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Propane Generator vs Gas for Camping: Which is Better?

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The propane generator vs gas debate has become popular in recent years with the increasing popularity of overlanding and camping.

Where years ago, gas or diesel generators were just about all you could buy, today, there are all sorts of options, including kerosene and propane.

In today’s article, we’ll tackle this propane generator vs gas generator debate to see which one is best for your needs.

Are Propane Generators Better Than Gas?

alp1000-4

Our propane generator vs gas comparison will begin with a look at propane generators.

There are lots of benefits to be derived from using a propane generator like the ALP 1000-Watt generator shown above.

First, these generators offer virtually limitless shelf life. There’s no need for add-in stabilizers. There’s no worry of fuel going bad. Instead, assuming you store it properly and it’s protected from the elements, you can look forward to years – decades even – of usage.

A second benefit of propane generators is that you don’t have to worry about spilling fuel everywhere, as you do with diesel or gas-powered generators. The safety valves on the tanks eliminate spillage, not to mention preventing fumes from being released.

This is a HUGE benefit. If you’re like me, you’ve had the unfortunate experience of a gas-powered generator or a gas can leaking, and the mess it leaves behind in the bed of your truck or in the underbelly storage of your camper is zero fun to clean up!

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Third, propane generators offer the benefit of burning clean. It releases fewer harmful pollutants than gas or diesel, so you can rest assured that your generator is safe for you, your family, and the environment.

Lastly, if you’re asking, “are propane generators quieter than gas?”, the answer is yes. One of the drawbacks of some gas-powered generators is that they are extremely loud. Even the ones that are marketed as being low-noise generators can still put out quite the noise.

But some propane generators are whisper quiet. In fact, you can stand next to some propane generators and still be able to carry on a conversation without yelling at one another!

Are there some gas generators that are quieter than some propane generators? You bet. But generally speaking, if it’s quiet you’re after, you’ll find it more often in a propane generator.

Are Gas Generators Better Than Propane?

woman filling a gas can

Photo by adamkaz via iStock

Like propane generators, there is a lot to like about gas generators, too.

First, gas-powered generators are extremely dependable. It’s a technology that has been around for a long time, and companies like Honda and Yamaha are well known for their high-quality gas generators. There are some clunkers out there, to be sure, but if you pay for a quality generator, a gas-powered model can be ultra-dependable.

Second, gas-powered generators tend to be relatively inexpensive when compared to propane generators with a similar power output. For example, where a 1000-watt propane generator might cost you $500, a 1000-watt gas generator might cost you $350-$400.

Gas Station

Photo by WendellandCarolyn via iStock

A third benefit of using a gas-powered generator is convenience. You can fill up your gas can when you stop to fill up your car. And gas stations are everywhere and many are open 24 hours a day. Though propane is also widely available, it often isn’t sold at gas stations, nor are the places that sell propane usually open 24/7.

I would also say that another benefit of these generators is peace of mind. People are familiar with gas generators and have been using them for years. Making the leap to a new kind of technology can be a little disconcerting, so when it comes to comfort level, gas generators might be the right choice for you.

Propane and Gas Head-to-Head Comparison

Generator

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There are some comparisons we’ve already made that are worthy of a quick review:

  • The question of propane vs gas generator noise is pretty clear – propane generators tend to be quieter. Like I said earlier, this isn’t a strict rule, but generally speaking, it seems to be the case.
  • The question of propane vs gas generator run time is a little more difficult. The run time you get depends on a variety of factors, including the draw and power output of the generator as well as how large the fuel tank is.
  • Is it cheaper to run a generator on propane or gas? This is another question with a complex answer. Propane is less expensive per gallon than gas. However, if you’re wondering “are propane generators more efficient?”, the answer is no. This means you’ll need more propane over the long haul. But with a cheaper per-gallon price, the actual monetary output for fuel might end up being a wash.

Is Gas or Propane Generator Better?

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Is a propane generator better than gas? Or is it the other way around? The propane generator vs gas question is a good one for sure, but ultimately, the answer to this question is, it depends…

From the perspective of is it better to run a generator on propane or gas, from an environmental standpoint, propane is better since it burns much more cleanly. But questioning, “is a gas or propane generator more efficient?”, will get a different answer – gas is more efficient.

Another common question is, “is a propane generator quieter than gas?” Typically, they are, but there are certainly exceptions to the rule.

But as we discussed above, gas generators are more convenient and might offer you more peace of mind than the newer propane technology.

Gas or Propane Generator

Photo by mathieukor via iStock

So, at the end of the day, our propane generator vs gas generator discussion really comes down to this: what do you need?

If small propane generators for camping will give you the power you need and you have easy access to refill the propane tanks, they are a nice option for quiet, portable power without the risk of fuel spills.

On the other hand, if you want proven dependability, cheaper fuel, and a cheaper initial cost for a generator, a gas generator might be a better option. It all comes down to your specific needs and your preferences while you’re camping. Googling “what’s better gas or propane generator” will get you all sorts of conflicting results, some of which tout propane as the better option and others saying gas is the better option. Your job is to determine which is best for you, because both are solid choices!

What About Camping Gas?

Camping Gas

Photo by PichitchaiJampasri via iStock

While we’ve focused on the propane generator vs gas debate, you might be wondering about camping gas vs propane.

Camping gas is one type of liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG. In the family of LPGs, you’ll find propane, isobutane, and butane, among others, or a combination thereof.

Many folks use “camping gas” to describe the bottles of propane or other LPG that are used in camping situations – like the large, white 20-lb. tanks you see on the front of campers or the small tanks that are used with gas camping stoves.

So, the difference between camping gas and propane is pretty negligible. Camping gas might be propane, or it might refer to a related gas or even the container in which the gas is stored.

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