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Why I passed on Phill

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  • Why I passed on Phill

    Home Refueling

    There is noting quite like jumping in your car each morning to a full tank.
    As described in the "Tax Incentives" forum, a federal tax credit of $1,000 is available for installing a home refueling system. Honda and Fuelmaker most likely provided us with this lobbying favor in hopes of getting more of the Phill product to market.

    Why I Passed on Phill
    OK, so Phill has a cute name and can be installed in your garage. But unfortunately the numbers did not pencil out for me. I decided instead to install Fuelmaker's outdoor system. I found a used FM4 unit on eBay for $3,750 then contacted our local Fuelmaker dealer to have it refurbished and professionally installed. The FM4 fills to 3,000 psi whereas the newer FM2 fills to 3,600 psi (these cost are a little more in the used marketplace... around $4,500 usually).

    Back to Phill, here is why it did not make sense for me:
    $3,982 (list - dealers have no room to come down on this nor any real incentive to sell the product).
    Again, used FM2's and FM'4s abound for about the same price. For $500 or so you can get one professionally refurbished.

    Fueling Rate:
    1/2 gallon equivalent per hour.
    FM2's and FM'4s fill at 1 gallon equivalent per hour. If you often drive 100+ per day in your commute, little Phill simply won't keep up.

    Times out at 6,000 hours (3,000 gallons). Must send back to Fuelmaker for a $2,000 refurbish.
    FM2's and FM'4s time out at 4,000 hours (4,000 gallons, equivalent to 8,000 on a Phill) but are infinitely rebuildable via a simple on site visit. [update: 2012... New units do not time out... can go up to 8,000 hours or more]

    On top of this I can have two hoses for the occasional time I need to fill both of my GX's overnight.
    I worked with our local Fuelmaker dealer to create a comparison matrix (see the PDF file attached to this post) which I hope you find useful.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by John Mitton; 03-09-2013, 03:15 PM.

  • #2
    I think the biggest advantage on the FM4 is the 1 gal/hr fill rate. There are ways to install in the garage also - but I think you need to get a natural gas sensor and shut off.



    • #3
      Re: Why I passed on Phill

      It's time to bump this thread to the top of the forum... Anyone else come to the same conclusion as I did on the choice of Phill vs. FM2?


      • #4
        Re: Why I passed on Phill

        Your first post says it all. Other than convince and home owner even a new FMQ makes more financial since. associations


        • #5
          Re: Why I passed on Phill

          Originally posted by John Mitton View Post
          I worked with our local Fuelmaker dealer to create this comparison matrix which I hope you find useful.
          Comparsion matrix 404's.

          ?Innovation is driven by having access to things.? -- Gleb Budman, CEO of


          • #6
            Re: Why I passed on Phill

            Good catch, jblue. I fixed this by putting the comparison matrix PDF as an attachment to my opening post above.


            • #7
              Re: Why I passed on Phill

              Nice comparison table.
              A couple of updates to the PHILL.
              1) The newer model (I got mine in Dec '07) require 240V single phase.
              2) 0.42 gge/h might be the published rate, but it only is the flow when pumping. If one only is concerned about pumping rate it might be correct, but if one wants to calculate how many gge you can get out of the max 6000h life, then the 1/2h drying every 8h pumping (which is included in the 6000h also) must be considered. The real-life flow is more (if not less than) 0.40 gge/h.

              Update: this morning I passed the 750h on my Phill and my gas meter reads 185 therms. This translates into a filling rate of 0.41 gge/h.

              This is probably the best rate one can expect. If you always top-off your tank the the fill rate is lower, since I only fill as much as I need for the 100 miles I drive. So my tank is always in the lower pressure range, which means a higher fill rate.
              Last edited by OhMyGas; 06-06-2008, 02:18 PM.


              • #8
                Re: Why I passed on Phill

                i get pretty much one tic an hr... so at 35 to 40 miles to the gal and a tic beeing between 12-15 miles... i guess i get about 1gallon every 3.5 hrs


                • #9
                  Re: Why I passed on Phill

                  John, I think I'm missing something in your cost comparison matrix. Or maybe there's an assumption as to the time period, but:

                  For the FMQ, with your figures:
                  If the refueling rate is 0.90gge/hr and the initial lifetime before service is 4000 hours then to get the total number of GGEs the system will produce before the first service you need to multiply the two, resulting in 3600 total GGEs

                  MSRP - installation cost = $7,930

                  MSRP($7,930) / GGE (3,600) = $2.20 per GGE (not $1.31)

                  Add to this the cost of NG to your house and you get the real cost per GGE.

                  Here in SoCal, it's about $1.25 per GGE, so the overall cost would be $3.45 per GGE

                  What factor am I missing?

                  You come up with a range of about 122,000 miles for the initial installation, so if you estimate (for one car) 12,000 miles per year, that gives you 10 years before gaining the lower service cost, so not an overly effective saving method if you expect to offset the cost of the unit every 10 years.

                  3,982/(0.46x6000)+1.25 = $2.69 per GGE (for SoCal)
                  76,500/12,000 = 6.375 years

                  So over a 6 year period, Phill would actually be cheaper albeit slower, and then what comes into question is your assumption that in 6 years time the cost to refurbish the Phill would still be twice as expensive as refurbishing the FMQ, and that the delivery system won't be enhanced.

                  Either way, to use SoCal as an example again, it costs $2.43 per GGE for NG at the pump, so that might ultimately be the cheaper route minus the convenience.

                  But to factor in the convenience factor, it might actually be better to go with the Phill because initially it's cheaper and in 6 years it might be faster. This assumes that you don't commute more than 114 miles a day, and if you do that, this might be a prime indicator that you need to make a life change. ;o)

                  Let me know what I'm missing....


                  • #10
                    Re: Why I passed on Phill

                    Basics of home refueling is compressor is SUNK COST. Thus, do NOT count it in per gge cost of fuel, except to consider what unit might be worth when you have to sell it.

                    Phill is nice since it goes in garage, but it is NOT built for many years of use. Compressor needs rebuilt after only 6,000 hours (at .42 gge/hr) use at very high cost (about $2500). Also, the resale value of Phill say in 5 years is questionable.

                    Compare the fmq2-36 which is better unit with nearly 1 gge per hour refill rate. Resale of these are very good and will definitely hold their value. Also, compressor good for 4,000 (equal to 8,000+ hrs on the Phill) hours between rebuilds at only around $1,000 per rebuild. Thus, you are really amortizing the $1,000 compressor rebuild over 4,000 hours to add into your per gge fuel costs. The $7,980 initial purchase is sunk cost that really should NOT be included as hopefully you will stay with cng for many years into future. Also, you didn't subtract your $1,000 Federal tax credit and any other state specific tax incentives.

                    My guess is that your home refueling cost with fmq2-36 will end up being aroung $1.25 to $1.50 per gge at most. It's the best way to go.
                    Last edited by Curtis; 06-03-2008, 11:02 PM. Reason: To correct errors


                    • #11
                      Re: Why I passed on Phill

                      Why not go with the Phil and when it wears out buy a new one and take the tax credits again if you can instead of rebuilding it?

                      In oklahoma that would mean you could replace it for around $1,000 instead of paying the $2,000 to get it rebuilt.

                      Is this possible or can you only use the tax credits one time?


                      • #12
                        Re: Why I passed on Phill

                        No one has an opinion on this question?


                        • #13
                          Re: Why I passed on Phill

                          An interesting question. I would assume the tax incentive would be a one-time thing, but I'm no tax guru.


                          • #14
                            Re: Why I passed on Phill

                            Originally posted by bigsteve View Post
                            No one has an opinion on this question?
                            Looks like it depends upon your location and tax laws at the time... You would be clearly better off buying new as you suggest if the rules were like they were in AZ about eight years ago (100% of the infrastucture you put in was reimbursed via state tax credit, but that sure didn't last too long).
                            2008 GX (extended range, trunkless version)
                            Polished Metal Metallic 2012 Civic Natural Gas
                            Fuelmaker FMQ-2-36 (since 2001)
                            Previously owned: 2000 GX (11 years), 1995 Bi-fuel Sonoma, 2000 Bifuel Tahoe, 2000 Bi-fuel F150


                            • #15
                              Can't take the federal credit twice...

                              It is based on "each location" per instructions on form 8911