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How Much Propane Does a Generator Use?

Written by Jamie Masterson

How Much Propane Does a Generator Use

In general, regular generators need about 2-3 pounds of propane per hour at a moderate load.

A propane generator is pretty well-suited for home power backup in camping, disasters, and power outages.

But since you know “propane doesn’t pack as much punch as gasoline,” why do we even need to consider a generator that runs off of propane?

You can easily store 375 gallons of propane in a tank that will run your unit for weeks and even months. You won’t be able to reserve more than 150 gallons of gas for an extended duration without it turning bad.

Engine fuel consumption

3 Things That Impact the Fuel Consumption of Your Generator

things that impact the fuel consumption of a generator

1. Generator model & efficiency

The type of generator you use has a direct impact on the fuel consumption and it is measured by the efficiency of the engine and the amount of BTUs it consumes.

2. Load on the generator

The amount of energy you receive from the generator to power your devices and appliances play its role.

3. Regular run time

How long you keep your generator running in a day also affects the consumption of fuel.

7 Benefits of a Propane-Powered Generator

Propane is popular among users who prefer clean energy with fewer pollutants. It’s a type of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) which produces 50% less (CO) carbon monoxide than gasoline.

1. Flexibility refilling or exchanging empty tanks

You’ll be able to exchange or refill your empty tanks from any committed providers or a nearby gasoline station as you please anytime. Whereas you’ll need electricity to fill up a gas or diesel-powered generator.

2. Long shelf life

One good thing about propane is that you don’t have to maintain a certain calendar date while using it, therefore you can go without adding costly stabilizers into your system. You only need to preserve the storage tank well in order to ensure longevity.

3. Easier to maintain

You’ll find propane generators more sustainable than gasoline or diesel-powered units since propane leaves no carbon deposits in your fuel lines, engine, exhaust and other fragments.

4. Safe tanks

You can’t go wrong with propane tanks when safety is your first concern, because they come with spillage-preventing safety valves that are absent in other counterparts.

5. Safe gas

You’ll be perfectly alright even when propane will leak out of the tank as it’ll pose no possible danger to the surroundings.

6. Cold weather hero

Propane will start to freeze around -44° Fahrenheit. It will get you going during winter seasons until that time ever arrives.
Note: If you live in a state where it gets colder than -40° in winter, consider gasoline your best friend. Freezing point for gasoline will start around -100 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. More power than natural gas

Propane delivers you more than double as much punch for each cubic foot when compared with natural gas.

Disadvantages of Propane Generator You Should Know About

Propane generators are less fuel-efficient than gasoline or diesel-powered ones. It’s a matter of physics that they need more fuel than others because the amount of energy you get by burning propane is simply less than both gasoline or diesel.

How efficient is a propane generator?

Propane can produce 84,300 BTUs for each gallon, gasoline can produce 114,000 BTUs for each gallon, and diesel can produce 129,500 BTUs for each gallon.

The reports show that a gallon of propane can only produce about 74% of what a gallon of gasoline produces and about 65% of what a gallon of diesel would produce.

So you’ll need to burn 26% more propane to produce the same amount of energy as a gallon of gasoline and 35% more to cope with diesel.

Cylinders or Tanks: Difference Between the 2 Storages

Propane Cylinders

Propane Cylinders

Portable generators mostly connect to popular 20-pound storages that can hold 4.7 gallons when at full capacity.

We know from calculations that a single cylinder might not be able to supply an entire property even for a single day unless you’re exceedingly economical in your consumption.

You will need a bunch of cylinders or a sizable tank in place when you want to run your generator on propane for a couple of days.

Propane Tanks

Propane Tanks

Connecting your unit to a tank is not as easy as connecting to those portable cylinders and their installation could be a little tricky. A stationary propane tank will maximize the average lifespan of your generator.

We recommend you to install a tank in your house if you’re a subtle user, and cylinders are fine when you have adventures in mind.

What’s the Best Fuel for Your Generator?

  • Natural gas

Natural gas is the best option when you need uninterrupted power supply on your property.

The top benefit is that these gas lines will be there for you during power outages and other disasters. The cost of natural gas is considerably low compared to any other fuels.

One disadvantage is that natural gas lines are not accessible everywhere, such as New York, Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco. And your generator will be less effectual with natural gas compared to other fuels

  • Propane

Liquid propane is one of the most eco-friendly fuels out there and has an extended shelf life. But you need to burn some 25-30% extra to get the same amount of power as gasoline or diesel.

  • Gasoline

Gasoline runs the most portable generators as it is easier to find and provide a tremendous amount of energy. One of its key downsides is that it’s extremely flammable and not safe for storing on a large scale.

  • Diesel

Diesel is best-suited for industrial use as it is a recommended fuel for extreme weathers and remote areas. Diesel generators are easier to maintain compared to gasoline units and are made for heavy use.

Diesel generators are loud and disrupt the air, but useful in emergency situations as you can run them with aged or low-quality oil.

Gas/Diesel or Propane for a Generator: Which One Is a Cheaper Option?

How long will your generator run on propane?

This is a question of what size of a tank you’re using, and how powerful is the engine. Take a look at the owner’s manual to know the exact size of the tank required for a specific model that you chose to run on propane.

Can propane power a generator in the liquid state?

Propane can’t power a generator in its liquid form. It requires propane to be vaporized into gas in order to combust in a generator’s engine, and it should vaporize considerably fast while in a compressed storage tank to meet the needs of the engine.

Why should you run a generator on propane?

Generators are standby in character since they’re unoccupied most of their time. When a few months pass by, fuels like diesel and gasoline build deposits, get gummed up and obstruct the inside parts of the engine.

These fuels eventually cause fuel lines and rubber seals to fail. It’s tough to start a diesel or gasoline generator in the cold.

On the other hand, propane is clean, noiseless, and known for having a longer shelf life.

Is a generator covered by homeowners’ insurance?

The replacement of a whole home generator will most likely be covered by the homeowner’s insurance if your system is hit by lightning, or a massive tree fell down on it.

But since it is exceptional, you first need to make sure your insurance company has signed for it to be covered.


1. How long will 100 gallons of propane last for a generator?

Ans:  Your 12kw unit will run about 36 continuous hours at a full capacity. And a 100-gallon propane tank will power a 7kw generator for about 66 hours at maximum load.

2. Is it cheaper to run a generator on gas or propane?

Ans: Natural gas is much cheaper and  less efficient with generators than propane. Propane is slightly inexpensive than diesel and gasoline but it is a generator-friendly option for many reasons.

3. Are propane generators worth it?

Ans: In short, yes! But propane-powered generators produce fewer BTUs per gallon than gasoline and diesel. It may seem propane is a less efficient budget-friendly alternative, but the reality goes otherwise. Propane is your long-term solution when it comes to generators and clean energy.

4. What is the best size generator for a home?

Ans: A generator between 5000 to 7500 watts’ can power your most critical equipment and appliances such as a refrigerator, TV, lighting circuits, well pump, freezer, computer and even washing machines.

A 3000 to 4000-watt generator will get along well for RV.

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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