When storm season arrives and electricity disruptions become a serious possibility, wise households are already prepared. Choosing the appropriate generator for you and your family before stormy weather strikes can mean the difference between being left in the dark and not. But how can you know which generator is best for you? While gas-powered generators may be less expensive initially, propane-powered generators can save you money in the long term.
Whole-house generators consume two to three pounds of propane per hour. A 100-pound tank feeding a 3-kW generator can run for an average of 96 hours, a 7-kW generator for 66 hours, and a 12-kW generator for 36 hours, depending on the kilowatt use.
Propane generators are less efficient than gas generators, producing fewer BTUs per gallon of fuel. Propane, on the other hand, burns cleaner than gasoline and is thus better for the environment as well as your generator.
The run time of these two types of generators is likewise different. A gasoline-powered portable generator will typically run for 7.5 to 12 hours continuously, a propane-powered portable generator for up to 8 days if constantly refueled, and a standby natural gas generator for up to 3 weeks.
The decision between a gas and a propane generator comes down to what you intend to use it for. This essay will offer you a framework to assist you in making the right decision.
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What’s the Difference between Gas and Propane?
When it comes to heating or fueling automobiles, natural gas and propane are both quite popular. Despite the fact that they are frequently used interchangeably, there are significant differences between them.
Natural gas and propane have many similarities as well as variances. Both fossil fuels are odorless, colorless, and clean-burning.
Propane is a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly fuel than natural gas. Gas pipes are used to transport natural gas to homes. Propane is stored in propane tanks and distributed to customers. Finally, whereas propane weighs more than air, natural gas weighs less. Leaks of propane become more harmful as a result of this.
Propane vs Gas Generator
Fuel is required to run any generator. This has always been either gas or diesel in past. In recent years, however, propane, also known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), has grown in popularity as a generator fuel.
Propane has combustion properties that are quite similar to regular gasoline, thus it may be used with the same carburetor. This allows you to utilize any type of fuel in the same generator, as long as it was built to work with both. Dual-fuel generators can run on gas or propane.
What are Propane Generators?
Propane generators work similarly to other generators in that they transform energy produced by propane burning into electricity. Propane is a by-product of the natural gas and petroleum refining industries. Propane generators are available in both standby and portable models and can be used to power a variety of appliances and machinery.
Propane, when used as generator fuel, can provide a number of critical advantages not seen in other types of generator fuel. Propane is a clean-burning gas with a long shelf life. A propane tank with a capacity of fewer than 100 pounds has an average expiration date of 12 years from the date of manufacturing.
Once the tank has reached its expiration date, it must be replaced or evaluated to see whether re-qualification is possible, which might extend the tank’s life by another five years.
While propane generators are one of the most environmentally friendly and long-lasting alternatives, they do have certain drawbacks. Propane generators are more expensive than gasoline generators, which are more inexpensive.
Furthermore, propane generators are reported to produce up to 30% less heat than gasoline-powered devices. Propane generators are also larger than gasoline generators, which makes them more difficult to maneuver.
What are Gas Generators?
Due to their effectiveness and cost, gasoline-powered generators remain one of the most common types of generators. An internal combustion engine drives a rotating shaft to turn an armature in a gas generator. The armature generates electromagnetic induction, which aids in the operation of the gasoline generator.
There are several advantages to using gas generators rather than propane generators. The cost of gas is one of the most prominent reasons people pick it.
Purchase and installation costs for gasoline generators are often substantially lower. Depending on the type and features, basic portable generators for usage at home or at campsites might cost anywhere from $500 to $4,000 or more. It’s critical to pick a generator that can power all of the items you’ll need in an emergency.
Of course, there are some disadvantages to using a gas generator instead of a propane generator. When left in a generator tank, gas, unlike propane, degrades over time. To maintain the quality of the fuel, it must be replaced on a regular basis. If you want the gasoline in a generator or other tank to stay fresh, you should replace it at least every six months.
How do Propane And Gas Generators work?
When a propane generator is turned on, the propane is burned, producing heat and energy. Inside the generator is a mixture of ammonia and water. The heat created by the burning of propane raises the temperature of this combination, causing it to burn and release ammonia gas.
Natural gas generators produce power by burning natural gas. They function similarly to gas generators, however instead of liquid fuel, they use gas fuel. To generate electricity in a natural gas generator, a mixture of fuel and air is injected into a combustion chamber and compressed by a piston.
Fuel Consumption Propane vs Gasoline
In an emergency, your generator is useless without fuel. In normal conditions, gasoline is commonly accessible; yet, gas pumps require electricity to operate, and gas is frequently in great demand during emergency situations. Unfortunately, because gas is very volatile and degrades after roughly a year, it is difficult to preserve.
Propane necessitates more preparation. You’ll need to connect your gasoline and generator using plumbing. In the long run, a permanent tank may be useful as well. You may keep propane in your tank indefinitely once your plumbing is installed and your tank is filled.
Propane Vs Gas Generator – Cold Climate
In exceptionally cold weather, the regulator on a propane tank is prone to freezing. In cold climes, this makes gasoline a more reliable fuel source. If you reside in an area prone to natural calamities (earthquakes, wildfires, storms, etc.) think about how they may affect your fuel.
Keeping gas in a wildfire-prone area, for example, is riskier. Certain care must be considered when using a propane tank in earthquake-prone areas.
Propane Vs Gas Generator – Run Time
Most portable household gas generators come with a built-in fuel tank that holds only a few gallons of gas. While this small amount of fuel provides hours of electricity, the tank must be manually replaced several times every day.
Propane tanks come in a variety of capacities, ranging from a single pound to 420 pounds (120 gallons) and beyond. Depending on the load, a conventional propane tank installation will allow your generator to run for days on end.
Propane Vs Gas Generator – Noise
When you start a generator, you’re actually starting an engine! So, whether you like it or not, there will be noise (mostly not). However, some generators are quieter than others. Propane generators are far less noisy than natural gas generators.
Is Propane Generator Better Than Gas?
A propane generator can assist you in being prepared for emergency circumstances such as: Because propane fuel is stored in individual or bulk cylinders, it is available even when the gas pumps are turned off. Unlike gasoline, which degrades after a few months without stabilizers, propane has an indefinite shelf life.
Natural gas has approximately 1,040 BTUs per cubic foot, whereas propane has approximately 2,490 BTUs per cubic foot. This means you’ll use more than twice as much natural gas as propane in the same amount of time. However, if you are concerned about running out of fuel, propane is a better option because it will last longer.
Pros of Propane Generators
More environmentally friendly than gas
“When compared to gasoline engines, propane engines emit 13% less CO2, 20% less NOX, and 60% less CO.” They also emit 80% less smog-causing hydrocarbon emissions than diesel engines, according to the National Propane Gas Association.
It’s easier to refuel
You’ll have a constant supply as long as the propane tanker can get to your property. You can power your home in the event of a long-term emergency if you have a large propane tank.
There is no expiration date
Unlike gas, propane can outlast the tank in which it is stored.
Quieter than gas
If maintaining a calm and quiet environment is important to you, propane may be your best bet.
More potent than gasoline
“The largest gas generator is typically regarded as little more than a survival’ machine capable of running a few appliances and lights — and making a lot of noise!” “A fixed propane generator, on the other hand, typically starts at around 15000 watts and can supply all of the home’s demands for practically endless periods of time (as long as propane delivery is available),” states Energy & Climate.
Cons of Propane Generators
More costly machines
Stationary propane generators are more expensive because they can power your complete home (including the HVAC system!).
More difficult to repair
Stationary propane generators, like any other machine, require routine maintenance to stay in top shape. Professional generator maintenance will be essential if you want to get the most out of your generator.
Less efficient than natural gas
According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, “a gallon of propane provides 27 percent less energy than a gallon of gasoline.”
Pros of Gasoline Generators
More efficient fuel source
Gas produces more power per gallon than propane.
The most prevalent type of portable generator
Portable gas generators are useful for camping and other outdoor activities.
Under typical conditions, gasoline is easily accessible
Gas is commonly available in non-emergency scenarios.
Less expensive to buy and maintain
Because gasoline generators are simpler equipment that can only power a few appliances at a time, they demand less investment.
Cons of Gasoline Generators
Difficult to find fuel in an emergency
When a natural catastrophe strikes, gas stations frequently close, making it difficult to use a gas generator for long-term power supply if you do not have a significant stock of gasoline.
Fuel is more expensive
Gasoline prices have been known to skyrocket, particularly in times of emergency.
Gasoline storage is more difficult
Because gasoline might expire, it takes some foresight to keep a supply of good gasoline on hand.
It is riskier to stockpile fuel
The difficulties of storing gasoline and refueling a gas generator are more dangerous than those of propane.
Are Propane Generators Quieter Than Gas?
Propane is a low-cost fuel, often costing 30-40% less than other fuel kinds. Propane also burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel, lowering a business’s carbon footprint. Furthermore, because propane generators are silent, there is no need to worry about disturbing neighbors when working in a residential area.
Can a propane generator run on natural gas?
Yes, a propane generator can be converted to run on natural gas, but only with some modifications and a conversion kit for that specific type. The orifice through which the gas travels must be changed to account for the varied pressures of natural gas. For many propane generators, a natural gas conversion kit is available.
Problems with converting generator to natural gas
Converting your gasoline-powered generator to natural gas not only saves you money on fuel but also protects the environment and extends the life of your portable generator. So, is it possible to convert a gas-powered generator to run on natural gas?
While some may answer “no!” owing to safety concerns, it is entirely possible. Converting from gasoline to natural gas is actually quite straightforward and inexpensive if the proper safety equipment, tools, and procedures are used.
- Safety may be a concern (natural gas leaks).
- Availability of natural gas in your area.
Which is Better – Natural gas or Propane generator?
There are numerous aspects to consider when deciding between propane and natural gas generators for your home. Propane has a higher energy density than natural gas, although it is more expensive.
Natural gas is roughly 40% less expensive than propane, making it the more cost-effective fuel for your generator.
Natural gas is not a possibility in many regions, or the cost of increasing service to meet demand restricts its appeal.
Propane can be securely and conveniently stored on your property, making it the better alternative for individuals or companies without access to a natural gas line.
Portable Gas Generator Vs Stand By Propane Generator
Standby propane generators are superior to portable gas generators because propane delivers constant, clean-burning power that works dependably in all weather conditions, including the low temperatures common in Pennsylvania in January and February. It’s also less expensive per gallon than gasoline or diesel, which may add up quickly during a long outage.
Propane vs Gas Generator – FAQs
To Sum Up
It is tough to choose between propane and a gas-powered generator because there is no “perfect” answer that matches everyone’s needs.
Propane generators, in my opinion, are more efficient than gas generators, producing fewer BTUs per gallon of fuel. Propane is a cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline, so it is better for the environment as well as your generator. Because gas does not burn cleanly, it emits more toxins into the air and leaves more carbon deposits in your generator’s engine.