Propane Generator Reviews: The Magnificent 7
Back when I first started looking into buying a generator for my home, I was overwhelmed. Luckily, I had an ace in my hand.
You see, my brother is a mechanical engineer and happily goes full "engineer geek" when it comes to these kinds of things. The more I researched and the more we talked about which ones are the best and for what and why, the longer my notes grew. And the more I learned.
It later occurred to me just how much I'd learned talking to my engineer brother. I'd compiled a lot of useful information that I'd translated into layman's terminology so it made sense to me. Our reviews will help anyone in the same position I was in back when I first started looking at generators. Reading these reviews of propane generators will save you a tremendous amount of time and aggravation.
You’ll benefit from the 100+ hours (conservatively-yes, I can be a little obsessive) I spent researching and reading on my own PLUS the 16 hours (I know this, I actually checked my cell phone bills) on the phone with my brother talking and comparing notes. So take advantage of us, it’s to your benefit. All our reviews are thorough and highlight key points to help you decide which generator is best for you. In a hurry?… No time to read all the reviews?…No problem. Take a shortcut and check out our list of the best propane generators, what we call “The Magnificent 7,” for the bottom line.
You’ll benefit from the 100+ hours (conservatively-yes, I can be a little obsessive) I spent researching and reading on my own PLUS the 16 hours (I know this, I actually checked my cell phone bills) on the phone with my brother talking and comparing notes.
So take advantage of us, it’s to your benefit. All our reviews are thorough and highlight key points to help you decide which generator is best for you.
In a hurry?… No time to read all the reviews?…
No problem. Take a shortcut and check out our list of the best propane generators, what we call “The Magnificent 7,” for the bottom line.
Size - Watts
(Propane, Gas, Diesel, Nat Gas)
8 hrs (G)
9 hrs (G)
8 hrs (P)
9 hrs (gas)
10.5 hrs (P)
10 hrs (gas)
12 hrs (P)
Brand New 2017 Model - Not Yet Rated
Or do you just have a pressing question you want a quick answer to?…
We have you covered here too. Just click on the table below to go straight to the answer.
How Do I Know What Size Generator I Need?
We’ve put together an easy to use tool that helps you calculate how much power you’ll need to replace if the power goes out in your neighborhood. It also has instructions on how to use it. The difference between running wattage and surge wattage (sometimes called starting wattage) is explained and how to factor them into calculations.
As a rough rule of thumb, most people running basic home appliances and devices can get along with 3,000 to 6,500 watts. This range is based on average loads and uses. So if your home is on the smaller side and you don’t run your air conditioner or furnace, you’ll be on the lower end of this range. If you have a larger home and need to run a furnace or central air conditioner frequently, you’ll be on the upper end. Your use might be even higher depending on your circumstances. For example, if you run a pump for a sump or to get well water, your power needs will be greater.
Who Sells Propane Generators? The Reviews…
The Best Propane-only Generator
If you’re looking for straight propane generator, without the ability to run another fuel, the Powermate is a great option. It offers 6,875 starting watts and 5,500 running watts, which should comfortably keep most of your appliances running.
It will conveniently house a 20 or 30-pound propane tank within its steel frame, which makes this generator highly portable. Or you can connect a larger stationary tank directly to it if you don’t need to move it. This will save you from having to switch out tanks as often—a real convenience.
Two emergency situations worked perfectly. Lost power last snow storm and this piece of equipment ran Furnace, Frig, Internet, several lights, TV, Gas stove, 7 and a half hours and the 20 lb tank had what i estimate as another hour to two hours worth of propane left. arrival and set up where quick ans simple, 20 lb tanks mount easily. I would and may but a second unit just to have on hand and at work.
Amazon Verified Purchaser
Running at 50% capacity, you can expect to get around 6 hours of runtime on a 20-pound propane tank or 8.7 hours on a 30-gallon tank. This is plenty of time to get you through an average power outage, or to take with you on a road trip in a camper or RV.
The Powermate comes with four 120V outlets and a 30-amp twist lock outlet to connect to your home. It also has an electric start to make it easy to get the power flowing quickly and easily.
One of the nice advantages of using a full propane generator is that you do not have to worry if it will be functional after sitting for long periods of time. If you know you’re not likely to regularly test run your generator and check it out, then you should factor this into your decision-making. Propane never spoils and reliably starts cold. You also do not have to worry about spills like with gasoline or diesel fuel.
The Best Propane-Gasoline Dual Fuel Portable Generators
On the lower end of the power output range of dual fuel generators is the Sportsman GEN4000DF. This model weighs in at roughly 90 pounds and is a little over 2 feet tall. In other words, it’s not very big.
It puts out around 3,500 running watts, which isn’t really enough to power an entire house. However, it can easily be used to power your essential appliances and keep you comfortable for short periods until the power comes back on. It also has enough output to work well with ordinary power tools on the job at the worksite. So it’s a very good choice if you need portable energy to take where you need it.
Kept me cool after hurricane Matthew for 4 days with no power. powered up my travel trailer like a champ. the propane option is great for when the gas stations don’t work, but propane is available.
Amazon Verified Purchaser
With its 3.6-gallon gasoline fuel tank, you can expect to get about 10 hours out of it running at a 50% load, and less on propane, about 8.5 hours. It’s about as loud as most other gas models in this power and price range, which is to say it’s fairly loud. So this isn’t meant to be a quiet generator.
It does come with an electric start option or a recoil pull start in case the battery dies. This can happen if you don’t regularly start it to keep the engine lubricated and burn the fuel sitting in the fuel lines. It comes with a 1-year limited warranty, which is fairly standard.
Champion Power Equipment 76533
Its runtime is also rated slightly less than the Sportsman’s, so this is one trade-off to gain the extra power. With a full 3.4 gallon gas tank or 5 gallons of propane, you get about 8 hours of runtime powering a 50% load.
It, like the most of the dual fuel generators, comes equipped with an electric start for simple operation with a backup recoil pull start. With two 120V outlets and twist lock outlets for connecting to an RV or directly to your house, this portable generator should do everything you want.
The Champion is fully EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board) approved for operation in all 50 states. So, yes, even in California. It also comes with a 2-year limited warranty, which is longer than other manufacturers and is a nice added protection.
Smarter Tools ST-GP7500DEB
With this Smarter Tool dual fuel generator, we take a jump up in power. On gasoline, it puts out around 6,200 running watts and 7,500 surge watts. On propane a little less, of course, around 5,580 running watts and 6,750 surge watts.
On a full tank of 6.6 gallons of gasoline or a 20-pound propane tank, you should expect to get around 9 hours of runtime (running a 50% load).
It comes with four 120V outlets and twist lock outlets for easy plug in to your home or RV, similar to the Champion model above. The digital voltage meter and timer clearly show just how much power this generator is putting out and to help keep track of when it’s time to refuel. This is a convenient feature of the Smarter Tools model that isn’t featured on many other portable generators.
All of this is housed in a steel frame that sits on two “no flat” 10 inch tires. This makes for easy portability. This model is also fully EPA and CARB compliant.
At 10,000 starting watts and a running power of 8,000 watts, the XP10000EH is plenty of generator to keep your essentials running in your home. It’s not quite powerful enough to keep the central air conditioner going at the same time (a window A/C unit would likely be okay), but it will keep most of your appliances and devices running. It’ll keep the lights on, your drinks cold in the refrigerator, and your steaks from defrosting in the freezer.
It comes with a 50-amp, 120V/240V twist lock outlet, which can be used for connecting directly to your home’s breaker box. Or, with the smaller twist lock outlet, you can easily use it to power your RV or camper. It’s not especially quiet, however, so if you’re at a campground, be sure you check if it has noise rules before you fire it up. At least be aware if you’re near others.
The Best Propane-Natural Gas Dual Fuel Stationary Generators
When we reviewed stationary generators to find the best home backup models, we picked the best manufacturer with the best line up. We think Generac’s Guardian Series hands down wins this contest. With a range of models capable of producing power output from 8 kW up to 22 kW, there’s one that will meet nearly everyone’s needs.
We reviewed two models below that should meet most people’s needs.
If you’re in a hurry, though. Or you don’t want to read the full review, then…
The Generac “Guardian” Series: The Details
The Generac Guardian series is the workhorse generator of Generac’s home generator lineup. These models come with nearly all of the same functionality as the much more expensive Synergy Series, but at a more manageable price. We think it offers a terrific combination of quality, performance and price.
This whole house backup model is air cooled and can be connected to either propane or natural gas. If possible, most people prefer to connect directly to the natural gas line as this is much more convenient than having to site, handle and keep refilling a propane tank.
The Guardian series includes several features that are quite appealing if you’re looking for a whole house generator set up.
- The True Power™ Technology generates very “clean” electrical power, less than 5% total harmonic distortion (THD). This is best in its class and approaches the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard for bulk power production that your local electric utility must comply with. Why should you care about this? In short, it means your sensitive electronics and appliances will operate smoothly and safely while running this Guardian model.
- The G-Force engine is specially engineered and built for its job powering the Guardian series generators. It’s pressure-lubricated, so it requires less routine maintenance than competitors’ engines.
- You can also hook up a Mobile Link™ to the Guardian Series generator to monitor it using your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You can remotely monitor consumption, maintenance needs, and other functions from anywhere in the world so long as you have an internet connection. (Note, there’s an extra charge.)
- The Guardian series includes Generac’s Evolution™ Controller. This is a really nice feature. It’s a multilingual LCD display that clearly shows the battery status (for start ups) and maintenance intervals. This easily accessible information is important so you can monitor your generator to ensure it’s always ready to go when you need it.
- Generac has also equipped most of its whole house standby generators with, including the Guardian series, is something we like – A LOT. Generac has developed its proprietary “Quiet-Test™ Self-Test Mode” feature. It test runs the generator at a lower speed so it doesn’t disturb you (or your neighbors)–and saves fuel. It can also be programmed to test run more or less as you like. A very nice feature you’ll appreciate the longer you live with your generator.
- The Guardian series also features an aluminum exterior housing, which protects the internal components from the elements. This aluminum exterior, in turn, is protected by Generac’s RhinoCoat™ finish. This tough coating is a powder-coated finish that protects it from corrosion. This means the Guardian series can take a beating in tough weather conditions and won’t turn into an ugly eyesore sitting next to your home.
- All models in the Guardian series are CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliant, so they can be used in California.
Generac is a leading, well known manufacturer of whole house standby generators. They also offer an industry leading 5-year limited warranty.
Two of the Best From the Generac “Guardian” Series
Generac “Guardian” 6438 11kW Generator
This model will work well for anyone looking for backup power but doesn’t want to have to go outside (possibly in the dark and during bad weather) to fumble with cords or start up a portable generator. If your power needs are more modest, then this is good choice. At 11 kW, the Model 6438 will power most basic needs in an average sized home, including a 3-ton air conditioner, well pump or water heater, and the main rooms of your house.
This generator set up features a prewired, automatic 200-amp Smart Transfer Switch. When the utility power goes down, this switch is what detects the outage and within seconds starts up the generator, transfers the generator’s power to your home’s electrical system. This ensures nearly continuous uninterrupted power.
Generac “Guardian” 7038 20kW/18kW Generator
The model 7038, on the other hand, is quite a bit larger. It can provide “whole house” backup power for nearly any home, putting out 20 kW. This set up does not include a automatic transfer switch, so would need to be purchased separately. There are several Generac transfer switch options to fit your specific needs.
So there you have it. Propane is a clean-burning energy fuel. With these options for a straight propane generator or a dual fuel generator, you can be sure that you’ll be getting environmentally friendly, efficient energy out of your portable or stationary propane generator. It’s not difficult to learn the basics of propane power. With these generators, you’ll be able to keep your home, RV, business or job site up and running.
Best Propane-only Generator
We like the Powermate PM0135500 because it puts out enough power to comfortably run most standard home appliances at 5,500 running watts. It’s flexible too, if you don’t intend to use it as a portable generator (or only infrequently), as it can be connected to a larger stationary propane tank so you don’t have to refuel as often. A real convenience.
Best Propane-Gasoline Dual Fuel Portable Generator
The Smarter Tools ST-GP7500DEB noses out the Champion Power Equipment 76544, in our opinion. It puts out quite a bit more power, 5,580 running watts compared to 3,800 for the Champion, yet only costs a few hundred dollars more. It also has a digital fuel gauge so it’s easy to see when it’s time to refuel. We like it.
Best Propane-Natural Gas Dual Fuel Stationary Generator
There is no contest here. Any one of the Guardian Series models is a hands down best choice, with industry-leading performance and features. Generac’s True Power™ Technology for clean, distortion free electrical power and G-Force engines for low maintenance make Generac’s Guardian generators a top pick for whole house backup power. Just find the size you need!