Battery Equivalents and Replacements

Tri Fuel Generator: The Ultimate Guide

Power generators convert chemical energy stored in fossil fuels into electricity, allowing the users to power various electrical devices, tools, appliances, gadgets, etc., during blackouts, emergencies, when camping, on construction sites, and similar.

Tri-fuel generators are able to use three types of fuel, commonly gasoline (often shortened as "gas," which can lead to some confusion), propane gas (LPG - Liquid Petroleum Gas), and natural gas (NG).

Published: December 17, 2022.

On This Page:

Intro To Tri Fuel Generators

Most Popular Tri Fuel Generators

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Few Final Words

tri fuel generators 1


Intro To Tri Fuel Generators

Having the option of using three different fuels provides certain flexibility when powering the unit but also increases the complexity and price of the unit.

However, the increase in price and complexity are well worth it in many situations.

For short, tri-fuel power generators are units that use three different types of fuels (not at the same time, of course). These fuels are gasoline (gas), propane gas (LPG, Liquid Petroleum Gas), and natural gas (NG).

Each fuel has its own pros and cons, including:

Gasoline (Gas)

Gasoline quickly deteriorates, and when stored properly, it is good only for 1-2 months. Using old gasoline will cause the unit to perform badly if the user manages to start it. Also, old gasoline can even damage the engine.

Propane

Propane is usually stored in 20 and 40 pounds tanks, but it can be found and stored in much larger tanks, for example, up to 2000 gallons.

In order to provide the same amount of power, internal combustion engines must use more propane than gas, but at the same time, propane is cheaper. Also, when running on propane, power generators are unable to provide the same output power as when operating on gasoline.

Also, in a good propane tank, the propane can be stored for years, even decades, making it the preferred fuel for long-time storage.

propane as fuel

Natural Gas

Homes that use natural gas can benefit from it even during the blackouts - just connect your tri-fuel power generator to the NG line, and connect the power generator to your home (Transfer Switch available? If not, why not?) and enjoy the comfort of your home.

Note: if You live in an area with common blackouts, consider having extra oil and a spark plug for your power generator - when constantly operating while connected to the NG line, power generators can quickly clock many running hours and may require some maintenance along the way...

natural gas as fuel

Natural gas is the least energy-dense fuel when compared with gasoline and propane - when running on natural gas, the output power of the generators is the lowest, so have this in mind when looking for the "perfect" unit.

Conversion Kits

Many third-party companies offer conversion kits, allowing users to convert their gasoline-powered generators into dual-fuel (gasoline, propane) and tri-fuel (gasoline, propane, natural gas) generators and their dual-fuel generators into tri-fuel generators.

However, such conversions are rarely officially supported by the generator manufacturers. In fact, very often, converting the gasoline generator into dual-fuel and tri-fuel and dual-fuel generator into tri-fuel generators leads to an automatic loss of warranty.

ng conversion kit

Additional Features

When looking for a new power generator, be sure to check a few things, including:

  • Safety Features including Carbon Monoxide (CO) protection, Low Oil Shutdown, electric breakers, grounding, and similar,
  • Output Power including Running and Starting Watts when being powered by gasoline, propane, and natural gas,
  • Fuel Tank Capacity and runtime on a single fuel tank or 20/40 lbs propane tank,
  • Physical Dimensions and Weight of the power generator,
  • Noise Levels during operation, measured from a certain distance (usually 23 feet, 7m) and at specific loads (usually @25% and 50%),
  • Engine Start can be manual/recoil, electric and remote. While remote start is a great feature, manual/recoil start should be used only as a backup,
  • Handles and Wheels allow the user or users to move the power generator manually, without additional assistance,
  • Maintenance Procedures, etc.

Regardless of what power generator You have, it must be used outside, away and downwind from the car, home, RV, tent, people, animals, and similar.

Also, just to be sure, keep the Owner's Guide nearby, and if required, verify how to exactly perform certain procedures...

 


Most Popular Tri Fuel Generators

Here is our list of the most popular tri-fuel generators. Of course, there are other units on the market as well, even under 4000-5000 Watts, but these are the most popular ones, thanks to their features, specifications, and reasonable prices.

When choosing "the best" tri-fuel power generator for your own use, be sure to choose according to your own needs and preferences.

The list is given in alphabetic order.


Champion 100416 8000-Watt Tri Fuel Generator with CO Shield

champion 100416

Champion 100416 8000-Watt Tri Fuel Generator with CO Shield is a relatively compact, open-frame power generator powered by a 4-stroke 459cc internal combustion engine.

The physical dimensions of the unit are (L x W x H) 27.6 x 28.2 x 26 inches (~70.1 x 71.6 x 66 cm), and it weighs 207 pounds (~93.7 kg) dry.

Thanks to foldable handles and a pair of 10-inch (25.4 cm) wheels, one person can easily transport it to shorter distances. However, wheels are plastic and are intended only for transport over short distances.

Champion 100416 features an electric start and, as a backup, a classic manual start - the energy for an electric start is ensured by a 12V 15Ah lead-acid battery.

Depending on the fuel being used, Champion 100416 is able to provide the following:

  • Gasoline (Gas): 8000 Running Watts, 10000 Starting Watts,
  • Propane: 7200 Running Watts, 9000 Starting Watts,
  • Natural Gas: 7000 Running Watts, 8750 Starting Watts.

Note: This power drop is typical for dual-fuel and tri-fuel power generators.

Steel gasoline tank capacity is 8.5 gallons (~30.3 liters) which is enough for 12.5 hours of operation @50% (4000W) load. When the unit is powered by 20 lbs propane tank, the unit is able to operate for up to 5 hours @50% load.

Gasoline Fuel Efficiency @50% = 8.5 gallons / (12.5h * 4kW) = 0.170 gallons/kWh = 0.644 liters/kWh

Propane Fuel Efficiency @50% = 20 lbs / (5h * 3.6kW) = 1.11 pounds/kWh = 0.503 kg/kWh

As one can see, Champion 100416 is a very fuel-efficient power generator when powering 50% load.

The rated noise level is 74 dBA (at 23 feet, 7 meters), which is acceptable for a unit of this size and construction.

Champion 100416 power generator features covered GFCI outlets:

  • 2x 120V 20A Duplex (5-20R),
  • 120V 30A Locking (L5-30R),
  • 120/240V 30A (L14-30R).

Champion 100461 doesn't feature DC (5V or 12V) outlets.

Safety features include a Carbon Monoxide (CO) sensor (CO Shield), low oil shutoff, and circuit breakers.

Champion 100461 also comes with a 25-foot NG hose kit, a 6-foot propane hose with a built-in regulator, and engine oil.

Champion 100416 power generator is PGMA G300-2018 and CARB compliant, and EPA certified. Also, it comes with a 3-year limited warranty.

If You are looking for one of the best buy tri-fuel power generators, consider this model.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Champion 100416 8000-Watt Tri Fuel Generator with CO Shield Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).


DuroMax XP13000HXT 13,000 Watt Tri Fuel Portable HXT Generator w/ CO Alert

duromax xp13000hxt

DuroMax XP13000HXT is powered by air-cooled, 4-stroke, 500cc internal combustion engine which accepts three types of fuel, including:

Gasoline: 10500 Running Watts, 13000 Starting Watts,

Propane: 9500 Running Watts, 12000 Starting Watts,

Natural Gas: 8500 Running Watts, 10000 Starting Watts.

Even when powered by NG, DuroMax XP13000HXT is strong enough to power most homes.

The fuel tank capacity is 8.3 gallons (~31.4 liters). Also, when using propane to power the generator, a 40lbs tank is recommended.

The engine features remote, electric, and manual (recoil) start.

When the unit is powered by gasoline, the runtime on a single fuel tank or single 40lbs propane tank is:

Gasoline:

25% Load (2625W): 17h

Gasoline Fuel Efficiency @25% = 8.3 gallons / (17h * 2.625 kW) = 0.186 gallons/kWh = 0.704 liters/kWh

50% Load (5250W): 8.5h

Gasoline Fuel Efficiency @50% = 8.3 gallons / (8.5h * 5.250 kW) = 0.186 gallons/kWh = 0.704 liters/kWh

Propane:

25% Load (2375W): 13h

Propane Fuel Efficiency @25% = 40lbs / (13h * 2.375 kW) = 1.295 lbs/kWh = 0.587 kg/kWh

50% Load (4750W): 6.5h

Propane Fuel Efficiency @50% = 40lbs / (6.5h * 4.750 kW) = 1.295 lbs/kWh = 0.587 kg/kWh

As one can see, according to official data, both gasoline and propane fuel efficiencies @25% and @50% are the same, but data are obviously "rounded" - nonetheless, the DuroMax XP13000HXT engine and the generator as a unit, are energy efficient - just be sure to maintain it properly.

The list of receptacles includes:

  • 2x AC 120V GFCI 5-20R Double,
  • 1x 120V 30A L5-30R,
  • 1x AC 120/240V 30A L14-30R,
  • 1x AC 120/240V 50A 14-50R.

The physical dimensions of the unit are (L x W x H) 30 x 29 x 26 inches (~76.2 x 73.7 x 66 cm), and it weighs 240 pounds (~108.7 kg).

Thanks to the pair of 10" (25.4 cm) wheels with rubber tires and available handles, the unit can be easily pushed/pulled by a single adult over flat terrain.

Additional features include CO (Carbon Monoxide) Alert/Shutdown, Low Oil Shutdown, No Load Low Idle control, Digital Control Center, etc.

DuroMax XP13000HXT is EPA and CARB-certified and features a 5-year limited warranty.

What's in the Box?

When the unit arrives, the box contains XP13000HXT Generator, Oil Funnel, Spark Plug Wrench, Tool Set, Wheel & Handle Kit, Propane Regulator, Remote Control, and Owner's Manual.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the DuroMax XP13000HXT 13,000 Watt Tri Fuel Portable HXT Generator w/ CO Alert Amazon link (the link opens in the new window). 


Firman T07571 Tri Fuel 7500W Portable Generator Electric Start 120/240V

firman t07571

Firman T07571 Tri-Fuel generator is powered by 439cc internal combustion engine providing:

Gasoline: 7500 Running Watts, 9400 Starting Watts,

Propane: 6750 Running Watts, 8450 Starting Watts,

Natural Gas: 5500 Running Watts, 6900 Starting Watts.

The fuel tank capacity is 8 gallons (~30.3 liters), allowing the unit to operate 12h @50% load (3750W). The engine features an electric (based on the 12V 15Ah lead-acid battery) and recoil/manual start.

Gasoline Fuel Efficiency = 8 gallons / (12h * 3.75 kW) = 0.177 gallons/kWh = 0.673 liters/kWh

Natural Gas fuel consumption is:

  • No Load: 72 ft3/hr (2 m3/hr),
  • Half Load: 86 ft3/hr (2.4 m3/hr),
  • Full Load: 101 ft3/hr (2.9 m3/hr).

LPG fuel consumption is:

  • No Load: 15.6 ft3/hr (1.6 l/hr),
  • Half Load: 31 ft3/hr (3.2 l/hr),
  • Full Load: 50.8 ft3/hr (5.3 l/hr).

Total Harmonic Distortions (THD) at full load are 11-14%, which is good enough for most tools, devices, and appliances but sensitive electronics might have issues when being powered by electricity with THD levels of 3-5% or more. The noise levels are ~74 dB at 25% load.

The list of receptacles includes:

  • 1x GFCI 120V 20A 5-20R Duplex,
  • 1x 120V 30A L5-30R,
  • 1x 120V/240V 30A L14-30R,
  • 1x 120V/240V 50A 14-50R.

Firman T07571 Tri-Fuel Generator's physical dimensions are (L x W x H) 29.8 x 27.5 x 26.1 inches (~75.7 x 69.9 x 66.3 cm), and it weighs 213 pounds (~96.5 kg) dry.

The unit comes with 10" (25.4 cm) plastic wheels and a folding handle, allowing a single adult to push/pull the unit over flat terrain easily.

Also, the unit comes with a Low Oil Shutdown, Digital Control Center, covered receptacles, electric circuit breakers, etc.

Firman T07571 Tri-Fuel Generator is CARB, EPS, cETL and NOM certified. Also, it comes with a 3-year limited warranty.

If You are looking for a tri fuel power generator and Champion and DuroMax models are a little bit too strong for your needs, consider the Firman T07571 power generator.

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check the Firman T07571 Tri Fuel 7500W Portable Generator Electric Start 120/240V Amazon link (the link opens in the new window).


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some of the most common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about tri-fuel generators and generators in general.

Is there a tri-fuel generator?

Yes, there are tri-fuel power generators that can use three different fuels, including gasoline (gas), propane (LPG), and natural gas (NG).

What does a tri-fuel generator mean?

"Tri-fuel generator" means that the power generator is able to use three different fuels, one at a time.

These fuels are gasoline (gas), propane (LPG), and natural gas (NG).

What is the most efficient fuel for a generator?

In order to answer that question, one would have to define what "the most efficient fuel" means accurately.

Generally, in order to produce a certain amount of energy, power generators require the least amount of gasoline. However, if we take into account things like price, availability, and similar, calculation is not that simple.

That is the reason why dual-fuel and tri-fuel power generators are in demand - fuel flexibility can come in very handy in many situations.

What is the best multi-fuel generator?

"The best multi-fuel" generator depends on the exact requirements. In this article, we cover several very popular models that really have something to offer, so please, choose according to your own needs and preferences.

How long will a 20lb propane tank run a generator?

This depends on the output power and the efficiency of the power generator.

Is it worth it to get a dual-fuel generator?

Dual-fuel and tri-fuel generators offer great flexibility regarding the fuel that they use, which is very important during emergencies, blackouts, when camping, and similar.

Tri-fuel generators are not as common as dual-fuel generators since not all people have access to Natural Gas (NG), and they don't have the need for such units.

If You live in an area where blackouts are common, and your home is already using natural gas (NG), then having a tri-fuel generator and transfer switch is highly recommended.

Also, in such a situation, having a stationary generator is not a bad option, on the contrary...


Few Final Words

 

buffalo tools gen4000tri sportsman

The most common tri-fuel power generators are larger units that can be used to power entire homes via their AC 120V/240V 50A 14-50R receptacles and a transfer switch.

However, there are also smaller tri-fuel power generators in the 3000-5000 Watts range, however, they are not as common as dual-fuel power generators in that class.

Regardless of the power generator that You have and its safety features, always operate the power generator outside, away from homes, RVs, people, animals, etc.

And whatever You do, stay safe...