The most commonly-used standby generators are the gas-powered generators. This is because they are more affordable and cost-effective. Yet, some users find the use of propane generators more sensible. But why? Well, there are many succinct reasons for this. First, the maintenance cost of a propane generator is less. Plus, it is environmental-friendly than those of gas- or diesel-powered generators. Moreover, propane allows for a longer time of storage without degradation in its quality.
There are many factors you have to consider when buying a portable generator, but the primary factor that you must consider is the fuel type that the generator would use to produce electricity. There are many types of fuel in use to power portable generators such as diesel, gasoline, solar energy, and propane. Many, however, prefer propane over any other type of fuel, and choosing propane is undoubtedly a wise decision.
Table of Contents
- What is Propane Generator & How It Works?
- Benefits of Using Propane Generator
- Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Propane Generator
- Best Portable Propane Generators on the Market Today
- Other Top-rated Portable Propane Generators
What is Propane Generator & How It Works?
Most homeowners nowadays have backup or standby generators. This is to ensure that their homes will never run out of power once there is a power outage. Their homes are also equipped with automatic transfer switches that command the standby generators to start. This switch likewise allows the transfer of electrical load to the standby generators. This ensures that there is power for the essential appliances within their households during a power interruption. Standby generators generally run on the following fuels—diesel, natural gas, or liquid propane gas.
Portable generators may vary according to the fuel that powers them; yet, although they are powered by different fuel, their structures and features are basically the same. The propane generators, for example, basically have the same design and structure; but the main difference is that they have highly specialized carburetors (instead of the traditional carburetors) that are specifically designed to burn propane. Every propane generator must have the converted carburetor installed to run on propane.
Propane is basically a limitless fuel, for this reason, it is ideal for use as a fuel for portable generators. Moreover, it does not require you to pour fuel into the holding tank. Instead, you merely need to connect the propane generator to the propane tank hose. Propane is a highly flammable hydrocarbon gas that can power an internal combustion engine. As it burns and powers the engine, it eventually produces electricity.
Benefits of Using Propane Generator
Easy To Cold Start
Portable generators usually come in handy when there is a power outage. Hence, many generators stay unused throughout the year. They become usefully relevant only when there is a power outage. Liquid propane is one of those fuels that have infinite shelf life if they are properly stored as compared to the gasoline which tends to go stale when not used after a year. For this reason, you can be very sure that your propane generator will have ready fuel that could power the internal combustion engine of your generator even if your generator has not been in use for several months or years. You don’t need to worry about cold starting your seldom-used propane generator because propane generator is surely easy to cold start.
Cleaner Fuel & No Gum Deposits on Carburetor
Moreover, unlike the gasoline generator that generates much gum deposits on the carburetors, propane generators do not. The gum deposits generally become a problem for generators that are not frequently used. On the other hand, propane is a very clean fuel, and it burns cleanly and doesn’t leave gum deposits. As such, it is very easy to cold start even after not being used for several months.
Cleaner & Non-Toxic Emissions
Another succinct advantage that the propane generator has over other types of generators is its clean fuel. It burns cleanly, and its byproduct is non-toxic. Moreover, it doesn’t produce much emissions as compared to other types of fuels. Since it doesn’t diminish in its quality when stored, it is undoubtedly ideal for seldom-used generators. Additionally, the propane generators are very quiet when operating; hence, it is suitable for use during camping and other occasions wherein there is a need for the emergency backup energy source.
Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Propane Generator
1) Your Power Usages & Needs
First, you need to Consider Your Power Needs. Generators like propane generators are rated by kilowatts, and this kilowatt rate usually indicates the power output of the generators. Hence, if you are shopping around for a generator, you need to figure out beforehand which electronic gadgets and appliances you are going to run using the portable generator.
One of the electrical equipment that really eats up much power is the HVAC. Hence, if you are going to choose a generator and you want to power your HVAC using that generator, you need to select a propane generator model that could easily power your HVAC.
To determine your power need, you need to check or examine the data plate on your air conditioning. This data plate will reveal the size in tons or BTUs of your HVAC. Each capacity in ton is equivalent to 12,000 BTUs. Hence, if the data plate says 3 Ton unit, it is equivalent to 36,000 BTUs which requires an 11-kW generator. Make sure that your propane generator is powerful enough to run your HVAC, especially, during a power outage when you badly need to make your HVAC to function.
2) Starting Mechanism
Propane generators either feature a pull-to-start option or a push-to-start button. If your model is an electric start or push-to-start button, chances are, you will need a battery to start your generator. The need for a battery is surely an additional cost. Most electric generators that have push-to-start button do not come with a battery.
Some generators likewise sport an auto turn-off feature. This feature enables the generators to automatically shut off when the oil level of the engine is very low. This feature is indeed very useful if you intend to buy a propane powered generator. Some generators are designed to start when the power goes off automatically. This is a great feature that you should also consider because more often if the power goes off, your house will be shrouded in darkness with the lights not working. If your generator automatically starts when the power goes off, you would not be required to start the generator when the power goes off personally.
3) Storage Space
Propane generators, just like most generators, are bulky enough and may require spacious storage space. For this reason, you would surely need to figure out at the onset the size of the generator that you intend to buy so that you can prepare the space where you are going to store it. As a good advice, you need to store your generator near an electrical outlet. Moreover, you need to follow the proper ways of storing the generator and comply with the electrical, local, noise codes in your town or city.
4) Noise Level when Operated
One factor that you should strictly consider when buying a generator is the noise level it creates. The maximum decibel of noise that an operating generator can produce is up to 80 decibels which is tantamount to noise generated by a continuously running loud lawnmower. You can easily imagine how your neighbor will react to your noisy lawn mower if the noise of your generator is equivalent to the noise level of a typical lawn mower.
Generators that are designed for house use are generally less noisy. The majority of the rate at 62 decibels from 25 feet away. One caveat, however, when buying a generator is to check out the ratings of the manufacturer and the reviews about the generator model. You can surely glean enough information from these two sources.
5) Transfer Switch
Generators generally need a transfer switch that allows them to readily spring into action when needed during a power outage. This automatic transfer switch can readily detect if the power fails. It also automatically disconnects the power from the line and transfer the source of power from this line to the generator. This automatic switch transfer readily energizes your home by connecting your power grid to the generator.
Since the transfer switch is very much essential to the automatic functioning of your generator, you need to carefully choose the right transfer switch according to your generator’s needs. At the onset, it is good to understand and figure out the electrical service panel’s amperage. Check out the main breaker of your electrical panel to find the amperage. Most homes have a 200-amp main breaker. This implies that most households can consume up to 200 amps. Some old homes, however, consume less power and for this reason, it would be good to figure out beforehand your home panel amperage to align it with the transfer switch amperage.
6) Available Outlets
Most propane generators come with a minimum of four electrical outlets. Hence, if you intend to buy a propane generator, it would be good to consider the number of outlets in its design and the number of appliances that you would like to connect to your generator.
7) Economy Setting Feature
You would surely want your power generator to be fuel efficient as much as possible. Hence, it would be best if you chose a power generator that has an electrical throttle or economy mode feature. This feature enables your generator to decrease fuel consumption when you don’t need maximum power from your generator.
8) Safety Features
Another good factor to look at when buying a propane generator is the safety features of the generator. These safety features are valuable to avoid accidents and other untoward incidents due to the use of your generator. The more safety features the generator has, the better the choice it would be.
9) Hidden Operational Costs
If you are not cognizant of the necessary steps on how to hook your generator to the fuel source, it would be wise to avail of the service of a local utility technician to do this job. The service fee for this technician will add up to the cost of buying and maintaining a generator. Hence, you should consider this additional cost, especially, if you are on a budget. Propane generator may cost you up to $10,000, and if you haven’t studied the abovementioned additional cost, you may be surprised in the end with the total cost once you have already bought the generator and want to use it.
Best Portable Propane Generators on the Market Today
There are many portable propane-powered generators on the market today. This makes it more difficult for ordinary consumers to choose the right model for their needs. To make buying easy for them, we have deemed it proper to provide a list of the best propane generators at hand.
1) Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator with Electric Start
The Champion 3800-Watt Portable Generator is a dual-fuel ready portable generator. This means that you can run it either on gas or propane. It is powered by a 224cc Champion engine. Its starting watts is 4,750W while its running watts is 3,800W. Using propane, it can deliver around 4,275 starting watts, and around 3,420 running watts. It is capable of up to 9 hours of runtime when on full tank gas. It can run up to 10.5 hours on a 20-pound propane tank.
This model is very much portable. It weighs 119 pounds; hence, it is straightforward to drag around. It also features a folding-handle design. This allows you to conveniently maneuver it without losing grip on it. Moreover, it never experiences flat tires. It is therefore straightforward to maneuver around and to transport to any place.
It also comes with a VoltGuard feature. This feature prevents spikes from damaging your appliances. It also features Cold Start Technology that allows you to start it easily even during cold weather. Moreover, it also with a push-button electric start for easy start. Overall, the Champion 3800-Watt is a good choice.
2) Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator
Champion 3400-Watt Portable Inverter Generator is a generator that runs on dual fuel. You can either run it on propane or on gas. It runs quietly at 59 dBA; hence, you don’t need to worry about your neighbors complaining about the noise generated by your generator. Moreover, it is very lightweight, weighing only 99 lbs. It is also very portable with its wheel kit. These features make this generator ideal for use in campsites, RVs, cabins, and any outdoor activity.
It features a Touch Start technology. This means that it has a push-button electric start and comes with battery maintenance Smart charger feature. Moreover, you can make a parallel series of generators with the Champion 3400-Watt Inverter Generator. You simply need to connect it with another Champion inverter generator if you want to augment your power supply. It also produces clean power that could power sensitive electronics.
This Champion 3400-Watt Inverter Generator runs up to 7.5 hours when on a full tank of gas. While it runs for 14.5 hours on its 20-lb propane tank, you can also set it on economy mode. On this mode, it runs quietly and allows you to save on fuel. Moreover, this economy mode feature also protects your engine from early malfunctioning. Lastly, it is also user-friendly with its Quick Touch Panel.
3) DuroMax Hybrid Dual Fuel XP12000EH
The DuroMax Hybrid Dual Fuel XP12000EH is a dual fuel generator. It is powered by the 457cc DuroMax OHV engine that allows users a maximum of 12000W power. It is operable on both liquid propane or gasoline. You can safely enjoy a reliable supply of power with this generator anywhere and anytime. At 50% maximum output, its runtime on gasoline is 10 hours; while at 50% maximum output, its runtime on propane is 20 hours (Standard BBQ tank). This allows you to power your essential appliances for a longer time.
In my opinion, It is quite a heavy-duty portable generator. It is supported by a heavy-duty frame with 4-point isolated mounts for low noise and smoother operation. Its control panel is user-friendly with oil indication and warning signal light, circuit breaker, voltmeter, and power outlets. It also has a noise-reducing muffler that uses a spark arrestor. Hence, it is approved by EPA and is surely a great buy.
4) Duromax XP4850EH 3850
The Duromax XP4850EH 3850 is powered by a dependable 7 HP air-cooled DuraMax OHV engine. With this engine, you are assured of a continuous supply of power in times of power outage. It is also durable because it is supported by a heavy-duty frame that comes with four-point fully isolated motor mounts for quiet operation. Its rated AC output is at 3,850W, while its maximum AC output is at 4,850W.
It comes with two 120V outlets, plus 20 Amp three-pronged outlets. Its full power panel comes with advanced oil-warning light, key-start switch, circuit breaker, voltmeter, and power outlets. It also has a low indicator lamp and shutoff. It operates at 69 dBA. It is EPA approved and is surely safe to use. This one is also a good buy likewise.
5) Westinghouse WGen3600DF Dual Fuel
The Westinghouse WGen3600DF Dual Fuel is a very compact generator that is powered by a 212cc Westinghouse, 4-stroke OHV engine. With this engine, this generator is poised to last longer. It has 3,600 rated watts and 4,650 peak watts on gasoline. While on propane, it is capable of 3,200 rated watts and 4,180 peak watts. It has a four-gallon fuel tank that comes with a fuel gauge. It also comes with a push-button and remote start features.
It features an automatic low oil shutdown. This feature protects the engine from damages concomitant with low oil. Moreover, on a single propane tank, it can run up to 18 hours.
Other key features that make this generator a good choice is its easy-to-start feature. It has an integrated push-button (electric). But most especially, it has a fob remote. This means that you can turn it on or off even from a distance. As a standby generator, this one is definitely perfect.
Buying a generator means that you will be with that generator until it is still functional. Hence, before deciding to buy one, you should carefully consider the abovementioned factors as well as other factors like building permits, property tax, code requirements, and safety precautions. Lastly, it is good to be properly advised on this decision before you shop around for a propane generator.
And It advisable that you would never use or put this kind of portable generators that use propane indoor to prevent the possible consequences of gas leakage. And it should keep it away from the fire and flammable items.