A tri-fuel generator is a versatile portable generator that can be used at home, while you go out camping, or on a job site (Source).
By simply changing the position of a set-screw, you can choose between three fuel types: gasoline, natural gas, or propane. Naturally, you should choose the most common fuel available in the area.
The premium portable, tri-fuel generators reviewed below are driven by name brand engines and commercial grade generator ends to guarantee many years of dependable service.
Before you cash in on that tri-fuel generator that you’ve seen in the hardware store or on the Internet, please take some time to read our review and make a better decision as to what type of machine will best meet your needs.
Most Common Issues People Have with Tri-Fuel Portable Generators
Table of Contents
- 1 Most Common Issues People Have with Tri-Fuel Portable Generators
- 2 What is a Tri-Fuel Portable Generator?
- 3 Best Tri-Fuel Portable Generators 2019
- 4 1. WINCO HPS12000HE 360
- 5 2. Motorhead Tri Fuel Generator
- 6 3. Sportsman GENTRI9K
- 7 4. Honda Tri Fuel Generator
- 8 5. Smart Generators Portable 8400B Tri-fuel Generator
- 9 Features of the Best Tri-Fuel Portable Generators
- 10 Factors To Consider When Buying A Tri-Fuel Portable Generator
- 11 Our Final Review
- Weak Links: A tri-fuel portable generator will ideally provide three different power sources of equal efficiency and cost. This isn’t always a realistic expectation, though. It is common for certain fuel types to work better and more efficiently than others.
- Too Loud: When you power up a generator, one of the most common concerns people have is with the level of noise. A responsible manufacturer will typically understand this, and will clearly indicate how many decibels of noise that their generator creates.
- Too Expensive: Nobody said that getting a tri-fuel portable generator was cheap. Many people get excited about the benefits of having a tri-fuel portable generator only to be let down by the prices. If you want a good tri-fuel portable generator, be ready to pay a fair price.
What is a Tri-Fuel Portable Generator?
A generator is a device which makes it possible to have electricity in places without access to a power grid. These devices can receive power from many different possible fuel types.
A tri-fuel portable generator can use either gasoline, natural gas, or propane to generate electricity. With three different possible power sources, a tri-fuel portable generator makes it that much easier to stay connected to electricity wherever your adventures take you.
Best Tri-Fuel Portable Generators 2019
|WINCO HPS12000HE 360|
|Motorhead Tri Fuel Generator|
|Honda Tri Fuel Generator|
|Smart Generators Portable 8400B Tri-fuel Generator|
True Honda Heart
Its supreme output comes from its powerful Honda GX630 688cc OHV engine that generates 10,800 watts of continuous current and 12,000 watts of surge power. This amount of surge power is good for running power tools, or as a home backup generator.
Unfortunately, the generator’s output is not enough to power a six-member household on its own over a longer period of time. If this is your case, maybe you should consider some backup options.
Designed For Versatility
This tri-fueled portable generator can power everything from sump pumps, water pumps, TVs, air conditioning units, and furnaces only to name a few.
The HPS12000HE has an electric start, which makes it easy to get cranked up. It generates a current of 120V and 240V AC. This means a continuous current rating of 90/45 amps.
Full Receptacle Package
The WINCO HPS12000HE 360 is fitted with two NEMA 5-20 duplex receptacles, one NEMA L14-30 receptacle and one NEMA 14-60 receptacle.
This is a full receptacle package that includes a circuit breaker. It can run for 14.5 hours at half load capacity and has nine hours runtime at full capacity.
One of the few drawbacks of this model is that it is pretty loud. Albeit having two wheels to be hauled around on, considering its substantial weight it is almost like pulling around a 500-600 cc motorcycle. We were also surprised to find out that the warranty is only for 90 days.
Reliable Honda Engine
This portable tri-fueled generator is powered by a tough and reliable gx630 OHV 23HP Honda engine that guarantees consistent performance. Albeit being a bit pricier than some other models, it is definitely worth every cent because of its powerful engine and the wide variety of extra features it comes with.
Effortless And Clean Oil Change
It is fitted with an auto oil changer to make oil changing effortless and clean. This generator also comes with a battery for additional power and has only 6% harmonic distortion during operation. This product also has four large wheels for easy transportation and a 13.5 gallon (50 l) tank capacity.
Wide Array of Outlets
This tri-fueled portable generator provides power through its wide array of outlets including a twist lock for 120V/240V over 30 amps, and a pair of duplex GFCI 120V at 20 amps. In addition, it comes with a 10-feet-long propane hose kit for flexibility and better reach towards fuel lines.
Never Worry About The Oil
If you’re too busy to think about changing the oil, this model is equipped with an automatic low oil shutdown. It has both recoil and electric start mechanisms (the battery for the electric starter is not included in the package). It is EPA and CARB approved.
It can provide 10 hours of power at 50 percent load capacity. Yet, this is one of the loudest generators on the market at 80Db.
Sportsman GENTRI9K comes with four 120-volt AC outlets, one 12-volt DC outlet, one 120/240-volt outlet and one 120-volt twist lock RV outlet.
This Sportsman tri-fuel generator only weighs in at a little over 90 kg, which isn’t bad for the size of its engine. The Sportsman offers a two-year limited warranty on CO2 emission levels and a one-year limited warranty on manufacturing and some parts.
Tireless Honda Heart For Ultimate Performance
Its heart is a 13hp Honda engine that is paired with twist outlets for flexible power supply. In addition, the engine is actually a gx390 OHV that comes with a recoil start for many flawless ignitions.
This generator’s tank has a capacity of 8 gallons of gas, propane or diesel. Compared to other products in its class, this generator runs quietly at only 75 decibel level –much quieter than a traditional generator which easily reaches 100-150 dB.
It comes with an electric start system that allows for fast and easy starts. Also, the gas tank allows for a run time of 13 hours at 50% of engine capacity. It also features an auto voltage regulator to monitor the engine output.
With 15,000-watts of surge, you can bet your last dollar that you can power nearly any large appliances or power tools you want. With all of that power, it can run for 12 hours at half capacity on an eight gallons of gas (that being a full tank).
Running it on propane, the SG8400B can run an amazing twenty hours at half capacity. Power output for natural gas decreases by 20 percent, which isn’t something unusual for tri-fuel generators.
This bad boy only weighs in at just over 90 kilos. The noise level is at the bearable 75 db. Since most of these types of generators do not come encased, you really can’t get around the noise level.
Please keep in mind that for the time being it is not clear whether or not this particular model is EPA and CARB certified. We are not saying it isn’t, only that it isn’t clear from what we researched.
It comes with four 120-volt 20-amp outlets and one 120/240-volt 30-amp twist outlet.
It includes battery and charger, along with wheel kit. You would probably have to assemble the wheel kit yourself if you ordered it online, rather than purchased it from a dealer that would usually assemble these things for you.
This model also comes with a two-year limited warranty. Nevertheless, it doesn’t specify exactly what the warranty covers. It is our assumption that it most likely covers certain parts and craftsmanship.
Features of the Best Tri-Fuel Portable Generators
If you want to get one of the best tri-fuel portable generators, there is a certain degree of background research which is required. You don’t want to make a purchase you end up regretting. To help you out, here are the top features we find in top-quality tri-fuel portable generators.
Efficient Fuel Use with Plenty of Runtime
As you should know, any sort of portable generator doesn’t provide free electricity. For this reason, it’s important to consider how efficiently each of your top options uses their fuel sources. Find a model which both uses fuel efficiently and is capable of lasting long enough for your needs on a full tank.
Bearable Volume Level
As a general rule of thumb, noise levels which reach above 85 decibels can cause permanent damage to your hearing. A typical human conversation, on the other hand, will be around 65 dB.
Keeping this information in mind, any of the best tri-fuel portable generators will have noise-reduction features which keep the decibels at a safe level. Typically, this will be anywhere between 50 – 75 dB.
Easy Oil Changes
Just as you need to routinely change the oil on a car, so too will you need to change the oil on your tri-fuel portable generator. There are certain models like the Motorhead Tri-Fuel Generator which are designed to provide a near-automatic oil change experience.
It is also common for generators to automatically shutdown when oil levels are too low. If you consider the process for oil changes now, you will be less likely to encounter problems down the line.
Lots of Power & Available Outlets
Generators are expected to provide power for both small and large events alike. Depending on your needs, you will likely purchase a model which can at least support 8,000 watts of continuous power.
For large events or people with larger power needs, anything right around 10,000 watts will likely be enough. There should also be more than one available outlet so that you don’t need to break out multiple power outlets and risk your safety.
Reasonable Price with Plenty of Versatility
Your goal shouldn’t be to necessary find the most affordable tri-fuel portable generator. Especially if you are concerned with the quality and durability of the product.
Start by considering which features matter the most to you. Then find the tri-fuel generator which best meets your budget and needs.
Factors To Consider When Buying A Tri-Fuel Portable Generator
The purchase of a portable tri-fuel generator is an important decision to make. Below are some of the factors to think about before setting off for the nearest dealer.
1. Noise Reduction Capability
Most of the bad boys reviewed above are pretty noisy. As you are looking for your ideal tri-fuel generator, make sure that it has some noise reduction features and capabilities to offer its owner.
To check the noise level generated by your portable tri-fuel generator, make sure to have a good look at the decibel levels indicated on the label. A bearable noise level that you can have would range from 50 to 70 decibels.
2. Fuel Capacity
One of the important factors to consider while you are looking for your perfect tri-fuel generator is its fuel capacity. In this regard, simply think that a bigger fuel capacity would mean more fuel to burn thus generating more power for longer hours of use.
Of course, while considering the generator’s fuel capacity, you also need to consider the specific purpose your generator will serve. Try to answer the following questions: Will you be providing power for a whole house full of numerous household appliances and many electrical devices? Or will you just be providing power for a few devices over a short period of time?
3. Fuel Efficiency
Of course, since every tri-fuel portable generator is powered by some sort of an engine, you would want one offering maximum fuel efficiency. In this respect, make sure that the engine is designed to make full use of the fuel without wasting a milliliter.
A good way to check out the fuel efficiency of your generator is the volume of CO2 emissions that it emits. The more fuel-efficient models tend to emit less exhaust gases, but they usually sell at higher retail prices.
As with almost anything that you buy in the market, you should always check out the price. When it comes to portable tri-fuel generators, bigger would usually mean pricier. A good way for you to save some of your money is make a list of the features you need your machine to have.
5. Maintenance And Service
Since a portable tri-fuel generator is made up of different components, it will require constant maintenance and regular checkups. In this line of thoughts, you’d better make sure your generator comes with maintenance features which can ensure its long service life.
Also, not all people know their way around fixing their generators in case technical problems and issues arise. Make sure that your generator has a local service provider in your area, so as to avoid unnecessary transportation costs. The last thing you want is to ship your generator back for repairs.
Our Final Review
For many years now, portable tri-fuel generators have constantly been improved and the premium models reviewed above boast a wide array of features and benefits. As its very name suggests, a tri-fuel generator can run on not one, not two, but three different fuels.
A tri-fuel generator is an excellent thing to have if you live in the bush, or in an area with unstable power supply. Last but not least, the chances are that your local gas station will hardly ever run out of all three types of fuel that your machine runs on.