A new generator is one household investment that is easy to put off. But once you have one, you’ll probably wonder how you lived without it. When you want to power your campsite, light up a worksite that doesn’t have power, or get your house back up and running during an outage, generators can be a godsend.
Better yet, consider investing in a dual fuel generator. A dual fuel generator does the same job as a single fuel generator, but it is able to run on propane or gasoline. This is a big advantage, as it allows you to choose the fuel you use based on your needs, such as power output requirements, noise restrictions, fuel availability in your area, and the fuel type that you have on hand. The best dual fuel generator has several electrical outlets, a range of power output options, and wheels for added portability.
Selecting a good-quality dual fuel generator is key, as lower-quality products will cost you more in fuel for less electrical output. This article explains some of the key features of quality generators and will help you to find the best dual fuel generator for your home. The products listed below represent some of the best dual fuel generators available by category.
- BEST OVERALL: Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment WGen9500DF
- RUNNER UP: Ford 7,750W Portable Dual Fuel Generator
- BEST FOR LIGHT DUTY: Champion Power Equipment Dual Fuel Generator
- BEST FOR CAMPING: All Power America 12000 Watt Dual Fuel Generator
- HONORABLE MENTION: Durostar DS5500EH Portable Generator
- ALSO CONSIDER: DuroMax XP13000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator
Before You Buy a Dual Fuel Generator
There are a few things to consider before you buy a dual fuel generator to ensure that investing in one will meet your needs.
Dual fuel generators use both gasoline and propane to provide electric power to your home, campground, or worksite. These generators tend to be larger and less portable than single fuel generators. Transporting two different types of fuel can also be a hassle. If portability is a big factor for you, you may want to consider a single fuel portable generator that runs on gasoline or diesel.
If noise levels are a concern, the propane mode is helpful because it will function very quietly. However, if you run out of propane and have to switch to gasoline, the generator will run much louder. If you really want a silent-running generator, a better option for you may be an inverter generator. This style has an enclosed body and supplies power using a computer-controlled inverter instead of an alternator, which are regularly seen on open-frame generators and dual fuel generators.
However, if you see yourself using two types of fuel on a regular basis and you can deal with a little extra weight and noise, then read on to find the best dual fuel generator for your home.
What to Consider When Buying a Dual Fuel Generator
To buy the best dual fuel generator for your home, campground, or worksite, keep these important considerations in mind.
Dual fuel generators have an isolated gasoline tank with a fuel capacity that ranges from as small as 2 gallons to more than 10 gallons. The larger the fuel tank is on the generator, the longer it will be able to provide gasoline-based power, but the size of the generator itself will also increase.
Fuel capacity has no bearing on how much propane you can use with your dual fuel generator. This is because propane gas is stored under pressure in canisters, which attach to the generator with a hose and pressure regulator for direct fuel consumption.
The power output on dual fuel generators is measured using Watts (W) and is provided in peak power output and running power output. Peak power output is the maximum amount of Watts the generator can provide at any one time, whereas running power output is the average amount of Watts produced during use.
Dual fuel generators produce a power output between 1,000 Watts to over 12,000 Watts depending on the size and functionality of the generator. This can be further broken down between the peak and running power output of propane and the peak and running power output of gasoline, depending on the manufacturer. These numbers are provided because gasoline is able to produce a higher wattage than propane. However, many dual fuel generators do not differentiate between the two fuels when they report peak and running power output. Instead, they report the highest numbers using gasoline, leaving you to estimate the range for propane.
Recoil Cord vs. Electric Start
You can start your dual fuel generator using either an electric start switch or by pulling a recoil cord.
- Electric Start: This style of start switch on a dual fuel generator is very easy to use. The generator stores extra electricity in an internal battery that is used to automatically start up the generator when you press the button on the keypad or FOB or if you flip the switch. This method of ignition is much easier than using a recoil cord, but it does require stored electricity in the generator. Without a charged internal battery, you cannot use the electric start.
- Recoil Cord: The recoil cord is an old but reliable technology that has been a feature of generators, lawnmowers, chainsaws, and many other fuel-powered tools for years. This method of starting the generator requires you to quickly and steadily pull the recoil cord to kickstart the engine. While it will take some effort, and possibly more than a few pulls to get the generator started, you won’t have to rely on electricity. This allows you to start up the generator any time, even if it has been stored in the garage or shed for a few years.
Operating Noise Level
Operating any power tool or accessory will produce some sound, but the goal is to find a dual fuel generator with the lowest noise output that still produces enough power for your purposes. The operating noise level is measured in decibels (dB). To understand the range of sound produced by a generator, consider these common sounds and their equivalent operating dB level:
- Refrigerator: 50 dB
- Hairdryer: 70 to 90 dB
- Motorcycle: 95 to 110 dB
A dual fuel generator will produce a dB level between 50 dB to 90 dB, depending on the size of the generator, the fuel being used (gasoline runs louder than propane), and the power output of the unit. Most generators will fall between 65 dB to 75 dB, which is about the noise produced by a hairdryer when it is on low. If this is still too loud for your purposes, look for a small, quiet inverter generator.
Dual fuel generators are heavy and broad and may include hoses or tanks that make them difficult to carry and move around. In recognition of this portability shortcoming, manufacturers of dual fuel generators (and generators in general) have begun including wheel kits with their product so that you can tilt the generator back and wheel it to whatever location you had in mind.
Wheel kits may also be sold separately so that you can add them to your existing generator or replace an older wheel kit that isn’t operating properly anymore. Either way, having a wheel kit will make the transportation of your dual fuel generator much easier.
Lift Hook Bar
Lift hook bars are most often used on job sites to attach the generator to a hook and pulley system so that you can raise or lower it from floor to floor instead of having to carry it up or down stairs or ladders. This feature is also popular in industrial settings where the generator needs to be raised to a walkway or platform.
A lift hook bar will increase the weight (and likely the price) of the generator, so unless you’ll be using your generator on industrial job sites, you probably won’t need this additional feature.
Size and Weight
The overall size of the dual fuel generator can be measured in inches and usually includes the length, width, and height of the generator, with most models falling between 22 by 22 by 22-inch to 35 by 30 by 30-inch. The weight of the generator is measured in pounds, normally ranging from 100- to 250-pounds.
Size and weight are a big factor if you are planning on frequently moving the generator. If it is too big, it may not fit in your car or truck and if it is too heavy you might not be able to properly maneuver the unit. However, as the size of the dual fuel generator decreases, so does the power output, because larger, heavier motors are also the most powerful. Before deciding on which dual fuel generator to buy, consider whether you need a lot of power or if you would rather have a more transportable product.
Our Top Picks
The products below were chosen for quality, price, and customer satisfaction to help you find the best dual fuel generator for your home.
This Westinghouse dual fuel generator has a 9,500-Watt running power and 12,500-Watt peak power with gasoline or 8,500-Watt running power and 11,200-Watt peak power with propane. It has an electric start on the keypad, an alternate recoil cord start, and a key fob that has a remote start button.
The generator operates at just 74 decibels and runs up to 12 hours with a full 6.6-gallon tank of gasoline. It has two GFCI 120-Volt standard household outlets, one 120-Volt transfer switch outlet, and one 120/240-Volt RV outlet. Each outlet has rubber covers for added safety and comes with a wheel kit and lift bracket for added mobility.
Ford’s generator can be switched easily back and forth from propane or gasoline without having to shut down the power. It produces 6,250 Watts of running power and 7,750 Watts of peak power on gasoline or 6,000 Watts of running power and 7,500 Watts of peak power with propane. The 6.6-gallon fuel tank gives you up to 10 hours of continuous operation at just 74 decibels of noise.
This dual fuel generator can be started with an electric push start or a recoil cord backup and has four 120-Volt standard household outlets, one 12-Volt twist lock outlet, and one 120/240-Volt RV outlet with rubber covers for added protection. The generator measures 32 by 23 by 23 inches and weighs 196 pounds, but can be easily moved around with the rugged lift bracket and wheel kit.
If you are looking for a small, compact dual fuel generator for easy portability and mobility, this 122-pound unit with a wheel kit and lift bars is the best option available. The generator provides 3,800 Watts of running power and 4,750 Watts of peak power on gasoline or 3,420 Watts of running power and 4,275 Watts of peak power on propane and comes with a low oil shut-off sensor.
The 3.4-gallon tank provides up to 9 hours of runtime while producing just 68 decibels of noise. This dual fuel generator measures just 26 by 25 by 23 inches and can be started with the electric start or recoil cord. It has four outlets, including two 120-Volt standard household outlets, one 120-Volt twist lock outlet, and one 120-Volt RV outlet.
Get out of your house and into the great outdoors with the All Power America’s portable dual fuel generator. This unit weighs 227 pounds but importantly, it comes with a steel lift frame and a wheel kit so that it is easier to load, unload, and wheel to your campsite. The generator can produce 9,000 Watts of running power and 12,000 Watts of peak power with gasoline, or 7,250 Watts of running power and 9,500 Watts of peak power with propane.
The 8-gallon fuel tank allows this unit to run an impressive 11 hours at 76 decibels, a noise level that will barely be noticed in the open air of a campground. It can be started with the electric start button or the recoil cord and comes with four 120-Volt standard household outlets, one 120-Volt twist lock outlet, one 120/240-Volt twist lock outlet, and a 12-Volt DC port.
The DuroStar is an affordable option for the RV or campground with a power output of 4,500 Watts of running power and 5,500 Watts of peak power. It comes with two 120-Volt standard household outlets, one 120/240-Volt twist lock outlet, and a 12-Volt DC charging port.
Weighing a modest 129 pounds, DuroStar’s dual fuel generator has a 3.96-gallon fuel capacity and measures 25 by 22 by 22 inches. It operates at 69 decibels of noise and includes a metal frame and a wheel kit for increased mobility. The generator can start with the push of an electric button, but there’s also a backup recoil cord available if needed.
The DuroMax operates at 72 decibels and has 10,500 Watts of running power and 13,000 Watts of peak power on gasoline. The manufacturer doesn’t mention the running or peak power on propane, but this generator does come with an automatic shutdown function when the oil level is too low.
The 234-pound generator sits in a steel frame on two heavy-duty wheels and measures 30 by 29 by 26 inches. It has an 8.3-gallon fuel tank and can be started with an electric start or backup recoil cord. Use this generator at the campsite, worksite, or at home with the two 120-Volt standard household outlets, one 120-Volt twist lock outlet, one 240-Volt twist lock outlet, and one 240-Volt heavy-duty outlet.
The Advantages of Owning a Dual Fuel Generator
As generator fuels, both gasoline and propane have their pros and cons. While gasoline is a readily available fuel, propane is not as easy to come by. However, propane is less expensive than gasoline, making it a great option if you want to save money on fuel.
A dual fuel generator is well-suited for areas that see big temperature fluctuations between the seasons. This is because propane gas is a better fuel source for high summer temperatures, while gasoline burns better than propane in freezing climates.
If you are concerned about how long your generator can run, you can use a full gas tank and full propane tank to double the runtime with a dual fuel generator. This gives you the ability to run to the gas station to refuel while the generator keeps running on propane so that your house, worksite, or campsite is never without power.
- With a dual fuel generator, you can save money by using the less-expensive propane whenever it is available, instead of gasoline.
- Having a dual fuel generator allows you to switch between propane or gasoline depending on what is better for the ambient temperature.
- Extend the total runtime of your generator by completely using a full tank of gasoline, then switching to use a full tank of propane before needing to refuel.
FAQs About Your New Dual Fuel Generator
Before buying, consider these frequently asked questions about dual fuel generators.
Q. How does a dual fuel generator work?
A dual fuel generator operates in the same way as a single fuel generator, except that it is able to burn both propane and gasoline to produce electrical energy. The generator converts the mechanical energy produced by the burning fuels to force the movement of electrical charges and generate electricity.
Q. Can you run a dual fuel generator on natural gas?
While some single fuel generators can be adapted for use with natural gas, this isn’t the case with dual fuel generators. Unless specially designed, dual fuel generators do not run on natural gas and cannot be adapted for this purpose.
Q. Is it cheaper to run a generator on gas or propane?
Propane gas is less expensive than gasoline, nearly impossible to spill, and burns cleaner, resulting in less wear on the engine over time. Save some money in the short and long term by investing in propane gas whenever possible.