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Choosing the Right Backup Fuel: Propane vs Gas Generators

by chris@pkwydigital.com 3. July 2018 06:28

Choosing between a propane and gas-powered generator is difficult because there is no “right” answer that fits everyone’s circumstances. Before purchasing a backup power source, take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of propane vs gas generators.

Consider Fuel Availability

Your generator is no good in an emergency without fuel. Gasoline is easily accessible in everyday situations; however, gas pumps require electricity to work and gas is often in high demand during emergency situations. Unfortunately, gas is not easy to store as it’s highly flammable and degrades after about a year.

Propane requires more planning. You’ll need to install plumbing between your fuel and generator. A permanent tank may also be useful in the long run. Once your plumbing is installed and your tank is filled, you can store propane in it indefinitely.

Propane vs Gas Generator Run Time

Most portable residential gas generators include a built-in fuel tank with room for just a few gallons of gas. While this small amount of fuel does provide hours of electricity, the tank will need to be manually refilled multiple times a day.

Propane tanks are available in many sizes, from a single pound to 420 pounds (120 gallons) and beyond. With a standard propane tank installation, your generator will operate for days uninterrupted, depending on the load required.

Address Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Propane generators’ greatest downside for many homeowners is their complicated mechanics. This introduces a greater chance of failure and makes them more difficult to fix in emergency situations.

Climate and Natural Disasters

The regulator on a propane tank is susceptible to freezing in extremely cold temperatures. This makes gasoline a more reliable fuel source in cold climates. If you live in a region where natural disasters (earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, etc.) are common, consider how they will affect your fuel. For example, storing gas in a wildfire-prone area is more dangerous. In areas affected by earthquakes, certain precautions must be taken to use a propane tank.

Propane vs Gasoline Generator Efficiency

Propane generators are less efficient than gas generators, producing fewer BTUs per gallon of fuel. However, propane is a cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline, making it better for both the environment and your generator. Gas does not burn cleanly, so it will release a higher number of toxins into the air and leave more carbon deposits in your generator’s engine.

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