Power outages are a significant inconvenience for any home or business. At times, they can even be dangerous. In these times, we live in; most of our basic needs like food storage, work, and even entertainment rely on electricity.
Apart from solar panels, the best way to ensure that your home or business always has power even when the power grid goes out is by using a generator. Propane generators are by far the best generators since propane costs less than gasoline and can be stored for a long time without going bad.
Shopping for a propane generator can often be a daunting process since there are very many brands on the market, all marketing their product as the best. That, however, doesn't mean they are. Some propane generators are manufactured using substandard materials and manufacturing methods, thus making their quality questionable.
In order to get your money's worth when purchasing a propane generator, there are numerous factors that you need to consider. And even after all that, you're still left with having to move from shop to shop in search of a high-quality generator that fits your budget. Now, you don’t have to worry about engaging in all that hustle. We’ve got you!
What Makes Propane so Good?
In the presence of oxygen, propane burns at 1980 degrees celsius with a blue flame. The presence of a blue flame indicates that it burns entirely with minimal emissions. When it burns, it only produces heat, water, and carbon dioxide.
When used to power a generator, propane produces 25MG of energy per liter. Note that energy is measured in joules. 25 Mega Joules is equivalent to one million joules.
The energy produced by one liter of propane (25MJ) is converted to 6.9 kWh when it turns the turbines of the generator. 1 kWh is the energy required to run an appliance that consumes 1000 wats for one hour. That means that 1 liter of propane, producing 6.9kWh, can run a device consuming 1000 wats for 6.9 hours. Impressive, right?
How Does a Propane Generator Work?
A propane generator is a mechanical device that converts propane into electricity. It works by converting mechanical energy obtained from propane combustion into electrical energy.
A propane generator burns propane to produce heat, water, and carbon dioxide. The gases produced are used to turn the generator's turbines at high speed. This results in the generation of electric currents. The generator is fitted with power outlet cables, or a socket from which the power produced is tapped and utilized.
Benefits of Owning a Propane Generator
1. Propane has a limitless shelf life
Although an emergency back-up generator is a great safety net, you only need to use it on rare occasions. Sometimes, several months or even a whole year can pass without you ever using it. Fuels such as gasoline come with stabilizers, and after some time, they go bad and might cause damage to your generator.
Propane, on the other hand, does not have an expiry date. You can leave a propane generator sitting idle for months, and the fuel in it will still be in top-notch condition, no matter the weather.
2. Propane is more eco-friendly than gasoline.
If you are big on environmental conservation, then you will love propane. Propane burns in a cleaner way than most organic fuels. The reduced emissions it comes with are great for preserving our precious eco-system.
3. Lower operating cost
If you use your generator regularly, then you are bound to incur fuel and maintenance costs. Propane costs much less than gasoline and is available countrywide. Propane generators also require less maintenance. That, coupled with how long propane lasts, provides a very pocket-friendly option for any home or a business owner.
4. Propane generators can be used anywhere.
Propane generators vary in size. Smaller generators are suitable for regular-sized homes and small businesses. Also, if you have an entire building to run, you can find a large, high-voltage propane generator that runs as efficiently as a regular home generator, the only difference being the enormous power output.
Benefits of Propane Generators over Diesel or Gasoline Generators
1. Supply of propane is not disrupted in times of disasters or calamities
Diesel and gasoline are only sold at service stations. During severe natural disasters or catastrophes, these service stations are closed due to damage or to avoid a fire hazard. People whose generators run on these sources fall at a major disadvantage because they are unable to fuel their generators and are therefore left in the dark.
Propane, on the other hand, is stored in cylinders and is sold in many outlets. The availability of propane, coupled with the fact that it can safely be stored in bulk, makes it very suitable for use as an emergency fuel.
2. Unlike gasoline and diesel, propane does not deteriorate
Propane has an infinite shelf life. That means that you can store it in bulk for an indefinite time without worrying about it going bad. Also, propane does not get contaminated; hence it does not damage your generator with contaminants even when left idle for a long time.
3. Safe and easy to store
Gasoline is highly flammable and requires sophisticated storage mechanisms when stored in bulk. Propane, on the other hand, can be stored safely in bulk cylinders or safe tanks, with no risk of wastage during fill-ups or spillage. Propane tanks can be put in a variety of spaces hence making storage more convenient.
Best Propane Generators on the Market
1. Westinghouse WGen3600DF
The Westinghouse WGen3600DF fuel generator comes loaded with lots of cool features. For starters, to start it, all you have to do is push a button. It can also be started remotely using a key fob, just like in luxury vehicles.
It is rated 3,600W, with a maximum power surge of 4,650W when running on gasoline. Its four-gallon tank is capable of keeping it running for 12 hours straight at half-load.
When running on propane, it has a continuous power output of 3,240W and a surge power of 4,180W. When using propane, it can run continuously for up to 12-hours at half-load.
This generator offers two standard AC power outlets. It also comes with a DC port for battery charging and an RV-ready 30-amp outlet.
It weighs over 100 pounds and measures nearly two feet across on both sides, thus making it hard to move around with, especially when loaded with propane. However, it has a sturdy design; hence whenever the need to move it arises, you can do so without any worry of structural damage.
This generator is CARB compliant and comes with a three-year warranty.
• When using propane, it has a power surge of 4,180 W
• It can run for up to 12-hours at half-load
• It comes with an RV-ready 30-amp power outlet
• Comes with a three-year warranty
• Comes with a sturdy design
- It comes with only two AC ports.
2. Wanko WGCT5300
This tri-fuel generator by Smart Generators runs on propane, gasoline, and natural gas. Its ability to run on natural gas comes as a significant perk to its functionality. Even when you run out of propane and have no access to gasoline, you can still hook it up to your natural gas line and keep your house lit up.
If you don't plan on moving it around, then it is an excellent choice for you. However, if you rely on moving around with a generator, it might not be a good choice since it weighs over 200 pounds.
This generator comes with four standard AC outlets and two 120Vports. In terms of power output, its got you covered. It offers 4,800 continuous power and a power surge of 5, 300 W when running on gasoline. When running on natural gas, it gives you 4,560 W of continuous power.
Despite its high voltage limits, it does not come with surge protection. Its integrated inverter, however, produces clean sine waves to protect and power the sensitive electronic appliances in your home.
When running on propane, this generator offers you a continuous power of 4,800 W and a power surge off 5,300 W.
• It is a tri-fuel generator capable of running on propane, gasoline, and natural gas.
• It comes with four standard AC outlets
• It has no power drop, even when running on propane
• It has an integrated inverter for powering sensitive electronic appliances.
- Does not come with a surge protection mechanism
3. Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter 100263
When you take a look at the power that this fuel generator delivers, it's pretty expensive, but considering the portability it offers, it is worth the cost.
When running on gasoline, it provides an output of 3,100 W of continuous power and 3,400 W power surge. Its gasoline tank is quite small; hence its runtime is limited to 7.5 hours at one-quarter power.
When operating on propane, it performs relatively well, with 2,700 W of continuous power and 3,100 W of power surge. An upside that comes with using this generator with propane is that you're not limited to the size of the propane gas tank you choose to use. With a standard propane tank, it gives you up to 12 hours of electricity at half power.
• Excellent portability
• It comes with a three-year warranty and a lifetime support
• It has an RV-ready 30-amp outlet and a DC port
• It comes with neither fuel nor power meter
• Its wheels can get stuck on the muddy ground
• Quite expensive
4. Champion 76533
If you are looking for a generator that not only offers practical usability but is also safe, then this might be the generator for you. This fuel generator comes with a fuel picker switch that guarantees that you don't switch fuels accidentally when switching on appliances. It also has a built-in surge protector and a reliable electric motor switch to ensure that both you and your electrical devices are always safe when using it.
When running on gasoline, this generator offers an output of 3,800 W of continuous power and 4,700W os surge power. On a full tank, it can run for up to 9 hours.
When using propane, you can draw up to 3,400 W of continuous power and 4,200 W of power surge. Looking at these figures, you realize that there is not much of a power difference when running on gasoline or propane.
One of the favorite features of consumers on this generator is an easy to read continuous measurement of the number of watts being drawn from the generator; therefore, it makes it very easy to track performance and remaining time on your fuel.
Champion offers a three-year warranty and lifetime support on this product. That means, whenever you have any questions or incur minor difficulties, all you have to do is call them, and they will guide you through it, forever!
• It has a pretty competitive power output
• Comes with an Intelligent gauge display
• Champion offers a three-year warranty and lifetime support on this product.
- It only has two AC power outlets.
5. Pulsar Products PG775oB
If you are looking for a generator that can give you a lot of power for a low cost, this dual fuel generator might be the product for you.
When running on gasoline, this generator delivers up to 6,250 W of continuous power and 7,750 W of surge power.
When running on propane, it delivers a power output of up to 5,950 W of continuous power and 6,250 W of surge power. It can run for about eight hours when set at half power.
It comes loaded with lots of cool features, including a switch and go technology that makes it very easy for you to switch between propane and gasoline. Also, its face has everything you need, including four standard AC outlets, an RV-ready 30-amp outlet, a DC port for battery charging, and a digital runtime and power meter.
Compact-wise, this generator is not that great. Although it has two 10-inch wheels for support, it weighs over 200 pounds, making it quite hard to move around with. On the upside, its carry handles fold down for storage when not in use, making it a bit compact.
Also, compared to a generator of similar size and functionality, this dual fuel generator is pretty quiet.
• It has an excellent power output
• Quite affordable
• Has four standard AC outlets and a digital display
• Quite quiet
• Has a shorter runtime compared to other generators
6. DuroMax XP4850EH
This dual fuel generator conveniently runs on propane and gasoline. It has a switch that makes switching fuels very easy.
It has a continuous power output of 3,850 W and a surge power of 4,850.
Its design makes it very user friendly and durable. In terms of performance, this generator comes with a seven horsepower engine of 196cc, that comes with a cast iron sleeve. Its fuel tank has a capacity of 4 gallons. When starting it up, you can use either an electric or recoil start.
This generator is very reliable. In a home setup, you can use it to power all your home appliances, including the air conditioning unit, refrigerator, and all other essential appliances.
It also comes with high-leverage and solid-fill tires to facilitate smooth movement. Its exterior is made of metal frames that keep its interior components safe from falling debris, and constant shoves when moving it.
• It is EPA approved
• Comes with safety circuit breakers
• Comes with an easy-to-use fuel switch to facilitate switching between gasoline and propane
• It comes with a super quiet muffler that helps in reducing noise.
• It only has two power outputs
• Filling the engine oil is quite hard.
7. Sportsman GEN4000LP
This generator is a product of a reputable brand, Buffalo Tools, whoa are known for their importation of high-quality tools for home, and industrial use. Having been in operation since 1964, you can bet that their product are top-notch.
This generator is equipped with a seven horsepower OHV engine that uses a recoil start to start. The engine also comes with a low-fuel shutdown feature to protect it from damage when it runs out of fuel. When using it for the first time, you must lubricate the engine with the 10W-30 oil to ensure smooth functionality.
The engine is also equipped with an automatic voltage regulator that shuts down the engine in case of a power surge to protect its internal circuitry. It has a tank capacity of 20 ounces and can run for 10 hours at half power when using a 20-pound propane tank.
The panel of this generator comes with a total of three outlets. Two 5-20R that combine up to the 20amp at 120 volts. And a DC outlet with a power output of 10 amp.
In terms of dimensions, it is 23 inches long, with a height of 17.5 inches and a width of 17 inches. It weighs 88 pounds, and its cuboid design makes it easy to move and store.
This generator has a power output of 3,250 Watts of continuous power and a power surge of 4000 Watts.
It also comes with a dust cover, spark plug, and a gas hose. The manufacturer provides a one-year warranty on this product.
• Pretty quiet operation
• Can run up to 10-hours ion 20 lbs of propane
• It has no battery start
• Does not come with an LPG tank holder
• Not very portable
8. Generac 6001
The Generac brand has been in operation for over 50 years; hence their products can be relied upon.
This generator comes with a 212c OHV engine with a low oil sensor to protect its components. The engine has a brushless alternator that produces 120/240 volts in a single phase.
It comes with three power outlets, two wall-type outlets, and a 20R outlet. All outlets are fitted with covers to protect them from water damage. In terms of mobility, this generator comes with a low-gran bar at the front, and dolly style handles to facilitate any maneuverability.
This generator is suitable for both home and industrial use. It comes with a wheelbarrow-style mount made of tubular powder-coated steel. Its integrated propane tank holder can hold 20-30pound propane cylinders, thus extending its runtime, convenience, and flexibility.
This propane generator delivers 3260 W of continuous power and a power surge of 3750 W. With a 20lbs tank; you can get up to 9 hours of runtime at half power.
• It has a built-in tank holder that improves mobility and safety
• It comes with a low-oil shutdown mechanism
• Its exterior is made of cast iron sleeves for noise reduction and protection.
• It is not CARB compliant
• It does not come with a fuel gauge and automatic power regulation.
9. Ford FG5250PBR
Ford is better known for its cars. The company developed this excellent dual propane generator.
When running on gasoline, this generator offers 470 W of continuous power and a power surge of 5250 W, making it pretty powerful.
When running on propane, this generator delivers 3850W of continuous power and a surge power of 4750 W. it has a runtime of about 12 hours when set at half power.
Like our first pick, this generator comes with remote start technology; hence making it effortless to turn it on. It offers two standard AC outlets and an RV-ready 30 amp outlet.
Its sturdy design and solid wheels make it easy to transport, even though it weighs 108 pounds. It also features a switch-and-go technology that allows you to switch between fuels easily.
• Pretty powerful
• Comes with remote start technology
• It has a never-flat wheel design
• Comes with only two-standers AC outlets
• It has no battery charging point.
10. FIRMAN H088051
This dual fuel generator is designed to produce large amounts of power, sustainably. When running on gasoline, it offers a continuous power of 8000 W and a surge power of 10000W, making it the most powerful generator in our list. It has an eight-gallon tank that enables it to perform or up to 12 hours at half power.
However, when running on propane, its performance is notably lower. It offers a continuous power output of 7250 W and a surge power of 9050 W and can run for up to eight hours on a standard-size propane tank.
In terms of weight and portability, this generator weighs an outstanding 235 pounds. Despite all that weight, it is surprisingly easy to move it over short distances. This is facilitated by its well-balanced frames. It also comes with an integrated fuel gauge that makes it easy to track how long the generator will run.
• Very high power output
• Despite its weight, it is surprisingly easy to move
• Comes with an eight-gallon tank with an integrated fuel meter
• Runs on both propane and gasoline
• It has a relatively short runtime when attached to a regular-sized propane tank.
• It is Heavy
Propane Generators Buying Guide: Factors to Consider
1. Portable VS. whole house standby generator
Although they serve the same purpose, standby and portable generators have a few differences.
Portable generators are easy to transport. When not in use in your home, you can easily transfer it to your RV or another place. Standby generators, however, are much heavier and larger, making moving them very daunting,
Portable generators are usually older and produce less power than whole house standby generators. Also, whole-house portable generators come equipped with automatic switching mechanisms and are heavily insulated to protect them from damage. Portable generators, on the other hand, require to be turned on manually.
2. Power output
Before buying a generator, first, you have to estimate the power consumption requirements of your home. An 8KW generator would do well for most homes, but going for one that produces more than 10Kw is more advisable.
3. Fuel tank capacity, fuel consumption and runtime
If you are looking for a portable generator for a home, you should consider going for one with a tank capacity of not less than 7 gallons so that you get a suitable runtime. However, the runtime is not just affected by fuel capacity, the generators engine efficiency, and the amount of current being drawn from it also play a crucial role in determining its runtime.
In whole house generators, all you have to consider is how much propane it consumes per hour.
Generators are heavy. For that reason, moving them around is hard. Most generators come with a wheel kit to facilitate maneuverability, but not all. In some models, you have to buy the wheel kit separately. When purchasing a generator, it is best to go with one that comes with a wheel kit. However, wheel kits are pretty easy to install; hence even if you buy one without them, you can always fit them yourself.
Another factor to consider on portability is its weight. Generators that weigh less are generally easier to move. If you are planning on moving around with it a lot, it is best to go for one that does not weigh too much.
5. Propane cylinder holder
Most propane generators come with a tank holder. Propane generators that have a tank holder are generally safer and more convenient to use. However, the presence of a tank holder limits the size of the tank that you can use with it.
Most tank holders can carry 20-30 pound cylinders, which may be disadvantageous when you plan on using a bigger tank. However, you can always place your propane tank close to the generator and connect it using a gas hose. This gives you the ability to use a propane tank of any size.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: are propane generators better than other generators?
Answer: The efficiency of propane generators is less than that of gas generators because they produce fewer BTUs. However, propane burns cleaner hence making it better for both the environment and your generator.
Question: How long does a propane generator run on a 20-pound tank?
Answer: A 20-pound cylinder of propane producing 441,600 BTU, will give you about 8.8 hours with an engine that consumes 50,000 BTU per hour.
Question: How noisy are propane generators?
Answer: To give you an idea of how much sound a propane generator produces when in use, consider a regular vacuum cleaner. A vacuum cleaner produces about 80dB. A large, powerful propane generator produces a sound that is almost equal to that. Smaller generators are quieter and can produce between 58 and 65dB.
In this time and age, pollution and fuel prices are high and will continue to rise as the years go by. That warrants the need for an efficient fuel that is not only cheaper but also cleaner. That is where propane comes in. Propane costs less than other fuels and burns cleaner, thus making it a suitable power source not only for environmentalists but also for anyone who wants to save a few bucks.
Propane generators are quickly gaining popularity among many homeowners. They offer a cheap and efficient electricity source in case of an emergency. They are also less noisy than their counterparts, thus making them more appealing for use in a home setup.
In the guide, we have discussed some of the benefits you stand to gain by using a propane generator. We also understand how hard it is to find a high-quality generator among a multitude of fakes. For that reason, we have reviewed ten of the best propane and multi-fuel generators that use propane.
If you don’t find a generator that suits your budget or requirements among the ones that we have reviewed, you can always search online or shop at your favorite store. When doing that, remember to keep the factors that we have discussed in the buying guide in mind. That way, you are sure to end up with a high-quality generator at an affordable price. With all that said, all we can do now is wish you luck in your search.