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  • Gas vs. Electric Hydraulic Generators

    I need some assistance and opinions on this matter, being that my Fire Company is looking at upgrading our rescue tools in the very near future. Currently, we're running with portable gas powered generators and are looking at getting a truck-mounted unit with preconnects to the tools. We still want to be able to take the generator off of the truck in the event that we have a car over a hill or something and don't have enough line.

    Any suggestions, one way or another?

    I'm in the process of comparing costs - but what are the other advantages and disadvantages?

    I've heard that the electric units are much quieter and quicker to start, but you lose about a minute of tool time and you cannot take the unit off of the truck. Any other insights?

    Ron, what do you think?

  • #2
    We have both. And they are both removable as needed. We have even used the electric unit in the basement of a house for certain operations and simply plugged it into a wall outlet.

    Gas unit - unlimited mobility and range, only limited to how far you can carry it.

    Electric unit - limited to how far away you can get from your power source and run electrical cords. If you need to go 500' away from your truck, you need 500' of electrical cord.

    We leave our tools preconnected to the electric unit, which is mounted on the truck. Flip the switch on and the tools are running. We have a 100' "hose" reel connected to the tool so that is our immediate operating range.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    • #3
      the dept. I used to run with had a gas-powered unit that was mounted to the truck on a slide out tray, but it was also removable by unscrewing 2 wing nut's and lifting it off the tray, it was preconnected with 2 100' lines on electric reels, we also carried 2 25' hoses that we could just grab and go. it was a very easy setup, and easy to use. most of the time when they was needed, the tool's were being deployed and ready to go almost as quick as pulling the string on the pump to start it. Probably can get pics if you need to see the setup.

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      • #4
        A few depts around here keep the preconnected tools on a big pto or electric driven unit on the truck that will run multiple tools at once. They also keep a small gas unit that will run only one tool at a time for over-the-bank work.

        If you have a big gas or electric unit that can be removed from the truck, you still have the problem of transporting it down the hill or wherever it needs to go. That can be manpower intensive. A small unit may slow the process a little, but it is very flexible and transportable.
        Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

        IACOJ

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        • #5
          I see a lot of departments that are going to preconnected units, and it is nice to just pull and go. But I worry some times about small departments going with this. Most smaller departments have 1 truck and 2 or 3 men responding to a call, with 1 truck and 100 ft of hose can we reach the work zone and still block the traffic from hitting our rescuers. We are seeing a lot of this lately. Also Fire potential can we park the truck far enough away and still reach the work zone with our tools?
          What I am saying is, consider your resources are you able to dispatch more than 1 truck every time, without depending on mutual aid because it may take them a while to get there. If so preconnects are great, if not portable is a must.
          With electric also consider that the longer the extension cord the more resistance and heat build up you have burning up cords and tools.
          http://www.midsouthrescue.org
          Is it time to change our training yet ?

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          • #6
            Generator Capacity/Self Container Portable Power

            The serious issue you need to address is generator capacity for all electric powered devices on your rig. Overhead Scene Lights, corded tools, etc. can draw voltage from your geneator source making it unable to power an electric hydraulic power unit. Lights or hydraulic tools would not be a good thing to alternate. Gas powered Simo hydraulic units can both be mounted to l00 foot reels and removable for offroad responses into 4x4 vehicles if needed with short hydraulic hoses. Electric can be a little quieter but most new 4 cycle units are quiet and very dependable if fresh gas is maintained. Exploring all the options before jumping into something this major will prove valuable in the long run..

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            • #7
              Does anyone use the small, portable power units such as the Hurst Mini-Mate? It seems to me that this could be preconnected to a tool and give portability and be quick to deploy at most scenes.

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              • #8
                [QUOTE=ffemttwo;743697]Any suggestions, one way or another?

                I'm in the process of comparing costs - but what are the other advantages and disadvantages?

                I've heard that the electric units are much quieter and quicker to start, but you lose about a minute of tool time and you cannot take the unit off of the truck. Any other insights?

                Suggestion ? Budget for most. I have demoed several simo units and would definatly suggest this if budget allows. Advantage gas: take it anywhere except a extremely dirty enviroment. Learned at ground zero
                9\11. Advantage electric: quiet. The hurst tools we have are 5000 psi and the pumps work just the same. Disadvantage electric. Do you have enough cords to reach over the hill and through the woods? As far as taking the unit off the truck - no problem just unhook the lines and pull it off. Losing a minute of tool time? I dont understand why you would lose any time. Turn the switch on and away you go. Gas powered Pull adjust choke, Prime, Pull. MAINTENECE is the key. The real question to ask for me is what are your plans for the tool and what is your budget. No matter what tool you buy. Some tools cut 50,00 psi new ones on the market cut 250,000 psi. Are you on a major highway and seeing a lot of new cars or in a rural area and see older vehicle. Older vehicles cutting force is low. New chrysler and subaru is about 156,000 psi to cut the B Pillar metals. Now last thought. hydrulics says more hose more friction lose. We do not have preconnencts on my dept so I can not say how much friction lose is on long hose connections. I have a pressure gauge when I teach class and have yet to be able to test one of these trucks. Alan

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                • #9
                  You are getting good feedback here. My department has a large electric "Simo" pump mounted on the rescue rig with dual 100 foot hoses on reels and a smaller 4-cycle Briggs & Stratton gasoline pump with two 32 foot hoses to take anywhere beyond the reach of the truck.

                  The electric produces better pressures and is obviously quieter, but the thing would be darned heavy to remove from the truck and carry somewhere. The capacity of your generator is probably the most important issue to consider when looking at electric units. It is really nice to simply flip a switch and know that your pump is in operation, instead of pulling the rope the first time and wondering if the things is going to run.

                  If you are in an either/or situation and cannot afford to have both, I would lean toward a gasoline power unit with a Honda motor since those seem to be the quietest and most reliable ones I have seen in my experience.
                  Richard Nester
                  Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

                  "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

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                  • #10
                    We use a diesel engine powered combination hydraulic/electric power plant. It has three preconnected hose reels with 150 feet of hose on each reel. A gasoline driven trimo hydraulic pump is used in situations that the preconnected lines can't reach. A mini pump is carried to power a combi tool or cutter. The mini pump does not contain enough hydraulic fluid to operate a long ram.

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                    • #11
                      We run both types of pumps. Our HD rescue uses two electric (220V) units preconnected to 100' lines off each side. It also carries a gas powered unit that can be used away from the truck or connected into the reel if an electric unit craps out. Our engines carry gas powered units with a combi- tool or a cutter and spreader with 25' or 30' lines. We had a 110V and it did not perform as well as the 220V unit does. Our rescue uses a 30kw pto generator to run a 6kw light tower, 2- 200' 110v reels, 2 Hurst units, 2 110v outlets, and 2 220v outlets and has power to spare.

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                      • #12
                        We recently switched all of our power units to the small gas units from the larger simo and other big units.
                        We use Amkus but everyone makes the same basic unit. The power unit we have is the GH2A-MC Mini and it weighs about 65 to 70 lbs. With the honda engine we can use it near the vehicle and we have had no power problems. We have several miles of expressway and often our rescues are more then 100' away from the rig.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AC1503 View Post
                          We use a diesel engine powered combination hydraulic/electric power plant.
                          AKA the Westerbeke combination hydraulic generator/pump?
                          God Bless America!Remember all have given some, but some have given all.
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                          • #14
                            As mentioned earlier, we have Power Hawk the battery and cutter or spreader or combo can be carried by one man but if you are going far two persons make it a lot easier. The second person can carry both batteries and giveyou twice the "staying power. I have not tryed this unit on some of the newest cars so dont know how it would preform on one.
                            Stay Safe ~ The Dragon Still Bites!

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                            • #15
                              Gas vs. Electric Hydraulic Generators Reply to Thread

                              As most have said on here it's all about your budget and usage.
                              When we purchased our new tools, we were working on a budget constraint.
                              We had to find a way to meet both needs (Budget vs Practical) and here is what did.
                              Purchased a gas simo pump with a cage. It sets on a pull out tray, and has a 30ft hose attached to each side of the cage for portability. We mounted 2 100ft hose reels in the same compartment. The hose reels stay attached to the pump. When we can get safely close enough, we use the reels, and when we are unable, we just simply disconnect the reel lines from the pump and carry the pump and 30ft hose to the area it's needed.
                              It has worked out very well for us and kept us within budget.
                              What ever you decide to do, make sure you look at all the factors first and shop around for those that fit your needs most.

                              Hope this helps, and good luck!

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