Comment: why propane offers key benefits for equipment rental

By Joe Calhoun17 November 2021

Propane provides a clean, safe alternative for rental equipment of all kinds, says Joe Calhoun, associate director of business development at the US-based Propane Education & Research Council.

Now more than ever, rental customers are seeking clean, reliable energy solutions. Most recently, propane-powered generators were chosen for on-site power, heating, and cooling during the 2021 Ryder Cup instead of diesel—a decision that reduced carbon emissions by 19 metric tons and cut fuel costs by 30 percent.

Joe Calhoun, associate director of business development at the Propane Council.

As more and more customers across the country prioritize sustainability, it’s mission critical for rental customers to be well-versed in the clean, low-emissions energy sources on the market. Whether being used for power generation, lighting, portable heating, construction equipment, or material handling equipment, propane offers benefits for rental companies—and their customers—unmatched by other energy sources.

Rental companies can set themselves up for success by offering propane-powered equipment. Here’s why:

Propane is an environmentally friendly energy source

A growing number of customers are facing increasingly stringent environmental regulations, meaning that clean, low-emissions jobsite equipment is in higher demand. Rental store owners can meet this need and best serve this customer base by offering propane-powered equipment.

Propane is an approved clean alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act and produces significantly fewer emissions than diesel, gasoline, and electricity. Most notably, using propane produces 43 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than using an equivalent amount of electricity generated from the U.S. grid, according to data from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC).

Additionally, propane-powered small-engine job site applications can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 17 percent and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by up to 16 percent compared with gasoline-fueled models, according to data from PERC. Propane equipment also emits fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than equipment fueled by electricity, gasoline, and diesel.

And when it comes to carbon monoxide (CO) emissions, propane can offer a safe alternative to gasoline- and diesel-powered small-engine jobsite applications that are often the culprit to employees getting sick. Most notably, propane-powered small-engine applications can reduce CO emissions by up to 50 percent compared with gasoline models, according to data from PERC.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 workers die every year from unintentional CO poisoning and more than 4,000 others are hospitalized. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that one of the most common sources of CO exposure in the workplace is the internal combustion engine.

Additionally, propane can be stored on-site, either above or below ground, without risk of land or groundwater contamination. Diesel, on the other hand, has the potential for contamination from spills and leaks that are retained in the soil.

Propane-powered equipment is safe, supporting healthier air quality

Whether customers plan to operate their rental equipment indoors, outdoors, in semi-enclosed spaces, near sensitive populations, or in areas with strict emissions regulations, propane can offer them a clean, safe solution. Well-maintained propane engines meet or exceed nationwide indoor air quality standards, while gasoline and diesel models are typically not approved for indoor use.

Plus, almost all new propane-powered indoor-use equipment is required to have CO detectors on board, giving operators even more peace of mind. These detectors automatically shut off the equipment in the event of unsafe CO levels. Gasoline and diesel equipment, on the other hand, can produce a variety of chemicals and pollutants.

Further, when it comes to fuel stability and equipment storage, propane offers significant benefits over other options, especially gasoline-powered small engines. With propane, companies (and their customers) won’t have to worry about issues like ethanol build-up and fuel spillage.

Rental companies can maximize profitability with propane offerings

Many rental service providers already have propane on hand, which is why extending their propane offerings is an easy way to add a revenue stream to their operations. They can bring in this additional revenue by acting as a refueling and exchanging site. Not only does this bring in additional income for businesses, but it creates a convenient, one-stop shop for customers, too.

The Propane Education & Research Council

The Propane Education & Research Council is a nonprofit that provides leading propane safety and training programs and invests in research and development of new propane-powered technologies. PERC is operated and funded by the propane industry. PERC programs benefit a variety of markets including transportation, agriculture, commercial landscaping, residential, and commercial building.

PERC was authorized by the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), signed into law on Oct. 11, 1996. PERC is governed by a 21-member board appointed by the National Propane Gas Association and the GPA Midstream Association. Each association appoints nine Council members and they cooperate in the appointment of three public members.

PERC’s operations and activities are funded by an assessment levied on each gallon of propane gas at the point it is odorized or imported into the United States.

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