on the big tank that feeds the fuel line. It revolves around and gas actually escapes from the tank when full. Is this the source of the problem? Should that fitting be tight as well, or is that the “vented” part of the tank. Thanks again for all your directions.

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  20. Mike on July 22nd, 2012 9:39 am

    Can I draw fuel from the existing Onan 5500 RV generator fuel line to feed my Honda 3000I using Marine fuel fittings. Don’t want to have to carry an extra marine fuel tank with me. Will the fuel draw from the RV Gen. fuel line or does there need to be a fuel pump on.

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  40. What is Agenda 21 on September 26th, 2012 3:36 am

    Hi Tony,

    This is a great idea. Have you checked out any of the DAV and thrift stores? I have seen lots of 1 gallon automobile tanks on occasion for a couple of bucks, but not many non-marine ones.

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