Picking an Alternative Fuel System and Making the Switch

Thinking of moving toward more sustainable, alternative fuels? There are pros and cons to every new technology, but until you know the facts, you can’t decide what choice is best for you and your company. Aside from spray rigs, every business in the industry has a large investment in machinery. And at the end of the day, your bread and butter is likely your mowers. The amount of gasoline it takes to finish a job is something every spray equipment customer thinks about. Propane, biodiesel blends, compressed natural gas, and electric are all alternative fuel options for environmentally-conscious landscaping professionals, but the price of conversion, fuel itself, and maintenance differs between all of them.

Propane:

(+) Cleaner burn and lower emissions than gasoline and diesel, which also means it won’t spoil or clog engines when stored
(+) Can reduce maintenance requirements, like fewer oil changes and longer life
(+) Gasoline engines can be converted to propane without requiring a whole new mower
(+) Quieter than gasoline units
(-) More complicated fueling process, best performed with onsite fueling stations that are pricey
(-) More expensive than traditional mowers, but savings can often pay for the upgrade within a year
(-) Propane prices can be unpredictable, affected by weather and production more so than gasoline or diesel

Biodiesel/Diesel Mix:

(+) More power is provided by the same amount of fuel as gasoline
(+) Miles per gallon savings beat gasoline easily, often cancelling out added price
(+) Biodiesel is environmentally friendly and renewable, produced from organic oils and fats
(-) More expensive per gallon than gasoline
(-) Typically louder than gas-burning engines
(-) Biodiesel fueling stations aren’t abundant

Electric:

(+) Incredibly quiet due to no engine noise
(+) Relatively low maintenance
(+) Zero tailpipe emissions
(-) Corded electric tools are bound to outlets
(-) Battery-run tools have shorter run times, maxing out around 80 minutes at the top of the line

Natural Gas (CNG):

(+) Emits much lower amounts of harmful emissions, including CO2
(+) Cleaner burn and lower emissions than gasoline and diesel, which also means it won’t spoil or clog engines when stored
(+) Can reduce maintenance requirements, like fewer oil changes and longer life
(-) Refueling stations aren’t abundant like gasoline, diesel

All alternative fuel options require a calculation of costs to adapt versus long-term savings, but figuring out which fuel could save you the most in the long term and what you can afford now, is highly individual. Eco-friendliness is very appealing and telling customers that you’re a green business opens up many doors and incredible marketing opportunities. The high demand for environmentally-friendly landscaping and the business you gain from switching, may pay for the conversion costs. Others prefer cost-friendly landscaping services with spray units that will give them a bang for their buck. As alternative fuels become more popular and rise to the ranks of gasoline, it’ll be up to your company to decide whether an alternative fuel option will provide your customers exactly what they’re looking for and benefit your business in the long run.

< Back to Blog Home