The purchase of a generator is one of those household investments that is easy to put off. But once you have one, you may wonder how you ever lived without it. When you want to power your campsite, light up a work site that doesn’t have power, or get your house back up and running during a power outage, generators save the day.
But a standard generator is not a fail-safe. Consider investing in a dual-fuel model. A dual fuel generator does the same job as a single fuel generator, but it runs on propane or gasoline. You can choose the fuel based on your needs, such as power output requirements, noise restrictions, and available fuel.
The best dual fuel generator models have features like electrical outlets, multiple power outputs, and wheels for added portability. This article explains some of the key features of quality generators and will help you to find a suitable model for your home. The products listed below represent some of the best dual fuel generator options available in a range of categories:
- BEST OVERALL: Westinghouse WGen7500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator
- RUNNER UP: WEN DF475T Dual Fuel 120V/240V Portable Generator
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Durostar DS5500EH Portable Generator
- UPGRADE PICK: DuroMax XP12000EH Generator
- BEST SMALL: Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator
- BEST HEAVY DUTY: Pulsar G12KBN Heavy Duty Portable Dual Fuel Generator
Before You Buy a Dual Fuel Generator
Before you buy a dual fuel generator, you’ll need to consider a few things to ensure the investment will meet your needs.
First and foremost, keep in mind that you cannot run a dual fuel generator indoors. They produce toxic fumes. Instead, you must set them up outside in a sheltered location to provide electrical power to appliances through an extension cord.
Dual fuel generators use both gasoline and propane to provide electric power to your home, campground, or work site. These generators skew larger and less portable than single fuel generators. Transporting two different types of fuel, if you decide to, can also be a hassle. If portability matters a great deal to you, consider a portable generator that runs on gasoline or diesel.
If noise levels make a difference, dual fuel generators run quietly in propane mode. However, if you run out of propane and have to switch to gasoline, the generator will make much more noise. If you really want a silent-running generator, an inverter generator may make a better choice. This style has an enclosed body and supplies power using a computer-controlled inverter instead of a noisier alternator.
However, if you see yourself using two types of fuel on a regular basis and can deal with a little extra weight and noise, read on to find the best dual fuel generator for your home.
What to Consider When Buying a Dual Fuel Generator
To find the best dual fuel generators for your home, campground, or work site, keep these important considerations in mind, including fuel efficiency, fuel tank capacity, power output, control panel configuration, and several additional factors detailed below.
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 on the generator, the longer the generator can provide gasoline-based power. But, as tank size increases, so does the size of the generator itself.
Fuel capacity has no bearing on how much propane you can use with your dual fuel generator. 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 in watts (W). Manufacturers’ specs include peak power output and running power output. Peak power output refers to the maximum number of watts the generator can provide at any one time. Running power output equals the average number of watts produced during use.
Dual fuel generators produce a power output from 1,000 watts to over 12,000 watts depending on the size and function of the generator. Some manufacturers may further break these numbers down into propane peak and running power outputs and gasoline peak and running power outputs.
The breakdown of these numbers matters because gasoline produces a higher wattage than propane. Still, many manufacturers of 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, which leaves you to estimate the range for propane.
Recoil Cord vs. Electric Start
You can start your dual fuel generator with an electric start switch or a recoil cord.
Electric start generators store extra electricity in an internal battery, which it then uses to start automatically when you press the button or flip the switch. An electric start makes ignition much easier than a recoil cord does, but it requires stored electricity in the generator. Without a charged internal battery, you cannot use the electric start.
Recoil cord is an old but reliable technology that has been a feature of generators, lawn mowers, 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 kick-start 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 some of the best dual fuel generators have a very low noise output and still produce 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
- Hair dryer: 70 to 90 dB
- Motorcycle: 95 to 110 dB
A dual fuel generator will produce 50 to 90 dB of noise, depending on the size of the generator, the type of fuel (remember that gasoline runs louder than propane), and the power output of the unit. Most generators will fall between 65 dB and 75 dB, which compares to the noise output of a hair dryer on low.
The quietest dual fuel generators belong to a relatively small group of products that utilize dual fuel technology and inverter technology to create a dual fuel 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, some manufacturers of dual fuel portable generators (and generators in general) now include wheel kits with their products so that you can tilt the generator back and roll it to the desired location.
You can also purchase a wheel kit separately to add to your existing generator or replace an older wheel kit that doesn’t work well anymore. Either way, a wheel kit makes transportation of portable dual fuel generators much easier.
Lift Hook Bar
Lift hook bars come in most handy on job sites where workers use them to attach the generator to a hook-and-pulley system and raise or lower it from floor to floor instead of carrying it up or down stairs or ladders. In industrial settings, this feature helps raise the generator onto a walkway or platform.
A lift hook bar will increase the weight (and likely the price) of the generator, so don’t look for a generator with this feature unless you truly plan to use it.
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 inches and 35 by 30 by 30 inches. They typically weigh between 100 and 250 pounds.
If you plan to move the generator frequently, size and weight should figure prominently into your decision. Make sure it will fit in your car or truck and that the weight and dimensions allow you to take it where you need it to go. Don’t go so large that you can’t move it, and don’t go so small that the generator doesn’t provide the power you need. Remember: larger, heavier motors are also the most powerful.
Our Top Picks
The products below get top marks for quality, price, and user satisfaction. Give them a look to help you find the best dual fuel generator for your home.
The Westinghouse Dual Fuel Portable Generator offers 7,500 watts of running power and 9,500 watts of peak power on gasoline and 6,750 and 8,550 watts, respectively, on propane. It provides fail-safe ignition with an electric start on the keypad, a key fob with a remote start button, and a backup recoil cord start.
This generator operates at just 74 dB and runs up to 12 hours on 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 includes a rubber cover for added safety, and a wheel kit and lift bracket add mobility. The dual fuel generator measures 27 inches by 24 inches by 3 inches and weighs 230 pounds.
- Fail-safe ignition system
- Wheels for easier movement
- Efficient fuel burning
On a full 4-gallon tank of gasoline, WEN’s dual fuel generator operates nonstop for up to 11 hours at about 75 dB. With a push of the electric start button, it produces 3,800 running watts or 4,750 peak power or surge watts on gasoline. On propane, the running watts drop to 3,500, and the surge watts decrease to 4,350. It includes two 120-volt standard household outlets, one 120/240-volt twist-lock outlet, and a 12-volt DC port.
At about 100 pounds, WEN’s dual fuel generator may not seem like a portable option, but the large rear wheels make it relatively easy to move over flat surfaces while the heavy-duty frame facilitates lifting the bulky product into and out of a truck, car, or other vehicle.
- Long runtime on a full tank
- Impressive safety features
- Works well in bad weather
- Oil drain plug in an awkward position
DuroStar’s Electric Start Dual Fuel Generator provides an affordable option for the RV or campground. It produces 4,500 watts of running power and 5,500 watts of peak power on gasoline. The manufacturer’s specs don’t include its power output on propane. This generator runs at a 69-dB noise level.
At 129 pounds, this dual fuel generator measures 25 by 22 by 22 inches and has a 3.96-gallon fuel capacity. A metal frame and a wheel kit increase mobility. Durostar’s generator starts with the push of an electric button or a few pulls of the backup recoil cord. It includes two 120-volt standard household outlets, one 120/240-volt twist-lock outlet, and a 12-volt DC charging port.
- Low-noise operation
- Multiple startup options
- Analog meter displays voltage stability
- Noisy even when under load
The features on this premium dual fuel generator warrant its bigger price tag. On a full 8.3-gallon tank of gasoline, the DuroMax Portable Dual Fuel Generator produces 9,500 watts of running power and 12,000 watts of peak power at a 72-dB noise level. (The manufacturer’s specs don’t include power outputs on propane.)
DuroMax’s generator starts with electric ignition or a backup recoil cord. For added safety, it shuts down automatically when the oil runs low. This 234-pound generator measures 30 by 29 by 26 inches, and it sits in a steel frame on two heavy-duty wheels to aid in transport around the campsite, worksite, or home. It includes 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.
- Huge running power
- Large fuel capacity
- Automatic shutdown when low oil
- Tires can become flat and cannot be inflated
Champion’s compact model makes for easy transport and storage. At 122 pounds and just 26 by 25 by 23 inches, the unit includes a wheel kit and lift bars for added mobility. On a full 3.4-gallon tank of gasoline, the generator runs for up to 9 hours while producing just 68 dB of noise.
This little unit packs 3,800 watts of running power and 4,750 watts of peak power on gasoline or 3,420 and 4,275 watts on propane. When the oil runs low, the machine shuts off automatically. The device offers an electric or pull-cord start and includes two 120-volt standard household outlets, one 120-volt twist-lock outlet, and one 120-volt RV outlet.
- Relatively quiet operation
- Includes two household outlets
- Compact size
- Ideal during power outages
- Oil changing is difficult
- Doesn’t run well in high temperatures
Pulsar’s dual fuel generator makes a great choice for heavy-duty use at home or at the job site. It operates at 9,500 watts of running power and 12,000 watts of peak power on gasoline or 8,550 and 10,800 watts on propane. On a full 8-gallon tank of gasoline, it runs continuously for up to 12 hours.
It weighs a whopping 209 pounds and measures 28.5 by 26 by 25.5 inches, but the thick steel lift frame, fold-out front handles, and a rear-wheel kit facilitates transport. The dual fuel generator includes four 120-volt standard household outlets, one 120-volt twist-lock outlet, one 12-volt DC port, and one 120/240-volt industrial grade outlet.
- Solid durable construction
- Easy access to all areas
- Excellent power output
- Very heavy
- Propane smell can be quite strong
For a generator that runs efficiently on its fuel sources and provides a constant stream of power for multiple devices, consider the Westinghouse Dual Fuel Portable Generator.
If your power requirements are higher than average, then the Pulsar Heavy Duty Portable Dual Fuel Generator can provide an entire household with all the power it needs.
How We Chose the Best Dual Fuel Generators
The best dual fuel generators provide reliable backup power to the home with either gasoline or propane and ensure your home can keep running if the electricity goes down in the neighborhood. Our list of recommendations pays close attention to the fuel efficiency, fuel tank capacity, noise level, and power output to offer the best dual fuel generator choices for your specific needs. We have made sure to provide a range of options that can suit specific situations, such as large-capacity generators for high power demand, portable and compact units ideal for camping trips, and generators for light power outages and emergencies.
Our top picks stand out from the competition in terms of efficiency and safety features, in addition to reliability. We are aware that most homes cannot function without power: Food stored in fridges and freezers starts to thaw if too much time passes without electricity, and the sweltering heat in the summer months can be unbearable without air conditioning or at least a fan to help cool down.
The Advantages of Owning a Dual Fuel Generator
Gasoline and propane each have their pros and cons as generator fuels. Gasoline is easier to find, but propane costs less. Propane is a better fuel source in hot summer weather, while gas burns better in the cold. A dual fuel generator lets you weigh some of these pros and cons and choose a fuel based on your immediate circumstances.
When you use both fuel sources, one after the other, you may double your generator’s runtime. This lets you run to the gas station to refuel while the generator keeps providing power on propane.
To recap, with a dual fuel generator, you can:
- Choose your fuel based on cost or availability.
- Switch between propane and gasoline depending on the ambient temperature.
- Extend the total runtime of your generator by using a full tank of gasoline followed by a full tank of propane.
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 can 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.
Q. How long will a dual fuel generator run on propane?
The type of fuel doesn’t determine runtime; rather the fuel efficiency and fuel tank capacity of the specific product do. However, on average, a standard dual fuel generator runs about 8 to 10 hours on propane.
Q. What is the most powerful dual fuel generator?
If power is the goal, then the Pulsar Heavy Duty Dual Fuel Generator is one of the best options to help ensure the campsite or the home has power for hours.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Timothy Dale is a freelance writer, specializing in the home repair and construction niche. He spent his post-secondary years working in the plumbing trade, while completing degrees in English Literature and Psychology, before taking on a Project Management position that ended up lasting 10 years. Mr. Dale has worked in residential plumbing and carpentry over his time as a Project Manager and also spent a year of his career in the commercial and industrial sector.