Tri fuel generators offer the ultimate in convenience and readiness when it comes to powering essential appliances on the go or during a power outage.
Whereas dual fuel generators only run on gasoline or propane, tri fuel generators can run on natural gas as well.
That’s a big deal in an emergency power outage, and not only because you’re adding a third fuel option to your generator’s repertoire when gasoline or propane is hard to find. Many houses already have built-in natural gas lines that continue to work even when the electrical grid is shut down, so your tri fuel generator can tap directly into that virtually limitless supply of fuel.
In addition, tri fuel generators are simply convenient because they offer such versatile fueling. If you find you need to take the generator on the road, like for a road trip, you can use gasoline or propane. But if you’re using the generator around your home’s yard, you can once again tap into your natural gas line and never have to worry about running out of fuel.
So, why are dual fuel generators often a more popular option than tri fuel generators?
One of the main reasons is that tri fuel generators come at a price premium. If you’re not worried about a power outage or don’t already have a natural gas line running to your home, then that extra money up front might not be worth it.
Another reason is that natural gas is the least efficient generator fuel since it’s not very energy-dense. Because of that, most tri fuel generators put out less wattage when running on natural gas than when running on gasoline or propane.
But, if your home has a natural gas line, don’t let the sticker shock or lower wattage scare you away. A tri fuel generator is still one of the best ways to prepare for an emergency and you can still reap the benefits of fueling with propane or gas. Plus, natural gas is cheaper than propane or gasoline.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at my favorite tri fuel generator, the Smart Generators Pramac.
Smart Generators Pramac Tri Fuel Generator – 7,500 watts
This powerful tri fuel generator is designed to power your home through an extended outage or to take your power on the go.
The generator offers 7,500 watts of surge power and 7,000 watts of running power when fueled with gasoline or propane. When running off a natural gas line, the generator puts out 7,300 watts of surge power and 6,700 watts of running power – still more than enough to power your entire kitchen, air conditioner or heater, and all of the lights in your home.
On top of that, the electricity produced by the generator has less than 6% total harmonic distortion. That means that you can safely power sensitive electronics like smartphones and computers off of this generator.
As you might expect, a generator with this much power is pretty noisy – 72 dB at 25% load. Keep that in mind if you live in close proximity to your neighbors, as they might complain if you’re running the generator at night.
Another reason this is my favorite tri fuel generator is that Smart Generators includes a propane/natural gas regulator with the generator. Plus, it comes with a three-year warranty in case of any problems.
Converting a Dual Fuel Generator into a Tri Fuel Generator
If you already have a dual fuel generator, it’s not hard to convert it into a tri fuel to be better prepared for an extended power outage.
Many manufacturers sell conversion kits to help you through the process and provide you with everything you need.
The most important parts of any conversion kit are the on demand regulator, which only allows fuel to flow when there is suction from the engine, and the carburetor adapter that allows your generator to safely use natural gas.
Most conversion kits also come with spacers, gaskets, and any other hardware you need to bolt the carburetor adapter onto your generator. However, you may need to purchase gas lines and fittings to connect your generator to your home’s natural gas line separately.
The first step in installing your carburetor adapter is to remove your air filter housing from in front of the generator’s carburetor. When you do this, keep track of the air filter and gasket as you’ll need them when putting the generator back together.
You’ll now need to add some space in front of the carburetor. Depending on the hardware included in your conversion kit, you may have a spacer or just a set of stud extenders. In either case, attach them onto the bolts sticking out of the carburetor where the air filter housing was previously located.
Now you can slide the carburetor adaptor onto the bolts. It’s a good idea to use Teflon tape over the threads to make sure you’ll be able to slide the adapter back off if you ever need to, as well as to ensure there is no empty space in the threads.
When finished, re-attach the air filter housing, making sure that you replace the gasket onto bolts so that there is no open space where air could get in behind the filter housing.
Now it’s time to attach the on demand regulator to the generator. With most conversion kits, you need to drill into your generator to bolt the regulator directly to the frame. Make sure you don’t drill into the fuel tank, and make sure the regulator attachment is pointing downward.
Alternatively, you can use custom hardware to mount the regulator to the frame without drilling.
Attach a fuel hose from the outflow of the on demand regulator to the carburetor adaptor. If there is only one hose clamp, put it on the outflow of the on demand regulator.
When the time comes to connect your generator to natural gas, you’ll need an additional gas hose to connect the inflow power of the on demand regulator to the natural gas line of your home. This is where having a set of easy to connect adapters can make getting your generator up and running much faster during a power outage.
You’ll also need to adjust the set screw on your on demand regulator. Unscrew the set screw most of the way and start up your generator, fueling it off your home’s natural gas line. The engine should run, but will sound jumpy. Slowly screw in the set screw until the engine catches and runs consistently, then use the included bolt to fix the set screw in place.
Tri Fuel Generator Conversion Kits
Your conversion kit will largely govern how easy or difficult the process of converting your dual fuel generator to tri fuel will be.
The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a conversion kit is that it needs to match your generator. If you conversion kit isn’t designed to work specifically with your make and model of generator, you’re likely to end up with space behind the air filter or a carburetor adapter that won’t work with your carburetor.
There are a number of conversion kits available from Amazon, which range in price from less than $50 to more than $200. Remember that you get what you pay for – more expensive conversion kits are typically manufactured to a higher standard, use higher quality parts, and come with more of the hardware you need to complete the conversion
NashFuel is my favorite when it comes to conversion kits (link here). They make a variety of kits for most generator makes and models, including Honda, Champion, Briggs & Stratton, and Predator.
HIPA makes far less expensive natural gas conversion kits, but these are much more obtrusive on the exterior of your generator and require more technical knowledge because they come with very little instruction.
Finally, Hutch Mountain is a premium supplier of natural gas conversion kits. These kits are largely similar to those from NashFuel, but are manufactured to a slightly higher specification and come with a greater degree of technical support.
Tri Fuel Generators and Converting Dual Fuel to Tri Fuel – Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know where to bolt in my on demand regulator?
You can bolt in your on demand regulator to anywhere on the frame of your generator, as long as you don’t drill through any vital components. The most important and obvious component to avoid drilling through is the gasoline fuel tank.
In general, you should place at least two bolts to secure your regulator. However, be wary of placing more, as this can make the exterior of your generator look like swiss cheese and allow water to seep inside if it’s outside in the rain.
Can I remove the natural gas conversion later?
Yes. Removing a natural gas conversion kit is simply the reverse of installing it.
The only thing that can’t be undone during the conversion is the bolt holes drilled into the frame of your generator. If you think that you may remove the conversion at a later date, you can use custom hardware to mount the regulator onto the frame handle rather than onto the generator itself.
What if I have space behind my air filter during the conversion?
If you find that you have space behind your air filter housing after putting a spacer between it and your carburetor adapter, you either have the wrong conversion kit or a poorly manufactured conversion kit. This is a problem because it will allow unfiltered air into your carburetor.
Don’t worry, though. You can eliminate this space by adding in a custom rubber or metal gasket. You’ll need to cut this to the same external size as the spacer, but with dimensions that plug the space behind the air filter housing.
Tri fuel generators offer convenience and readiness when it comes to powering your home through an extended power outage.
If you’re in the market for a new tri fuel generator, the Smart Generators Pramac 7,500-watt generator is my favorite. Alternatively, if you already have a dual fuel generator, it’s easy to use a conversion kit to turn it into a tri fuel generator.