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Do Propane Generators Produce Carbon Monoxide?

do propane generators produce carbon monoxide
Written by Jamie Masterson

Generators alone give off 44% of all the carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. Propane is a lot more gentle than gasoline and diesel in producing toxins. Propane generators do not produce carbon monoxide at a large volume. They are clean-burning and safer for the surroundings.

Still, propane produces a small amount of carbon monoxide. Sometimes a tiny bit of carbon monoxide can also be deadly. Propane-operated appliances can be a matter of concern if they’re run with incomplete combustion.

Unlike gasoline generators, their propane counterparts do not radiate so much harmful gasses that may get in the way of your personal safety or a sound environment.

You better maintain distance from your generator while it’s running and never place it in an enclosed area.

Why Is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?


Shockingly, Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the major causes of death in the US. This toxin binds your hemoglobin and reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity. Then it cuts the cardiac output and causes cerebral ischemia; an encephalopathy or coma in other words caused by extreme toxicity.

What makes it so lethal?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless mixture consisting of two chemical elements; a carbon atom and an oxygen atom. It is a dangerous fume that has no natural presence in our atmosphere and is utterly man-made.

It influences other powerful greenhouse gasses like methane (CH4), and carbon dioxide (CO2). The “CO” incites carbon dioxide as it intermixes with the hydroxyl radical (OH*).

In turn, it limits the obtainability of hydroxyl radicals in the atmosphere and upsurges the concentration of sulfate and methane leading to global warming.

CTA: We need to drop down the outflow of carbon monoxide to diminish its influence on our planet right the moment we can.

How can you save yourself from CO poisoning?

Keep your generator in a free area at least 15 feet away from the house because only a few minutes of exposure to carbon monoxide can be lethal.

The odorless, colorless, and deadly CO is produced when the fuel is burned in a walled or sealed off place.

The emission of carbon monoxide can quickly reach a disastrous level when the generator is running in an inside area.

How to Detect Dangerous Levels of Carbon Monoxide on Your Generator?

detect dangerous levels of carbon monoxide on your generator
Carbon monoxide has a record of injuring and even killing real people, animals, and plants. This danger is not just limited to fuel burning, but our world is full of elements involved in effusing it.

Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

You feel mixed up and tangled when carbon monoxide hits you. The odds of CO poisoning mostly take place while you sleep, and you might rarely witness a CO attack during the daytime.

  • Severe headaches, short breath, light-headedness, Weird confusion
  • Bizarre metallic taste in the mouth
  • The sudden appearance of dead leaves or withered plants close to the property

CTA: The first thing you need to do when you realize the situation is to walk away and sit down. Call for help if this happens to you or someone else in front of you.

Get CO detectors

CO detector
The best way to detect carbon monoxide poisoning is to use CO detectors (1,2,3). You can get them installed all through your house so they notify you as the toxicity arises to an alarming level.

These detectors may cost you 20 to 50 dollars each.

How to Minimize the Risk of Carbon Dioxide When Using a Generatorminimize the risk of carbon dioxide when using a generator

Never run your backup generator indoors ever

It can kill you in minutes if you try to use a generator indoors. The inadvertent CO poisoning is the cause of 18% of all who died in the devastating Connecticut snowstorm in 2011.

You’ll run the generator outside at least 15 feet away from all the doors and windows if you value your life. It makes no difference whether you left the doors of the lobby or garage open or not; it can’t run inside.

Check on your generator before your run it and while it’s in use

Never leave your generator unchecked before and while you use it. You might easily forget it during a power outage or a disaster, or while working on a job site. You shouldn’t just fill the tank with gallons of fuel and ignore it until it’s empty again.

Even the top generators can turn out to be clogged or corroded in the exhaust system. It’s wise to check out for damage, leaks, or clogs before and while you run it since things can break with any machine.

Propane generator safety tips

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines thoroughly when setting up or running your portable propane generator
  • Do not operate the generator in the house, basement, garage, crawl space, shed, or any other area that is not entirely open to the sky. Keep the generator 10 steps away from home, particularly far away from windows, vents, and doors.
  • Install a bunch of battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors all through your home; especially in the areas with equipment that involve smoke such as garage, fireplace, kitchen, and furnace.
  • Act by the maintenance plan. All portable generators come with a recommended maintenance plan to help you get peak performance and the best safety.
  • Keep the generator away from combustible materials so it doesn’t catch fire.
  • Make sure you’re using the right and proper-rated extension cords. All the cords should be grounded-type and for a specific application. Coiled cords are often extremely hot. Lay them in a plain, open location, and be careful while uncoiling.
  • Do not plug in your portable generator directly into a home outlet. You need to install a “power transfer switch”. Call in a qualified electrician to do it for you.
  • Keep your generator dry and away from rain and snow as much as possible because a generator can deliver a powerful punch when water is in contact.

Top Benefits of Propane Generators

Top Benefits of Propane Generators

1. Emergency solution

A portable propane generator is a lifesaver in cases of emergency such as when the power goes out in a dark stormy catastrophic night.

2. Great fuel availability

Propane is stored in tanks and bulk cylinders. So you will have plenty of propane to burn when a catastrophe strikes and the gas pumps are shut off.

3. Epic shelf life

Gasoline and diesel begin to degrade in a few months’ time without stabilizers. On the other hand, propane enjoys a nearly limitless shelf life without any of that.

4. Reliability in the long run

Propane not only has a longer shelf life but is also unaffected by the contaminant elements. Years will go by, and you’ll probably not notice any clogs, carbon deposits, or any major contaminations taking place.

5. Environmental advantage

Of all the fuels out there, propane is widely regarded as the best environmentally friendly combustible substance and adds less to the toxic carbon monoxide.

6. Lower operating costs

Although propane may burn a little more to produce the same amount of energy as gasoline or diesel, propane gets the edge when it comes to affordability and they’re only costlier than natural gas.


Q. Is a propane generator safer than gas?

Yes. Propane is less combustible compared to gasoline, and is great for using in areas susceptible to wildfires. Propane tanks are equipped with protection valves and they’re unlikely to spill all over the place. Neither gasoline nor diesel containers come with such regulators.

Q. Do you need to vent a propane generator?

Vent? Only vents will not be enough. Your propane generator needs to be at least 15-20 away from home because of safety reasons. If you run your generator inside, carbon monoxide might hit and kill you in minutes.

Q. Are propane generators more efficient?

Propane generators seem to be less efficient when it comes to producing BTUs per minute compared to diesel and gasoline. But they’re cost-effective, environmentally safe, and have an epic shelf life.

Q. How long will a generator run on a 20lb tank of propane?

It’ll run about 5 hours on a 20lb propane tank since a propane generator typically uses between 2-3 lbs.’ of propane an hour. The run-time will be directly impacted by the load. The fuller the load the lower the run time.

About the author

Jamie Masterson

With decade-long experience as a generator technician, Jamie has worked with USA’s top generator manufacturers and suppliers as an independent contractor.

The long years of service to the industry has taught Jamie the ins and outs of troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining all kinds of generators in home, industrial and outdoor settings.

Jamie thinks this platform is a great opportunity to share his tips and tricks with you so you can make the most of such power equipment for better living.

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