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OPEI Alerts Consumers: Don't Use E15 in Outdoor Power Equipment
Oct 21, 2010
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OPEI Alerts to Consumers: Don't Use E15 in Outdoor Power Equipment

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) advised consumers not to use E15 ethanol fuel in outdoor power equipment.

This advisory comes after a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve higher levels of ethanol (E15 or 15% ethanol) in gasoline for use in 2007 and newer automobiles only.

Until the October 13 EPA decision the maximum allowable limit of ethanol in gasoline was E10 or 10%. All engine products in use now, except “flex-fuel” automobiles, were designed, manufactured, and warranted to run on gasoline containing no more than 10% ethanol. That includes the two hundred million pieces of outdoor power equipment in use by consumers today – products such as chainsaws, lawnmowers, utility vehicles, generators, snow throwers, trimmers, edgers, pruners, chippers, shredders, and blowers.

OPEI advises consumers to follow these measures to protect their products and prevent voiding warranties:

"Consumers should read and follow the owner’s manual.  The owner’s manual will clearly explain what fuels can be used to ensure a properly functioning product.

"Do not put any fuel containing more than 10 percent (E10) in small engine products (EPA’s decision only applies to 2007 and newer highway vehicles), unless otherwise stated.

"Consumers must check the pump to be sure that it is dispensing E10.  Some gas pumps at local gas stations may offer both E10 and E15, or have blender pumps that dispense mid-level ethanol fuels for 'flex-fuel' automobiles.  Higher ethanol fuel (E15) may be less expensive than regular (E10) fuel, but putting E15 into an E10 approved product could cause product failure and void its warranty.

"Many consumers fill their vehicle gas tank and the gasoline can at the same time.  Be sure that the gas can is filled only with E10 fuel."

"The Department of Energy’s (DOE) own testing has shown that putting anything other than E10 in non-road, small engines can cause performance irregularities and equipment failure,” said Kris Kiser, executive vice president at the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.

So what are the possible results of putting E15 into a piece of outdoor power equipment not designed for it? Kiser said they could include:
  • performance irregularities
  • increased heat and exhaust temperatures
  • failure or unintentional clutch engagement
  • permanent damage to the equipment
OPEI said it supports Congressional efforts towards energy independence and the use of biofuels, including ethanol.  The association said the industry could design future equipment to make use of E15 – but the equipment out there now simply isn’t designed for it.

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