Last updated on January 26th, 2021 at 07:20 pm
A tri-fuel generator comes in handy when the power goes out because of natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. Gasoline is the most widely used fuel source, but you might face problems getting it quickly or in a large quantity in these situations. So, when it becomes hard to get gasoline, these units help you switch to propane or natural gas. In a nutshell, tri-fuel generators allow you to keep running your essentials during power outages.
Importance of tri-fuel generators
- Tri-fuel generators add the convenience of using multiple fuels.
- During natural disasters, these units come in handy. When one fuel source becomes hard to get, you can go for other fuel options like diesel or propane to power your appliances and tools.
- According to the climate, these tri-fuel units help you to switch between the fuel sources. In winters, you can run your generators on gasoline, and in summers, it is ideal to use propane.
- According to the required power output, you can switch between the fuel options. When required, higher power output, use gasoline, and when need to power small appliances or tools, switch to propane or natural gas.
Tri-Fuel Generator Reviews
Winco HPS12000HE Tri-Fuel Generator
Firman T07571 Tri-Fuel Generator
Honda Tri-Fuel Generator Complete Package
Winco HPS9000VE Tri-Fuel Generator
Sportsman GENTRI9K Tri-Fuel Generator
1. Winco HPS12000HE Tri-Fuel Generator – Overall Best
Fuel Option: This Winco HPS12000HE model offers three fuel options. One is gasoline, the second one is the LP (Liquid Propane) gas, and the third option is natural gas.
Users can use any fuel according to its availability to keep running their home appliances and tools.
Fuel Tank Size: It is equipped with a 15-gallon steel fuel tank. This vast size fuel tank gives excellent runtime.
Fuel Gauge: A fuel gauge is included that tells users how much fuel is left in the tank.
Fuel Consumption: The unit consumes 1.67 gallons of gasoline, 2.2 gallons of LP gas, and 200 cubic feet of natural gas per hour at full load.
Engine: It has a fuel-efficient 688cc Honda GX630 V-Twin, OHV engine. It can run at 3600 RPM (Revolutions per minute). RPM determines the number of turns an engine can take in a minute.
There is also low-oil protection available that turns off the engine when the oil levels go seriously down.
Starting Option: Electric start system helps users to start the generator with ease.
Power Output: It produces 12,000 watts of peak power and 10,800 watts of rated power when running on gasoline.
But on propane, you will get 10% less output power and 20% less power when running your generator on natural gas.
The THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) rating of this unit is less than 5%. It allows you to power all your sensitive electronics without any trouble.
Also, it has a voltage regulation system that provides stable power output.
Runtime: You will be able to power your appliances, tools, and electronics for up to 14.5 hours at 50% load and up to 9 hours at 100% load.
Receptacles: Winco HPS12000HE features two 120 Volt 20 Ampere GFCI-protected outlets, one 120/240 Volt 30 Ampere outlet, and one 120/240 Volt 60 Ampere outlet.
GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is a circuit breaker that cuts down the power when it detects an interruption in the current. These GFCI-protected outlets are there for the protection of the users.
Sound Level: Its operational sound is 78 dB (A) from 7 meters away.
Warranty: 3-year engine warranty and 2-year generator warranty for consumers
Portability: Users can easily move this unit as it comes with durable wheels and a U-shaped handle.
2. Firman T07571 Tri-Fuel Generator – Quietest one
Fuel Option: The Firman T07571 can run on natural gas, gasoline, and propane. A fuel selector switch allows users to switch between the fuel options easily.
Fuel Tank Size: Its fuel tank is smaller in size (8-gallon) than the Winco HPS12000HE generator, but offers a decent runtime.
The generator comes with a 5.5 feet LPG regulator hose. But to use propane, you have to buy a propane tank separately.
Fuel Consumption: Its fuel consumption is not mentioned, but it is a fuel-efficient generator that consumes less fuel during operation.
Engine: Firman T07571 is equipped with a 439cc tri-fuel engine. The cast iron sleeve and a low-oil shutoff sensor are there for protecting the engine.
Power Output: It generates 9400 starting watts on gas, 8450 watts on LPG, and 6900 watts on natural gas.
And if we talk about running watts, then it offers 7500 watts on gas, 6750 watts on LPG, and 5500 watts on natural gas.
The automatic voltage regulator (AVR) is also part of the machine that delivers precise voltage control output. With the help of this AVR system, you can safely power your sensitive electronics.
Runtime: Firman T07571 offers a 12-hour runtime at 50% load. This runtime will help you to get a full night’s sleep or run your appliances for long during a power outage.
Starting Option: You can either start the generator manually or by using an electric start system.
Receptacles: The control panel has two 120 Volt 20 Ampere outlets, one 120/240 Volt 50 Ampere outlet, a 120/240 Volt 30 Ampere twist-lock outlet, and one 120 Volt 30 Ampere twist-lock outlet.
All these receptacles will help users to power a variety of appliances and tools.
Sound Level: It produces 72 dB (A) noise at a 75% load from a distance of 23 feet.
Warranty: Firman T07571 comes with a 3-year residential warranty and a 90-day commercial warranty.
Portability: Two never-flat wheels and a comfortable U-shaped foldable handle make transportation easier.
3. Honda Tri-Fuel Generator Complete Package – Expensive Pick
Fuel Option: This tri-fuel generator from Honda also offers three fuel options: natural gas, propane, and gasoline.
Fuel Tank Size: Its gas tank size is 8 gallons, but it offers more runtime than Firman T07571.
Fuel Gauge: No fuel gauge is available.
Engine: This tri-fuel generator comes with a powerful 13 HP Honda GX390 OHV engine. It features a cast iron sleeve for durability. Also, the low-oil shutoff feature automatically turns off the engine to prevent damages.
Starting Option: If you find it hard to turn on your generator manually, you an option of using the electric start system.
Power Output: Honda delivers 6800 starting and 5600 running watts on natural gas but offers 8500 starting and 7000 running watts on both gasoline and LPG.
If you need higher output power, use gasoline or LPG. Otherwise, use natural gas, if readily available in your area.
Runtime: You will be able to power your valuables up to 13 hours on gasoline at half load. And with a 40-pound propane tank, you will get 20 hours of runtime.
Sound Level: Honda produces 75 dB (A) noise during operation.
Receptacles: One 120/240 Volt 30 Ampere twist-lock outlet along with four 120 Volt 20 Ampere outlets
Warranty: It includes a 2-year limited warranty.
Portability: This unit is highly portable. Big and reliable wheels, along with a durable handle, make it easy to move around.
4. Winco HPS9000VE Tri-Fuel Generator – With Smallest Fuel Tank
Fuel Option: The HPS9000VE model from Winco also runs on natural gas, gasoline, or LPG.
Fuel Tank Size: Its 7-gallon steel tank offers a good runtime. It is an EPA certified tank that eliminates carbon emissions.
Fuel Gauge: The fuel gauge tells how much fuel is left to refuel the generator timely.
Fuel Consumption: It consumes 1.3 gallons of gasoline and 1.9 gallons of LPG per hour. And its natural gas consumption is 180 cubic feet per hour.
Engine: Winco HPS9000VE comes with a 480cc V-Twin OHV Briggs & Stratton engine. It is a fuel-efficient engine that has a low-oil shutdown feature.
Starting Option: All you need is to turn the key to start your generator. Also, it is backed by a recoil start system.
Power Output: It delivers 9000 surge watts, and 8000 rated watts on gasoline. This power output is enough to power big and small appliances or tools simultaneously.
Its THD rating is less than 5%, which is ideal for users to power their smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
Warranty: 2-year consumer warranty and 1-year commercial warranty
Runtime: 7 hours of runtime at 50% load
Receptacles: Its power panel features four 120 Volt 20 Ampere receptacles and one 120/240 Volt 30 Ampere receptacle.
Portability: A wheel kit is sold separately that will help the users to move the unit quickly.
Sound Level: Its operational sound is 77 dB (A). It is a louder unit than the Honda tri-fuel generator mentioned above.
5. Sportsman GENTRI9K Tri-Fuel Generator – Loudest Unit
Fuel Option: The last tri-fuel generator is the Sportsman GENTRI9K. It runs on gasoline, propane or natural gas.
Fuel Tank Size: Its fuel tank capacity (7.4-gallons) is higher than the tank capacity of Winco HPS9000VE.
Engine: Sportsman GENTRI9K has a 15 HP 4-stroke OHV engine featuring automatic low-oil shutdown.
Starting Option: Both the electric and recoil start options are there. You can select anyone to turn on your generator.
Power Output: When running on gasoline, the generator offers 9000 surge watts and 7200 rated watts. But with propane, expect a 10% decrease in both peak and rated power.
Runtime: Power your essentials up to 10 hours on gasoline at 50% load and up to 5 hours at half load on a 20 pound LPG tank.
Receptacles: Its control panel has a variety of power outlets.
There are four 120 Volt 20 Ampere GFCI-protected outlets and one 120 Volt twist-lock RV outlet. Also, it has a 120/240 Volt twist-lock outlet and one 12 Volt DC outlet.
Sound Level: Sportsman GENTRI9K creates less than 80 dB (A) noise.
Warranty: Only 1-year warranty
Portability: Two durable wheels and a long handle make it highly portable.
Without considering various important factors, buying a tri-fuel generator is a waste of money. Buyers are required to focus on various features to get the best tri-fuel generator.
Gasoline vs. Propane vs. Natural Gas
Comparing the 3 fuel options commonly used in a tri-fuel generator is very important before making the final decision. A comparison of the fuel types will give you a clear picture of what you are buying for yourself and how to get the most out of your generator. We have compared the 3 fuels for all the factors related to the generator’s working.
Power Output: A tri-fuel will give the best power output on gasoline, followed by propane and natural gas. The reason is that gasoline has a better burn rating as compared to propane and natural gas. If a generator has 9400 watts starting wattage and 7500 running wattage on gasoline, it will give 10%-15% less wattage on propane and 25-30% less on natural gas.
Run Time: Each tri-fuel generator has a different run time according to the tank capacity and power output. For smaller generators (under 5000 watts), the run time on propane is higher than gasoline. As the generator size increases, the run time for propane decreases. Comparing the runtime for gasoline, propane, and natural gas is complicated as each fuel gives a different output power.
Availability: Under normal circumstances, gasoline is readily available across the US. Its availability is impacted at times of natural disasters and infrastructural problems. Propane, on the other hand, is available readily and can be stored for many years. Natural gas’s availability can also be affected due to natural disasters and can de-rate when the temperature falls below the freezing point. However, the best thing about natural gas is you don’t need to refill the gas tank or replace the cylinder. When natural gas is available, it is available as an unlimited fuel source.
Safety: Natural gas is the safest compared to gasoline and propane. You don’t need to deal with cylinders or gas tanks when running your generator on natural gas. It is also the most environmentally friendly fuel for generators with the lowest emissions. There is no tension in storing natural gas like gas tanks and propane cylinders. If the connections are made with care and tested before working, natural gas will not lead to any hazards. On the contrary, gasoline is highly flammable, and there is a risk of spillage while refilling the gas tank. With propane and natural gas, there is no risk of going stale.
Shelf Life: Gasoline has a short shelf life as compared to propane. When it comes to natural gas, the shelf life factor doesn’t come into play as it is supplied in gas pipes and then used according to the needs.
Portability: When it comes to the portability of your tri-fuel generator, the best fuel option is gasoline, followed by propane.
Each fuel type has its advantages and limitations. A tri-fuel generator gives you the best of the single fuel and dual fuel generator, so you never run out of electric power.
Engine and Power Wattage
The engine of a generator must be powerful and fuel-efficient. Before buying a unit, make sure its engine is well-protected under the cast iron sleeve. It is not always required to go for a tri-fuel engine with higher horsepower because these engines are less fuel-efficient or maybe louder.
Along with the engine, power output also needs your consideration. You must choose the peak and rated power wisely. Before buying a tri-fuel generator, find out how many appliances, tools, or electronics, you may need to power at home or a construction site.
Also, keep in mind that different fuels offer different starting and running power. You will get a different power output with gasoline than propane and natural gas. So, make sure you are selecting the best-suited generator that can meet all your power needs on any fuel type.
Fuel Tank Size and Runtime
The bigger the fuel tank, the higher will be the runtime. Always try to buy a tri-fuel generator with a higher fuel tank capacity to get the extended runtime. But different other factors like fuel type, fuel efficiency, and the applied load also affect runtime.
Consider the fuel tank size if you want to run your generator on gasoline. Otherwise, natural gas comes through pipelines, and for propane, you are required to buy a separate tank.
It is also necessary to check. Some tri-fuel generators consume more fuel to power your appliances, whereas some are fuel-efficient and consume less fuel.
Fuel consumption changes according to the fuel type and the load applied. Gasoline is consumed less by these generators than LPG.
Most people find it hard to turn on their generators manually. So, in this case, electric start is the easiest way of turning the generator on.
Always focus on the power outlets because they help you to determine how many and what type of appliances and devices you can power through them.
These tri-fuel generators come with at least two 120 Volt 20 Ampere household outlets. These outlets can help users to power a variety of devices. Also, a 120/240 Volt twist-lock outlet is necessary to power large appliances and tools.
The automatic voltage regulation system is the most important safety feature as it provides stable output power. With this, you can power your sensitive electronics without any fear. Also, the low-oil shutoff sensor is important for the safety of your engine. When the oil level goes down, it automatically shuts off the engine.