Welcome to our Wen DF1100T Review. Wen is a consumer brand, which means they make products (not just generators) that regular people can afford. They manage to pack a lot of features into all of their products and sell them at a very reasonable price. This is the formula for their success.
Note : There are two models which are identical in specs but one has a “T” at the end. The ‘T’ model is the new version. Stick with that.
See current price and comparable heavy-duty generators, below…
The Wen DF1100T, 11KW generator has a lot going for it. With a peak (starting) power output of 11KW, it’s a great jobsite generator. Capable of powering a multitude of power tools, or most of your essential household electrical needs
The Wen DF1100T is the ideal solution for just about any application where a high-powered portable generator is needed for your backup power requirements.
Fast Specs (DF1100T) :
- DUAL FUEL :
- Gas = 11,000 surge watts, 8,300 running watt
- Propane = 9,500 surge, 7,500 running
- 120-Volt / 240-Volt : Ideal for transfer switches & emergency backup
- Electric start / 457cc 4-stroke OHV engine
- up to 8.5 hours of running time at half load
- Outlets : 120V GFCI outlets (5-20R), a 120V 30A twist lock outlet (L5-30R), a 120V/240V 50A outlet (NEMA 14-50R), a 12V DC cigarette-lighter-style plug
- Includes : bottle of oil, a 47-inch LPG connection hose, and a two-year warranty
WEN DF1100 Review
In addition to the high wattage output, the Wen DF1100 is a rugged machine and you have the benefit of dual fuel or hybrid technology. This generator can run on either gasoline or propane. Probably the most remarkable thing about the WEN DF1100 is its price. It’s highly likely that you could buy this generator for under $1000. While this is quite a lot of money, it would be a huge challenge to find a similar generator for this price.
That’s not say that the Wen DF1100 is alone in being an affordable, high-output, dual fuel portable generator. We’ve searched for comparable generators (at a similar price) to review alongside the Wen. While the Wen DF1100 can be seen as the best value for money generator in this review, the others have their merits and it will be up you to decide which of these dual fuel generators will be the best for your home or jobsite needs. If you’re looking for a camping or RV generator that supplies more than just your basic needs, any of these may be a cost effective option for that extra power.
The 11 – 12KW portable generators that will feature in this review are:
These are all large heavy generators, so the term portable generator needs to be understood here. Weighing in excess of 200-pounds, none of these generators are easy to lift or carry. Though, because they are fitted with wheel kits and handles, it is possible to move them about with relative ease. Lifting the generator onto or off of a truck is another story, you’ll need two, possibly three people for the job. This is inevitable when you use a generator with this kind of power.
Wen DF1100 Review
11,000-Watt 120V/240V Dual Fuel Portable Generator. CARB Compliant.
- Switch between gasoline (11,000 surge watts, 8,300 running watt) and propane (9,500 surge, 7,500 running) with the simple turn of the selection dial
- CARB & EPAIII compliant generator
- Voltage easily goes from 120-Volt to 240-Volt, perfect for transfer switches and emergency backup
- Electric start powers the 457cc 4-stroke OHV engine with the turn of a key
- 6.6 Gal. tank provides up to 8.5 hours of half load run time
- Backed by a nationwide network of skilled service technicians, a friendly customer support phone line, and a two year warranty.
- Includes : four 120V GFCI outlets (5-20R), a 120V 30A twist lock outlet (L5-30R), a 120V/240V 50A outlet (NEMA 14-50R), a 12V DC cigarette-lighter-style plug, a bottle of oil, a 47-inch LPG connection hose, and a two-year warranty
Based in Elgin, Illinois, Wen has always promised to deliver affordable power tools for the American workman and home user. After more than half a century of delivering on this promise, Wen is recognized, internationally, as a brand that provides quality machines at a price that most of us can afford. The Wen DF1100 definitely embodies this philosophy. So I can start out by saying that this generator is a dependable workhorse.
The price may suggest that it cannot compete with major industrial-grade generators, but the opposite is true. I wouldn’t rate Wen generators alongside brands like Honda or Cat, these are truly industrial-grade machines. I would consider this to be a medium-duty generator, capable of meeting the needs of most contractors and certainly one of the best for the home user who doesn’t necessarily rely on their generator to work hard on a daily basis. In a nutshell, most folks reading this review will find that the Wen DF1100 offers exceptional value for money and will be able to depend on their generator for many years to come.
VIDEO | WEN DF1100 : Dual Fuel Generator
If we’re looking at durability, the robust heavy-duty metal frame does a lot to convince me that this is a generator that can be bashed about quite a bit and remain fighting fit. I wouldn’t recommend rough treatment for any machine. But let’s face it, if you’re transporting you generator, or using it on a demanding jobsite, it’s going to experience some rough conditions from time to time. So having a good frame that protects the working parts is certainly a plus.
The metal, 6.6 gallon gas tank is just as durable and holds a substantial amount of fuel, capable of running this generator for up to 8.5 hours at an average 50% of its maximum continuous load capacity. So I’m convinced that this generator is going handle the conditions for which it has been designed. My only issue is that the Wen has plastic wheels. Though these look like they are pretty good quality and most generators in this class have plastic wheels these days. The wheels are certainly large enough to take on rough terrain. The dual fold-down handles are long enough to provide the leverage necessary to haul this 214-pound giant of a machine.
The 457cc, OHV, 4-stroke engine appears to be equally up to the task of delivering the 11,000 peak wattage and 8,500 watts that this generator is able to produce. This is the wattage spec when running on gas. When connected to a propane tank, the Wen will generate 9,500 peak watts and running power of 7,500 watts. More importantly, it will do so reliably for many years. That is, if you treat her right and ensure that you abide by the recommended service procedures. That can be said for any gas-powered equipment. Or, in this case, gas or propane powered engines. The generator is fitted with an electric starter, so it’s no problem to get going. The engine has all the modern safety requirements and is compliant throughout the US with both EPA III and CARB certification. It is propane ready, meaning that is supplied with a 47” propane pipe and regulator. All you need is a propane tank.
I always look at fuel consumption as an important factor when buying a generator. With this size generator, you’ll be burning through gas much faster than with a small generator and this plays a major role in your day to day running costs. In this respect the Wen is very reasonable. With a gas consumption figure of 5.5 kilowatt-hours per gallon, it is well above average.
The control panel is user-friendly and easy to understand. There’s a large dial that allows you to switch from gas to propane. This means that you don’t have to switch the generator off when changing from one fuel type to another. Directly next to the fuel selector is a simple key switch to start the generator and shut it down. A digital hour meter makes it simple to keep up with service intervals and there is a full array of power outlets for every type of use. Two duplex (NEMA 5-20R) outlets can be used with an extension cord to supply 120V power wherever needed.
Each of these outlets has their own 20A overload circuit breaker which is great for construction sites. If one breaker trips, the other outlets remain functional. So the entire jobsite won’t come to a standstill if one of the circuits trip. The two 120V circuits also have GFCI protection which is great for user safety and it makes this generator OSHA compliant – another benefit for contractors. It also has a 30A, 120V, NEMA L5-30R outlet for high-current 120V machinery.
A great bonus for homeowners who want to run their household power through a transfer switch, is the 50A 120V/240V, NEMA L14-50R outlet. This circuit is protected by the main overload circuit breaker and has a ground terminal to meet household electrical safety regulations. For charging batteries, or using any 12V DC devices, the generator has an AUX or cigarette lighter style 12V DC outlet. The DC outlet is also overload protected. The only thing I find less than desirable, particularly as a jobsite generator, is the absence of dust covers for the outlets. This, rather minor issue, is about the only negative point I can raise about the Wen.
It’s clear that, in my opinion, this is a fantastic generator. But what do the customer reviews have to say? Looking on Amazon, you might think that this generator is useless, it received a 2-star rating. At least, this was the case when I did my research into the Wen DF1100. But this is only from one customer who seemed to have difficulty understanding the push to reset circuit breakers. I would hardly consider this a reason to rate the generator with only two stars, especially when this same customer went on to say that it is a great generator in all other respects. I needed to get a more objective view as to how existing customers feel about the Wen DF1100. A more detailed (and quite exhaustive) search revealed that this is, in the opinion of the vast majority, a 5-star generator. Complaints are few and not major. There’s the usual issues with damage during delivery, but that is no reflection on the actual quality of the generator.
I feel that you can’t easily find a better deal than this one. The Wen DF1100 is a tough and reliable 11kw generator at a price that seems too good to be true. I’m always skeptical of cheap products, but experience has taught me that you can expect Wen products to defy expectations. You really are getting more than what you’re paying for in my opinion. With a 2-year warranty and a huge network of Wen dealerships throughout the US, you can’t really go wrong.
12,000W Dual Fuel Portable Generator
- 12,000 peak watts/ 9,500 rated watts (gasoline) & 10,800 peak watts/ 8,550 rated watts (LPG)
- Dual Fuel Capability allows you to choose between Gasoline & LPG fuel sources; great for emergency situations or natural disaster as LPG may be more readily available and easy to store
- The 457cc, single cylinder, 4-stroke, air cooled, OHV engine with electric start is protected by a durable powder coated frame
- A 8 gallon fuel tank gives you up to 12 hours of continuous operation at half load when running on gasoline
- Outlets : (4) 120V 20A AC outlets, (1) 120V/240V 30A twist-lock outlet, (1) 120V/240V 50A outlet, (1) 12V DC output provide ample space for powering appliances, tools, and other devices
- Convenient drop-down handles and 10” Never-Flat wheels for added mobility and easy storage
- Complete with low oil shut-off, 3-in-1 digital meter, and automatic voltage regulation for less worry and hassle
- Includes: propane hose, spark plug T wrench, 10mm combination wrench, and phillips screw driver & backed by a 1 Year limited Warranty
Another brand that exemplifies great value for an affordable generator has to be Pulsar. I prefer Wen as a brand, but there are those who will disagree. If you’re looking for extra wattage, the Pulsar G12KBN outperforms the Wen DF1100 in both running and peak power. Surge power output is up by a full kilowatt, the Pulsar G12KBN produces 12,000 peak watts (10,800 on propane). Running or continuous power is also a kilowatt higher than the Wen. Running on gas, the Pulsar G12KBN produces 9,500 watts. Using propane, this is obviously a little less at 8,550W.
Excellent Emergency Backup Generator | Pulsar G12KBN
Basically, the extra wattage is all that separates the Pulsar G12KBN from the Wen DF1100. Comparing every other aspect of the generator, they’re very much on the same level. The powder coated frame is really durable and can withstand the conditions of a jobsite or the rigors associated with camping generators. This model also uses plastic wheels, for which I have a personal disliking. Though they appear to be quite hardy and the 10” size certainly helps when moving the generator over uneven terrain. Large fold-down handles make all this quite effortless.
The powerful 457cc, OHV, 4-stroke engine is exactly the same size as that of the Wen DF1100, but you’re getting an extra kilowatt of usable electric current. That’s pretty impressive. Naturally the engine has low-oil shutoff and, like the Wen, has an electric starter. It has a backup recoil starter too. I was quite impressed with the large gas tank on the Wen, but the Pulsar out does it with a truly massive 8-gallon (also metal) fuel tank. This gives you a much improved runtime at 50% of its rated output, an impressive 12-hours.
Now for the really good news, fuel consumption is remarkably better than the Wen. It’s actually one of the best gallon to kilowatt figures you’ll see for a generator. At 7.1 kilowatt-hours per gallon, you’ll be saving a lot on gas and you have more power at your disposal. Maybe I was wrong in saying that the only difference is in the wattage output in comparing the Pulsar to the Wen DF1100. Getting almost 2kw more power for every gallon of gas is going to make quite a difference to your running costs.
Using the Pulsar is as easy as the Wen. It has a starter switch, instead of a key, but I can’t this as being any more complicated. The same variation of outlets are provided – 4 X 120V, 20A receptacles; a 30A, 120V twist lock receptacle and a 50A, 120V/240 twist lock receptacle. The 12V outlet differs slightly, in that this uses positive and negative ports. It has a more advanced 3-in-1 digital meter that provides more than just running hours and this model also has a ground terminal. Like the Wen DF1100, I find the absence of plastic covers for the electric outlets to be a little disappointing – but certainly not a deal breaker.
All the outlets are protected by circuit breakers with a main overload breaker. I don’t see any mention of GFCI ground protection and this may an area of concern for contractors required to meet OSHA regulations. The weight is the same. Yes this too, is a heavy beast at 214-pounds and you get the propane kit as part of your purchase. Of course, this doesn’t include a propane tank and you also have to buy the battery separately.
You really aren’t paying much extra for the Pulsar G12KBN when compared to the Wen DF1100 and prices can vary between retailers. While the Pulsar brand may not carry the same reputation as Wen, this seems to be a tough and reliable generator. Though, the Pulsar has not received the same customer response as the Wen. I don’t feel that the negative reviews indicate any major problems. Perhaps Pulsar quality control is not as good. But, on the whole, people seem to be very pleased with their purchase. One thing we can’t overlook is the higher power output and truly exceptional fuel efficiency. Looking at your fuel bills over the years, the Pulsar is the economy-minded generator user’s dream machine.
Ford makes more than just cars and trucks — 11,050W Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Switch & Go Technology.
- 11, 050W Peak/ 9,000W Rated (Gasoline) & 10,050W Peak/8,100W Rated (LPG)
- Powerful 457cc, Single Cylinder, 4-Stroke, OHV, Air Cooled Engine is protected by a Heavy-Duty Powder Coated Steel Frame
- A Large 6.6 Gallon High Capacity Fuel Tank gives you up to 10 Hours of Continuous Operation at half load when running on gasoline
- Dual Fuel Capability lets you choose between Gasoline or LPG fuel sources for running your generator
- Switch & Go Technology allows for seamless transitioning between LPG and Gasoline fuel sources while still in operation
- Electric Push Start with Maintenance Free Battery and Recoil backup make start-ups quick and easy
- (4) 120V 20A GFCI Outlets, (1) 120V AC 30A Twist-lock Outlet, and (1) 120/240V AC 50A RV Outlet with rubber outlet dust covers for added protection when not in use
- Designed with Dual Drop-Down Cushion Grip Handles & 10” Never-Flat Wheels with Chrome F-150 Inspired Rims for added mobility and easy storage
- Digital Hour Meter, Low Oil Shutdown, and Automatic Voltage Regulator for less hassle and added peace of mind
- CARB, EPA, CSA Certified & Includes: Quick Start Guide, User Manual, Spark Plug T Wrench, Combination Wrench, Philips Screw Driver, 1.1L of 10W30 Engine Oil, Funnel, and Propane Hose
Henry Ford set the standard for affordable quality for the everyday man with his model-T and this has been embedded in the brand’s reputation ever since. So it seems only logical that, when looking at affordable generators, we had to include a Ford model in this review. Pulsar and Ford have joined forces in their power equipment divisions. While the Ford FG11050PBE is not the same generator as the Pulsar G12KBN, they do have their similarities. I may be wrong, but it looks to me like they use exactly the same 457cc, OHV, 4-stroke engine. Yet the Ford doesn’t match the power output of the Pulsar, but slightly outperforms the Wen DF1100. Though it’s pretty close, with a peak power output of 11,050W when running on gas and a constant, running wattage of 9,000W. Using propane, the Ford FG11050PBE delivers 10,050 peak watts and 8,550 running watts.
The Ford is certainly a looker, with those shiny chrome coated wheels. Though this is purely cosmetic. The plastic wheels are basically the same as the other two and the chrome finish will tarnish over time. The frame and handles look to be as user-friendly and durable as what you’ll find on the Pulsar and Wen generators. Though I prefer the wrap-around metal control panel fitted to the Ford, it does a better job of protecting the engine and alternator, as well as the gas tank – which is also metal and holds an acceptable 6.6 gallons. Another thing that endears the Ford to me is the plastic dust / moisture covers protecting the electrical outlets.
Running on gas, you’ll get 10-hours runtime at 50% of its rated load. That works out at 6.48 kilowatt-hours per gallon. This is better than the Wen DF1100, but not quite as good as the Pulsar G12KBN. I was surprised that this fuel consumption figure didn’t match that of the Pulsar as the engines seem to be identical. Perhaps these engines are not the same. But I think it has more to do with the efficiency of the alternator – their output wattage is not the same. So, it seems logical that you won’t get the same kilowatts per hour from a gallon of gas, even the engines were identical.
I see that the Ford engine is CARB, CSA, and EPA certified, whereas I don’t see the same for the Pulsar. This could also affect gas consumption as the low-emission carburetors are not the same. Regardless, the Ford has a very reasonable, above average fuel consumption. For an open frame generator of this size, the Ford is quieter than most, with a maximum noise level of 78dBA. At 50% load the noise level is 74dBA. This is not exactly quiet, but considering it has no sound insulation panels, like silent generators do, this is not as noisy as I’d have expected.
Looking at usability, the Ford compares favorably to the bot the Wen and Pulsar generators. It has an electric starter with an easy to use switch for on, off, and start. It does not, however, have a recoil starter. This is something that may be disappointing if the battery runs flat. I’d recommend disconnecting the battery if the generator is going to stand unused for a prolonged period. This is advisable for any electric start gas engine. It has the usual outlets for any generator in this class: 4 X 120V, 20A household outlets; a 30A, 120V outlet, and a 30A 120V/240V outlet, as well as 12V DC outlet. Naturally, these circuits are protected by circuit breakers and tit has a digital hour meter.
Although slightly lighter than the two generators reviewed this far, the Ford is still heavy at 211-pounds. I doubt that anyone would notice the 3-pound weight difference. It also a dual fuel generator with the necessary connections for a propane tank.
Ford is undoubtedly one of the most recognized and trusted brands in the world, and has been for well over a century. This counts for a lot when buying a product like a generator. In context, the Ford FG11050PBE is by no means an expensive machine. But any generator of this size requires that you dig quite deep into your pockets. So having the reassurance of brand that is known to deliver on its promise certainly provides some peace of mind. The 2-year warranty is another reason to feel confident in your purchase.
DuroMax Hybrid Dual Fuel XP12000EH 12,000-Watt Portable Generator
- Dual Fuel Technology allows Generator to be run on Propane or Gas.
- Heavy duty frame with four point fully isolated motor mounts for smooth quiet operation.
- Full power panel with oil warning light, volt meter, circuit breaker and power outlets.
- Low oil shut-off protects engine.
- Quiet Muffler reduces engine noise.
- Run Time Gasoline – Up to 8 Hours at 1/2-Load
- Run Time Propane – Up to 8 Hours at 1/2-Load on 40 lb. Tank
- Full EPA and CARB Compliance allows for operation in all 50 States
The DuroMax XP12000EH appeals to my sensibility in that this looks like a super-durable machine. Not only is the metal tubing frame chunkier and tougher than most others, it also has metal plates that protect areas, like the gas tank. The solid rubber wheels are huge and these have metal rims. I’m not sure if many people share my dislike of plastic wheels, but it just seems to give the impression that these guys are more serious about building a generator that can be lugged around and take the knocks that you throw at it. The weight of 269 LBS indicates substantial use of heavy, more durable materials. This makes it the heaviest generator in this review, but I can live with that in the belief that it’s more likely to withstand tougher conditions. It has really good fold-down handles for moving the machine.
The 457cc, OHV engine starts easily with both electric and recoil starters. The engine seems to be very reliable and is EPA, as well as CARB certified (legal in all 50 states). Noise levels are pleasantly low at a rated 72dBA – this is even quieter than the Ford. It also has a spark arrestor fitted to the muffler. None of the other generators in this review mention a spark arrestor, but they probably also have this. Power output is fantastic with 12,000 watts starting power and 9,500 running watts when using gas. No mention is made of the power output for propane, but you can expect this to be in the normal range of around 15% lower than the gas.
Fuel consumption for the DuroMax XP12000EH is pretty disappointing. This would be my only real issue with this, otherwise magnificent generator. I calculate the kilowatt-hours per gallon to be 4.6 kwh/g. A far cry from any of the generators in this review and this is going to affect your long-term running costs. The good news is that it has a huge 8.3 gallon gas tank. So you’ll still get a fairly decent runtime from a tank – 8-hours at 50% load.
The control panel is well laid out with all the outlets that you’d want. At first, it may seem a little complicated as the DuroMax has more switches than most. There’s a big dial that selects either 120V or both 120V/240V. This is not normal on most generators, so some may find it a little confusing initially. It’s not that difficult to understand though. If you’re using only 120V, you use the 120V setting. If you want to use 240V, or both 120V and 240V simultaneously, you select the 240V/120V setting. There are also two 120V/240V outlets. All the other generators in this review only have a 50A 120V/240V twist lock outlet which is normally used to supply power to a transfer switch connected to home power supply.
The DuroMax XP12000EH has the usual 50A and a 30A 120V/240V RV-style outlet. It also has a 120V (only) 30A outlet. This means extra circuit breakers for the additional outlets. Unlike the other generators that have 4 X 120V, 20A household outlets, the DuroMax only has two. I don’t see this as a drawback and contractors will happy to know that the 20A outlets have GFCI protection. There’s also a 12VDC battery charging outlet. I find the old-school analog voltmeter to be a little quaint – most generators have gone digital for readouts. Though it doesn’t make a difference, you still get an accurate voltage reading. The DuroMax doesn’t have an hour meter.
As a powerful, dual fuel generator for a jobsite, home backup power, or camping, the DuroMax XP12000EH is a real winner. This is a tough, heavy beast and I’m more than impressed with the durable, heavy-duty build quality of this generator. The only thing that lets the DuroMax down is the high fuel consumption. This is one of the thirstiest generators in its class. The warranty, on the other hand, is one of the best: 3-year residential warranty, 1-year commercial warranty, and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
What can you run on an 11,000 watt generator?
The output wattages for all the generators in this review vary slightly. I’m going to stick with the 11KW peak power and 8,300W running power spec for the Wen DF1100 in calculating the equipment that you can run on this type of generator. Those with higher watt outputs will obviously have an advantage.
Before we calculate wattage for your home, jobsite, or RV, we need distinguish between running watts (rated power) and peak watts (surge power). This can be of most importance on a jobsite, as just about every power tool has a startup, or inrush current. At home, this will apply mostly to refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines/dryers and microwave ovens.
The equipment that I’ve just mentioned all require a higher wattage to start than they do when they are running. So, when a refrigerator starts, it is going to use 2-3 times the normal rated wattage than it does when it’s running. If you look at the spec for your refrigerator, it may give you a rated power of about 750W. However, when it starts, it will require about 2.250W for a very short time (usually less than a second) to get the electric motor running. Once it has started, the power consumption will revert to the rated power.
This can become complicated because you can never accurately determine what the startup current will be. Generally, I work on the size of the appliance or tool. Hand tools, like drills and saws under 700W, will normally start at twice the running current. Microwaves are also usually about twice the running current. Refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines will always have the highest startup current and, as a rule of thumb, I always estimate this to be three times the normal rated wattage. The same will apply to large angle grinders and circular or table saws, as well as air compressors.
Dual Fuel Generators
All of these generators have the option of running on gas or propane, so it would be a good idea to cover the pros and cons of dual fuel generators before reviewing the products. Both fuel types have their advantages, so having the option to use either, provides you with the best of both worlds.
Propane, or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), has grown in popularity because it is considered to be a more environmentally friendly alternative fuel to traditional gas-burning internal combustion engines. Harmful emissions are reduced when using propane.
Even people who are not too concerned about eco issues have found propane to be a more practical solution compared to gas. I like that the fact that propane is much safer to use. Propane is stored in tanks that are 100% sealed. So there’s no chance of any spillage during transportation. You also don’t have to transfer the LPG to a gas tank, further reducing your risk of spillage and possible fire hazards. Gas cans need to have a breather vent to deal with expansion and contraction as the temperature changes. This means that they constantly release gas fumes which are both unpleasant and pose some risk as these fumes are volatile and can ignite quite easily.
Propane is compressed into a pressurized tank which means you get a lot more fuel in a smaller volume container. For the equivalent runtime, you don’t need to transport or store the same volume of fuel. Propane is also less affected by adverse temperature conditions and can be stored indefinitely. Gas goes stale if stored for many months and, if left in the carburetor for extended periods, causes a harmful buildup that may prevent your generator from starting or running properly. Propane has none of these disadvantages, it is much less complicated to use.
One less obvious advantage that some users have noted, is that of availability. Though this can be a pro as well as a con. Propane is not as commonly available as gas and, in some areas, it may not be too easy to obtain. Though in times of natural disaster, when you depend on your generator the most, gas may be in short supply. Propane, being a less commonly used fuel, may be easier to come by in these times. This is simply because most people are going to stock up on gas for their cars and generators before or during a snow storm, hurricane or earthquake.
Fuel supply at the gas station may become depleted and, the fact that you’re experiencing a natural disaster, might make it impossible for supplies to be replenished. Because propane can be stored for prolonged periods of time, you’re also able to stock up on fuel long before disaster strikes and safely store it for when you need it. You also have the advantage of a fuel source that can be used for cooking and heating. You can use your propane tanks interchangeably between your generator, stove, and heater.
So far, it looks like propane is the best fuel source for a portable generator, but it’s not all that simple. As I mentioned, the supply of propane may not be the best in some areas. Prices may vary and, in some cases, propane may be more expensive.
While propane burns cleaner than gas, it has a lower calorific value, so it doesn’t produce the same energy as gas. This means that when a generator is running on propane, it produces a lower power output. Generally, you can expect 10 – 15% less wattage from your generator when running on propane. For example, when using gas, the Wen DF1100 produces a peak wattage of 11,000W and 8,300 running watts. If you’re using propane, this is reduced to 9,500 peak (surge) watts and 7,500 running (continuous) watts. So the main disadvantage to using propane is the lower power output.
Fortunately, all the models we’ll be reviewing are hybrid or dual fuel generators. So you have the choice to use either gas or propane, depending which is the most convenient (or available) at the time.
Calculating your household power needs for a generator
A starting wattage of 11,000 watts and running power of around 8,300 watts will probably not be enough to run your entire household. If you’re connecting your generator to your home using a transfer switch, you need to decide carefully which circuits you choose to run on generator backup power. You need to consider the likelihood of high-startup devices starting at the same time. If your refrigerator and air conditioner start at exactly the same time, you will have a very high peak demand for this short period. As both air conditioners and refrigerators cycle automatically, this is bound to happen at some point. For most other appliances, you can use your discretion. For example, you can decide not to use the microwave when there are other appliances drawing a lot of current. So you can end up with a total load demand that exceeds the capacity of your generator, as long as you never use everything at the same time.
To help you in calculating your household wattage demand, I’ve supplied typical wattage requirements for many common appliances. Remember that these values are indicative and may not be the same as the actual appliance that you are using. It’s always best, wherever possible, to obtain accurate wattage requirements for that particular appliance. These can be found displayed on the appliance or in the user’s handbook.