With the changing technology in the manufacturing of generators, you no longer have to rely on a single fuel source. Modern generator models allow dual fuel and tri-fuel functionality, with the latter being the recent developments. While dual-fuel generators run on gasoline and propane, tri-fuel models often use gasoline, propane, or natural gas.
A tri-fuel generator model is essential, especially if you live in areas that experience natural disasters that lead to electricity disruptions. When natural disasters hit, access to gasoline can be difficult; long queues at the gas station and hiking of prices. And at times, accessing propane can also be challenging. Such hard times call for a generator with alternative fuel sources. A tri-fuel generator comes in handy because you have the option of using natural gas or propane during such emergencies. You stand to benefit more if your home has a natural gas supply line.
So, what is the best tri-fuel generator in the market? The best tri-fuel generator is one that is highly reliable and can deliver the amount of power you need to run your essential appliances during an emergency. But with the many tri-fuel generator brands in the market and all claiming to offer superior services, identifying the best one can be challenging. Here is a detailed review of the seven best tri-fuel generators, complete with the pros and cons of each model to make your buying process seamless. You will also benefit from our buying guide and answers to the FAQs concerning tri-fuel generators. Let’s dive in.
Our Best Tri-fuel Generators
1. Champion Power Equipment 100416 10,000/8,000-Watt Tri Fuel Portable Generator
The Champion Power Equipment 100416 10,000/8,000-Watt Tri-Fuel Portable Generator is designed with versatility and convenience in mind. It’s built with a reliable 4-stroke OHV engine that delivers reliable power output for your wide range of appliances.
This model cranks out 8,000 running watts and 10,000 starting watts when running on gasoline. Running it on propane will deliver a surge wattage of 9,000W and 7,200 rated watts, while natural offers 8,750 starting watts and 7,000 running watts. With such power outputs, you can power a wide variety of appliances at a go, provided you don’t overload the unit.
With the standard recoil start and electric start, you can start this generator with just the push of a button. The convenient electric start includes a battery, plus Cold Start Technology ensures a quick start in cold weather. This model operates with a noise level of 74 dBA. It’s not relatively quiet, but you can run it in a homestead or within an estate.
The model has an 8.5 gallons fuel tank capacity to run continuously for 12.5 hours at half load. At the same time, a 20-pound propane tank can operate with the same load for 5 hours continuously.
Power your appliances via:
- Four 120V 20A GFCI protected household-style outlets
- 120V 30A locking outlet
- 120/240V 30A locking outlet
The versatile 120/240V output allows it to handle heavy loads like large appliances or multiple smaller devices at once.
This unit also features an Intelligauge that allows you to monitor your voltage, hertz, and operating hours as well as two GFCI outlets. It also features a built-in Volt Guard surge protector that prevents overloads and keeps your appliances and equipment safe from voltage spikes.
You will be able to use this generator anywhere; at home, any job site, or during any outdoor event with ease. It has a durable steel frame design and 9.5 inch flat wheels that make it easy to maneuver from place to place without struggling.
For user safety, this unit has CO Shield technology. It monitors the ambient carbon monoxide levels and shuts down the engine when they are dangerously rising.
- It falls within budget
- Offers high runtime and high fuel efficiency
- It has an electric start option
- It does not have a remote start functionality
2. Kohler PRO90ETF Tri-fuel Generator
This generator is the perfect combination of versatility and convenience. Whether you need power for your home or next project, the Kohler PRO90ETF tri-fuel generator makes powering your life more convenient than ever. It generates enough power to start and run a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner and other appliances in your RV. This unit can also power the essential items you need in a power outage.
The tri-fuel feature ensures that you can keep warm in your house in the midst of a storm that has paralyzed the supply of gasoline and propane. Power this generator with natural gas to run your essential appliances. It’s easy to start with a convenient electric start that includes a battery and battery charger. Alternatively, you can start it through the conventional recoil start mechanism. The recoil mechanism is ideal when the generator battery has lost power.
This model delivers a surge wattage of 9000 watts and 7200 rated watts of clean and stable power thanks to its AVR feature. In contrast, running it on propane cranks out 9000 starting watts and 7,200 running watts. And natural gas offers 8750 peak wattage and 6700 continuous watts. Its fuel tank has a capacity of 8.0 gallons, and it allows the unit to operate continuously for 11 hours at half load. In comparison, a 40-pound propane tank can power this generator nonstop for around 20 hours at 50% load. The generator operates at 76 decibels when it’s 23 feet away.
In order to allow you to power several appliances at once, this model offers multiple outlets, which include;
- Duplex 125 Volt 20A household-style outlets (GFCI protected)
- 125 Volt 30A outlet
- 120/240 Volt 30A outlet (you can also run both 120V and 240V simultaneously)
- 12V 8.3A Battery Charge outlet
On safety features, this model features:
- Built-in fuel gauge for convenient monitoring of the generator’s fuel levels when operating.
- An hour meter for easy monitoring of the generator’s voltage output, frequency, and remaining lifetime hours to the following maintenance
- An auto voltage regulation that prevents keeps your appliances safe from voltage spikes. This feature is responsible for the clean power output from this generator.
The foldaway handle and never-flat tires make it easy to move your generator from place to place. The durable steel frame protects the generator from damages when using it in harsh environments.
- It has a 12V DC outlet that allows you to charge your RV battery quickly.
- It offers a high runtime.
- It’s an expensive model.
3. Pramac Tri Fuel Generator 7,200 Watts
Whether it’s for work or play, you want a generator that’s reliable and easy to use. That’s why you need the Pramac Tri-Fuel Generator 7,200 Watts. It is a tri-fuel generator, which can run on natural gas, propane, and gasoline. You can run your home appliances, business, or even industrial applications with this unit. Besides, this model is portable, and it comes with a flexible handle and never-flat tires that make it seamless to move on any terrain.
Running this unit on gasoline and propane will deliver 7500W starting watts and 7000 running watts. However, running it on natural gas generates 7300W peak wattage and 6700W rated watts. With the power output, you can power your refrigerator, freezer, TV, lights, and so on. This model delivers clean power with less than 6% THD regardless of the fuel option. You can start this model with an elegant electric start switch or the recoil start system.
Pramac Tri Fuel Generator is one of the suitable quiet generators in its power output range. It operates at 72 decibels. The Auto Voltage Regulation feature ensures this unit delivers power free from spikes. You can plug in your sensitive appliances such as computers and smartphones.
With an 8.0 fuel tank capacity, this generator can operate for about 12.9 hours continuously at half load. Such a runtime offers you the convenience of powering your household essential appliance overnight. Alternatively, you can run selected power tools at a worksite throughout the day without worrying about refueling the model.
On the power outlets, this model features;
- Duplex 120 Volt 20A receptors
- 120V 30A Twist Lock
- 120/240V 30A Twist Lock
The multiple power outlets mean that you can use a lot of different things at once without any trouble.
Special features on this model include:
- An hour-meter digital display for easy monitoring of the generator’s status
- A built-in fuel gauge for easy watching of the generator’s fuel level
- Idle control reduces fuel consumption and generator noise when it’s not powering a heavy load.
- Low oil shutdown sensor to protect the engine from running without oil.
- It has an AVR that guarantees a clean power output
- Reasonably low noise output
- It is an expensive tri-fuel generator
4. Sportsman Tri Fuel 9000 Watt Generator
The Sportsman Tri Fuel Generator is the perfect generator for powering essentials in any emergency situation. It’s completely portable and comes with everything you need to run it on your fuel choice. The Tri-fuel feature makes this a great generator for anyone looking for a generator that can run on different fuel sources.
This model delivers 9000W surge watts, and 7200W rated watts that can keep you going during a power blackout. This generator has a 7.4-gallon fuel tank size; the large tank allows for longer run times between refueling. It can operate for about 10 hours nonstop with a 50% load. With such a runtime, you can power your fridge, a window AC unit, and other essential household appliances overnight with such a runtime. You can also use it at a construction site to run your selected power tools, including heavy-voltage tools, thanks to its 120/240V 30A outlet.
You can start this generator via an electric start option or use the recoil backup system. However, to utilize the electric start option, you will have to buy the battery separately when checking out.
The generator’s versatile control panel features:
- Two duplexes 120 Volt 20A outlets
- 120 Volt 30A RV outlet
- 120/240-volt twist-lock outlet
- 12 volt 10A DC outlet
The multiple power outlets offer you different options for powering your home essentials or work site power needs.
Other features on this model include:
- A voltmeter that keeps you informed on the power output.
- An auto voltage regulation that ensures the generator runs smoothly without power fluctuations.
- Low oil shutdown and circuit breakers for overload protection.
- RV ready plugin
Even though this generator weighs about 216 pounds, the foldaway handle and its wheel kit make movement easy.
- It’s an RV ready model with several outlets, including a DC outlet
- It’s an affordable tri-fuel generator with a high power output
- It is relatively noisy and has a noise level of 80 decibels.
5. Firman T08071 Tri-fuel Generator
Firman T07571 tri-fuel generator is an ideal solution for all your power needs. It is powered by gas, propane, and natural gas. This model has a fuel selector that allows you to switch from one fuel source to another safely. You have the option to use the electric start button instead of using pull cords, as most other generators have. The electric start button makes it much easier to operate this machine because it eliminates pulling cords. Even so, it has the recoil start option as a backup plan should the electric start button fail due to the low power charge on the battery.
This model can generate up to 9400 surge watts, and 7500 rated watts when running on gasoline. Running it on propane delivers 8450 starting watts and 6750 running watts, while natural gas produces 6900W peak wattage and 5500 continuous watts. This generator’s high electric starting watts make it ideal for powering the air conditioner. You can use it to power household appliances, a large RV, and a remote job site.
The Firman T08071 boasts an 8.0 gallons fuel tank capacity that allows it to run for 12 hours on half load. The high runtime ensures you enjoy powering your essential appliances throughout the night or running your power tools throughout the day. This generator’s noise output is bearable at just 72 dBA with a 75% load.
This Firman T08071 tri-fuel generator comes with;
- Two 120 Volt 20A outlets
- 120 Volt 30A twist-lock outlet
- 120/240 30A twist-lock outlet
- 120/240 Volt 50A outlet
Other features on this unit include:
- A Data-Minder display helps monitor voltage, frequency, and remaining runtime to the next maintenance.
- Circuit breakers
- Automatic low oil shut-down sensor
With a weight of 212 pounds, this unit is heavy. However, it comes with a U-shape drop-down handle and wheel kit to ease its movement once it’s on the ground.
- It has a high fuel efficiency rate
- It is not safe for running sensitive electronics since it has a high THD rating of less than 25%.
6. Winco HPS9000VE Tri-Fuel Generator
Even though they aren’t as popular as Champion models, Winco Generators are one of the best generators that you can find in the market. The Winco HPS9000VE Tri-Fuel Generator is one of the most popular models from Winco. It is a portable generator with a design that makes it easy to carry around but also durable and quite powerful.
They are one of the best when it comes to home use, but also for camping or other outdoor activities. This generator’s 480cc V-Twin OHV Briggs & Stratton engine produces 9000W surge watts and 8000W rated watts when running on gasoline. The power output lowers by 10% and 20% when running the generator on propane and natural gas respectively. Irrespective of the fuel source, this unit is perfect for any situation. It delivers plenty of room for high-demand items like central air conditioners at home and power tools at a job site.
Thanks to its electric and recoil start options, starting this generator is straightforward. With a fuel tank capacity of 7.0 gallons, this unit can operate for about 7 hours at a 50% load. Running it at full load will offer you around 5.4 hours of continuous operations. It has a less than 5% THD rating which means you can power your delicate appliances such as computers and smartphones with this generator. However, the generator has a noise rating of 78 decibels which is relatively on the higher side.
The power panel features:
- Four 120 Volt 20A receptacles
- 120/240 Volt 30A receptacle
Other aspects of this model include a fuel gauge for easy monitoring of fuel level, circuit breakers, and low oil shut down sensor. It also has an in-built automatic voltage regulation.
The Winco HPS9000VE is easy to transport thanks to its heavy-duty steel frame and 10″ never-flat wheels. However, you have to buy the wheel kit separately. This unit also features roll bars for maximum protection during transport.
- It offers a decent runtime with an average gasoline consumption of 1.3 gallons per hour.
- It’s an expensive tri-fuel generator.
7. Winco HPS12000HE Tri-Fuel Portable Generator
The Winco HPS12000HE Tri-Fuel Portable Generator is designed for heavy-duty power generation. This generator is equipped with a 559cc engine that runs at 3600 RPM, allowing maximum fuel efficiency and longer motor life. This gas generator can run on gasoline or propane, and the tri-fuel option will enable you to use natural gas as an additional fuel source.
This generator has a maximum power output of 12000 watts and 10800 rated watts while running on gasoline. The power output decreases by 10% and 20% when the engine runs on propane and natural gas, respectively. You can use this generator in many applications. For example, if you use it as a backup power supply for your home. You can also use this generator for your camping trips or running power tools at a job site.
The Winco HPS12000HE generator has an enormous fuel tank that can hold 15.0 gallons of gasoline. This unit can operate for 14.5 hours continuously at a half load. Running it at 100% load will offer you 9 hours of run time. Besides the conventional recoil starts feature, this unit also comes with an electric start feature that makes the generator easy to start. When running from 7 meters away, this model has a noise rating of 78 decibels.
Plugin multiple devices through:
- Four 120 Volt 20A household-style outlets
- 120/240 Volt 30A twist-lock outlet
- 120/240 volt 50A four-prong twist-lock outlet
Other features of this model are:
- Fuel gauge
- Partial GFCI protected outlets
- Circuit breakers
- A low oil indicator light that lets you know when it’s time to refill the oil
This is a heavy generator, but it has a wheel kit and foldable handle to ease its movement.
- It’s a powerful generator
- It offers a decent runtime
- The commercial warranty is limited to 120 days.
Why Use a Tri-Fuel Generator?
Many people get confused as to why they would need a tri-fuel generator. On the surface, it seems like an unnecessary expense. Here are a couple of reasons why a tri-fuel generator is an excellent choice:
- A tri-fuel generator allows you to use three different fuel sources: propane, natural gas, and gasoline. This gives you a lot of flexibility in an emergency. If your power goes out, you can switch from one fuel source to another depending on what’s available.
- You can save on money by switching to whichever fuel source is cheaper. For example, if the price of natural gas drops while gasoline is scarce, you can save on the cost of buying gas and spend less of it on natural gas.
Additionally, using propane or natural gas in your generator is much cheaper than using gasoline. Propane and natural gas cost about half as much as gasoline does.
- Running generators on natural gas or propane releases fewer emissions into the air than running the same generators on gasoline. Natural gas and propane burn more efficiently than gas.
Despite the high prices of tri-fuel generators compared to gasoline or diesel powered models, tri-fuel units are worth their price. So, how can you settle for the best tri-fuel generator?
Best Tri-fuel Generators Buyer’s Guide
There are numerous tri-fuel generators in the market. However, not all the models are reliable and durable. Here are critical aspects to look at when shopping for the best tri-fuel generator;
1. Generator’s fuel selector
The key feature of a tri-fuel generator is its ability to run on three types of fuel; natural gas, gasoline, and propane. Therefore, you need to ensure that you buy a generator with an easy-to-use fuel selector. The best tri-fuel generators have a fuel selector with clearly labeled buttons to offer an easy time to switch from one fuel source to another. In most models, the fuel selector is usually located near your generator’s carburetor.
Also, consider whether you need to stop the engine before switching over to another fuel source. This can be so frustrating. Make sure that your model has an automatic switchover feature that makes it easy and safe to switch fuel sources when the model is running.
2. Size of the generator
Tri-fuel generators come in various sizes and power capacities depending on their intended application. In general, smaller models can be used for camping trips and powering tiny houses in case of a power outage. While big models are ideal for powering big job site power tools and large houses, should there be a blackout.
Before settling for any size of a tri-fuel generator, take into account how much power you need when you are off the primary grid. A small RV trailer with an 11,000 BTU AC unit will require a smaller generator than an RV with 15,000 BTU AC unit. Similarly, a house with low power demands will need a smaller generator than a large one with high demand.
To ascertain the right size of a tri-fuel generator for your needs, sum up the total starting wattage of all your appliances. Add 25% of your total starting power to get the minimum tri-fuel generator you should buy. However, you should not that gasoline delivers the highest power output, followed by propane and natural gas. This means the generator is more powerful when running on gasoline than on propane or natural gas.
3. Start Type
Tri-fuel generators come with different starting types, including recoil, electric start, and push-button start, among others. The right starting type for you depends on your needs and preferences. For example, a generator with a recoil starter is ideal if you don’t mind manual pull starting operation.
On the other hand, an electric start generator is perfect if you don’t want any hassle when starting the generator. This feature comes in handy, especially during a power outage where you want the power back up as soon as possible. The only downside of an electric start system is that it thoroughly relies on the charge of the generator’s battery to work. If the battery has no charge, you will have to use the recoil start system.
4. Operating Noise Levels
Noise levels vary depending on the manufacturer and model. The operating noise level is an important aspect to look at. It will determine if you can use the generator in residential or commercial environments without irritating people around you. If you want to buy a tri-fuel generator for home use, it is advisable to get one with low noise levels. A noisy generator will be a nuisance to your neighbors, and it can also bother your sleeping pattern.
On the other hand, if you use it on construction sites or outside where noise won’t irritate anyone, high noise levels aren’t a big issue. Even so, the amount of noise a generator produces depends on the existing load and how far you have placed it. A generator with a low load will have a low noise rating than one running at full load.
5. Run time
The run time is another crucial aspect to look at when buying this generator. How long does the generator run before refueling? This will depend on the fuel efficiency, load, and size of its fuel tank. The larger the fuel tank, the longer it runs before refueling.
And if your unit has a larger built-in fuel tank, that’s a plus for you since you won’t have to stop working now and then to refuel it. For instance, in our review above, Winco HPS12000HE has a 15 gallons fuel tank capacity. This model offers a runtime of 14.5 hours at half load and 9 hours when running at full load. So, besides the fuel tank capacity, the carrying load and fuel source also determine the run time that the generator will offer you.
6. Power Outlets
Tri-fuel generators come with various power outlets for plugging different types of appliances. These outlets are of different varieties, and they come in different numbers from one model to another. You can operate many devices using a single outlet using extension cords. However, they may increase the chances of electrocution.
If you want to run several appliances simultaneously, a model with multiple outlets is what you need. You will need a generator with a 120/240V 30A or 50A receptacle for powering power-hungry electrical appliances such as hairdryers and ovens. If you intend to run an RV using the generator, look out for an RV-ready tri-fuel generator or a generator with a 120/240V 30A twist-lock outlet.
7. Safety features
When shopping for a tri-fuel generator, you should give safety a priority. Go for a model that comes with:
- CO Minder technology protects you and other users from risks of carbon monoxide poisoning
- GFCI protected outlets that guarantee you safety even when the generator becomes damp.
- UL-certified cords to ensure maximum protection from electrical faults
- A low-oil indicator that alerts you when the oil level is low and an automatic shut-off system that turns off the unit whenever there is no oil or fuel in the supply tank.
- An automatic voltage regulation system for delivering stable and clean power
A reliable generator should be easy to carry from one place to another. The weight is a crucial consideration when looking for a portable generator. There are lightweight and heavy generators in the market. Go for a lightweight model if you want a compact and portable generator. Heavyweight models may require two people to lift them from one point to another.
A tri-fuel generator that comes with a warranty is more reliable than one with no warranty. A warranty offers financial protection if something goes wrong within the set period. The best models come with at least 3 years warranty from the manufacturer. The longer the warranty period, the more reliable the generator.
But you must also ensure that you operate your tri-fuel generator according to the manufacturer’s manual to avoid voiding its warranty. For instance, you must service your generator according to what the manufacturer recommends in the user manual.
Safety Tips for Using a Tri-Fuel Generator
If you find yourself in need of power for your home or workplace, a tri-fuel generator can be a lifesaver. However, a slight mistake when using the generator can lead to fatalities. To help keep you and others safe, here are some tips for using tri-fuel generators:
- Read the manual. Read it before you use the generator and keep it handy while you’re using it so you can refer to it as needed. This will help ensure the proper operation and safety of the unit. The manual will also help guide when you should service the generator.
- Never operate a generator inside your home or garage, even if the doors are open. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly. Operate it outdoors and far away from windows, doors, and vents. Keep it outside at least 20 feet from your home or other building.
- Inspect the fuel source before starting the generator; ensure no leaks or spills. Any gasoline leakage when the generator is running can result from fire. This is because gasoline is flammable, and the generator parts are likely hot.
- Always keep gasoline in an approved safety container. And keep it outside of your living area and away from heat sources like the stove or water heater.
- When refueling gasoline, don’t overfill the overfill generator. Leave room at the top for expansion of liquid fuels in warm weather and avoid spilling any fuel when filling up your generator’s tank.
- Operate only one high-wattage appliance at a time. Power-hungry appliances such as air conditioners can overload your generator’s capacity when run alongside other heavy-duty machines.
- Hook up the generator properly. When you’re ready to use the generator, make sure all connections are installed correctly. In particular, there should be no leaks where the propane tank connects to the generator.
Faqs About Best Tri-Fuel Generator
Is a tri-fuel generator worth it?
Yes, a tri-fuel generator comes in handy when the storm hits and disrupts both power and gasoline supply. During such times, you will need a generator that allows you to run it on alternative fuel sources. Besides, a tri-fuel generator lets you run it on natural gas, which is cheaper and burns cleaner than gasoline.
However, you may not enjoy the worth of a tri-fuel generator if you constantly power it using gasoline.
Who makes tri-fuel generators?
Different manufacturers, including Champion, Kohler, Winco, and Firman, are some generator manufacturers who make tri-fuel units. They make reliable tri-fuel generators that can serve your household when the mains are disconnected.
Are tri-fuel generators safe?
Yes, just like any other generator, tri-fuel generators are safe. Most tri-fuel models come equipped with safety features such as automatic voltage regulation, circuit breakers, and a low oil shutdown sensor. These features guarantee the safety of your plugged-in appliances.
However, for the users of the tri-fuel generators to be safe, they should check out safety tips for using tri-fuel generators above.
Will Honda make a dual fuel generator?
No. However, there are dual fuel generators that run on Honda engines. As for tri-fuel models, there are particular models like the Honda commercial tri-fuel package that are Honda products.
Will a tri-fuel generator power my entire home?
Yes, a tri-fuel generator can run your entire house. However, not every tri-fuel generator in the market can power your full house. Instead, it will depend on your power needs or the size of the generator vis a viz the size of your home. You can opt for a 5000 watts tri-fuel generator if you don’t intend to run furnaces, heat pumps, AC units, and other heavy appliances.
To power a whole house, calculate the total starting watts of your home, add a 25% margin, and such for a generator of that size.
Can I convert my single fuel generator to a tri-fuel generator?
Yes, it is technically possible to change your single-fuel or dual-fuel generator to a tri-fuel model. However, you will need to purchase a compatible tri-fuel conversion kit for your particular generator model. Depending on your generator model, you may have to modify the generator. However, before proceeding with the changes on your generator, you should confirm whether the model is compatible with the tri-fuel conversation kit.
Remember such modifications may void your generator’s warranty cover. And your generator may start malfunctioning after the changes.
What are the disadvantages of tri-fuel generators?
Running a tri-fuel generator on propane or natural gas delivers a lower power output than running the same gasoline unit. It is also challenging to move with propane cylinders from one point to another than with a gasoline-filled tank.
When it comes down to it, there is no “best tri-fuel generator”; the best tri-fuel generator will depend on individual circumstances and preferences. What are your power needs, where do you intend to use the generator, and your budget? These factors will define the “best tri-fuel generator” for your needs.
All tri-fuel generators in our review above are reliable, robust, and durable for most home users. Pick either of them by matching it with your power needs, and you will no longer have to worry about power blackouts.
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