Propane inverter generator options?

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So we have a big house-sized propane tank for cooking and heat when I don't use the wood stove. 100s of gallons. I'd love to get our propane company to split that line and have a nearly infinite source of backup electricity. Since we are working from home these days, power outages this winter will be even more annoying. We won't be needing much power... a couple laptops, internet, TV, a few lights, a half sized fridge. So our peak draw will probably only be 1000W or so. Because sensitive electronics are involved, we need an inverter. But it looks propane/dual fuel inverter combination is fairly rare, at least without an aftermarket kit, especially now with California and Covid and a bunch of stuff is sold out. A bigger more expensive whole house generator is probably overkill.

Some of the options I was looking at:

The ~2000W Honda inverter/generators look like the most reliable gas powered unit out there, but would need an aftermarket kit to run off propane. This unit looks very reliable by itself, and the aftermarket kit is also fairly well reviewed, but I wouldn't want to screw anything up: https://hutchmountain.com/product/h...natural-gas-gasoline-tri-fuel-conversion-kit/.

Theirs a 4500W model from westinghouse... westinghouse igen4500df... that has electric start and looks fairly well reviewed, plus would give us extra power in case we wanted to run other things. I kindof like the look of this unit, but this model is sold out everywhere it seems.

And then there are a couple champion models in stock... dual fuel out of the box, ranging in size from 2000W to 3500W. But the champion brand looks slightly less well reviewed?

Then theres a Sportsman and a AIpower model that both seem less well reviewed.

Thoughts? Anyone have experience with these models, or another propane/dual fuel inverter generator out there?

Thanks!
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,196
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
The champion inverters are pretty solid units. My 3100 watt gas unit has done everything I've needed and then some, especially considering I paid $899 CAD for it. My unit is used primarily for powering our fifth wheel and electric wood splitter, I keep it around in the garage for a possible outage but have never had one to try it out powering the house.

Supposedly parts are relatively easy to get for them, but I haven't needed any in the 3 years I've owned mine. The only thing I can't confirm is how well the propane side works, I find keeping gasoline on hand easier than propane so bought the gas only model.
 

CaptSpiff

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2014
550
Long Island, NY
...., I find keeping gasoline on hand easier than propane so bought the gas only model.

Again, speaking for co-worker, he is using the dual fuel model with 20 lb (4 gal ?) portable propane tanks.
The older (traditional) 3kw propane generators would suck dry a 20 lb propane bottle in under half a day, so propane was not practical unless you had a bigger house tank.
The newer (inverter) 3kw propane generators can get a whole day plus some on a single 20 lb tank. It's a new world.

side note:
The old traditional generators used the engine speed to control the 60 hz frequency, so no matter the loading the gen had to run at the same (hi) rpm all the time. Terrible for fuel efficiency and always too loud.
The new inverter generators use a Solid State Inverter to make & control the voltage & frequency to 60hz (not engine speed), so when half loaded the generator engine can slow rpm and reduce gas usage. Benefits are quieter, fuel saving, and cleaner electric waveform to make other electronics happier.
Inverters used to be crazy expensive, but now we find them everywhere (Solar Systems, Wind Turbines, and UPS's).
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,462
South Puget Sound, WA
I was also going to suggest looking at the Champions. They are a good value. We have a factory converted Yamaha EF2400i that is great. I have only run it on propane. These folks did the conversion. I bought it before the wave of Chinese dual-fuel units showed up.
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
3,743
Eastern Ontario
If you get a bigger unit 3 to 5 K or above get electric start in cold weather
a pull start is a bear. Ask me how I know
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,302
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I Sure like my champion 3100 inverter. It’s gas only but that’s just because I bought it before the dual fuel upgrade was available. Before this one I had a champion 3500 non inverter that was also ultra dependable for many years.

I would rather buy a factory made dual fuel unit than modify one to make it dual fuel.

We just used it for a power outage. 9-10 hours per 1.6 gallon tank of gasoline. Super quiet, power is higher quality than utility power.

Just realize that almost all inverter gensets are 120 volt.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,196
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Again, speaking for co-worker, he is using the dual fuel model with 20 lb (4 gal ?) portable propane tanks.
The older (traditional) 3kw propane generators would suck dry a 20 lb propane bottle in under half a day, so propane was not practical unless you had a bigger house tank.
The newer (inverter) 3kw propane generators can get a whole day plus some on a single 20 lb tank. It's a new world.

side note:
The old traditional generators used the engine speed to control the 60 hz frequency, so no matter the loading the gen had to run at the same (hi) rpm all the time. Terrible for fuel efficiency and always too loud.
The new inverter generators use a Solid State Inverter to make & control the voltage & frequency to 60hz (not engine speed), so when half loaded the generator engine can slow rpm and reduce gas usage. Benefits are quieter, fuel saving, and cleaner electric waveform to make other electronics happier.
Inverters used to be crazy expensive, but now we find them everywhere (Solar Systems, Wind Turbines, and UPS's).

I'm sure the new ones like mine would work fine on propane, slightly less engine power but I think they'd be just as efficient. I just don't keep propane on hand, I've got a couple 5lb bottles for a small portable bbq and stove and my 2 30lbs live in the fifth wheel. But between my all my toys and power equipment I've got a dozen 5 gallon gas cans of which at least half are usually full at any given time. Don't get me wrong I'd save a few bucks on fuel, propane is currently at $0.60/liter and gasoline at $1.00. But not worth the hassle of owning more tanks that need re-certification after 10 years.

Yea, anybody got some good explanations for that?

Cost and consumer demand. It's more expensive to produce and very few people actually need 240 volt from a 3000 watt generator. Most of these generators are sold to RV'ers and they almost exclusively designed to run on 120 volt. My fifth wheel comes with a 4 prong 50 amp 240/120volt plug, yet all the appliances are 120 volt and pull on leg at a time, so the cheater cord I use for my inverter just powers both hot legs from the same 120 volt line and everything works just fine.

One of the biggest inverters I know of is this one:


10,500 watts of 120/240 volt power. Come with a propane fueled option and has the bonus of being a welding machine as well. Problem is they are pricy and not exactly quiet. A few guys I've worked have them on their welding rigs, nice machines, they will even weld up to 150 amps or provide 2400 watts from the inverter at idle speed (2400 rpm). But like all big generators they burn the fuel, 0.5 gallons per hour at idle and 1.5 gph at 10,000 watts.

If you move over to the miller bobcat line you can even get units capable of 480 volt 3 phase power. But then these aren't inverters and are instead a traditional 3600 rpm constant speed generator.
 
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Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,605
Midwest
Yea, anybody got some good explanations for that?
Probably because that is the niche there is to fill. Inverter generators are typically known to be small, light weight and fuel efficient for a given power output. So they tend to be used for a lot of 'portable' applications...which are almost always 120VAC (North America, anyway) ...not a lot of people take 240V washer/dryer/air compressor out camping. 240V inverters are out there, or at least used to be pre corona / california / riots / etc. Just a lot smaller market for them, I suppose.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,302
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I use the 120 volt source to back feed my main panel which is normally fed by two out of phase 120 sources to make 240 volts with a double pole breaker. Since all of my back fed voltage is in phase, those 240 breakers don’t “see” any differential and think the power is out. I shut them off to be safe. I know phase isn’t exactly the right word but you all get what I mean.

Besides, those 240 volt breakers feed huge loads like water heater, oven, hot tub. I can’t run them with a little 3000 watt inverter generator anyway except for like one burner on the stove which honestly would be nice.
 
Seriously thinking about the 3400W Champion dual fuel model inverter... 1100 bucks at tractor supply. Electric start. Well reviewed. More power than we need so we can splurge and use the microwave...
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,196
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,302
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Heck of a time to buy a generator. Like lumber. Be careful of price gouging if you can even find the product.