Extreme weather events and natural disasters are on the rise. Aging infrastructure is often ill-equipped to meet demands. Due to these and numerous other factors, power outages are becoming increasingly common…
There’s never been more reason to invest in a reliable backup generator to keep the lights on when the electricity goes out.
Petrol, diesel, or propane generators have traditionally been the most common choice for backup generators. A high-quality fossil-fuel-powered generator will usually supply reliable backup power in the event of an outage.
But fossil fuel generators also have numerous limitations. You need convenient access to fuel to keep them running, and they require regular maintenance. Petrol and diesel generators, in particular, are noisy to operate and create toxic fumes that can be deadly for humans — and harmful to the environment.
Solar generators are a much quieter option that provides clean, renewable backup power, but what if you live in an area that doesn’t get much sun or want additional energy security in case of an extended blackout?
In this guide, we’ll focus on propane vs petrol generators and introduce a revolutionary third option that combines the best of both.
Welcome to the exciting world of dual-fuel technology.
Propane generators produce electricity with an internal combustion engine — similar to the one in your car. Typically, all you need to do to run a propane generator is connect a propane tank (LPG) to the generator and press start. Propane generators usually run at full power regardless of how much electricity you consume. Once you run out of fuel, you’ll have to exchange the empty tank for a full one.
Propane home backup systems range from 7kW to 20kW of power output and are sufficient enough to provide electricity for an average-sized home, provided you have enough fuel.
Propane is a cleaner burning fuel than petrol or diesel. It’s easier to store and has a longer shelf life. It’s a less common fuel source than diesel or gasoline, but it has numerous advantages depending on your use case.
Propane generators have various applications. For homeowners, they can offer a reliable source of backup electricity. For motorhome owners and campers, they can be a relatively convenient choice for off-grid power, although propane canisters are heavy and consume quite a bit of space.
Depending on the power output, propane generators can run major appliances and HVAC systems in the event of a power outage.
Outside of residential and recreational applications, propane generators are often used in farming and industry. Heavy-duty propane generators can provide enough power to operate heavy machinery.
Advantages of Propane Generators
Propane generators are still less common than petrol-powered options, but their popularity is growing. Here are some of the advantages propane (LPG) has over petrol.
A propane generator produces approximately half the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as a petrol or diesel generator. Cleaner energy production makes propane a much better option for the environment than other fuels.
Propane doesn’t degrade as quickly as petrol and is much easier to store safely. In the right conditions, you can store significant quantities of propane indefinitely.
A Better Option in Emergencies
Propane is an excellent option in emergencies. Because you can safely store large quantities of propane at home without safety or spoilage concerns, it has many benefits over diesel or petrol.
Petrol and diesel are hard to store for extended periods, so you’ll be reliant on petrol stations being open and accessible during an emergency. A stockpile of propane in your shed or garage can help you ride out an extended outage without ever leaving your property.
Petrol or diesel diminishes in efficiency in extreme temperatures. Propane can withstand a wider range of temperatures, from -40 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, storing any fuel at room temperature is always preferable.
Disadvantages of Propane Generators
Although propane has many advantages over petrol, there are also some potential disadvantages.
Propane has a lower overall fuel efficiency than other options, producing fewer BTUs per gallon than petrol or diesel.
Propane comes in canisters, which can be inconvenient if you have limited storage space. Although propane canisters are increasingly easy to source, there are fewer purchasing options than for petrol or diesel.
Shorter Generator Life Expectancy
Propane generators typically require more maintenance and have a shorter lifespan than petrol or diesel.
Like a propane generator, a petrol generator uses an internal combustion engine to burn fuel and produce electricity.
Petrol generators are the most common generators, partly due to the fact that they’ve been around for the longest and people are used to filling up at petrol stations.
Petrol generators are available in a wide range of output capacities ranging from under 500 watts to hundreds of kilowatts.
Petrol generators are often the lowest-priced option. You can purchase a decent model without breaking the bank. They are a viable option for home backup, off-grid, and industrial applications.
Many portable but powerful options are on the market, making them a popular choice on construction sites or for events where grid power is unavailable.
Advantages of Petrol Generators
As a cost-efficient and easy-to-use option, petrol generators have some potential advantages over propane.
Easy to Refuel
Petrol is widely available at petrol stations everywhere except in extreme weather events and natural disasters.
Easy to Use
Petrol generators are typically easy to use. Most have an electric starter, and you can integrate them with your home circuit panel with relative ease.
Higher Energy Density
A gallon of propane produces 27% less energy than a gallon of petrol. Strictly in terms of consumption by volume, petrol is a more efficient fuel source.
Petrol generators typically have a longer lifespan than propane generators.
Petrol generators must be operated at least 20 feet (6M) away from your home, as the toxic fumes from burning petrol can be deadly.
Not Always Available During Emergencies
While petrol is easy to purchase under everyday conditions during extreme weather events or natural disasters, a trip to the petrol station may not be an option. During extended blackouts, it’s very likely that petrol stations will also lose power, leaving pumps non-operational.
Panic buying during a crisis is another issue that can cut off access to petrol. Long lines and frenzied stockpiling of petrol can leave you stranded without fuel at the worst time.
Short Shelf Life
Petrol has a shelf life of three to six months — much shorter. It’s also unstable and poses a significant fire hazard. You’ll need to take extra precautions when storing petrol.
Worse for the Environment
Petrol produces far more greenhouse gas emissions than propane. Burning petrol is one of the most significant contributors to global warming and climate change.
Petrol prices tend to fluctuate wildly due to circumstances beyond your control.
Petrol generators are significantly louder than propane generators. Many campsites restrict the use of petrol generators due to this issue, and it can produce noise pollution near your home.
Are Dual Fuel Generators the Perfect Solution?
When it comes to fossil fuel powered generators, there is no perfect solution. Both petrol and propane have their pros and cons. Solar generators are typically a better solution in many ways, though the upfront investment will be higher.
One way to get the best of both fuels is by purchasing a dual fuel generator.
Dual fuel generators — like EcoFlow’s Smart Generator Dual Fuel — have become an increasingly popular choice in recent years because they reap the benefits and minimise the downsides of both propane and petrol.
In the long term, solar generators are a more “perfect” solution than any fossil fuel option because they operate on clean, renewable energy. There are no fuel costs, and the lifespan is much longer than petrol or propane generators because there are very few moving parts and no toxic emissions.
However, even if you opt for solar, dual fuel generators have their place. They provide a last line of defense — and give you more options — when you use more electricity than your solar power system can generate.
Dual-fuel generators run on petrol and propane. Using two fuel types gives you more options to refuel during an emergency. Dual fuel generators are more efficient, and inverter dual fuel generators throttle their fuel consumption to meet your needs instead of constantly running at full blast and wasting fuel.
EcoFlow’s Smart Dual Fuel Generator
EcoFlow’s Smart Generator Dual Fuel combines petrol and propane to provide robust and reliable backup power. The dual fuel generator comes with a 1.05 gallon (4 litre) petrol tank and can use any size of LPG tank you’ll find on the market. The generator can reach a peak output of 1900W when using petrol and a slightly lower 1700W when consuming propane.
Connecting an LPG tank is straightforward and safe. With a carbon monoxide detector, fuel alert, engine oil alert, temperature protection, and overload protection, it puts safety first.
The Smart Generator integrates with other EcoFlow products, such as the DELTA Max and DELTA Pro portable power stations and solar generators. Both the DELTA Max and Pro offer solar charging with solar panels and expandable storage by adding extra smart batteries.
The Dual-Fuel Generator is a more eco-friendly option for users who want the added security of a fossil fuel power source.
Frequently Asked Questions
While it may be the cleaner option, the cost of propane per watt of electricity generated is higher than petrol — even with petrol prices see-sawing in recent years. However, if you’re using your generator primarily for backup power, remember that petrol spoils quickly and is much more dangerous to store. The longer shelf life of propane may make it a cheaper option depending on your use case.
Petrol produces more energy by volume than propane. However, your generator run time depends on the size of your petrol tank and how much petrol you can store. Propane generators can run on any size of tank, and the fuel has a longer shelf life and is much easier to stockpile in quantity.
If you elect to purchase a fossil fuel generator over clean, renewable solar, both petrol and propane have unique advantages.
If you plan to operate your generator regularly, petrol will likely be the more affordable option.
However, if you’re primarily using your generator as a backup power source, propane lasts much longer and is easier to stockpile in an emergency.
With a dual fuel generator, you get the best of both worlds. Even if you use solar as your primary power source, having a dual fuel generator as part of your ecosystem gives you additional energy security.For a dual fuel generator that operates solo or seamlessly with solar power options, check out EcoFlow today.