Propane vs Gas Generator: Which is Right For You?

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Propane vs Gas Generator

A generator is a must if you live in an area prone to natural disasters and power cuts. But what fuel source should you use – propane or gas? Settling the propane vs gas generator debate can be quite a challenge – as each has its own pros and cons. 

Gas generators are popular as the device and the fuel both cost lower. But propane generators are ideal for emergencies when the demand for gas is through the roof! Propane has a long shelf life. However, using propane generators is hard in frigid regions.   

Let’s dig a little deeper to learn more about propane and gas generators and their differences. 

Propane vs Gas Generator: Key Differences  

Let’s compare various factors that set gasoline and propane generators apart. 

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1. Fuel Efficiency and Run Time

Propane produces less energy than gas, with a higher octane rating. So, you can expect gas generators to have a higher run time. 

But gas generators usually have a preset fuel tank size that needs to be constantly monitored and refilled. The process can lead to wastage through spillage, leakage, fume generation, etc., reducing the run time. 

Here’s a chart to give you an example of the fuel consumption by generators used in a standard house. 

Fuel Type Wattage Example Efficiency Example Daily Usage Hourly Usage
Gas 2200 W (Portable) 7.41 kWh/gal 4 gal 0.29 gal
Propane 2500 W (Portable) 4.62 kWh/gal 6.5 gal 0.52 gal

Source – Shrink That Footprint

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2. Upfront and Maintenance Costs  

The upfront cost of propane generators is higher than that of gas generators. But in the long run, the cost of maintenance can be high – and trying to do it yourself can be tricky.

Propane generators are intricate devices with complex maintenance systems. On the other hand, gas generators tend to depreciate because the fuel’s residue can degrade the machine and affect its longevity.

3. Shelf Life

Gasoline has a short shelf life of only 3-6 months, after which it starts to degrade. However, propane can be stored indefinitely without any degradation or harm to the machine. 

This is an essential factor to consider because you’ll likely use generators in emergency situations only. So before storing it away for the rest of the year, you might have to think about emptying the tank. 

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4. Availability 

One of the reasons gasoline-powered generators are more popular is the high availability of gasoline fuel. Gas is easy to acquire in any situation – and you can even draw it out of your vehicle to run your generator during an emergency.   

But if there is a power outage, gas pumps will stop operating, and you won’t be able to refill. Propane might not be as readily available as gas, but you can store the fuel for future use at home, during camping, or for operating tools. 

5. Emergency Fuel

Because gas is easy to acquire, it’s also high in demand – which can impact its supply during emergencies. That’s when propane’s low popularity can come to your advantage as you won’t have to join a long queue for it. 

In addition, propane can be stored safely and for a long time – unlike gas. So, if you live in an area that faces frequent power cuts, natural calamities, etc., you can keep a stock of propane to run your generator.

6. Climate Compatibility

Gas generators can run in all weather conditions – another reason this device is popular. On the other hand, propane generators can be hard to run if it gets extremely cold. 

If the ambient temperature in your region tends to drop below 30 degrees, using propane is a challenge. That’s because it uses heat to convert from liquid to gas. 

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7. Impact on the Environment

If you need regular generator backup and are worried about the environment, propane generators are your best bet. That’s because propane is a much more eco-friendly fuel for running generators. 

They produce lower amounts of greenhouse gasses and non-regulated emissions. On the other hand, gasoline is a toxic and combustible gas with a negative environmental impact.

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Propane vs Gas Generator – Pros and Cons

Propane Generator: Pros
  • Less greenhouse gas and non-regulated emission
  • Easy-to-store fuel for safe stocking 
  • Prolonged fuel storage with a long shelf life
  • Low noise levels
  • Ideal for an emergency
Propane Generator: Cons
  • An intricate system that needs complex maintenance
  • Lower fuel efficiency and higher fuel cost
  • It may be difficult to use during cold weather

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Gas Generator: Pros
  • It uses a fuel that’s easy to access
  • Low price and fuel cost
  • It can be used in any weather condition
  • Uses a high-efficiency fuel source
  • Commonly-found machine with easy maintenance
Gas Generator: Cons
  • May run out of fuel during emergency
  • May degrade due to the harmful effects of gas
  • It uses toxic and pungent fuel

Dual Fuel vs Gas Generator vs Propane Generator

A dual-fuel generator is highly recommended in regions that frequently face hurricanes and other natural calamities. That way, you can use both gas and propane.  

Since propane’s combustible qualities are similar to gas, both fuels can use the same carburetor. This makes it possible to engineer dual-fuel generators. 

Choosing the best dual-fuel generator can be tricky as these models are comparatively new. But you’ll find many options with the engine efficiency, power output, and fuel capacity to match your power backup requirements.  

Verdict: Should You Pick A Propane or Gasoline Generator?

The primary reason people choose propane generators is that propane is an eco-friendly gas. It doesn’t produce noxious, flammable, toxic fumes, especially when stored. 

Indeed, gas is more widely available – but it is not always a good thing. It’s more popular – and its demand increases exponentially in emergencies.

But propane is easy to acquire in such situations – and you can also stock up on propane safely. Gas can only be stored for 3-6 months and must be removed from the generator’s carburetor to prevent clogging. 

However, propane is less energy efficient than gasoline, and propane generators have a lower power output. And while the cost varies from one vendor to the other, propane is slightly costlier – and may be hard to use in frigid zones.  

So, should you invest in a propane-powered generator or stick to the popular choice of a gas generator? The answer depends on your priorities and location. 

We suggest going for a dual-fuel generator. That way, you can use both fuels as and when you need either and get the best of both. 

Propane vs Gas Generator FAQs

1. Propane vs gas generator for RV: which is ideal? 

Propane generators can be eco-friendly if you intend to take your RV on long trips. And, due to the fuel’s long shelf life, you can store large quantities of it. But if you want quick access to fuel wherever you go at the lowest cost, you can pick a gas generator. 

2. Can a gas generator power a house?

There are two types of gas generators to power a house – a standby generator and a portable generator. But can a gas generator run 24 hours a day? Standby generators offer 24-hour power backup, while portable generators can run for 12 hours on average. 

3. What type of generator is best for home use?

A house’s power must run various appliances for cooking, cleaning, entertainment, etc. Don’t forget the HVAC systems. So it would be best if you had a powerful whole house generator, fueled by propane or gasoline, to provide backup within seconds of power loss.   

4. Are propane-powered generators any good?

Propane-powered generators are a popular choice among people who care about the environment. That’s because propane is a clean fuel. Plus, it has a long storage life, making it ideal for disaster-prone regions. Plus, propane generators are quieter and last longer.  

5. How long will a 20-pound propane tank run a generator?

Generators usually consume about 2-3 pounds of propane in an hour—the heftier the load, the lower the operating time. Generators usually last about 5-6 hours on a 20-pound propane tank. This fuel burns at a rate of 1 gallon per hour when the load is 50%.

Final Words

A gas generator is ideal if you want to spend less on purchasing the generator and refueling, especially in frigid regions. But if you care about your carbon footprint and live in a disaster-prone region, it’s best to invest in a generator fueled by propane.   

In conclusion, there is no right or wrong way to settle the propane vs gas generator argument. The choice depends on individual needs, location, and the crises you have to face. 

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