Portable generators are an amazing thing to have. They can provide power to your RV, keep the music going when you’re camping, and even power your refrigerator when the power is out. A dual fuel generator is even better, as you have two fuel options which you can switch between on the fly if one fuel runs out.
Getting to grips with the different types of dual fuel generator can be tough, though, and that’s where this guide comes in. We’ve lined up some reviews of top dual fuel generators, followed by an in depth buying guide that covers everything you need to know to get the best dual fuel generator for your home, RV, or next fishing trip.
Best Dual Fuel Generator Reviews
1. The Winner
This Champion portable generator gives a generous power output for a modestly sized dual fuel generator. It is more than capable of running your RV with power to spare and can even serve comfortably as a partial home backup generator.
It measures in at 27.8 (L) x 28.7 (W) x 26 (H) inches and weighs a chunky 200.6 pounds. Thankfully it has a pair of solid tires and makes maneuvering this generator easy.
This is a full dual fuel model, able to switch between gasoline and propane on the fly. It’s a great convenience to know that if you’re running out of gas, you don’t have to turn everything off and restart the generator; instead you can just switch over to propane without missing a beat. As with all portable generators that run on gas, you should strive to get ethanol free gasoline to store in the onboard 6.1 gallon tank.
Power output varies depending on the fuel source. Propane fuel provides 6750 running watts with 8400 peak starting watts, while gasoline ups that to 7500 running watts and 9375 starting watts. That’s because gasoline has more stored chemical energy than propane. However, propane is cleaner and quieter.
This isn't among the best dual fuel generators for quiet operation: while on gas, it kicks out 74 decibels, which some may find a little noisy. Still, on propane this can drop to about 66 to 69 decibels, which is acceptable given the power output.
The plug set on this Champion is extremely generous, with a full four standard household outlets that each gives 120 volts @ 20 amps. They are also GFCI, so if there is any trouble, they will automatically cut off. There is also a pair of 120 volt @ 30 amp plugs (RV ready TT-30R and L14-30R locking outlet).
There is no DC outlet on this dual fuel generator, but with the other plugs, you barely miss it.
The Champion 100296 has an electric start button with a battery. It also has Champion’s Intelligauge, which keeps track of run time hours, voltage, hertz, and other maintenance issues. On a full load of gas, it will run for about 8 hours at 50% load. With a 20 pound propane tank, you’ll get about 5.5 hours at 50% load.
Read Full Review: Champion 7500-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator
- Dual fuel portable generator (gasoline and propane)
- 7500 running watts and 9375 starting watts on gasoline
- 6750 running watts and 8400 starting watts on propane
- 74 decibels
- 6.1 gallon fuel tank
- 3.3 foot propane hose with regulator included
- Electric start button
- 8 hours of run time on half load (gasoline)
- Plug Set:
- (4) Standard Household @ 120V/20A
- (1) TT-30R RV receptacle @ 120V/30A
- (1) L14-30R receptacle @ 120V/30A
2. Runner Up
This is a mid-sized dual fuel generator that puts out a modest amount of power that can power a few appliances or give your RV a hand when it comes to running things.
The unit weighs in at 109 pounds and measures 24 (L) x 23 (W) x 21.5 (H) inches. It has solid wheels and an extendable handle to make it easy to move this generator around.
As a dual fuel generator, the OHV engine can use either propane or regular gasoline. Your propane will usually come from a 20 pound cylinder like you find at most gas stations. Because of the low power output, this portable generator really isn’t suitable for an emergency backup generator.
As for gasoline, this generator has a 4 gallon tank.
Wattage for this unit will vary depending on the fuel source. While using propane, you have 3240 running watts and 4180 starting watts. On gasoline, the output increases to 3600 running watts and 4650 peak starting watts.
It’s also average when it comes to sound; the OHV engine produces 69 decibels at full load on gasoline. While on propane, it will be a little quieter and of course, if you decrease the load demand, it will quiet even farther.
When it comes to plugs, this Westinghouse switches things up a little bit. It eschews any 12 volt DC outlet in favor of an additional outlet 120 volt @ 30 amps. This one is an L5-30R locking plug. It also has a regular TT-30R RV ready receptacle that has 120 volts @ 30 amps. There are finally two standard household plugs that provide 120 volts @ 20 amps.
This portable dual fuel generator has an electric start button, with a remote starter that has a 100 yard range. At 25% load, it has a run time of up to 18 hours while on gasoline. Of course, with the dual fuel, you can always change over to propane on the fly without ever shutting off your generator.
Read Full Review: Westinghouse WGen3600DF Dual Fuel Generator
- Dual fuel portable generator (gasoline and propane)
- 3600 running watts and 4650 starting watts on gasoline
- 3240 running watts and 4180 starting watts on propane
- 69 decibels
- 4.0 gallon fuel tank
- Includes 4 foot propane hose and regulator
- Electric start with remote operation
- 18 hours of run time on quarter load (gasoline)
- Plug Set:
- (2) Standard Household @ 120V/20A
- (1) TT-30R RV receptacle @ 120V/30A
- (1) L5-30R receptacle @ 120V/30A
3. Other Great Option
This is a big dual fuel generator that can kick out a lot of power. As long as you don’t live in California, this is a great dual fuel portable generator for your RV as well as potentially working as a backup generator for your home. The reason we mention California, is because while this generator is EPA certified, it has not passed the stricter CARB qualifications.
It is 209 pounds at 28.5 (L) x 22.2 (W) x 21.8 (H) inches. It has solid wheels and a dropdown handle set, so moving it is fairly easy.
As a dual fuel model, this generator can easily switch between propane and gasoline on the fly.
For gasoline, there is an onboard 6.6 gallon tank.
This portable dual fuel generator comes with a propane hose and regulator, but if you are using it as a home backup generator, investing in an underground storage tank may be worth it rather than trying to store 20 pound cylinders.
In terms of power output, when running on propane, you’re going to get 7000 running watts and 9000 starting watts. On gasoline, you get 8000 running watts and a full 10,000 peak starting watts. That’s more than enough power to serve as a partial panel backup generator.
Because this is a more powerful dual fuel generator, the 420cc 4-stroke single cylinder engine will have a higher noise level than other smaller models. It produces 74 decibels, which is about the same noise level as a vacuum cleaner.
The plug set is extremely generous. You get a full four standard household plugs that are all GFCI rated. Additionally, the TT-30R RV ready plug and locking L14-30R plug can both produce 120 and 240 volts at 30 amps.
There is also a set of DC poles that provide battery charging capability with the right adaptor.
This dual fuel generator has an electric start button, but also has a recoil pull cord as a backup measure. On a full fuel tank of gasoline, this 10,000 watt dual fuel generator will run for about 12 hours at 50 percent load.
Read Full Review: Pulsar Non-CARB 10,000W Dual Fuel Portable Generator
- Dual fuel portable generator (gasoline and propane)
- 8000 running watts and 10,000 starting watts on gasoline
- 7000 running watts and 9000 starting watts on propane
- 74 decibels
- 6.6 gallon fuel tank
- Short propane hose with regulator included
- Electric start
- 12 hours of run time on half load (gasoline)
- Plug Set:
- (4) Standard Household @ 120V/20A
- (1) TT-30R RV receptacle @ 120/240V/50A
- (1) L14-30R receptacle @ 120/240V/30A
- (1) DC 12V/8.3A Battery Charging inputs
Dual Fuel Generator Buying Guide
Now you've seen our reviews of some great dual fuel generators, it's time to get down to business. In this buying guide we'll cover all you need to know about the ins and outs of dual fuel, along with the main features you'll need to think about when choosing the best model for you.
What Is the Difference Between Single Fuel and Dual Fuel Generators?
In essence, a dual fuel generator is able to use two types of fuel to produce electricity. In most cases, they can even switch between the two on the fly, allowing for continuous running.
Single fuel generators on the other hand, run strictly on one fuel source. When you run out of fuel, you have to turn the generator off, unplug everything, refuel, and then restart.
There are specific advantages and disadvantages of dual fuel systems which we'll cover later.
For now, you might be wondering why you should think about a dual fuel system.
Why Get a Dual Fuel Generator?
A dual fuel generator gives you more of what you buy a portable generator for: peace of mind. But when it comes down to it, a dual fuel portable generator is only as good as a) the power it can supply, and b) its run time.
Think about it: if you’re in the middle of a power outage, different fuel sources may become scarcer. Gasoline may become in short supply, which will make you glad that you can grab a few cans of propane to extend your run time.
If you're using a dual fuel generator as a whole home backup generator, then you can rely on your propane fuel tank or utility gas lines. Either way, more fuel options means greater peace of mind.
Things to Consider
• How Will It Be Used?
Do you need your generator as an RV generator, or are you going to use it as a home backup generator for when the power goes out?
These are important considerations that will determine what type and what size generator you should be getting.
• How Much Power Will You Need?
Every generator has a different running wattage and peak starting wattage output. You need to figure out how big a dual fuel generator you need for the appliances you want to run. When you do look at the wattage requirements, you should also take into account the starting wattage.
Starting wattage is the amount of power that an appliance needs when it’s first starting or when it runs on load.
Generally, an appliance consumes less electricity when idling than it does when it’s actively running. That’s running vs. peak starting wattage, and both need to be taken into consideration.
• How Long Will You Be Running It?
The number of hours that you anticipate running will determine what type of fuel and what size tank you should be considering. All manufacturers will give an average run time in hours, usually based on half or quarter load output. You'll also need to consider if the area you’re using the generator in has rules or regulations regarding the operating time of the generator.
• How Noisy Is It?
Nobody likes noise pollution, least of all most RV parks. And if you’re going to be using your generator on a camping trip, the last thing you want is something so noisy that you can’t enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
When you’re thinking about noise level, go with propane air cooled engines, which will be much quieter than an equivalent sized gas powered model.
• How Big Should You Get?
The size of the generator will tell you how easy it is to pack in and pack out of places. It is also a consideration when you’re storing it.
If you’re using it as an RV generator, then you probably have a generator shelf installed on the back of your RV. Keep that in mind when you compare sizes for your generator
Some of the best dual fuel generators can weigh over 100 pounds, which means that you might have trouble picking it up and carrying it around. Look for generators with solid wheels that won’t go flat and handles that make it comfortable to push and pull them into place.
If your generator is heavy and not so easy to get to, consider getting a model with a remote electric start, which will save you from having to go to the generator to start it manually.
There are also generators that can be run in parallel, nearly doubling their power output. If that’s the case, then you want to be able to put them side by side, or ideally, stack them on top of each other. Look for those options as well.
• Do You Need a Transfer Switch?
If you’re going to use your dual fuel generator as a whole home or even a partial panel backup, then you should definitely get a manual switch. This switch will let you cut the feed coming from the utility to your circuit breaker box and instead take electricity from your generator.
This is important, because if you hook up your generator to your main box and don’t have the cut off in place, a disaster could happen. If the utility restores power, it will come into your box and could blow the main panel, start an electrical fire, or worse.
• Fuel Sources
Generators run on four types of fuel: diesel, gasoline, propane, and natural gas. A dual fuel generator can ideally have any combination of those four.
There's no single best dual fuel solution: each combination opens up new possibilities for your fuel and its accessibility. Our discussion of the different fuel types later in this guide will help you decide which combination is best for you.
• What About Sensitive Electronics?
When it comes to generators, you want to avoid plugging your phone or laptop directly into a generator unless it has inverter tech. The reason is because without the inverter technology that smooths out that phase switching, you can get some distortion that can blow out sensitive electronics.
The best solution is to get a dual fuel inverter generator from the get-go, but if your generator isn’t an inverter generator, get a good AVR which will regulate the voltage and smooth out the spikes and distortion.
Propane is an easily obtained fuel that can be found at nearly every grocery store and gas station. You can even get a home storage tank and deliveries to keep it topped off.
Keep in mind that if you do choose to install a home tank, your city or town will have definite regulations about where it can be installed on your property.
- Stores easily for a long time with little to no decay or breakdown
- Easily available during most power outages, barring extreme natural disasters
- Propane generators last longer than other fuel types
- Lower noise level from propane generators
- Installation of an LPG system for a home tank can be complicated and requires extra plumbing.
- At extreme subzero temperatures, propane will start to become less effective as a fuel source.
- Tank installations can be expensive, running up to $1500 for an above ground, and $2000 for a below ground tank.
- Because propane plumbing can be ruptured, causing dangerous leaks, you should not use them in earthquake zones.
2. Natural Gas
Natural gas for a dual fuel generator is almost always brought to you as a utility. That means that you don’t have to store any of it at home, as long as the utility is running, you have fuel.
However, just as with propane, seismic activity can disrupt gas lines. Also, at higher elevations, gas is often not available because rarified air disrupts carbon monoxide sensors in gas burning appliances.
- Fuel is unlimited in supply from the utility company
- Clean burning
- Emission compliant fuel source
- Also a much quieter generator than gasoline and diesel powered engines
- Provides significantly less wattage than propane or gasoline
- Less efficient than other fuel types, leading to higher operating costs
- Initial plumbing lines are fixed and can lead to higher installation costs
- Broken natural gas lines are extremely flammable and dangerous
By far the most common type of portable generator, gasoline is readily available and able to be carried quite easily. There are a few things to keep in mind with gasoline, however.
For starters, you should never store gasoline for longer than a few weeks. Especially if your gas has ethanol in it. Ethanol will readily bind with oxygen and form water in your gas, reducing its effectiveness and leading to greater engine damage.
If you do have to store your gasoline for long periods of time, make sure you add a stabilizer to it. These will extend the shelf life of gas up to 12 months. Never store gasoline in closed sheds where temperatures can rise, and always ensure there is adequate ventilation.
- Easy to find and transport
- Very short shelf life without stabilizing additives
- Very volatile and dangerous to store without taking proper precautions
- Gasoline can become scarce during winter storms and other natural disasters because of hoarding.
- Gas prices can be very expensive compared to other types of fuel
- Less efficient than diesel when it comes to generators.
Advantages of Dual Fuel Generators
Dual fuel generators are extremely handy to have and have some distinct advantages over single fuel generators. Here are the main reasons that you’re going to love a dual fuel generator.
• Uninterrupted Power Output
You want your travel generator to do one thing, and that’s produce wattage. It can’t do that if it runs out of gas. With a dual fuel generator, if you’re running low on gasoline, you can hook up a propane tank and switch right over without losing a beat. And then you have time to go refill your gas tanks.
There may be times when you can’t find gas; it could be because there’s a winter storm in the area and people have filled up every can they have. It could also be that you’re in an area where there are no propane tanks.
Having a dual fuel generator means you aren’t tied to one particular fuel source, and that gives you versatility and freedom.
Dual fuel generators, because they can switch back and forth, are more effective to have in the case of a power outage. That means that you can be the house with the working heater or air conditioner. You'll also have a refrigerator that doesn’t hold a couple hundred dollars of spoiled food.
Dual fuel generators are easy to care for. As long as you do regular oil changes and don’t leave gas in the tank for months at a time, your generator is going to be happy.
A once per year visit to a maintenance shop will make sure that your dual fuel generator keeps running for a very long time.
It’s not just convenience that a dual fuel generator gives you. It’s also a lack of inconvenience. As in, you’re not inconvenienced because you ran out of gas. You’re not inconvenienced because your propane tank is empty.
You have options and that means that it’s always easy and convenient for you to have power output for your RV or your camping trip with your buddies.
Pretty much all generators are durable, but because dual fuel generators have more parts, manufacturers are generally going to make sure that they work well and last longer. And because they burn propane, you’re going to find more air cooled engines, which have a longer life span and are easier to maintain than other types of small engine.
Disadvantages of Dual Fuel Generators
Don’t be mistaken: even the best dual fuel generators have their disadvantages. But those disadvantages can be small potatoes compared to the advantages that they bring.
Here are some of the disadvantages that a dual fuel generator can have vs. a single fuel generator. If you’d like to read more about single fuel generators, we have more portable generator reviews here.
Dual fuel generators are more expensive, hands down, than an equivalently powerful single fuel generator. That’s to be expected. However, the versatility is what you’re paying for in the end.
• Fuel Storage
When you have two different types of fuel sources for your generator, you’re going to have to figure out how to store two different types of fuel.
If you’re looking to use your dual fuel generator as a home backup generator, you’ll want to look into a permanent storage tank. An underground 500 gallon propane tank can add a couple thousand dollars to the price tag. But that also means you won’t be stuck using multiple little canisters either.
• Power Levels
Each type of fuel has its own efficiency as we explained above.
Propane is less efficient than gasoline when it comes to producing wattage, and that can mean that you have to buy a more expensive unit than if you were just going on diesel or gasoline alone. Again, it’s the extra price of the convenience that the dual fuel generator gives you.
Dual fuel generators are generally larger and heavier than their brethren. That’s because the dual fuel has to accommodate different types of fuel pumps for the different types of fuel. So if you are trying to fit a dual fuel generator into a small space, you might have some things to think about.
Other Things to Consider
When you’re looking at a dual fuel generator, then there are four things that you should really consider other than the ones we already mentioned. These are things to think about after you’ve narrowed your decision down to one or two units.
It’s always worth going back over your power requirement worksheet to ensure you’ve calculated everything you want your portable generator to run. As a rule of thumb, once we’ve tallied everything up, we bump up the requirement by 10 percent just to be safe.
It used to be that you didn’t want to get too powerful of a generator because you didn’t want to risk burning out your circuits. However, new generators are able to flex to the load requirement. You can go to any percentage of the load capability and the motor will adjust to provide that power.
Also make sure that you’ve taken care of all of the peak starting wattages that you need. Refrigerators, air conditioners, space heaters, and anything else that has a compressor or pump that cycles will require additional power during those periods. You want to make sure you have the wiggle room to accommodate this.
Safety should always be a concern.
First, remember that generators are internal combustion motors at their heart, and because of that, they produce fumes. Make sure that you have space and location to run your generator outdoors. Never run one inside: the carbon monoxide fumes can overwhelm and kill you quicker than you realize.
Next, look for a generator that has a low oil shutdown switch or a cutoff switch for overheating. We’re all human; sometimes we forget to do simple things like check the oil. Having a safety automatic cutoff for those situations will save you thousands of dollars.
There’s more to a generator than just the cost of the generator. You need to calculate in the cost of fuel, the cost of maintenance, and the cost of storage. If you’re storing your generator on a generator rack on your RV, you want to calculate the cost of a cover as well.
Then there are plug accessories that you might need. You should never use a small residential extension cord with a generator. Only use large gauge wire outdoor rated extension cords. All of these things can be small costs, but they add up quickly.
• Local Rules and Regulations
Local townships and boroughs will have ordinances in place that will determine how far away from your home a generator has to be as well as how noisy they can be.
Additionally, if you’re wiring in a manual transfer switch, then you have to calculate the cost of the permits to do electrical work in your home and the cost of a licensed contractor.
If you’re using it on your RV, make sure you know what the generator hours are for your particular park. Most parks restrict the use of a generator before 8am and after 8pm. Knowing these rules can keep you from getting fined.
If you’re going to use a portable generator in the United States, you want to make sure that it is EPA compliant for emissions.
This ensures that your generator doesn’t produce excessive amounts of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, or excess particles.
If you live in California, your generator needs to be CARB compliant as well. CARB stands for the California Air Resource Board, and they are the clean air agency that manages both air quality and emissions.
CARB also determines when you can use a generator in California when it comes to larger models. For the most part, portable generators like these dual fuel generators are able to be used whenever you need them. However, as soon as you cross over the 50 kilowatt threshold, you become subject to more stringent regulations. It’s worth knowing what those are in case you ever decide to invest in a larger whole home generator.
You can find the CARB regulations here.
• Other Features
Some other features will be manufacturer supplied bells and whistles, or things that take advantage of technology. Some examples are a fuel gauge, safety extension cord, extra mobility kit or wheel kit, cold start technology, low oil shut off, or a remote controlled electric start.
Dual Fuel Generator Comparison Chart
|Sportsman GEN4000DF||3500 Running Watts/4000 Starting||3.6 gallon gas tank||94 pounds||9|
|Westinghouse WGen3600DF||3600 running/4650 starting||4.0 gallon gas tank||109 pounds||9|
|Champion 100296||7500 running/9375 starting||6.1 gallon gas tank||202.4 lbs||9|
|Pulsar Non-CARB||8000 running/10,000 starting||6.6 gallon gas tank||209 lbs||9|
There’s no question that dual fuel generators are a great way to make sure that you’re never out of power in an emergency, whether you’re on the road or at home. Hopefully these reviews were able to help you find something that works for you.
If you’re still not sure about the best dual fuel generator for your needs or you want to see what a whole house generator can do, check out our other reviews and buying guides for everything from the quietest portable generators to solar powered generators.
- 1 Best Dual Fuel Generator Reviews
- 2 Dual Fuel Generator Buying Guide
- 2.1 What Is the Difference Between Single Fuel and Dual Fuel Generators?
- 2.2 Why Get a Dual Fuel Generator?
- 2.3 Things to Consider
- 2.4 Fuel Types
- 2.5 Advantages of Dual Fuel Generators
- 2.6 Disadvantages of Dual Fuel Generators
- 2.7 Other Things to Consider
- 3 Dual Fuel Generator Comparison Chart
- 4 Conclusion