Best Dual Fuel Generator [6 Options For Bugging In]
Because they can be relied on during emergencies, dual fuel generators are winning the hearts of preppers and gaining quick popularity. Check out our 6 picks for the best dual fuel generators on the market today.
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Buying a generator for bugging in is something any prepper will do without hesitation. But pro preppers know that the best generator for bugging in must be reliable, and that’s a core characteristic of dual fuel generators.
Dual fuel generators have the same function as their standard fuel or natural energy counterparts. But when it comes to fuel use, dual fuel generators have a complex fuel control system that allows them to alternate between two fuel types to generate power.
Because they can be relied on during emergencies, dual fuel generators are winning the hearts of preppers and gaining quick popularity. These generators will probably win your heart too by the time you finish reading this article.
If you are green about the nature and benefits of dual fuel generators, this article will turn you into a pro by telling you all you need to know about:
Dual fuel generator technology.
The best dual fuel generators in the market.
What to look for when buying a dual fuel generator.
The benefits (and downsides) of using dual fuel generators.
The frequent questions that people interested in dual fuel generators are asking.
In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!
Dual-Fuel Generators (What they are and How they work)
While the generator-market is flooded with options, opting for a dual-fuel generator could be considered an ideal decision for reasons we’ll be discussing later in the article. But what exactly are dual fuel generators and how do they work?
What are dual fuel generators?
People often use the term dual fuel generator as a synonym for bi-fuel generator. But these two use completely different fuel combustion mechanisms.
From what you’ll see in the market, dual fuel generators (sometimes described or labeled ‘hybrid’ generators), have a fuel control and consumption mechanism that allows you to interchangeably use two types of fuels in the same generator by simply turning a knob or switch.
Bi-fuel generators instead have a fuel consumption mechanism that lets you combine two fuels and use them at the same time in the same generator. This mechanism is not used in common low-watt portable generators.
Instead, technology such as Generac Bi-fuel is using inventive ways to ignite industrial and home backup generators on diesel (which has a lower starting temperature) and then gradually add natural gas as the load increases, until the generator can eventually run solely on natural gas.
While there is no combination of gas as such in dual fuel generators, bi-fuel generators can combine two fuels at different proportions that could range from 100%:0% to 70%:30% depending on the generator engine and the generator load.
How do dual fuel generators work?
The engine of a dual fuel generator burns two fuels using an advanced fuel control technology to create a more efficient fuel combustion and energy production process.
The common dual-fuel combination in dual fuel generators is gas and propane. Even though some suggest it, you will hardly find a gasoline plus diesel or natural gas generator.
When gas and propane are combined, the more readily available but pricier gas is used with the cheaper, cleaner, and quieter-combustion propane to obtain a more efficient and reliable energy production process.
To allow the exchange of fuels, manufacturers create dual fuel generators with a fuel-switch mechanism. See how the startup for dual fuel generator works from this video of the Champion dual fuel generator. Of course, different manufacturers will use different modes to switch from one fuel to the other.
With this preliminary knowledge of the nature and working of dual fuel generators, we can now delve into the best dual fuel generator options in the market. We’ll give you a few more facts about these generators later in the article.
6 Best Dual Fuel Generators for Bugging In
The best dual fuel generator for bugging in produces enough power to meet your power by alternately using gasoline or propane to generate power. Their ability to switch between fuels makes them the best generators for emergency preparedness.
Dual fuel generators are also the best for bugging in because they have a strong engine that can withstand longer run times. Besides, they have multiple output ports to help you run your essential appliances/devices at the same time, and safety and efficiency features for your convenience.
Here are our top 6 best dual fuel generators for 2021 and beyond.
Best Overall Dual Fuel Generator
Durostar DS4850EH Dual Fuel Generator
The Durostar DS4850EH is a powerhouse that has won the hearts of many generator users. With its high power output, the gasoline/propane dual fuel generator is excellent for powering all your high-wattage home appliances without letting you down.
Durostar main features:
Fuel options: Gasoline and Propane.
High power output equivalent to generator size: 4850 starting watts/3850 running watts on gasoline and 4608 starting watts/3658 running watts on propane.
Safety and efficiency features including an electric start switch, power surge arrest, and low oil shut-off.
A 3-year warranty (limited plan).
Complete pack with oil funnel, sparkplug wrench, a toolset, DC charging cables, and a user manual.
Easy portability: Mounted on wheels with a retractable handle for easy transportation.
Dubbed the "BEAST", the 12000 surge power generator can be considered one of the best power generators for home, and a reliable off-grid power generator for anyone needing plenty of power while bugging in.
DuroMax XP12000EH main features:
Fuel options: Gasoline and LPG.
High power output with 12000 starting watts/9500 running watts on gasoline and 11400 starting watts/9025 running watts on propane.
Safety and efficiency features including low oil shut-off, a voltmeter, circuit breakers, surge arrest, and idle control feature.
A 3-year warranty.
Complete pack with oil funnel, spark plug wrench, toolset, and DC charging cables.
Easy portability: Mounted on wheels and with a handle kit.
74dBA noise level (fitted with a large noise-reducing muffler with a spark arrestor to enhance quieter and smooth and operation).
DuroMax 18HP, 457cc OHV engine.
8.83 hours run time @ 50% load on a full 8.3-gallon gasoline tank and 7.2 hours @ 50% load with a 40lbs propane tank.
Electric or recoil start.
EPA and CARB approved.
DuroMax XP12000EH strengths:
High power output.
Extremely powerful engine.
Pulling cart and handle.
DuroMax XP12000EH minuses:
Quite noisy (though better than some smaller generators).
Low runtime at half load for such a powerful machine.
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Dual-fuel Generator Buying Guide: 8 questions you should answer
Choosing the best dual fuel generator can be complicated if you have not taken the time to do your research or do not know what you are looking for. It gets even more challenging considering the many offers in the market.
To know what to buy, consider answering these 8 dual generator buyer questions before making your final decision.
Q1: Why do you need a dual fuel generator?
Any product purchase is driven by a need. So, when buying a dual fuel generator, it’s important to ask yourself why you need a dual fuel and not a standard generator.
If you are looking for the possibility of running your generator for longer times than is possible with standard models, then a dual fuel generator is a good choice.
It could also be that you want to be able to keep your cool when bugging in and have more than one type of fuel to rely on for your emergency power backup.
Q2: How much do you want to invest in buying a generator?
The complex engine of a dual fuel generator inflates its price tag. For example, we recorded a $154 difference between a gasoline and a dual fuel generator with the same wattage from the same manufacturer.
If you have a figure for buying a generator on your bugging in budget list, it’s important to do your research and ensure your budgeted amount can purchase a dual fuel generator, if that is what you are looking for.
Q3: What is the dual generator’s fuel capacity?
As with a standard fuel generator, a dual fuel generator will have a longer run time depending on the fuel tank size and the engine capacity. So if you intend to run your generator continuously, assess the fuel capacity for both fuel options and go for what will meet your power needs.
Dual fuel generators for bugging in are going to serve as the best emergency backup power generators if they can run for long hours without needing to be refueled every half one hour or less.
Check your dual fuel generator choice to see the indicated run time (hours @25%, 50%, or 100% load on a full tank) before making your purchase.
Q4: What is the dual fuel generator’s engine efficiency?
Generator engine efficiency is related to its fuel combustion capacity and consumption to produce energy. Some models may burn fuel faster and produce less energy while others may burn slower but give the required energy.
Also, the type of engine may determine the level of toxin emissions produced, oftentimes due to improper fuel burning.
Manufacturers will always indicate the type of engine used on their generators. Before buying a generator, talk to the manufacture and do your research to understand the efficiency of the engine used on the dual fuel generator that you intend to buy.
Q5: What is the dual fuel generator’s rated and peak watts?
When buying a generator, considering its size in watts is important since that means buying one that can power all the appliances and devices you want to charge.
Running (rated) watts account for the amount of power in watts that you’ll require to keep your appliances/devices running. Surge (peak) watts are the higher amount of power that some appliances will need to ignite before settling on the running watts.
Calculate the number of running watts you’ll need for all the appliances you run daily and include the highest amount of surge watts that your most power-hungry appliance requires. That way, you have a figure for how big your dual fuel generator should be.
As a rule of thumb, your generator size (in watts) should be a few hundred watts larger than your total power need (in watts).
Q6: What are people who have used the dual generator saying about its performance?
Checking the feedback given by buyers to the seller about the efficiency of a dual fuel generator is hearing the truth from the horse’s mouth.
When doing your research, check the customer review of the dual generator you are interested in, and judge from the positive feedback that your choice-generator is worth spending your money on. The more positive feedback you can read, the greater the confirmation that the dual fuel generator is a good pick.
Q7: Who is the dual fuel generator’s manufacturer?
This may seem a secondary issue, but certain manufacturers are household names in the generators market because their products have been tested and proven by customer satisfaction.
Some of the big names in dual fuel generator manufacturing include (not exhaustive) DuroMax, Westinghouse, Champion, and Wen among others.
Q8: How easily can you move the dual fuel generator?
Portability and weight may not be your greatest worry when you are looking for a dual fuel generator for bugging in. Besides, most dual fuel generators are large-size and will weigh a good number of pounds.
Nonetheless, if you foresee needing to move your dual fuel generator often, you might want to go for a model that weighs less, even without compromising your power needs and the generator efficiency factor.
By now, you know a lot about dual fuel generators, but you might still be wondering: “Are dual fuel generators any good?” Let’s address that dilemma in the next section on dual fuel generator advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Dual-fuel Generators
So, why exactly should you opt for dual fuel generators against the standard models? Let’s look at their main advantages and drawbacks to help you answer this question.
Advantages of dual fuel generators
Combining two fuels results in hybrid fuel combustion that comes with these 5 advantages:
The fact that a dual fuel generator runs on two fuels gives you the possibility of giving priority to a fuel based on the prevailing situations. For example, you might go with gasoline when you need more power output or choose propane when you are in a location with noise-restrictions.
Flexibility in generator operation costs
Because you have two fuel options for your generator, you have the flexibility of determining how much of one fuel you want to use on your generator depending on availability and cost. Also, you can decide to store more of the easy-to-store propane for when SHTF.
Minimizes the limits of mono-fuel use in generators
Using dual fuel in a generator minimizes the limitations that come with using a single fuel.
For example, even though gasoline is readily available, it is hard to store and is also subject to price fluctuations. Instead, propane is a cheaper and easy to store fuel plus it burns more silently than gasoline.
Using both fuels together balances the pro and cons of using each of the fuels alone.
Longer generator run time
Dual fuel generators are especially beneficial for anyone looking for a generator with longer run time. Because you can have a full gasoline fuel tank and a propane canister attached to your generator, your generator has a longer run time before you need to refuel.
Using a dual fuel generator can solve weather-related generator hitches. For example, propane may not work efficiently in extreme cold weather and gasoline can take the lead in running your generator during that season.
Disadvantages of dual fuel generators
Despite their many advantages, dual fuel generators are not without some drawbacks.
Because of their complex engine technology, dual fuel generators come with a few extra bucks in price when compared to the standard models.
Especially if reading a manual is not your preferred method of learning how to use equipment, the additional features of a dual fuel generator can be confusing, particularly when it comes to swapping fuels.
Generator users with small power needs are left out
One of the core reasons manufacturers create dual fuel generators is to increase energy output. This explains why most hybrid generators are high-wattage options.
As such, preppers looking for a dual fuel emergency generator with a lower capacity may not find one.
Dual fuel generators are cumbersome
If portability is a factor for you, dual fuel generators may not be your best choice. They are usually made to produce more energy and their larger size renders them cumbersome to transport.
Besides, you also have two fuels to get to your off-grid location or carry around in your RV.
You’ll need to weigh these advantages and disadvantages of dual fuel generators to determine if they are the best survival power generators for your bug in prepping.
Dual-fuel Generators FAQs
To take care of any queries you might still have, here are some commonly asked questions about dual fuel generators.
What is a hybrid generator?
Hybrid generators are those that combine two or more modes of energy generation to produce power. Originally, the purpose of hybrid generator technology is to combine a renewable energy source with the traditional power generation from burning fossil fuels in order to create high-efficiency systems and provide energy security.
Even though dual fuel generators are often described and labeled ‘hybrid’, the mere feature of using two fuels alternately does not precisely meet the original intent of hybrid generators.
Can dual fuel generators run on natural gas?
The engines of dual fuel generators are made in a way that they can switch between two fuels, generally gasoline or propane.
Even though it is considered the best gas for generators, natural gas is altogether different in nature and the way it burns, which explains why it is rare to find it as one of the options in a dual fuel generator.
Nonetheless, bi-fuel generators such as those created by Generac may run on a combination of diesel and natural gas. Also, tri-fuel generators may have natural gas as the third option to ensure natural gas generator efficiency.
Are there Honda dual fuel generators?
Honda does not exactly make dual fuel generators. Instead, there are dual fuel/tri-fuel generators in the market that have Honda engines such as the NorthStar Trifuel Generator which uses a GX 390cc Honda OHV Engine.
Also, manufacturers such as Genconnex are making dual and tri-fuel conversion kits (Gasoline, Propane + Natural gas) for Honda generators.
Best Dual Fuel Generator For Bugging In Conclusion
Considering a dual fuel generator when prepping for emergencies is a wise decision any prepper can make. Because you can easily swap from one fuel tank to another by simply turning a knob, these generators are an optimal choice for emergencies.
Consider your power needs, the generator capacity, and the amount of time you’ll need to keep your generator running when deciding on buying a dual fuel generator.
Also, bear in mind that, while these generators offer greater flexibility and have the benefit of giving you longer runtimes, they also have a higher price tag compared to equivalent standard models. But, if your pocket allows it, a dual fuel generator is a great investment for any prepper.
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