Should you use the tri-fuel generator instead of the dual-fuel model? We are now living in a world where natural calamities are becoming superlative in nature. Words like the super typhoon and super hurricane have become a household terminology. Supervolcano and mega-tsunami likewise have become very common terminologies in the news like its precursor term—the super earthquake. The abovementioned terms refer to catastrophic events, and their aftermath usually brings in power outages. These power outages may last for a couple days, weeks, or even months, depending on the severity of the damages on the existing infrastructures.
In case of a power outage, it is important to have a portable or RV generator at hand to provide the necessary power, especially, during emergency situations. One advantage of having a generator at hand is that it can provide electrical power wherever and whenever you need it. Generators are either gasoline- or diesel-powered engines to drive the induction motor that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.
Life without electricity is undoubtedly a terrible thing for modern humans. Without a functioning HVAC, lights, or refrigerator, the life of modern humans would surely be a bit difficult. A portable generator, therefore, can readily provide power for your lighting, air conditioner, and refrigerator, as well as for charging your smartphones and computers in case you need to communicate with other people around the globe. After such calamities, you would also notice a surge in the prices of basic commodities like food. Gasoline, for example, can become scarce and very expensive, and if your generator is only powered by gasoline, you may find it hard to secure the necessary supply of fuel for your generator. On the other hand, if your generator is dual- or tri-fuel, chances are, if you could not find gasoline supply, you can still look for another form of fuel to run your generator.
While the diesel-powered generators are the more cost-effective and more efficient means of providing power for a longer period, they also have some drawbacks. Diesel generators are complicated machines that are considerably heavier and louder than the gasoline-powered or tri-fuel generators. On the other hand, gasoline-powered generators are lighter, quieter, and more convenient to operate than diesel generators. Moreover, gasoline engine can readily run on other fuel like propane and natural gas with some modifications on the fuel supply system. The ability of the gasoline-powered generators’ internal combustion engines to run on both gasoline and propane led to the development of dual-fuel generators. They are both similar in their fuel configurations except that tri-fuel has an extra fuel type option, i.e., natural gas.
Should You Use The Tri-Fuel Generator?
This type of generator uses gasoline, propane, and natural gas as fuels. Gasoline (or gas for Americans, petrol for British) easily degrades and has the shortest shelf life of all these fuels. Despite this shortfall, many household machineries (like lawnmowers, chainsaws, and wood shredders) and cars use gasoline to run their engines. Tri-fuel makes it is easy to switch from one fuel to another fuel.
Propane has a longer shelf life and can be stored for a long time like diesel. Propane is one type of liquefied petroleum gases or LPGs, but not all LPGs are propane. Moreover, propane tends to become denser in cold weather and thinner on hot climate. Hence, with the tri-fuel, you surely have a lot of fuel options to choose from.
The addition of natural gas hook-up makes the tri-fuel generator most ideal for home use. Natural gas does not need to be stored, but you will need the services of a plumber to hook it up to your household gas supply. Having the natural gas as a fuel option allows you to run your generator for a much longer period, for you are not limited by the capacity of the integral gasoline tank or the LPG cylinder.
Choosing Between Dual and Tri-Fuel Generators
You need to consider these critical factors:
1) Usage Frequency and Duration
Do you need to power your home using your generator to minimize your electric bill or do you just want to use it in times of emergency or recreation? Do you need to run your generator for the duration of the power outage or only during night times to provide light during nighttime? Always remember that the frequency and duration of use contribute to the wear and tear of the generator.
2) What Type of Fuel You Frequently Use to Run Your Generator?
What fuel do you intend to use most of the time? Gas provides higher surge and running wattage; however, it can readily deteriorate your generator engine over time due to its short shelf life. On the other hand, using natural gas as your primary fuel provides an uninterrupted supply of fuel sans that over-dependence on the generator’s fuel capacity or contents of a propane LPG cylinder. But natural gas does not provide the same surge or running wattage like that provided by the gasoline or propane. Using propane as fuel allows similar wattage rating to that of gasoline and shares the same drawback of being dependent on the limited amount of fuel storage. Moreover, propane allows the generator to run more efficiently as it has a longer shelf life.
3) Where Do Going to Use Your Generator?
Aside from using your generator at home, you can also use your generator during road trips, tailgate party, and other outdoor activities. This answers what type of multi-fuel generator is suited for your need. If you frequently use your generator at home, you should choose the tri-fuel generator. If its use is for outdoor, you should choose the dual-fuel generator.
Advantages of Using Tri-Fuel Generator
Since its introduction into the consumer market, its popularity has substantially grown and has slowly replaced the first-generation single-fuel generators in many homes. This growing popularity of the tri-fuel generator can only be attributed to its benefits. Some of the readily identifiable benefits include flexibility, adaptability, mobility, and convenience.
1) Flexibility and Adaptability
It has the ability to switch from one fuel to another to suit the prevailing weather or climate. The inclusion of natural gas hook-up made it possible to use your household gas supply to run your generator, especially during winter seasons when the pressure in the propane cylinder drops due to low temperature. In the event that your gas supply went offline, you can readily switch your generator back to gasoline or propane.
2) Mobility & Portability
Due to the portability that the tri-fuel and dual-fuel generators inherited from the first-generation, mono-fueled portable generators, the tri-fuel generator remains compact and lightweight enough to be manhandled and transported anywhere. Along with the option to run on three different fuels, the tri-fuel model has arguably become the favorite among many people.
The ability of the tri-fuel model to switch from one fuel to another is unparalleled among portable generator class. While the power provided by this generator type is not so large, it is enough to power most average-sized homes. Moreover, in the event of a disaster and its aftermath, you can run the tri-fuel generator using any fuel that is available. If the power and gas lines are knocked out, you can buy propane LPG from any supermarket. You can also use some amount of spare gas from your car.
Due to the many advantages and benefits that the tri-fuel generator provides, many gas-powered generator owners are converting their sets into it. With some conversion on the carburetor, along with some provisions for propane and natural gas hook-ups, the internal combustion engine of the generator and the mono-fuel storage generator are transformed into a full-blown tri-fuel system.