Best Tri Fuel Generators in 2018: A Complete Buyer’s Guide

In this buyers guide, we’ll rank and provide overviews for the best tri fuel generators for 2018.

Before the advent of manufactured tri-fuel portable generators, people used to convert regular generator into tri-fuel capable units using kits or just plain winging it. For those who are not as handy as others this can be complicated and time consuming. For those in the latter category, we would like to introduce the line of tri-fuel portable generator especially designed to operate on gasoline, propane and natural gas.

Why is having a generator that can run on alternate fuels advantageous?

For one thing, gasoline has to be emptied from the generator’s tank in order to prevent corrosion. Gasoline also produces fumes even when it is not in use, which can be annoying and dangerous. Secondly, it is less convenient to store enough gasoline to last you through a serious natural disaster or zombie apocalypse (which is likely to happen any moment!). Propane, on the other hand, is quite simple to store away for really, really long periods of time (if not until the end of the world). I personally like the idea of stocking up on propane rather than gasoline.

The other option is natural gas. This is still cleaner than gasoline but not always guaranteed during critical conditions, such as end of the world type events (you know, nuclear war, asteroid impacts that take use back to the stone age, etc.). Nevertheless, until the end of modern civilization arrives natural gas is a pretty good option over gas.

So, why not just buy a generator that runs on propane and call it a day?

Well, when you want to go mobile with your generator and don’t want to be bogged down with propane tanks, it's nice to be able to run on gasoline. And of course, natural gas in tanks isn’t as plentiful as propane when it comes to portability (at least not from what I know). This article will take a look at some of the most popular tri-fuel generators for home use, as well as commercial.

Best Tri Fuel Generators 2018 - Comparsion Table

Model Noise Level Run/Start Watts Run Time Weight Editor’s Rating
Winco HPS12000HE 78 dB 10800/12000 18h 460 lb. 9.8/10 Rating Check Price
Read Review
Sportsman GENTRI9K 80 dB 7200/9000 10h 200 lb. 9.8/10 Rating
Read Review
Smart Generators SG8400B Tri-Fuel 75 dB 8400/15000 12h 266 lb. 9.8/10 Rating
Read Review
DeWALT STF14000 Tri-Fuel Generator 83 dB 11700/14000 8h 370 lb. 9.8/10 Rating
Read Review
Motorhead SG1500S Tri-Fuel Generator 75 dB 15000/25000 11.7h 420 lb. 9.8/10 Rating
Read Review
Pramac Tri-Fuel Generator 7200-Watt 75 dB 6100/7200 12.9h 201 lb. 9.8/10 Rating Check Price
Read Review

#1 The WINCO HPS12000HE 360

WINCO HPS12000HE 360

This big tri-fuel generator is CARB approved and EPA certified to use regular gasoline, natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LP). It has a powerful Honda GX630 688cc OHV engine that produces 10,800 watts of continuous current and 12,000 watts of surge power. This amount of surge power is good for running power equipment or as a home backup generator. This thing 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 produces a current of 120V and 240V AC. This means a continuous current rating of 90/45 amps.

It comes with:

  • Two NEMA 5-20 duplex receptacles;
  • One NEMA L14-30 receptacle One;
  • 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 nine hours runtime at 100 percent capacity.

One of the bad things about this model is that it is pretty loud. It has two wheels to haul it around with. Nevertheless, weighing in at 380-460 pounds, it is almost like pulling around a 500-600cc sportbike. The warranty is only for 90 days.


TECH SPECS
Running Watts 10800 Watts
Starting Watts 12000 Watts
Consumer Warranty 1 Years
Fuel Type Tri Fuel Generator
Item Weight 460 lb.
Low Oil Alert Да
Noise Level at 1/4 Load 78 dBA
Voltage 240 Volts
Run Time at 50% Load 18 Hours
Tank Size 15 Gallons
Rating 9.4

Pros

  • It has enough power to supply a medium to large work site;
  • It is CARB and EPA approved;
  • Nine hours of runtime at 100 percent capacity.

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with as many outlets as other generators in its class;
  • The warranty is way below the norm;
  • It can weigh as much as a motorcycle making it less than portable;
  • Though it should be expected, this is a loud generator at.

#2 Sportsman GENTRI9K

Sportsman GENTRI9K

This 9,000-watt inverter generator is powered by a 15 HP (420cc), 4-stroke OHV engine. It provides you with 7,200 continual running watts, and produces 9,000-watts surge watts. If you’re too busy and forget about the oil, it has an automatic low oil shutdown. It has both recoil and electric start mechanisms (battery for electric start not included). It is EPA and CARB approved.

It can provide 10 hours of power at 50 percent load capacity. But this is one of the loudest generators on the market at 80Db.

It comes with:

  • Four 120-volt AC outlets;
  • One 12-volt DC outlet;
  • One 120/240-volt outlet;
  • One 120-volt twist lock RV outlet.

This Sportsman tri-fuel generator only weighs in at a little over 200 pounds, which isn’t bad for the size of its engine. Sportsman offers only a two year limited warranty on emission, and a one year limited warranty on craftsmanship and some parts.


TECH SPECS
Running Watts 7200 Watts
Starting Watts 9000 Watts
Consumer Warranty 1 Years
Fuel Type Tri Fuel Generator
Item Weight 200 lb.
Low Oil Alert Да
Starting System Electric Start
Noise Level at 1/4 Load 80 dBA
Voltage 240 Volts
Run Time at 50% Load 10 Hours
Tank Size 7.4 Gallons
Rating 9.4

Pros

  • At 200 pounds, it is pretty light for the power you get from it;
  • Has plenty of power outlets;
  • Low oil shut off;
  • Comes with an electric start.

Cons

  • Really loud compared to other models;
  • I never like to see limited warranties on equipment.

#3 Smart Generators SG8400B Tri-Fuel

Smart Generators SG8400B Tri-Fuel

The Smart Generators SG8400B is touted to be one of the most powerful generators on the market. With two less horsepower than the Sportsman model, this tri-fuel generator pushes out an amazing 15,000-watts surge power and an average 8,400-watts of continuous running power. With 15,000-watts of surge, you can bet your bottom dollar that you can power nearly any large appliance or power tool 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 20 hours at half capacity! Power output for natural gas decreases by 20 percent, which isn’t unusual for tri-fuel generators.

This bad boy only weighs in at 266 pounds, only 66 more pounds than the the previous model. The decibel level is somewhat lower also at 75. Since most of these types of generators do not come encased, you really can’t get around the noise level. There is also the issue of not being able to find out if this 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 (which is always good) and one 120/240-volt 30-amp twist outlet. It includes battery and charger, along with wheel kit. This would make me assume you would have to assemble the wheel kit yourself if you ordered it rather than purchased it from a place like Home Depot (which usually will assemble these type of things for you).

This model also comes with a two year limited warranty. Nevertheless, it doesn’t specify exactly what that warranty covers, but as seems to be the case throughout, it most likely covers certain parts and craftsmanship.


TECH SPECS
Running Watts 8400 Watts
Starting Watts 15000 Watts
Consumer Warranty 2 Years
Fuel Type Tri Fuel Generator
Item Weight 266 lb.
Low Oil Alert Да
Starting System Electric Start
Noise Level at 1/4 Load 75 dBA
Voltage 240 Volts
Origin USA
Run Time at 50% Load 12 Hours
Tank Size 8 Gallons

Pros

  • Nice surge power of 15,000-watts;
  • Light weight considering the power output;
  • Really long run time on both gas and propane.

Cons

  • Not clear if it is EPA and/or CARB compliant;
  • Again, limited warranty.

#4 DeWALT STF14000 Tri-Fuel Generator

DeWALT STF14000

DeWALT is a favorite brand for those in the construction industry. It is also a household name among DYI folk. I wouldn’t expect anything different with their generator line.

The STF14000 is 346 pounds and has a 20 horsepower Honda GX630 OHV engine that produces 14,000 surge watts and a continuous 11,700-watts of continuous power. Again, this is a great generator that can handle most anything you throw at it.

This workhorse has Hydraulic/magnetic circuit breakers, two 5-20R 120V 20A DUPLEX GFCI, one L14-30R 120V/240-volt 30-amp twist lock, and one 14-50R 120V/240-volt 50-amp outlets. It also includes an idle-down function for fuel efficiency and to decrease noise levels.

On a full 8 gallon fuel tank it can run about 7.8 hours at 50 percent capacity, which is much less than the SG8400B. As far as its run time using propane, there is little to no information on that. This model only has electric start, with the battery and wheel kit included.

Though it has an idle-down function, it still runs at 82Db, which is slightly higher than the Sportsman model. The good thing is that it’s CARB and EPA compliant. This DeWALT generator comes with a low oil shut off as well.


TECH SPECS
Running Watts 11700 Watts
Starting Watts 14000 Watts
Consumer Warranty 3 Years
Fuel Type Tri Fuel Generator
Item Weight 370 lb.
Low Oil Alert Да
Starting System Electric Start
Noise Level at 1/4 Load 83 dBA
Voltage 240 Volts
Run Time at 50% Load 8 Hours
Tank Size 10 Gallons

Pros

  • Has plenty of outlets to keep all your important appliances or power tools running;
  • Has a “premium grade” which helps it provide clean power;
  • Powerful 20 HP engine;
  • Though the two year limited warranty is better than other limited warranties.

Cons

  • It is a pretty loud generator;
  • For as heavy as it is, it produces less power than the lighter models of the same class;
  • The run time is also shorter.

#5 Motorhead SG1500S Tri-Fuel Generator 15000-Watt

Motorhead SG1500S

The Motorhead Tri-Fuel 15,000-watt Generator is powered by 20 horsepower Honda GX630 OHV engine. It produces a whapping 25,000-watt surge power and 15,000-watts of continuous running power. Its 13 gallon gas tank keeps it running for about 11.5 hours at half capacity. Pretty good for an average day's work at your project site or for keeping your home powered during an outage.

Compatible with a 50-amp manual transfer switch, the SG1500S has a Hydraulic/magnetic circuit breakers. It also has two 5-20R 120V 20A DUPLEX GFCI, one L14-30R 120V/240V 30-amp Twist-lock, and one 14-50R 120V/240V 50-amp outlets. It is furnished with a Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) system that keeps the power supply stable so that you can power things like computers and other sensitive electronics.

This is a very heavy portable unit weighing in at 420 pounds dry. But it does come with four large wheels for moving it around. Despite its size it runs with less noise than some of the other models listed above (75Db). And as expected, the Motorhead is CARB and EPA compliant.

As seems to be the case with most of these models on this list, this tri-fuel generator comes with a two year limited “smart generator” warranty (whatever that is supposed to mean). There is no specifics on what exactly is covered in this two years limited warranty either from what I see.


TECH SPECS
Running Watts 15000 Watts
Starting Watts 25000 Watts
Consumer Warranty 2 Years
Fuel Type Tri Fuel Generator
Item Weight 420 lb.
Low Oil Alert Да
Starting System Electric Start
Noise Level at 1/4 Load 75 dBA
Voltage 240 Volts
Origin USA
Run Time at 50% Load 11.7 Hours
Tank Size 13.5 Gallons

Pros

  • This tri-fuel generator provides some serious power;
  • Though the tank is actual larger than most in this class, it does provide some nice run time;
  • Come with the expected number of power outlets needed;
  • It has Automatic Voltage Regulator technology;
  • Even though it provides 100 percent more power it isn’t as loud as some of the smaller models.

Cons

  • Even though it should be expected, this model is really heavy;
  • Even though it is 20 horsepower like the other above models, it takes a 13+ gallon gas tank to run it 11 hours at 50 percent capacity.

#6 Pramac Tri-Fuel Generator 7200-Watt

Pramac 7200-Watt

This tri-fuel commercial generator uses a Honda 11.7 HP Honda GX390 OHV Engine to produce 7,200-watts surge power and 6,100-watts of continuous running power. This model is not as powerful as the previous models discussed above, nor is the brand that well. But it is one of the lightweights on this list, weighing in at 209 pounds dry. The Pramac 7,200-watt is CARB and EPA compliant and comes with a two year limited warranty.

The first thing that stands out about this model is that it is one of the few that actually boasts 20 hours run time on propane at half capacity (with a 40 pound tank). It will run for 11.5 hours on eight gallons of gasoline. Its noise level seem to be at the average end, 75 decibels. This unit comes with less outlets than most on this list: one 120-volt 30-amp twist-lock and four 120-volt 20-amp GFCI outlets.

Like others on this list, it has a premium grade alternator to regulate the power output so that you can use your sensitive electronics with no worries. It comes with the hydraulic and magnetic circuit breakers and a fuel gauge, which is the first one on this list that was said to have one. It has an electric and coil starting mechanism, but unfortunately the battery doesn’t come with it (for the price of this unit it is a shame they felt adding a battery was out of the question). But it should be noted that some companies that sell this generator offer a battery. So, I guess it kind of depends on who you order from.

Just like most of the units in this list, the Pramac 7,200-watt generator comes with the standard two year limited warranty.


TECH SPECS
Running Watts 6100 Watts
Starting Watts 7200 Watts
Consumer Warranty 2 Years
Fuel Type Tri Fuel Generator
Item Weight 201 lb.
Low Oil Alert Да
Starting System Electric Start
Noise Level at 1/4 Load 75 dBA
Voltage 240 Volts
Origin USA
Run Time at 50% Load 12.9 Hours
Tank Size 8 Gallons
Rating 8

Pros

  • It is lightweight;
  • CARB and EPA compliant;
  • 20 hour run time on a 40 pound propane tank;
  • The premium grade alternator is good;
  • Has fuel gauge.

Cons To Consider

  • For me, it is just too expensive when you compare it to other models that are way better than it;
  • Unclear if the manufacturer includes a battery for the electric start.

To Sum It All Up

As I stated above, there are some great advantages of owning a tri-fuel generator. Most of the models on this list are considered to “commercial” grade power generators, thus they have “commercial” equipment prices. But for the long run, these types of generators will end up saving you money. Running them with propane (getting 20 hours on one 40 pound tank) can save you a lot of money. On average, you’ll save $8 to $10 a refill using propane and natural gas versus gasoline. But, if you need to use gasoline for some reason, you sure do have that option.

In my opinion, the Motorhead SG1500S is the best tri fuel generator on this list. I mean, look at that power it puts out. I am a firm believer in going all the way on certain things. And since all these generators fall in the same general price range, may as well get all the power for your buck that you can. But when it comes to the tri fuel generator 10000 watt type, the WINCO generator makes both a great work horse. That is in case you don’t want all the power of the Motorhead.



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