The best propane generator will provide you with a reliable, reasonably clean power source when you don’t have access to electricity. That is true if you choose the correct model. Finding the best propane generator for your needs can be tricky. To make things a little easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of today’s top models.
- The Best Propane Generator On The Market Today? Our Top 5
- Best Propane Generator: FAQs
- What To Look For In A Propane Generator
- The Best Propane Generators: Conclusion
The Best Propane Generator On The Market Today? Our Top 5
The Duromax XP12000EH propane generator is a beast of a machine that roars into the first spot. Its dual-fuel options allow you to use two fuel types; namely gasoline or propane. Weighing in at 224 pounds, the XP12000EH isn’t portable. The 12,000 watts of power it can produce more than makeup for this, however. This heavy-duty model will power your refrigerator, freezer, other appliances, and even your air conditioner.
The propane setting runs cleanly and relatively silently. No machine of this type is whisper-quiet, but this model features noise-dampening technology. It runs at about 72 decibels, which is no noisier than a vacuum cleaner. The isolated motor mounts cut back on vibrations, reducing sound.
- Built to last
- Noise- dampening technology
- Produces enough power to run your entire home
- Changes fuel types with the flick of a switch
- User-friendly and has an instant start feature
- The wheels are plastic and not very tough
- Can’t use auto-idle when using propane fuel
With five outlets with varying capacities set on individual breakers, it’s impossible to overload this model. The solid metal frame is sturdy and durable, holding the motor firm. Vibrations and noise are kept to a minimum, which is impressive considering the power output.
With a high fuel capacity, you get around several hours of power. Connect a 100-pound propane fuel tank, and you’ll get about 32 hours of power. This model can run at 120 volts or 240 volts, whichever you prefer.
In addition to the individual breakers for each outlet, the machine also has an auto shut off when the oil runs low. Duromax has taken every precaution to prevent you from accidentally burning out the motor.
In gasoline mode, you may opt to use the idle feature. In this mode, the machine puts out lower RPMs to save fuel. Overall, if you need plenty of power, you’ll love the DuroMax XP12000EH generator.
Champion has earned a reputation for quality engineering in the United States. The Champion 8000 generator operates on LPG or gasoline. It provides 8,000 running watts and handles surges of up to 10,000 watts. This model will run your major appliances and also an HVAC system.
It has a runtime of around five to eight hours on a full fuel tank of gasoline with a heavy load. It’s not quite as fuel-efficient as the Duromax models, but it is lighter and more compact. It runs at about 74 decibels, so it’s a tiny bit louder than the other models.
It’s the build-quality and compact design that earned the Champion 8000 it's spot on our list. The foldable handles and sturdy wheels make it easy to store when necessary.
Champion uses its Volt Guard technology to protect the generator from surges. This option has an electric starter and comes with a high-quality, long-lasting battery.
A small thing that appealed to us is that you get oil with this model. With the other options on this list, you don’t. It’s not a dealbreaker if you don’t receive the oil, but getting it with your purchase saves you a trip to the hardware store.
- Plenty of power
- Reasonable runtime
- GFCI-protected outlet
- Ready for use out of the box
- Easy-to-operate and transport
- Slightly noisier than other models
- Price is higher than other options
Should you choose the Champion or the Duromax?
This question is one that we considered carefully. The Duromax models are more fuel-efficient and less expensive. However, it’s hard to argue with Champion's quality.
Overall, we believe that Champion delivers reliable performance and the company provides excellent customer service. There’s no question that the wheels are of better quality. The design of the handles and compact nature of the model overall make it well worth considering.
Another dual-fuel model, the DuroMax XP4850EH portable generator puts out up to 4,850 watts. That’s enough to run your sump pump, refrigerator, freezer, and some lights. It won’t run your HVAC system, but you’ll love the low fuel consumption that you get here.
With the capability to burn gasoline and propane, you increase the run time substantially. You’ll get about 48 hours of power on a full propane fuel tank.
The DuroMax XP4850EH generator runs at 69 decibels, so it’s about as noisy as a lawnmower. You and your neighbors will appreciate the low volume.
Duromax has done a lot to ensure the longevity of this model. The engine is air-cooled, and the generator shuts off when the oil levels are low.
- A reasonable size for the average household
- Economical to operate
- Excellent value for money
- Low-maintenance when running on propane
- Runs for around 48 hours
- You must run it on gasoline occasionally to keep the seals moist
- The warranty includes parts but not labor
Starting up this model is as simple as turning the key. The sturdy frame holds the generator firmly in position. The only complaint we have about the build is the wheels. As with the XP12000EH generator, the wheels of the XP4850EH aren’t the best. They’ll flatten within a year or so. This isn’t a dealbreaker – you can buy better quality replacements easily enough. The power output and efficiency of this model make up for the low-quality wheels.
What we appreciate most about this model is that it runs so economically. If you run it primarily on the fuel type propane, it’ll run for hours and be virtually maintenance-free. You won’t need to change the oil as often either.
We do recommend running gasoline through the system every four weeks or so just to keep the system adequately lubricated.
The Champion 3400 portable generator is a lightweight compared to the others. It puts out up to 3400 watts and runs for up to 7.5 hours. It made our list because it’s a gas and propane inverter generator, designed for use with sensitive electronics. For this reason, it won’t power all your large appliances at once. It will, however, power your microwave and similar small devices without blowing them up!
Where this option truly shines is on a camping trip or out tailgating. At just 96 pounds, it’s the most portable model on our list. With a couple of 20-pound bottles of propane, you'll have enough power for a long weekend camping, with some to spare.
With a noise level of only 59 decibels, this generator runs very quietly. It’s not going to disturb your neighbors or compete with the music while you’re tailgating.
If you have an RV, you can plug it in and go. It has a 120V 30A RV outlet, a 12V DC outlet, and two 120V 20A household outlets. The 12V outlet has a dual USB adapter, allowing you to charge your mobile devices when needed.
- Incorporates Cold Start Technology for easy starting on cold days
- Inverter generator
- Lower power output
- Bulkier than we’d like
Buying an inverter generator to charge phones and other devices during blackouts could be a smart investment. This little Champion is affordable and offers great fuel-efficiency.
The Westinghouse WGEN9500DF is classified as a portable generator. At 230 pounds, we’re not sure it qualifies, but it does have wheels to make life easier. This model powers your refrigerator, freezer, appliances, and sump pump. You can also run the air conditioner in a small home.
Your run time is around 12 hours on 6.6 gallons of gasoline. Hook up a 100-pound propane storage tank, and you’ll triple the runtime.
Operating this system is simple. You may run your household appliances using a standard cord hookup. The display tells you the frequency, voltage output, and lifetime hours. Plus, the fuel gauge is easy-to-read.
It’s not essential to have a remote, but it does come in handy on cold mornings as it works from 109 yards away. The controls are intuitive, and it’s easy to learn to use the machine.
- Maintenance is simple
- Ideal for an RV or camper
- Fuel source: either propane or gas
- Reasonably priced with lifetime technical support
- Remote operation
- You must drain the gasoline before storing
- Weighs 230 pounds
Overall, Westinghouse has put much thought into this model. The build quality is good, and each model comes with a three-year limited warranty. The engine is cost-efficient to run and easy to operate.
Is the remote crucial? No, but it’s nice to have. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll appreciate being able to start the motor from inside your home.
Be warned, at 230 pounds—it’s not a lightweight model. We wouldn’t want to take this tailgating, but it’s perfect for a camper or home.
Best Propane Generator: FAQs
Benefits Of Propane Generators
The benefits of the best propane generators include:
- Convenient: You can find propane easily at hardware stores, grocers, convenience stores & gas stations. Storage is also a lot easier than with gasoline.
- Propane Has Long Shelf Life: You don’t need to winterize your generator and can store the propane indefinitely for occasional use.
- Environmentally Friendly: You still need to keep the generator outside, but propane is a cleaner fuel type than gasoline.
Safety Note: Propane produces less carbon monoxide than other fuel types, but should not be used indoors as carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal.
Are Propane Generators More Efficient?
A propane generator is a great alternate power option and they produce less BTUs than a gasoline models. However, there’s more to efficiency than just power output. Propane burns cleaner which gives it a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline. Gasoline leaves more carbon residue in the engine than propane while propane reduces your maintenance costs over the years.
Also, since propane delivers more BTUs and burns less per hour than natural gas by a factor of 2-to-1, it is more efficient energy source than natural gas.
Who Makes The Best Propane Generator?
The answer is that it’s a toss-up between Champion and DuroMax. Champion provides a better-quality build, streamlined designs, and great customer support. However, DuroMax wins in terms of fuel-efficiency and price.
You’ll have to decide which qualities are more important for you. For us, DuroMax’s lower running cost wins out in the end.
How Much Propane Does A Generator Use Per Hour?
The answer depends on the power of the unit. A 20 KW unit burns around 3.44 gallons an hour. For a 35 KW unit, usage increases to 6.1 gallons per hour. Connecting fewer appliances saves propane.
What To Look For In A Propane Generator
Most complaints about generators stem from consumers buying the wrong model for their needs. It’s essential to carefully consider what you want to power before making the final choice.
Take a look at this list of features and their brief explanations to get a better idea of what the generator you want should have.
Start by calculating how much power you need. If you need more energy, you’ll need a more powerful generator. For example, to run some lights or a portable smoker while camping requires less energy than powering your entire house during a blackout.
Powering lights, the refrigerator, freezer, and sump pump in your home will require a model that puts out around 4,000 to 5,000 watts. If you’d also like to run your HVAC system, you’ll have to consider a 9000 to 10,000 watt model, at least. Avoid overloading your generator as it will destroy the motor.
How easy the unit is to start impacts your user experience significantly. Your generator will have an electric starter or a recoil starter.
An electric starter is more convenient because you just need to hit a button or turn a key to start the machine. The downside of the electric starter is that it won’t work if you’ve drained the generator’s battery.
The recoil models work with a ripcord. They’re similar to what you’ll see on a lawnmower or a chainsaw. Generators with these cords have fewer moving parts, making maintenance easier. You don’t need battery power to have these generators work, and they’re usually cheaper than electric start models.
The downside of the ripcord starter is that it takes more effort. It might take a few pulls before getting it started.
Portability And Wheels
The bigger and more powerful the generator, the heavier it is. An 11,000-watt model could, for example, weigh 300 pounds. The weight isn’t much of an issue if you’re using the machine to power your home as you won’t need to lug the generator around much.
Even so, we recommend getting a model with wheels. The wheels come in handy if you want to pack the generator away or move it to a new location.
If you need power while tailgating or camping, weight becomes a significant factor. Fortunately, your needs while camping or tailgating aren’t as extensive as when you’re running a home. A smaller, portable generator should provide ample power.
Gauges And Readings
Simpler portable generator options usually are less expensive. Expensive models typically have LCD displays that give you a full readout of different settings. You may also find smart models that connect to an app. With these, you’re able to adjust the settings from your phone.
These features are interesting but not essential. All you really need is an indicator to show you how much propane is left. Some models provide an indicator that shows the levels remaining. Others merely have a light that comes on when the propane starts to run low.
Either type of indicator is useful. Just ensure that the model that you buy has some kind of indicator. If it doesn’t, you'll need to keep a spare propane tanks on hand at all times.
Aside from the fuel level indicator, it’s also handy to have an oil level indicator. If your machine runs short of oil, you could damage the motor.
Auto Shut Off
An auto shut off is one feature that we consider essential. Look for a model that shuts the machine down when the:
- Engine overheats
- Oil runs out
- Fuel levels are too low
Should you buy the cheapest available option, or save for a better one? As a rule, we always opt for quality over price. Cheap models seldom live up to the manufacturer’s specifications. They also hardly ever last long after the warranty expires.
It’s best to stick to a reputable brand of high quality. Don’t be won over by features that you’ll hardly ever use.
You’re spending a few hundred dollars here, so look for a decent warranty. The industry standard is one to three years. While you’re checking the warranty, also look at what the terms of the guarantee are.
With the Duromax XP4850EH portable generator, for example, the warranty covers parts, but not necessarily labor. If you’re handy with machinery, it’s simple to replace a part or two. If not, you’ll need to find a model with a more comprehensive warranty.
The Best Propane Generators: Conclusion
All of the generators that we’ve listed are great models in their own right—none will let you down. It wasn’t easy to choose an overall winner this time. However, when you factor in performance, fuel-efficiency, and value for money, the Duromax XP12000EH generator takes the title of Best Propane Generator.
Portable Dual Fuel Electric Start Generator
- Built to last
- Noise- dampening technology