Portable Dual Fuel Generator Buyer's Guide
The Benefits of Dual Power Generators
Not sure if you should buy a dual fuel generator?
Consider this: You’re in the middle of a week-long blackout due to a major storm. Daily life becomes a race to the grocery store to stock up on provisions. Lines at the gas station extend down the street. It’s everyone out for themselves.
Fortunately, you’re able to avoid some of that chaos because you own a dual fuel inverter generator that lets you switch from gasoline to propane with the flip of a switch. That’s better than waiting an hour at the pump only to find out the gas station is out of gas!
What are dual fuel portable generators?
As you've already guessed, dual fuel portable generators can switch from running on gasoline to your barbeque propane tank. On most models, it’s as simple as using a fuel selector knob to switch between the two fuel types.
There are also tri-fuel generators that can switch between propane, gasoline, and natural gas for amazing versatility. These don't have a fuel selector knob, but it is still relatively simple to switch between fuel types.
Whether you are switching on a dual fuel or tri-fuel generator, make sure you clear the engine of the old fuel first.
Benefits of Dual Fuel Generators
It’s always good to keep your options open. Why commit to only one fuel type if you don’t need to?
Peace of Mind
A dual fuel generator offers the peace of mind that you can have power no matter how bad things get out there. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes or earthquakes can disrupt gasoline supply. If you’re dependent on that one type of fuel, you could be limited to what you have stored at home.
With a dual fuel portable generator, you can just plug in your propane tank. Most units come with a connector that conveniently lets you use the same tank (20-30 Ib) as your grill.
Even if you don't have a propane tank on hand in an emergency, you can likely get one at gas stations, hardware stores, grocery stores, etc. Plus, propane can be stored for a much longer time than gasoline, years in fact.
Having two usable fuel types means you probably won’t run out of options. Gasoline might be your handy go-to, but propane can be stored longer and act as a great backup. In fact, the tank holding the propane will deteriorate before the actual gas does.
Propane is also safer to store than gasoline, which is more flammable and more prone to spill in your garage. Sealed in its tank, propane poses little to no risk under ordinary conditions. The tanks can also easily be refilled or exchanged.
The first step in choosing a portable generator is always figuring out how much power you need and the corresponding wattage before picking a unit that can provide that level of power.
With dual fuel generators, however, the wattage output changes depending on whether you’re running on propane or gasoline. You’ll notice that each dual fuel model has two wattage ratings, a higher one for gasoline and a lower one for propane.
For example, one of Champion’s dual fuel inverter generators is rated at 3,400 watts for gasoline and 3,060 watts for propane, which is a 10 percent decline from gasoline to propane. The nutrients and properties of gasoline give you a higher wattage rating than propane.
Dual Fuel Generators vs. Conversion Kits
Some third-party manufacturers offer fuel conversion kits that, for example, allow you to convert a dedicated gasoline portable generator into a propane one using a generator propane conversion kit.
Since these kits are typically not designed by the generator manufacturer, they may not work properly with your generator and could void your warranty or pose safety hazards.
If you want to switch back and forth between gasoline and propane, you might as well go with dual fuel. The price difference between non-dual fuel and dual fuel may not be that much more than the cost of a conversion kit, so it makes financial sense too.
The Best of Both Worlds
You may remember VCR/DVD combo players from the “old” days. Instead of having to decide which technology they wanted, people could get both in one package.
The same principle applies to dual fuel generators. Why have only one fuel type if you can have both?