If you need backup power or electricity while away on a camping trip, bi-fuel or dual-fuel generators can help provide the energy you need.
While most people understand what generators are, many are confused about the differences between bi-fuel and dual-fuel generators. Both offer you the ability to generate electricity from two fuel types, but that’s where their similarities stop.
Learning what makes each generator unique allows you to choose the one that suits your power needs and maximise performance and efficiency.
Here’s what you need to know about bi-fuel and dual-fuel generators to help you buy the best option for your energy needs.
What Is the Difference Between Bi-Fuel and Dual-Fuel Generators?
The main difference between bi-fuel and dual-fuel generators is their method of fuel use. Both allow you to utilise two different fuel types, but they don’t generate electricity the same way.
Bi-fuel generators facilitate using two different kinds of fuel but can’t use them simultaneously. While operating, the engine shifts between using one fuel source or the other. Bi-fuel systems typically shift between sources via operator control or automatically based on set parameters. With so many different bi-fuel generators on the market, you can choose from a wide variety of fuel types, depending on your needs.
On the other hand, dual-fuel generators operate with two fuel sources simultaneously using a mixture of both. Combining the advantages of each fuel source lets the primary supply fill the generator before introducing the secondary source. Dual generators allow users to create an optimal mixture for superior power and efficiency. You also have the option to switch between fuel sources so you can customise how the generator optimises its efficiency.
Unlike bi-fuel, dual-fuel generators can manually or automatically switch fuel types when the reserve runs out or the required power output increases or decreases. Different fuel types have benefits and drawbacks. Utilising multiple fuel sources lets you capitalise on their advantages, essentially giving you the best of both worlds.
The most common fuel sources for bi-fuel and dual-fuel generators are natural gas, diesel, petrol, and propane (LPG). No matter what fuel combination you choose, you get the benefit of more refuelling options and the combined advantages of each fuel source.
Why Do the Terms Often Get Confused?
There’s often confusion about the terms “bi-fuel” and “dual-fuel,” partly because both “bi” and “dual” indicate that the generator runs on two different fuel types.
Further confusion results from different sources online using the terms in contradicting ways. Even branches of the US federal government have different definitions for each term. For example, the Department of Energy defines bi-fuel vehicles as cars with two separate tanks for the two fuels with the ability to switch between them. The Energy Information Administration uses the same definition for bi-fuel vehicles. Still, it defines dual-fuel vehicles as operating on either petrol or diesel in addition to an alternative fuel source.
To find the best option, you’ll need to understand how the generator switches between or combines its two fuel sources. Once you know how the engine uses fuel, you’ll be able to buy the right generator to suit your needs.
What Are the Advantages of Bi-Fuel Generators?
- Extended run times: These generators last longer than traditional fossil fuel generators, potentially extending your runtime for several days.
- Storage options: Depending on the scenario you have in mind for your bi-fuel generator, you’ll have different fuel storage options. For example, propane may be easier to handle and store, but petrol can be easier to come by if you’re on the road.
- More eco-friendly: Bi-fuel generators can have a smaller carbon footprint than diesel or petrol generators because they can switch to a fuel source like propane that emits fewer greenhouse gases and particulate matter into the atmosphere.
- Reliability: Having two different fuel sources helps ensure your generator keeps running and allows you to choose the best fuel for your current conditions.
What are the Advantages of Dual-Fuel Generators?
- Cost-effective: Since dual-fuel generators use a mixture of two fuel types, you don’t have to spend the option to buy the most cost-effective option based on market conditions. When petrol prices are skyrocketing, you choose propane instead. While dual-fuel generators have a higher price tag than traditional models, you can choose the cheapest fuel source, making it the less costly option over time.
- Eco-friendly: Dual-fuel generators also have a relatively small carbon footprint compared to single-fuel diesel or petrol generators. Propane has a less negative impact on the environment and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Using a mixture that includes propane (LPG) significantly lowers harmful emissions.
- Flexibility: Dual-fuel generators let you choose the fuel source best for your needs, depending on your location, resource availability, cost, climate, and frequency of use.
- Ideal for emergencies: One of propane’s many advantages is that due to how it’s stored, it’s less hazardous than diesel or petrol. Furthermore, some natural disasters can cut off access to fuel suppliers like petrol stations. The flexibility to store more propane safely helps keep you prepared for emergencies.
- Durability: An optimal mix of propane and petrol reduces the particulate matter created when operating, extending the generator’s lifespan.
- Runtime: Switching between multiple sources maintains your backup power source for longer. Once the generator runs out of propane, it can switch to petrol or vice versa.
EcoFlow Smart Generator (Dual-Fuel)
The EcoFlow Smart Generator (Dual-Fuel) takes backup energy a step further with a higher capacity than competitors and 40% higher energy usage efficiency. It also operates seamlessly with other EcoFlow products, such as the DELTA Max Portable Power Station and the DELTA PRO Solar Generator. If you’re concerned about leaving a smaller carbon footprint, pairing the Smart Generator as the last line of defence when your Solar Generator runs out of juice is a uniquely green portable power solution.
If your goal is energy independence, the EcoFlow Smart Generator offers an alternative option to extend your energy storage capacity during blackouts or off-the-grid usage.
How Does the EcoFlow Smart Generator Integrate with Portable Solar Generators?
The DELTA Pro Solar Generator generates off-grid energy by harnessing solar power with its 400w solar panels. If the DELTA Pro outputs more power than it generates, the battery will eventually become temporarily depleted. When paired with the EcoFlow Smart Generator, the DELTA Pro seamlessly switches to the dual-fuel backup, giving you uninterrupted power. While the Smart Generator meets your power needs, the DELTA Pro can recharge quickly during daylight hours.
By linking the Smart Generator to portable solar generators like the DELTA Pro or Max, you can stay powered for longer, especially during extended blackouts. Additionally, due to the DC-to-DC connection, the Smart Generator is 25% more efficient than other generators for charging a portable solar generator.
Being a smart generator, you can monitor and control your usage and capacity from anywhere with internet access or mobile data using the EcoFlow mobile app.
How Does the EcoFlow Smart Generator Integrate with Portable Power Stations?
The EcoFlow Smart Generator integrates seamlessly with the DELTA Pro portable power station. Portable power stations don’t generate electricity independently but store energy from a standard AC wall outlet or car adapter, like a giant (very smart) battery.
Ecoflow’s portable power stations are also compatible with solar panels if you want to add solar power to your energy generation options.
Integration works the same way: the DC-to-DC connection automatically recharges the power station when the portable power station’s energy storage dips below 20%.
While the default percentage for the EcoFlow Smart Generator to kick in is 20%, you can customise your preferences within the EcoFlow app.
We advise storing propane (LPG) canisters as a backup so your smart generator is ready to go when power from your other backup options runs scarce.
How Does the Smart Generator Fit Into the Smart Home Ecosystem?
The DELTA Smart Home Ecosystem connects to all the other EcoFlow devices within your setup. With the generator, you can expand your ecosystem by adding another backup supply to your existing units. Combined with the extra batteries and solar panels, you’ll be ready for even extended power outages.
You never know what emergencies life can bring. Unexpected blackouts are becoming more frequent due to extreme weather events and ageing infrastructure. Prolonged power outages can severely impact how you and your family live. Lack of refrigeration, cooking appliances — and personal devices — to stay on top of developing situations can become life-threatening when blackouts stretch on for days.
You’ll need a long-lasting and resilient backup power supply to stay safe when disaster strikes. With the EcoFlow Smart Home Ecosystem, the Smart Generator (Dual-Fuel) is the last line of defence in an extended power outage. How long your home backup system lasts will depend on many factors, such as your household’s power consumption and overall energy storage and generation capacity. But it’s always better to have too much power than too little.
An alternative fuel source like petrol or propane can significantly increase the run time of the Smart Home Ecosystem. The Ecoflow Smart Generator allows you to operate essential household lighting and appliances during extended blackouts while giving your solar generator more time to recharge.
Furthermore, a fuel source like propane is easy to store since it won’t degrade like petrol cans — and it’s far safer. Petrol degrades after several months, and some cities limit how much petrol you can store at your home as it’s a potential fire hazard. Propane is a safe, reliable fuel supply source. The Smart Generator integrates seamlessly into your Smart Home Ecosystem, giving you another backup option when your primary backup sources run low.
Dual-fuel generators are a valuable solution for anyone looking for energy security, whether as a backup when conventional power fails or when off-grid.
Using two fuel sources is better than one, which is why dual-fuel generators are becoming increasingly popular in the marketplace.
Before investing in any generator — whether it’s powered by solar or fossil fuel — explore your options. Consider the efficiency, cost, eco-friendliness, features, and external factors like access to refuelling stations.
Check out the Smart Generator (Dual-Fuel) and other EcoFlow’s other innovative backup power options today to ensure your home will have the electricity it needs in any situation.