Propane vs. Diesel Generator for RV – Pros & Cons

Last Updated: August 8, 2022
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So, should you purchase a propane (lp) generator or diesel generator? Which motorhome generator will be the best? When purchasing generators for RV or motorhome, you will need to decide whether to go with diesel or propane. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of diesel generators vs propane generators and decide if diesel or propane is better for you.

Propane RV Generators

Propane, often known as LP gas, has long been a favorite fuel for RV generators. Portable propane generators in particular. There are also some propane generators with dual-fuel capability for RVs, allowing them to work on both propane and gas. This is one of the most popular types of RV generators.

Pros of Propane RV Generators

  • Propane is a clean-burning fuel, meaning it emits fewer toxins than diesel or gas. In particular, it emits half the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) as gasoline.
  • When compared to a diesel RV generator, a propane RV generator is generally quieter.
  • Another advantage of a propane RV generator is its low fuel use. In most situations, propane is less expensive than gasoline or diesel, allowing you to save money on long-term fuel expenditures.
  • Propane has a longer shelf life, far exceeding that of gasoline or diesel. Even if you’re using it a few times a year, it is stored in tanks and does not deteriorate.
  • Propane generators are simple to start in any situation, unlike gasoline, which is prone to gum deposits, and diesel engines, which are renowned for having trouble starting in colder climates.
  • Compared to diesel generators, propane generators last longer. Wet stacking, which occurs in diesel engines when unburned fuel flows through the exhaust system, is not a problem with propane generators. Carbon deposits contaminate diesel engines, causing over-fueling and sputtering and heavy smoke.
  • Apart from their dependability and convenience of use, propane generators survive a long time and run smoothly for thousands of hours, requiring less frequent maintenance to maintain them ready to use at any time.

Cons of Propane RV Generators

  • When using a propane RV generator, the size of the tank you have is a limiting factor. Additionally, if you run out of propane during a camping trip, it may be more difficult to locate in some regions.
  • Propane RV generators don’t produce as much power per gallon as diesel or gasoline generators.
  • Despite the fact that today’s propane generators are highly safe, propane has a poor reputation in the RV sector due to many RV fires being blamed on propane leaks.
  • Propane is more difficult to come by in various parts of the country. In addition, the placement of certain propane refilling stations is inconvenient for your big motorhome.

Diesel RV Generators

Over the last several decades, RV diesel generators have gone a long way, and they are now considered a major rival when it comes to fuel type.

Pros of Diesel RV Generators

  • Diesel is often more expensive to buy than propane, but it produces considerably more power per gallon than propane.
  • Compared to an onboard propane generator, a diesel generator is more efficient. Diesel generators, as the most powerful, can power far more appliances for far longer periods of time than propane generators.
  • If your RV currently runs on diesel fuel, getting a diesel power generator is a no-brainer because you’ll only need one fuel source.
  • The availability of fuel is a key consideration when selecting an RV generator. You will notice that diesel fuel is more easily available than propane during your travels.
  • Many people believe that diesel generators are more dependable than propane generators.

Cons of Diesel RV Generators

  • A diesel generator has the occasional odor of diesel.
  • Diesel generators operate at a slightly higher decibel level than propane generators.
  • Perhaps the most significant disadvantage of diesel generators is the upfront expense. A diesel generator costs almost twice as much as an onboard propane generator.
  • Additionally, many campers find diesel generators to be noisier than propane generators.

Which Is Better, Propane or Diesel Generators for RVs?

Bottom line, when it comes to deciding whether to go with diesel or propane-powered RV generator, it can be a difficult decision. This will solely depend on your priorities and preference. Our advice is to go through the pros and cons and decide which generator (diesel or propane) will be more beneficial for you in the long run.

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I am a mechanical engineer with years of experience working on Internal combustion engine and fixing electrical and mechanical systems, generators, transfer switches, and equipment related to storm water and sewage pumping stations.