It’s the 21st century, and unless your name is Bear Grylls, you need electricity to survive! But for many of us, it is imperative to have a back-up solution - particularly those living in remote locations and/or with extreme weather conditions.
Those looking for alternative back-up energy solutions may be considering a dual fuel generator (among other options on the current market), but might not be sure where to begin - or even fully in the know about what a dual fuel generator actually is.
Well, relax. We have created an in-depth guide about dual fuel generators in 2023 - what they are and whether you should buy one.
What is a Dual Fuel Generator?
To put it simply, a dual fuel generator is an outdoor power source that can function on two different fossil fuel sources (hence the name).
This means you can run your generator using either gas or liquid propane - not to mention being able to switch between the two at the simple push of a button - or they can both be used at the same time.
The idea behind this double-whammy fuel solution is to provide peace of mind and longevity and flexibility of use.
What Does a Dual Fuel Generator Do?
A dual fuel generator can do everything a standard generator can - it is just more reliable and can provide energy for longer, owing to the two fuel functions.
Reasons you may wish to invest in a dual fuel generator include:
- Help maintain your heating and cooling systems in times of outages.
- Run smaller, lower wattage appliances (such as low-energy lighting) during a blackout, or just to preserve your grid energy use.
- Maintain or charge your other appliances during an outage.
In short, a dual fuel generator is a back-up solution during a crisis, such as an outage, a planned blackout from an energy company, harsh weather, and so on, and can be a more reliable option than simply putting all your faith into your a single fuel source, such as a standard home generator.
How Do Dual Fuel Generators Work?
So, we understand that a dual fuel generator provides power via not one, but two, fossil fuel sources, but what else?
Well, the dual fuel can hold (and use a combination of) propane, petrol, diesel, and natural gas. They can switch between fuels (either manually or automatically), if one or the other source begins to run out.
While having two fuel sources may seem unethical (or at the very least, slight overkill), this can be vital for those who may experience an outage for longer than expected.
Why Buy a Dual Fuel Generator?
We touched on their importance during a crisis or any kind of electrical failure, but let’s expand on this further.
While many of us can get by on a single source generator (or none at all), a dual fuel can be a no-brainer for the following reasons:
- Some fuels function better than others, so having two options gives you that much more reassurance that you’ll have power when you need it.
- Climate can factor heavily as to which is the best fossil fuel solution (for example, petrol is best-suited for cold/freezing climates, whereas propane is better for warmer ones), so having two options is double the protection, wherever you’re located.
- They can be useful in remote areas where other energy solutions may be scarce.
- You have power for longer. This can be vital if your area is prone to extended blackouts, or if it is subject to extreme weather conditions (such as hurricanes, storms, tornados, etc).
- More refill options if you’re in short supply of one option and aren’t able to replenish this stock (for example, if struck by a natural disaster).
What to Consider Before Buying a Dual Fuel Generator
So, while they’re pretty nifty bits of kit, it’s important to factor in the following before opening your wallet:
When purchasing a dual fuel generator, don’t just go in blindly. You’ll need to know all of your power capacity requirements, as this will help you in selecting the dual fuel option that matches that capacity.
As with all other types of generator, dual fuels come in different range options, which typically vary between 5000 watts and 12,500 watts (although there are higher options on the market, but for domestic use, it is unlikely your watt needs will exceed 12,500). Naturally, larger households, or households with many devices, will require a higher range model.
It is worth mentioning now that, no matter the capacity of the dual fuel genny, you will not be able to power every single device/appliance/electrical need in your home - dual fuel generators are designed to be a back-up option for the necessities only.
Naturally, your dual fuel option of choice will largely depend on your energy consumption. When buying your generator, as well as your capacity needs, you will need to have an accurate estimation of your energy consumption.
Most UK households will not exceed 3,100 kilowatt-hours of energy per annum, which results in around 8,500 watts used a day (naturally this can fluctuate depending on the number of people under the roof and how tech-reliant they/you are).
As we mentioned above, when and if the time comes to use your dual fuel, you will not be powering ALL of your devices and appliances - you will just be using it to switch on the necessities, such as your phone charger, lighting, heating/AC (if applicable), fridge, and one or two other go-tos.
This makes it much easier to work out how much energy you consume before buying your dual fuel generator, and an easy way to discern this is to calculate the wattage of your go-to devices only. Also, it’s important not to forget about peak (surge) power consumption and power consumption of these devices over a stretch of time (however long an outage may last, worst case scenario).
In this instance, size matters. An example of this is if you wish to have a generator that is fairly portable and easily manoeuvrable, a smaller model may be the best bet. But in the case of dual fuel generators, the smaller the product, the less power it can provide/fuel it can hold, so weigh out which holds the most importance to you.
Following on from size naturally comes the fuel capacity. And the smaller the fuel capacity, the less power you’ll be provided with (in terms of time).
Typically fuel tanks range in capacity from 3 gallons to 8.5.
While generators are, by and large, reliable and robust products, they need a degree of maintenance; and failure to do this may mean you have no power at all in the event of an emergency. We want to avoid this scenario at all costs!
Dual fuel maintenance usually comes down to two activities: keeping the fuel levels topped up and keeping the tank clean to avoid clogging.
Neither of these activities are particularly strenuous or tedious, and you will be glad to have kept her in good condition when the time comes for her to do her thing!
Okay, so it’s no secret that generators can be somewhat noisy.
When in use, your average dual fuel generator will emit a noise that ranges from 50 - 90 decibels, depending on what fuels you have going on. For example, petrol is notoriously noisier (and stinkier) than other options. Propane is considered the quietest (and eco-friendly) option.
During an emergency, noise probably won’t be your biggest concern. However, if you plan on using your generator for more leisurely activities, such as camping, you’ll want a quieter option so as not to upset nearby campers or residents!
Depending on your level of experience/confidence with generators, you’ll want to opt for an easy-to-use number, or look at other options, such as solar power stations, which require no fuel, are noise-free, easy to use, good for the environment, and require no maintenance/replenishment costs.
Dual Fuel Generators: The Fuel Options
While propane has its benefits, as referenced earlier (it’s quieter and more eco-friendly), it also provides the shortest amount of power, and (alone) will only provide around 5 hours of energy per 20 lbs propane tank (which is where dual fuel comes in handy).
Because propane is clean-burning, it can be used for outdoor burning (such as barbecues). It is also easier and safer to store.
The average 5-gallon petrol tank can provide around 8 hours of energy (on its own), but it is costly, unsustainable, smelly, and noisy.
It’s wise to avoid petrol altogether, as it requires regular maintenance and topping up, and can be messy and unsafe to have around families with young children.
Gas burns more efficiently and goes further than petrol, and can be the best option to couple with propane.
Depending on the type of generator, you can expect anything from 2 - 8 hours of energy from gas (alone).
Best Dual Fuel Generator: BLUETTI Solar Generator
The BLUETTI solar generator is a great alternative to a dual fuel generator, especially if you're looking for a more eco-friendly and quieter option. Unlike a dual fuel generator that requires gasoline or propane, the BLUETTI solar generator is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery that can be charged using solar panels, wall outlets, or car chargers.
Here are some advantages of the BLUETTI solar generator:
Eco-friendly: Unlike a dual fuel generator that emits harmful gases, the BLUETTI solar generator is a clean and sustainable source of power that doesn't harm the environment.
Quiet: The BLUETTI solar generator operates silently, making it perfect for use in residential areas, campsites, or during outdoor activities where noise levels need to be kept low.
Portable: The BLUETTI solar generator is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry and transport. It can be used to power small appliances, electronics, and even medical equipment.
Versatile: The BLUETTI solar generator comes with multiple charging options, including solar panels, wall outlets, and car chargers, making it a versatile power source that can be used in various situations.
Overall, the BLUETTI solar generator is an excellent alternative to a dual fuel generator, providing a clean, quiet, and sustainable source of power.