Propane Powered Generator
All portable generators need fuel to run. Traditionally, generators have been designed to use gas or diesel but environmental concerns, along with rising crude oil prices, have seen propane-powered generators become more readily available. The concept of using natural gas, like propane, to run an engine that was originally designed to use gas is not a new one. In Australia, cars have been able to run on propane for decades and Australian gas stations have both gas and propane pumps for filling your car.
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Why Propane Powered Generators?
While the primary reason for the increased popularity of propane as a fuel source is that it burns cleaner and, therefore, emits lower levels of harmful greenhouse gasses, there several other advantages to using propane. Gas deteriorates, so you can only store it for a limited period of time, propane has an unlimited shelf-life. If you’re storing fuel for your generator in case of emergencies, you can never be too sure when disaster might strike, so being able to store your generator fuel indefinitely is reassuring. There’s a good chance that you use propane for other uses, like a barbecue and this makes it more practical, you can use the same propane tank for both a gas burner and your generator.
Ultra-portable with plenty of power. (Buy from Amazon)
Probably one of the biggest secondary advantages of using propane is its safety aspect. Unlike gas cans that have to release built-up fumes, a propane tank is totally sealed and this means no toxic gases escape from the propane tank and this also reduces the fire hazard that is associated with storing gas. Propane is stored under pressure and because it is more compact, you get a lot more fuel in a smaller volume container.
A 20-pound propane tank can give you up to 50% more runtime than a 5-gallon gas can, yet they require less storage space. Whether you’re using a portable generator for backup power in your home or business, or you transport it regularly, like contractors or RV owners, propane offers you a safer and more convenient solution than gas.
Most generators that are designed to run on propane are hybrid generators – often referred to as dual-fuel generators. This means that they can run on either gas or propane. This versatility has an advantage in that you can use whichever fuel type is more readily available. Though this is not a huge advantage because you can buy, exchange, or refill a propane tank almost anywhere, so if you’re not intending on using gas, the dual fuel capability is pretty much a waste of money. Because they need to accommodate both fuel types, dual fuel generators will be more expensive than using the single-fuel options. These being generators that run exclusively on gas or propane.
Gas and Propane Powered | Duromax XP4850EH
Do you need a duel-fuel generator? (Buy from Amazon)
Some generators are designed to use only propane. This means that they have no gas tank or the pipes and fuel tap that go along with using gas. This means that these generators will be somewhat cheaper than dual-fuel machines and have a bit of a weight advantage – the weight of the fuel tank is removed. Of course, this means that you can’t go to any gas station to buy fuel for your generator, you need to make sure that you have enough propane if you’re uncertain of its availability when traveling.
This review is going concentrate on propane (natural gas) generators because they are becoming ever more popular. We’ll be covering two Sportsman models, the Sportsman GEN7000LP which has a maximum power output of 7000W (peak power) and the Sportsman GEN4000LP which has a 4000W peak power output. We’ll look at a third propane generator, the Powermate PM0135500 which has a peak power output of 6875 watts.
These three generator options are designed to run exclusively on propane and don’t have gas tanks. This makes them very affordable natural gas generators. As a dual-fuel alternative, we’ll also review the very impressive DuroMax XP10000EH and the DuroMax XP12000EH, both these generators are extremely powerful, 10000W and 12000W respectively. In addition to this, they are probably the most affordable dual-fuel portable generators for their wattage output. This means that they offer the versatility of dual-fuel, without costing too much more than single-fuel generators.
Propane powered generator
- Engine Displacement: 420 cc
- Run time 6 hours @ 50% load with a 20lb tank
- 1 1/4 Frame provides strength and durability.
- Electric Start; Battery Included
- 12″ Never flat wheels for easy transport on all surfaces.
- Digital multimeter tracks maintenance service intervals.
- Covered outlets provide protection from the environment.
Providing 5500W of running power and 6875 peak (starting) watts, the Powermate PM013550 is exceptional value for money. You’re getting a lot of watts per buck. With this generator, you’ll be able to run a refrigerator and a standard room air conditioner simultaneously, without the fear of overload if both start at the same time. Whilst running these high-current devices, you’ll be able to run most of your other appliances too. Though, if you throw a microwave into the mix, starting a refrigerator, AC and microwave at the same time might prove to be problematic.
So with very little power management, you should be able to back up your home or power up your RV without much compromise. For site work, the Powermate PM013550 will keep a number of high wattage tools running at the same time, you’ll even be able to power a fairly large air compressor if needed.
This power is provided by a propane-powered 420cc, OHV engine. That’s a lot of horsepower and this means that if you’re using a 20 LBS propane tank, you can expect around 6-hours of run time at 50% load. At 50% load the Powermate PM0135500 is pushing out 2225W and that’s quite a bit of power. On a hot day, using both an AC and refrigerator, your average load might reach 50-60% but most of the time you’ll be using less than 50% of the generator’s rated running load capacity and this should mean that you can easily get 8 hours or more from a 20 LBS propane tank.
The Powermate is designed to accommodate a 20 LBS or 30 LBS propane tank, providing a safe housing to secure the tank when using or transporting the generator. If you use a 30 LBS propane tank, you’ll be getting 9 hours or more from the tank.
This is quite a heavy machine – the Powermate PM0135500 weighs just over 196 LBS. It is mounted on a steel frame that looks fairly robust, though it might not stand up to very rough conditions. To make the weight very manageable, the Powermate has a handle that allows you to tilt and push the machine without bending down. By incorporating particularly large 12” wheels, it’s easy to move over uneven terrain. The wheels and thick rubber resting feet mean that vibration from the machine is reduced to an absolute minimum.
You have the convenience of both an electric and recoil starter, so it starts effortlessly in all weather and if the generator is left standing for too long and the battery runs flat, you can always use the recoil starter. This will, obviously require a little elbow grease, but at least you’ll always be able to get the generator started in an emergency. It has a duplex 120V 5-20R outlet, giving you two standard household outlets. It also has a 120-240V L14-30R outlet with an RV adapter. These outlets have covers, protecting them from dust and moisture. You won’t get any 12V or USB charging outlets, which is a little disappointing to see. Another fact that will be sad news for some is that the Powermate PM0135500 is not CARB or CSA approved, this means that you can’t use the generator in California or Canada.
Includes : oil, battery and tool kit. (Buy from Amazon)
The usual safety that you would expect from a modern generator is taken care of, the power outlets have the necessary circuit breaker protection. Your appliances are also protected from surges as it has a built-in Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR). The engine is protected with a low-oil shutoff switch, that will automatically switch the generator off when the engine oil level is too low. It also has a digital hour meter, so you can keep track of service intervals.
The Powermate PM0135500 is a basic portable generator without a lot of extra features. As for affordability, it’s fantastic. You’re getting a quality generator with a decent power output and won’t have to dig too deep into your pockets to buy the Powermate. You also have the reassurance of a 2-year warranty.
Propane powered generator
- 13 HP 4 Stroke OHV Engine
- 7000 Surge Watts / 6000 Running Watts
- Electric & Recoil Start
- Automatic Low Oil Shutdown
- Automatic Voltage Regulator
- Engine Shut-off Switch
- Outlets :
- 4 – 120 Volt A/C Outlets
- 1 – 12 Volt D/C Outlet
- 1 – 120/240V Outlet
- 120 Volt/ 15A / 60 Hz
- EPA Approved
- Engine Run Time: 8 Hours @ 50% Load per 20 lbs of LP fuel
- Oil Type: SAE10W-30 Oil (Must add BEFORE first use)
- Oil Capacity: 38 fluid oz (1.13 L)
- Fuel Type: Liquid Propane Gas Only, Propane Tank Not Included
- Spark Plug: This LP Generator is more efficient than traditional gasoline generators. As such, the
- spark plug on this LP generator will last longer. If you have questions regarding the spark plug, please contact Customer Service at 1-866-460-9436 Monday – Friday, 8 AM – 4 PM Central Time.
- Battery: Not included
- Purchase your own battery with these specifications: 7 1/8″ L x 6″ H x 3″ W, 130 Min CCA (Cold Cranking Amps). (A 12 Volt motorcycle battery no larger than 7 1/4″ length, 6 1/2″ height, and 3″ width is required for electric start of this generator.
(The ideal battery required is 7 1/8” L x 6” H x 3’W, 130 Min CCA Cold Cranking Amps)
- Decibel Rating < 80 db
- Mobility Kit: Included
- Warranty: 1 year limited
Overview | Sportsman GEN7000LP
Depending on where you buy it, the Sportsman GEN7000LP is going to cost slightly more than the Powermate PM0135500. For the extra money, you’ll be getting a few more watts. The Sportsman GEN7000LP is rated for a running capacity of 6000W and has a peak power output of 7000W. This isn’t a big difference but, when using high-current startup equipment, those extra watts could make the difference between tripping the circuit breaker, or continuing uninterrupted.
Heavy-duty propane generator. (Buy from Amazon)
The Sportsman GEN7000LP has a mighty 13 HP, 4-stroke, OHV engine that runs on propane. This is not a dual fuel engine, so it doesn’t have a gas tank. Unlike the Powermate, the Sportsman doesn’t have an enclosure for the propane tank, so it has to stand on the ground. The safe propane storage unit on the Powermate is a cool feature, but the Sportsman GEN7000LP has some design features and functions that rate better than the Powermate.
I’ll start by pointing out that the steel frame on the Sportsman GEN7000LP looks a whole lot more durable. Of course, this is merely my impression, so there’s no telling, for sure, which one will prove to be tougher in the long run. The heavier weight of the Sportsman is also an indication that it may be built tougher – it weighs 135 LBS. The fold-down handle has a fantastic grip and this makes it easy to move. The large wheels on the Sportsman are nice to see, they have steel rims and really great traction, this will certainly help with mobility and vibration. It also has solid rubber feet that will help reduce the vibration when the generator is running.
I’ve read conflicting claims about the runtime of this generator. The highest rated time from a 20 LBS propane tank is 12-hours. Though I think the more conservative rating of 8-hours at 50% load is more realistic. Whichever rating you choose to accept, the Sportsman GEN7000LP is more fuel efficient than the Powermate, by quite a large margin. The Sportsman is also not CARB compliant but is EPA approved. So it’s safe for national parks and forests. Although this is not a quiet generator and doesn’t claim to be silent running, the noise levels are very good for a standard generator without sound insulation – 80dBA.
Like the Powermate, the Sportsman GEN7000LP has both electric and recoil starters. It has a better array of power outlets: 4 X 120V 5-20R (household) outlets, a 120-240V L14-30R, and a 12V battery charging outlet. All the power outlets have circuit breaker protection and the unit is fitted with an Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR). The engine is protected with a low oil shutoff.
While I’ve seen a few negative reviews, mostly to do with the product being damaged during shipping, the Sportsman GEN7000LP has received a lot more praise than it has criticism. My overall impression is that the majority of people are really pleased with the product. In my view, this is a better generator than the Powermate PM0135500. The Sportsman looks like a more robust machine and has few extra features, like a 12V battery charging outlet. It costs more and has a shorter warranty of 1-year. None the less, it’s my preferred choice, though I know not everyone will agree with this opinion.
Features (DuroMax XP10000EH):
- Runs on regular gasoline or liquid propane, a convenient alternative choice during emergencies when gasoline is scarce
- Powerful 18 HP engine is able to accept high-wattage loads with ease
- Can be used for home standby power and job sites to a weekend with the RV
- Allows user to get maximum power from each of the 120-Volt receptacles and to choose between operating at both 120-Volt and 240-Volt simultaneously or at 120 only with full power
- Equipped with low oil protection, AC and DC regulators and a spark arrestor, ensuring your unit will remain safe and in top operating condition
- Designed to allow anyone to start and operate with electric and recoil start
I’m a big fan of DuroMax generators, they’re seriously tough machines with a high spec level. I wouldn’t place them in the same category as the most expensive brands like Honda, CAT or DeWalt. Then again, DuroMax generators are much cheaper than the brands that I mentioned. For people who can’t stretch their budget far enough to afford the more expensive generators, DuroMax offers a really great alternative. DuroMax generators offer you incredible value for money.
All the DuroMax generators with model numbers that end in “EH” are dual fuel machines (the letter H, stands for hybrid). In this review, we’ll be looking at the most powerful DuroMax hybrid generators – the DuroMax XP10000EH and the DuroMax XP12000EH.
They’ve been grouped together because they’re almost exactly the same model, they use very similar engines and have the same features. To clear the air, I’ll start by pointing out the difference between the DuroMax XP10000EH and the DuroMax 12000EH. The XP10000EH has a peak power output of 10000W and a running power output of 8000W. The DuroMax XP12000EH is the same machine with a larger alternator. This means that it provides a peak power output (starting watts) of 12000W and running power of 9500W. Because the DuroMax XP12000EH uses a 457cc 18HP engine it uses a bit more fuel.
The DuroMax XP10000EH uses a slightly smaller 439cc engine with the same 18HP power output rating. The difference in fuel consumption is negligible. In fact, the fuel consumption difference is so small that DuroMax rates their runtimes as the same. So even though they both have the same 8.3-gallon gas tank and the DuroMax XP12000EH delivers 1000W more running power, both are rated at delivering 10-hours runtime on a tank of gas and 20-hours from a propane tank at 50% load. This is incredibly good when you compare them to the other generators in this review that don’t deliver nearly as much power. Neither the DuroMax XP10000EH nor the XP12000EH are CARB compliant, so they cannot be sold in California. They are, however, both EPA certified.
So when we look at specs like power outlets, safety features, they are the same. There’s a 10-pound weight difference between the two. The DuroMax XP12000EH is obviously the heavier brute (265 LBS), the smaller XP10000EH weighs 255 LBS.
The engines on both generators are among the most durable that you’ll find. High-quality materials are used throughout, this includes cast iron cylinder sleeves and bearings. DuroMax generators also use a four-point mounting system that is not only highly durable but also drastically reduces vibration levels. All the other components like the durable steel frame, tough soft grip handles, and strong steel rim wheels are of the highest standard.
Easily Attach Propane Tank | DuroMax XP12000EH
The noise levels for both the DuroMax XP10000EH and XP12000EH are the same – 72dB. Again, comparing this to the other much smaller generators, the DuroMax machines are a good deal quieter. The control panel is excellent and laid out in a very logical way – the control panel on both the DuroMax XP10000EH and XP12000EH are identical. It has 2 X 120V household power outlets, a 120V 30A RV outlet and a 120V-240V 30A twist lock outlet, as well as 12V battery charging outlet.
There are individual circuit breakers for the all the outlets and a main circuit breaker. A large switch allows you to change from the 120V output or 120V/240V output. It has a warning light for low oil and the engine will shut off automatically when the oil runs low. You also have an analog voltmeter and like, most others, the DuroMax XP10000EH/XP12000EH have a built-in AVR to protect your equipment from voltage spikes.
Even though the two DuroMax generators are quite a bit more expensive than the others in this review, they’re just about the best value for money that you can get. When comparing prices you need to look at what you’re getting. Firstly, the fact that these are dual-fuel (hybrid) generators will make them slightly more expensive. Though the most important factor to consider is the power output.
Comprehensive Control Panel
The DuroMax XP12000EH will provide enough power to run a medium to large home without any problem – you’re talking about air conditioners, refrigerators, deep freezes, pumps and just about any other appliance that you can think of. The DuroMax XP10000 isn’t far behind, with only 1000-watts less continuous power. All the other propane generators in this review are nowhere nearly as powerful and will, therefore, need a bit more consideration when calculating what you can run off these generators.
DuroMax generators are built in California and the company has a fantastic reputation for service and will ship spare parts to anywhere in the world. I’d say that, short of the most expensive generators, you won’t get better quality than these DuroMax generators. You get a standard 1-year warranty and also have the option to extend this 2 or 3 years.
- 4000 surge watts/3250 running watts, 5 ft. regulator hose is included in box,
Air cooled, avr, low oil shut off, full power panel, engine shut off switch, overload protected outlets, 1-12-volts outlet and 2-120volts outlets
- Run time = 10 hrs at 50-percent load per 20 -pound of lpg fuel, decibel rating: < 68 decibel, epa approved , carb approved
- The generator runs on clean, quiet and efficient liquid propane gas (LPG), so you never have to worry about bad gasoline fouling the engine
- The 7 hp, 4 stroke ohv, recoil start engine, delivers maximum performance
If you have a limited budget and are prepared to settle for a lower wattage portable generator, the Sportsman GEN4000LPC is going to perk your interest. It’s a smaller version of the GEN4000LPC and looks the same, it’s just smaller and has an output of 3250W running power and 4000 peak watts. Like the other Sportsman model, this is a single-fuel (propane only) generator.
The Sportsman GEN4000LPC has a 7 HP, OHV, 4-stroke engine. While it has limited power, when compared to other generators in this review, you’ll still have enough power to run a refrigerator or room conditioner (probably not both at the same time) and have enough watts to run many other smaller appliances. So, with a few compromises, you’ll have sufficient amps/watts to supply your home with emergency power and it’s a reasonable size for an RV or light construction site work.
Like the other Sportsman generator, it has an EPA approved spark arrestor and there’s no mention of CARB certification – I would assume that this model is also not approved for use in California. Because this is a smaller, cheaper generator, you also won’t have the luxury of an electric starter, it only has a recoil starter. Though it starts very easily and you should get it going with just a single pull. It weighs quite a lot less – 88 LBS. This lower weight means that it doesn’t have a wheel kit. If you’re not young, fit and strong, you’ll need two people to carry it.
The control panel is basic, with no gauges or any fancy gadgets. You’ll get 2 X standard 120V household outlets and a 120V 30A RV outlet, as well as a 12V battery charging outlet. All the power outlets are protected by circuit breakers and you also have the advantage of an Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR). To prevent damage to the engine, it’s fitted with a low oil shut-off sensor. The runtime is good and you should expect to get around 10-hours (or more) from a 20 LBS propane tank at 50% load. It’s also refreshingly quiet at 68dBA.
For a basic and very economical propane generator, the Sportsman GEN4000LPC is going to be one of the best deals that you can get. It’s a robust machine with a tough steel frame and comes with a 2-year warranty.
Using Your Propane Generator
The basic functions of propane generator are much the same as any other Generator. It starts with a recoil or electric starter and you’ll be using it the same way. This means that your general safety concerns will mostly be the same. While natural gas burns cleaner than regular gas, you still have the risk of carbon poisoning. This means that you must place a propane generator in a well-ventilated area when the engine is running, the same as any other. It gets just as hot as a gas-powered generator and so must avoid touching the engine or muffler if the engine is running or has been running recently. You don’t have the same worries about gas spillage, but there are a few unique safety precautions that you must consider when using propane. There are also a few technical aspects that you need bear in mind.
All propane devices need to use a pressure regulator. Propane is stored in a pressurized state and this means that the gas pressure feeding your generator has to be correct. A propane generator will be supplied with the correct pressure regulator to ensure that it performs optimally. If you need to replace the pressure regulator, be sure to get one that is approved by the generator manufacturer.
As with any propane-fueled apparatus, you always need to check for gas leaks at the pipe connections. Propane is invisible and, in its natural state, is odorless. Law requires that propane suppliers add a scent to the gas so that one can detect it. This is a pungent odor and most of us are aware of what it smells like. If you smell the propane, it means there’s a leak, you’ll need to close the valve on the tank immediately and check that all your fittings are correctly tightened.
A lesser-known fact about propane is that it’s heavier than air and this means that there are some safety procedures that need to be observed in this regard. Propane tanks should never be stored or used close to drains. Because propane is heavier than the surrounding air, it’s always going to sink to the lowest point. If you have a propane leak close to a drain, it’s going to sink into the drain and will, therefore, go by unnoticed. You won’t smell the gas very easily. The propane will build up in the drain and if there is any kind of spark or flame near the drain, the gas will explode. In general, be aware that propane leaks will always cause the gas to collect at the lowest point – close to or below the ground if there’s any way for it to get there.
You need to observe some basic rules when storing and transporting a propane tank. Before you disconnect the gas pipe, make sure that the valve on the propane tank is properly closed to prevent the gas from blowing out into the air. Always store and transport a propane tank in an upright position. When transporting the tank in a vehicle, make sure that it is properly secured and won’t tip over. A propane tank is very robust and will last for many years. However, both the tank and the shutoff valve need to be checked by a propane gas professional to make sure that everything is working properly and the propane tank remains safe.
Servicing Your Propane Generator
A propane generator uses a normal spark plug and uses the same air filters and engine oil as a gas generator. The advantage of using propane is that you don’t get a carbon build-up on the spark plug, so it will last longer. You also don’t get fuel seepage into the oil, so it won’t degrade as easily. You will need to service a propane generator, like any other, but your service costs will be lower.
Additional preventative maintenance is advised. You should check your pipe and fittings regularly. Unlike normal gas, you won’t easily see when there’s a leak, so you need to be a little more careful.
One of the routine maintenance/storage benefits of using propane is that there’s no need to drain the carburetor before storing the generator. Propane vaporizes instantly when you switch the generator off.