Analyzing Performance Data for New Propane-Fueled Technologies

Client: The Propane Education & Research Council
propane tank on a farm Feedback survey conducting-phone-interviews Data analysis spreadsheets for FEED 2011 Report graphs and tables

Project Overview

Nexight Group helps the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) collect and analyze data from incentive programs that test the performance of new propane-fueled equipment in real-world commercial settings.

Need

To help educate consumers and inform the research and development process, PERC commissions nationwide equipment demonstration programs to test the performance of and gather user feedback on a variety of propane-fueled equipment, including the following:

  • Farm Incentive Program: Propane-fueled irrigation engines, grain dryers, flame weed control systems, premium generator sets used for agricultural applications, and greenhouse and swine building heaters
  • Mower Incentive Program: Propane-fueled mowers used in commercial landscaping
  • Heat and Power Incentive Program: Off-grid generators, mobile generators, combined heat and power systems, and light towers

To optimize program benefits, PERC wanted to collect and analyze real-world performance data that could inform future technology advances and encourage potential customers to adopt new propane-fueled technologies.

Our Solution

We help PERC determine the type of data to collect from incentive program participants and develop an annual report for each incentive program that summarizes our analysis. To ensure our analysis consistently provides meaningful results, we designed and annually revise two surveys for each technology demonstrated through the three incentive programs. Participants complete the first survey at the time of equipment purchase and complete the second after operating the equipment for six months to one year.

For each technology, the pre-demonstration survey gathers insight on participants’ equipment operation practices and perceptions, and the post-demonstration survey gathers data and feedback about the use, performance, and maintenance needs of participants’ new propane-fueled equipment.

After compiling the data sets from one demonstration season for each program—now totaling more than 500 data sets since we began supporting the programs in 2011—we identify limitations in the data and analyze the results. We follow up with participants as needed to fill in data gaps, and we prepare Excel workbooks to present all of the raw data and calculations. Using these data and analyses, we prepare a report up to 100 pages in length for each incentive program that organizes quantitative and qualitative data into an easy-to-navigate format and visually conveys results using scannable figures and tables. The report identifies usage trends, compares fuel and maintenance costs of demonstrated propane-fueled equipment with equipment powered by other fuel sources, and presents opportunities to improve the propane-fueled products based on user recommendations.

Impact

The final reports from each incentive program provide valuable data and user feedback that can help manufacturers improve their product offerings and assist PERC in its mission to promote the adoption of safe, efficient propane-fueled technologies. We have supported the Farm, Mower, and Heat and Power Incentive Programs since 2011. Our work with these three programs is ongoing.