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A popular tri fuel generator from Firman

What is a Tri Fuel Generator and How Do They Work?

We get a lot questions about various kinds of generators and their use cases. Many of these questions relate specifically to tri-fuel models, their benefits, and whether they could be a good choice in various different situations. 

Today we'll take a closer look at tri-fuel portable generators, how they work, and whether you might want to purchase one. It is also good to have a little information around how the various fuel sources compare to each other so we'll cover that briefly as well.

If you'd like to browse various models from leading and well respected manufacturers then you can see our full range of tri-fuel generators here.

Three different tri fuel generators

What Is a Tri Fuel Generator?

A tri fuel generator is a generator which can be powered by three different fuel sources - most commonly gasoline, propane, or natural gas. This is different to most standard portable generators which usually run only on gasoline.

Users have the option of which fuel type they'd prefer to use based on what they have access to in a specific situation, or other factors such as efficiency between various fuel types.

Although gasoline will deliver the maximum power it is not the easiest or most convenient fuel to store with a maximum shelf life of 60 days or less. In some situations gasoline can occasionally be difficult to source.

There are many situations - especially in emergencies - where being able to run a generator on natural gas from your home's supply, or propane which is easy to store long-term, is highly beneficial.

Popular manufacturers of tri-fuel portable generator models include FirmanDuroMax, and Champion.

Firman Power Equipment is a well reviewed market leader in tri-fuel technology. They are one of the only brands to manufacture multiple tri-fuel models.

Both DuroMax and Champion only produce a single tri-fuel model.

You can see the available collection of Firman tri fuel generators here with options available for different budgets and power requirements. The three most popular options are:

You can find the sole DuroMax tri fuel model here and Champion's tri fuel generator here.

If you'd like some help comparing various models from leading brands we put together a short guide to choosing the best tri fuel generator here.

Tri fuel generators only run on a single fuel type at any one time but it is quick and easy to switch between them in most cases.

There is no difference between a tri fuel generator and a dual fuel generator other than the additional fuel option. Tri fuel models have three available fuel sources (gasoline, propane, and natural gas) whereas dual fuel models only have the option to be powered by gasoline or propane. The natural gas addition can be highly advantageous in some situations which we'll mention below.

How Does a Tri Fuel Generator Work?

A tri fuel generator works in the same way as a regular portable gasoline generator, just with the option to choose from three different sources.

  • Gasoline operation is exactly the same as when using a normal gas generator - simply hook up your generator to a gas tank.
  • Propane/LPG operation involves attaching a propane tank to your tri fuel generator. An advantage of propane is that it is often very easy to procure from any hardware store in large quantities, including in situations where regular gasoline may be in short supply or even impossible to get. Propane can also be easily stored for long periods of time without degrading.
  • Natural gas operation simply requires hooking the generator up to the natural gas outlet in your home or a commercial building. This can be advantageous because there is no need to re-fuel assuming the gas supply remains on and uninterrupted during any emergency situation. As long as you have a natural gas supply then in theory a tri fuel generator could be run for days or even weeks on end, though we are not recommending this.

Choosing Your Fuel Source

Deciding which fuel source to use in a particular situation comes down to a number of factors. Of course in some situations such as a storm or another kind of emergency you may only have one option. This is where tri-fuel generators and their versatility really do prove their value if you don't have access to gasoline.

However, during regular times when you have access to multiple fuel sources then be sure to check the specifications for the generator you're using to understand the levels of power or efficiency it is able to provide using each of the three fuel types.

As mentioned gasoline is going to give you the most power but it not as easy to store as propane, and not as readily available as natural gas if you have access to your home's gas supply.

What Is a Triple Fuel Generator?

A triple fuel generator is the same as a tri fuel generator. There is no difference, it's just a slight variation in the name. Triple fuel generators are able to run one any of three different fuel sources which are usually gasoline, propane, and natural gas.

For more information about choosing a generator and an explanation of the different types and options then be sure to take a look at our buying guide here. It will give you an overview of the portable generator market and help you make a decision.

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