Table of Contents
- 1 Our Top Picks
- 2 How to Choose the Best Propane Generator
- 3 Best Portable Propane Generator Reviews
- 4 Best Propane Generators Comparison
- 5 Advantages of Propane Powered Generators
- 6 What to Consider Before Buying a Propane Generator?
- 7 Helpful Safety Tips When Using an LPG Gas Generator
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Conclusion
There is no doubt that conventional gasoline generators are the preferred choice for a portable generator when it comes to affordability. However, when you start thinking of aspects such as availability of fuel, environmental impact, and cost of maintenance, propane generators start making more sense.
Also referred as LPG (liquid petroleum gas) generators, these devices biggest advantage is their fuel. Propane is always available amidst power outages that render gas pumps non-functional. It can also be stored for prolonged periods because of its limitless shelf-life. We can’t say the same for gasoline.
If you are considering adding one of these machines to your emergency preparedness, our propane generator reviews have some of the most recommendable options on the market today. Check them out and see which is the best portable propane generator for your needs.
Our Top Picks
- Reliable and Durable
- Sleek design
How to Choose the Best Propane Generator
Just as it’s the case with purchasing other backup power solutions, the bottom line in selecting your ideal propane gas-powered generator is determining how you intend to use in the first place.
Will you be using it solely to juice up the electrical appliances at your home during emergencies? Or, will you be using it mainly for your outdoor activities such as camping, RV-ing, and tailgating?
By making this clear, you’ll be able to come up with a clear set of specifications and features that will help you narrow down to a generator that meets your needs best.
For instance, if you are looking for the best propane generator for home use, you should consider a model that outputs at least 5,000 watts. Such a generator would have enough power to run basic household appliances such as a refrigerator, sump pump, microwave, lighting system, TV, computer, and a portable heater. Runtime is another feature you should look for before buying a propane backup generator.
To help you find the right LP gas generator for you, our reviews include models that are good for different purposes. Check them out and see which one fits best your needs.
Best Portable Propane Generator Reviews
Champion 3800-Watt Portable Generator
- Reliable electric starter
- Lots of power for its size
- Hassle-free set-up
- Difficult to change oil owing to the position of the dip stick
|Champion 3800-Watt Specifications|
|Starting Watts||4750 (gasoline), 4275 (propane)|
|Running Watts||3800 (gasoline), 3420 (propane)|
|Noise Level||68 dBA|
|Run Time||10.5 hrs|
|Tank Size (gal)||3.4|
|Dimensions||22.8 x 22 x 30.7|
The Champion 3800-watt would be our number one recommendation for homeowners looking for an affordable, economical, and reliable propane generator.
This generator is fitted with a 224cc engine and outputs 4,275 starting watts and 3,420 rated watts when running on propane. These values qualify it as a reliable generator for use at home, at construction sites, and even for RVing.
Speaking of RVing, the Champion 3800-watt comes already fitted with a 30A RV receptacle. Thus, you won’t need to purchase an extra adapter.
Other receptacles include a 120v 30A locking outlet and two 120v 20A outlets that are compatible with most of your household appliances. Importantly, all the outlets have Volt Guard to protect your appliances from sudden spikes.
With the ability to run for over 10 hours at 50% load on a 20lb tank, this is one of the most efficient propane generators in these reviews. Mind you, the Champion 3800-watt can also run on gasoline to offer a run time of up to 9 hours with its 3.4-gallon tank.
This generator is quite heavy at 119 pounds (it’s relatively lighter compared to others in these reviews, though). Fortunately, its 10-inch never-flat tires and a foldable handle make it quite portable.
Duromax XP4850EH Generator
- Breezy assembly
- Quality construction
- Starts easily
- Can be very noisy at heavy loads
Dimensions24 x 19 x 19
|Duromax XP4850EH Specifications|
|Starting Watts||4850 (gasoline), 4608 (propane)|
|Running Watts||3850 (gasoline), 3658(propane)|
|Noise Level||69 dBA|
|Run Time||8.92 hrs|
|Tank Size (gal)||3.96|
Duromax XP4850EH brings a lot of features that we’ve also seen in the Champion 3800 watt model but it also has several differences.
To start with, this generator is unbelievably lightweight at 130 pounds. I say it’s unbelievable considering the quality of the construction materials used for it and its size too.
Secondly, although this model is fitted with a slightly smaller engine at 206cc, it outputs more starting and running watts when on propane. Sure, it’s such a small wattage difference compared to the Champion. But believe it or not, it could be all you need to add an additional appliance without the generator tripping.
The Duromax XP4850EH has been engineered to offer optimum convenience as its dual-fuel adaptability indicates. On a 20-pound propane gas cylinder, this generator will offer you 8.92 hours on ½ load. You could also fill its 3.96-gallon gasoline tank and reap over 10 hours of undisrupted power output at the same load too.
As it’s always the case with Duromax generators, the XP4950EH is built for durability. You’ll prove this from its really rugged frame, 10.5-inch wheels, and solid foldable handle.
Among other great features that this workhorse brings include a spark arrestor, an electric starter, low oil protection, circuit breaker, and a voltmeter.
Pulsar PG10000B16 Portable Generator
- Ton of power
- Switch from gas to LPG seamlessly
- Lots of outlets
- Very loud
- A few complaints regarding inconsistent power supply
|Pulsar PG10000B16 Specifications|
|Starting Watts||10000 (gasoline), 9000 (propane)|
|Running Watts||8000 (gasoline), 7000 (propane)|
|Noise Level||70 dBA|
|Run Time||5 hrs|
|Tank Size (gal)||6.6|
|Dimensions||28.5 x 22.2 x 21.8|
The 420cc engine that the Pulsar PG10000B16 generator is fitted with makes one thing clear – it is a workhorse that aims at getting things done.
Rightly so, this generator offers 9,000 peak watts and 7,000 rated watts when running on liquid propane. Actually, this model has dual-fuel capability and will offer you a whopping 10,000 peaks watts and 8,000 running watts when running on its 6.6-gallon tank.
This high-power generator will come in handy if you want to power up a home with several power-hungry tools including air conditioning units, washing machines, and dryers that might otherwise be left out when using other low-power generators in these reviews.
Although the manufacturer does not offer data on how long this beast will run on a 20-pound LPG cylinder, basic maths show that you could get around 5 hours at 50% load which is still very efficient considering its rated power output. On gas, the PG10000B16 promises 12 hours at 50% load.
An interesting feature of the Pulsar is the Switch and Go technology that allows you to switch from propane to gas without having to turn off the generator first.
Considering its high-power output, it’s not a surprise to see all the power outlets on its control panel – (4) 120V AC outlets, (1) 120/240V twist-lock outlet, (1) 50Amp RV Port, and (1) 12V DC trickle charge output.
- Easy starts
- Solid construction for durability
- Flexible outlets
- Not CSA-compliant
Dimensions24 x 17 x 17
|DuroMax XP4400EH Specifications|
|Noise Level||69 dBA|
|Run Time||9.81 hrs|
|Tank Size (gal)||4|
Duropower- a California-based power tools and engine manufacturer- is back with yet another very popular generator, the Duromax XP4400EH.
One thing that we like about Duropower is that they actually design and craft their own engines which is quite unlike most generator brands. The main advantage is that you are assured that all the components are given the attention they deserve in terms of quality construction.
The Duromax XP4400EH is fitted with a 7 HP 4-stroke air-cooled OHV engine that outputs 4,400 surge watts on gasoline and 4180 watts on propane.
Although this model is notably less powerful compared to its sibling the XP4850EH that we saw before, it might still impress you in different situations including powering several basic appliances at home during a power outage and powering your RV AC. It also packs enough power to juice 2-3 power tools at a construction site.
This generator packs all the great features that we’ve come to appreciate so much about Duromax power solutions. An electric starter that makes it easy to start the generator in utmost 2 trials (battery is included), a seriously solid frame, and seemingly durable wheels and handles for durability.
Pulsar PG2200BiS 2,200W Inverter Generator
- Very lightweight
- Clean energy
- Energy efficient
- Very expensive
|Pulsar PG2200BiS Specifications|
|Noise Level||60 dBA|
|Run Time||25 hrs|
|Tank Size (gal)||1.18|
|Dimensions||19.7 x 11.22 x 17.91|
If quiet operations and excellent portability are among your top considerations and you are not necessary after a ton of power, the Pulsar PG2200BiS might be what you are thinking of.
This is a very small propane generator measuring 19.7 x 11.22 x 17.91 inches and it’s also the lightest in these reviews at 44 pounds.
These dimensions make it the most recommendable option if you want a generator for use during tailgating parties, camps, fishing adventures, and other outdoor recreations.
The Pulsar PG2200BiS uses a 3 HP engine that generates 2,000 peak watts and 1,600 running watts when running on LPG gas and 2,200 peak watts and 1,800 continuous watts when running on its 1.18-gallon gasoline tank.
Since it is an inverter generator, Pulsar PG2200BiS is one of the quietest propane generators. It is also very fuel-efficient. For the record, this generator can offer you at least 75 minutes of power using only 1 pound of LPG at 50% load.
Best Propane Generators Comparison
|Propane Generators||Rating||Starting Watts||Running Watts||Noise Level||Run Time||Dimensions (in)||Weight (lbs)||Engine Displacement||Warranty|
|Champion 3800-Watt||4.4||4275||3420||68 dBA||10.5 hrs||22.8 x 22 x 30.7||119||224cc||3 years|
|Duromax XP4850EH||3.8/5||4608||3658||69 dBA||8.92 hrs||24 x 19 x 19||130||206cc||3 years|
|Pulsar PG10000B16||4.2/5||9000||7000||70 dBA||12 hrs||28.5 x 22.2 x 21.8||209||420cc||3 years|
|DuroMax XP4400EH||4.2/5||4180||3325||69 dBA||9.81 hrs||24 x 17 x 17||127||208cc||3 years|
|Pulsar PG2200BiS||4.0/5||2000||1600||60 dBA||25 hrs||19.7 x 11.22 x 17.91||44||80cc||2 years|
Note: Table shows the generators’ specification when running on propane only. Run time is for 20lb propane tank.
Advantages of Propane Powered Generators
Are portable propane generators really worth the high price tag?
There are a few reasons why you might want to think twice before swiping the credit card for a propane powered generator. For instance, these generators are notably less efficient compared to gasoline and diesel powered generators. And they also come at a slightly higher price tag.
However, generators that run on propane have a whole load of strengths that tend to outweigh the weaknesses:
Very easy to start cold
Fiddling around with the starting system of a finicky generator isn’t fun at all especially during emergencies.
Propane generators have greater chances of starting cold than diesel and gasoline generators. This is because to power up the latter models, the fuel needs to be vaporized first and this tends to be a little bit difficult in cold climates since the very act of trying to vaporize the fuel also tends to cool it further- That’s the unfortunate side effect of physics.
Propane gas does not go bad
After a period of 3-6 months, stored gasoline starts losing its engine-igniting ability as its volatile compounds evaporate thereby making it useless. This means that without the use of stabilizers, it’s practically hard to store gasoline for longer periods to use during emergencies. Actually, as it degrades, gasoline could also damage the fuel components in your generator’s engine and lead to costly repairs.
Conversely, propane gas has a limitless shelf life and can, therefore, be stored indefinitely. This is quite impressive especially if you live or you’ll be using the generator far away from gas stations.
Propane gas wins in terms of availability
Gas stations are not immune to power outages and what’s so unfortunate is that pumps require power to operate. This means that in case of a blackout, there are chances you won’t get fuel from your local gas station. This isn’t the case with propane gas as it’s always available even when the pumps aren’t running.
Propane burns clean
With the increased sensitization on the need for being environmentally conscious, using a fuel type that does not emit a lot of toxins is hands down, the best idea. Propane fueled generators beat gasoline and diesel models 10-nil on this front since they produce around half the amount of carbon monoxide. This is what makes propane the best generator fuel type around.
What to Consider Before Buying a Propane Generator?
In generator jargon, size mainly refers to the amount of power that a particular model outputs as opposed to its length and width.
Portable propane generators come in all sizes ranging from as low as 800 watts to as high as 12,000 watts. Needless to mention, your ideal size of generator will mainly depend on your wattage need. This is basically the number of watts that all the appliances that you are likely to run together will require.
When calculating your wattage needs, be keen especially on the starting watts. Your generator of choice should be able to meet the surge requirement of the equipment with the highest starting watts without tripping.
The ease of moving the propane generator around becomes very important more so if you’ll be using it, for instance, at job sites, and in campsites.
Although this does not apply in all generators, keep in mind that big propane generators tend to output more power while compromising portability. In most instances, these generators are usually bulky and heavy. Smaller generators, on the other hand, are to a larger extent the best in terms of portability thanks to their compact and lightweight design. But they tend to output lesser power partly because they are fitted with smaller engines.
Receptacle and Plug Configurations
Beyond generator size and portability, you need to understand the receptacles or plugs that your generator is coming with.
Most basic propane powered generators will have at least 2 AC outlets, but the advanced models could offer you 4 or more outlets so you have extra ports for additional electronics. If you are buying the generator for an RV, you might want to consider LPG generators that come RV-ready, i.e, with an RV-30 (TT-30 in North America) receptacle.
If you live in neighborhoods with local noise ordinances, it becomes very important to consider how loud the propane generator can get especially at 100% workload.
The noise level in generators is measured in decibels (dBA) and mostly ranges from mid-50s to mid-80s in most portable models.
Generally speaking, the best portable propane generators tend to be notably quieter than gasoline and diesel generators. But keep in mind that the noise level varies from one model to the other. For a low noise model check our article on the best quiet generators.
How long will a propane generator run on a 20lb tank?
This will depend on the size of the generator and the size of its engine. Here is a simple formula for determining the run-time value for a given propane gas cylinder size
Run time= Total BTU capacity of the propane tank/ Number of BTUs consumed per hour
To determine the number of BTUs consumed per hour, multiply the engine size (in HP) by the load (100%, 50%, or 25%) and then multiply the result by 10,000 BTUs (one horsepower consumes 10,000 BTU to produce 1000 watts).
BTUs per hour = HP * % load * 10,000BTUs
Let’s have for example a 5,000-watt generator fitted with a 10 HP engine and running at 50% run on a 20lb tank. To calculate its run time, we need first to calculate how much BTUs it consumes per hour. Following the formula above, we get 50,000 BTUs (10HP x 50% x 10,000). Knowing that a 20lb propane tank has 441,600 BTUs, all we have to do is to divide both numbers. By doing that we get that our generator has 8.8 hours of running time (441,600/50,000).
Helpful Safety Tips When Using an LPG Gas Generator
Although propane generators are considered to be the ‘cleanest’, they do emit toxic carbon monoxide gas albeit in lower levels compared to gasoline generators.
Nevertheless, the CO gas can easily buildup and get to dangerous levels owing to the fact that it is odorless and colorless.
That being the case, here are a few safety tips from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), National Fire Protection Association, US Fire Administration, and Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding the use of propane powered generators:
- Follow the manufacturer’ instructions
- Always place the generator as far away as possible from windows, doors, and other openings
- Don’t run generators in fully or partially enclosed areas even with ventilation
- Never overload cords
Frequently Asked Questions
Are portable propane generators more efficient?
Not really. These generators produce few BTUs than gasoline and diesel generators. The good news, though, is that propane costs almost half the price of gasoline and it will definitely save you chunks of money when running for extended periods. To get a better idea about the different type of generators, check these reviews of the best portable generators.
Are propane powered generators better than gas?
To a larger extent, yes, propane gas generators are better than gas. First, propane is very easy to store even for a prolonged period and doesn’t lose its engine-ignition abilities. Second, it burns cleaner and it’s easy to get even when the pumps at the gas station aren’t running. Again, although the initial cost of purchasing these generators is high, they have lower maintenance costs. This coupled with the lower cost of propane makes operating the generator relatively low down the road.
Are propane generators reliable?
Considering the ease of storing propane, its availability even when the local gas stations are facing a power outage, and the ease of starting even in cold climates, we’d have to accept that these generators are far much reliable than gasoline and diesel generators.
Are propane generators quieter than gas?
Yes. In our experience with portable generators, those that run on propane tend to be a lot quieter than gasoline and diesel engine generators. Everything else held constant, a good explanation for this would be that propane tends to have relatively lower waste in the form of heat and noise. But keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that determine the level of noise in generators other than the fuel type including engine size, quality of the mufflers, and quality of the construction materials.
Propane generators are reliable and efficient. Compared to gasoline generators, they have an easier cold starting and are quieter. Furthermore, most of them are dual fuel, meaning they can run on either propane or another type of fuel. This can be handy, in case you run short on propane.
Choosing the best portable propane generator would highly depend on the purpose it will serve. If you need a reliable home power backup solution, then Pulsar PG10000B16 would be a great option. It is powerful enough to keep your home appliances powered during an emergency and its price is also good. The generator can also be a great fit for constructions sites where power from the main grid is not available.
As for tailgating and camping, I would recommend Pulsar PG2200BiS. This propane inverter generator is light, fuel efficient and quiet.
Still, keep in mind that there is no single best solution. Calculate your wattage needs, determine your budget, list down your most preferred features, and choose a model from our propane generator reviews that fits you.