You’re in the market for a new generator!
Maybe you need to do off-site work where there’s no power supply nearby or you want to be able to ride out power outages during bad storms at home. Either way, a portable biofuel generator is a good idea, but it can be expensive so you need to ensure you choose the best one for your needs.
What’s the best portable generator?
To ensure you’re using a quality portable generator, it’s essential to keep an eye out for certain traits, such as if the generator is portable, has good runtime, and offers you versatility in terms of its fuel.
With that in mind, let’s jump into our reviews of the 5 best biofuel generators you can find on the market. Let’s take a look at their specs in the table below.
Now that we’ve looked at the general features of some of the best biofuel generators, we can look at these products in greater detail. Let’s start with our winning product!
Best Biofuel Generators – Reviews & Buying guide for 2020
Best Diesel generator: Generac 6864 gENERATOR
This best portable generator is strong enough to keep you powered up when you need it most, especially if you’re out on a construction or agricultural site and need a generator that won’t let you down.
- Durable construction
- True Power Technology
- 32-hour runtime
- This portable generation is made with a durable 1¼ inch steel frame that’s been fully welded.
- It’s built with an industrial-grade diesel engine so you’re assured of power and quality.
- It makes use of True Power Technology that provides less than five percent of harmonic distortion. This basically means that using this generator will be smoother and cleaner to use as compared to others.
- You don’t have to worry about it cutting out when you’re doing a difficult task as this generator has a 12-gallon fuel tank to give you the fuel you need for extended periods of time. This generator has a run-time of 32 hours, when used at 50 percent.
- Starting this generator is super-easy – just press the electric start button instead of having to sweat up a storm just to turn it on. This is especially beneficial during emergencies.
- Although this generator does come with an eyelet to make it easier to transport around, it’s still heavy. It weighs 254lbs! If you’re not used to carrying heavy items, you’ll need to purchase the wheel kit for this unit.
- One of the biggest disappointments about this biofuel generator is that it needs a battery in order to be used, but it doesn’t come with a battery. You have to purchase that separately, which is unfortunate when you consider the price of the generator (which we’ll get to later in this review).
- The use of diesel in this generator is considered to be an efficient fuel type since it provides a long lifespan and results in you needing to do less maintenance on your generator.
- To make it a bit more convenient to use, this generator comes with an integrated lifting eye in its steel frame so you can lift it, such as when placing it above ground. That does make up for a lack of wheels.
It’s strong, gives you excellent runtime, and can be used for a variety of purposes. It’s definitely worth the purchase, but it helps to be aware of its drawbacks as these might be deal-breakers for you. If you’re looking for a portable generator that’s a little kinder to your pocket, consider the next offering on our list.
Best Biogas Generator: DuroMax Hybrid generator
If you’re looking for a strong and durable generator, Duromax ones are the way to go! Let’s look at this model that can run on gasoline or propane in greater detail.
- Steel frame
- Low noise output
- To make your life convenient, you’ll receive many useful items along with the generator you purchase. These include an oil funnel, a tools set that includes a spark plug wrench, wheels and handle kit, an owner’s manual, and DC charging cables.
- This generator is versatile because you can run it on gasoline or propane.
- It’s got starting watts of 4,850 and running watts of 3,850. To put this in perspective when it comes to its usage, you can use this generator for a variety of tasks, from powering up your lights to your home air conditioner and even high-amperage power tools.
- It’s built to last, thanks to how it has a rugged steel frame, steel rims, as well as 10½ inch solid rubber wheels. The wheels also make it a breeze to transport to different places.
- To keep your generator safe, it comes with a low oil auto-shutoff system.
- One of the biggest drawbacks of this generator is actually a fault with the company instead of the actual product: some people who have purchased this generator have complained about poor customer service, such as when it comes to the difficulty of trying to report problems with the generator.
- Other people have reported that the generator doesn’t idle consistently, and only does so for short amounts of time. This can be problematic if the work you’re using the generator for requires you to leave it on idle for long periods at a time.
- You don’t want your generator to be too noisy, especially if you’re using it at a campsite or somewhere else where you’re in close proximity to other people, which is why this generator is great. It’s built with a heavy-duty frame that has fully-isolated motor mounts to ensure a quiet and smooth operation.
- You can easily and quickly check the status of the generator by looking at its full power panel that will give you vital information, such as if you’re running low on oil.
- This portable diesel generator has been EPA approved so you can use it in National Parks!
- The generator’s electric starter is really easy to use, and if the battery runs flat you don’t have to panic because the generator has a recoil starter you can use in emergencies.
- The generator can be run on 120v with full power or you can run it on 120v and 240v at the same time when you want to increase its power.
This DuroMax portable generator is very budget-friendly, which is a huge discount as compared to the previous product we featured. By being able to switch easily and quickly from regular gas to propane, you can extend your runtime without a hassle.
Now that we’ve looked at two leading biofuel generators, let’s check out three alternatives that might interest you.
Runner-Up: Rainier R4400 Portable Generator
This portable generator looks strong and won’t burn a hole in your pocket, but it’s also packed with many great features.
- Open frame design
- This generator has 3,600 running watts and 4,400 peak watts.
- It’s been built with an open frame. This has many benefits, such as making it easier to transport and giving it stability when placed somewhere, such as above ground level.
- If you use it at about 25 percent load, you can use it for 18 hours.
- It’s got a four-gallon gasoline tank.
- It comes with important safety features, such as a fuel gauge and an automatic low-oil shutdown feature.
- As is standard with many biofuel generators on the market, this one has an electric start.
- This generator is completely ready for use in your RV, as it comes with a wheel kit, two eight-inch wheels, and even a folding handle!
- Some people who have purchased this generator have reported that the company’s customer service is poor. If you encounter problems with the generator, this could result in stressful experiences.
- Others have reported that it’s important to be mindful of power surges as this generator sometimes battles to deal with them. This causes it to trip and need to be reset.
- This portable propane generator has been EPA-approved and it’s also CARB-compliant. Both of these certifications mean that it can be sold and bought in all U.S. states. In order to be CARB-compliant, a generator has to meet air pollution standards. Even if it does emit pollutants, these are in much less quantity than generators that aren’t CARB-compliant. So, using this generator will make you feel better about the environment.
- It’s really quiet to use, making approximately 65db of noise. This is the same level of noise as a normal conversation, although some people have reported that it’s too noisy. This is something that’s difficult to gauge and you’ll have to see for yourself because reviews are mixed when it comes to this issue.
It’s got a lot of excellent features and the fact that it’s RV-ready is a huge plus if you’re looking for a convenient generator you can use whenever you’re on the move.
Alternative 1: DuroMax XP12000EH Generator
DuroMax makes our list of the best biofuel generators again! Let’s check out this model in greater detail. One of the biggest differences between this model and the previous DuroMax model we featured is that this one packs a punch when it comes to running watts.
- 9,500 running watts
- Can run on gasoline or propane
- Can handle heavy loads without losing power
- This generator is the epitome of power when you need it. This DuroMax model comes with 12,000 watts of starting power and 9,500 running watts.
- It can handle powering up heavy loads, such as refrigerators.
- It can run on propane or gasoline, like the other DuroMax generator we featured in this review guide. This gives you much more versatility while also giving you an extended run time by using a second fuel.
- It’s got some cool safety features, such as a low-oil shut-off feature that will prevent your generator engine from being damaged.
- It makes noise of up to 74lb. You might be wondering why that’s a good thing, because it is louder than a vacuum cleaner! But it’s important to realize that for the amount of power that this generator is capable of producing, the noise isn’t actually bad. There are many generators on the market that produce less power but make more noise.
- This generator is constructed out of metal, to keep it strong yet light. This makes it suitable for use at home as well as on work sites.
- Some common complaints from people who have purchased this generator involve the company’s customer service, which isn’t as good as it should be when dealing with problems.
- Another thing to bear in mind is that some customers have complained about the wheels of this generator. Its wheels seem to be a common complaint, with reports including how the wheels become flat and that they’re made out of plastic. It seems that the wheels that were used for this product are too soft and this makes it difficult to move the generator around with ease.
- The generator comes with a lot of extra items. These include a user manual, oil funnel, spark plug wrench, DC cables, wheel kit, and toolkit.
- This generator makes use of MX2 technology, which means you can use it at 120V at full power or at both 120V and 240V at the same time. This helps to maximize its power when you need it.
- This generator will save you fuel because it has an idle control feature. This means that it produces less rates per minute when you’re not using it. The bonus of this is that it also lowers the amount of noise.
It’s a solid, strong generator that you should seriously consider if you need it for heavy-duty work and won’t need to move it around a lot.
Alternative 2: Rainier R2200i Portable Inverter Generator
We end this list of reviews with another Rainier product. Let’s jump straight into its features, with one of the biggest reasons to purchase this generator being that it’s compact and small.
- 13 hours of runtime
- Eco Mode feature
- Weighs just 44 lbs
- Just like with the other Rainier product we reviewed, this generator is both EPA and CARB compliant.
- It has 1,800 running watts and 2,200 peak watts. You can get up to 13 hours of run time with it.
- This generator is focused on being eco-friendly, not just when it comes to how it’s CARB-compliant but also based on how it has an “Eco Mode.” By using this feature, you can save energy and maximize the generator’s fuel efficiency, which will also save you money.
- This generator is built to be compact and portable, and it has a built-in handle for extra convenience when moving it around. Best of all, it’s really light, weighing about 44 lbs, so you shouldn’t have much of a problem when transporting it.
- The Rainier customer support is said to be poor.
- This generator has a recoil start feature instead of an electric one, which can feel a little frustrating at times.
- The tank is a little small when compared to that of other portable generators, coming in at 1.3 gallons, but it might be sufficient for your needs.
- This fuel-efficient generator creates minimal noise – you’re looking at 52db, which is much less than some other generators we’ve reviewed in this guide.
- It’s got control panel features that will help to keep your generator safe, such as overload warnings and oil level warnings.
- An interesting feature we haven’t seen in many portable generators is found in this model. It enables you to increase its power generation because it can be paired with another inverter generator. Best of all, transporting two of these generators around is easy because they’re both lightweight and compact.
It’s cost-effective while giving you power you need for devices such as your smartphone and computer so that you don’t have to let power outages get you down, thanks to how it offers a stable power source. Combine two together and you’ll get even more power without the problems!
Biofuel Generators FAQ
Now that we’ve reviewed the five best biofuel generators you should consider if you’re in the market for a generator, you probably have a good idea about which one is right for you. Before you go ahead and purchase it, though, make sure you read some common questions about generators and biofuel.
Can portable generators run on biofuels?
Right off the bat, it’s good to know that biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine, as U.S. Green Technology reports.
But that’s not the end of the story! If you want to use biofuel in your generator, it’s important to bear in mind that you might need to purchase a conversion kit.
Some companies sell these for use on diesel generators. When they’re installed, they enable the generator to run on diesel, biofuel, or even straight vegetable oil from the kitchen, so you can use your own natural gas portable generator whenever you need it.
This is a fantastic way to have more fuel versatility and make use of natural fuel that doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money.
What types of biofuels are there?
Before we look at the different types of biofuel that you can get, it helps to know what biofuel actually is. Biofuel can be defined as any fuel that comes from biomass, which is algae or plant material or animal waste. There are two main types of biofuel. These are ethanol and biodiesel.
- Ethanol is a renewable fuel. It can be produced out of plant materials, such as plant starches. The process of fermentation is used to produce ethanol. During this process, microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria metabolize plant sugars in order to produce ethanol.
There are important things to know about ethanol. Since ethanol is an alcohol, it can become a blending agent when mixed with gasoline in order to produce octane.
This has many benefits when used instead of traditional fuel because it reduces carbon monoxide and other harmful environmental emissions. When we speak of ethanol as a biofuel, we’re looking at a common blend that’s made up of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent of gasoline.
However, some vehicles can make use of a blend that’s composed of greater quantities of ethanol. Currently, approximately 97 percent of gasoline that’s used in the U.S. is made up of at least some ethanol, as the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy reports.
- Biodiesel, on the other hand, is liquid fuel that’s made from renewable sources. These include vegetable oils and animal fats. To produce biodiesel, vegetable oil, animal fat, or recycled cooking grease is combined with alcohol. This is what makes biodiesel a much cleaner fuel than fuel that’s petroleum-based.
Biodiesel has many other benefits: it’s biodegradable and non-toxic.
Biodiesel can be used to fuel diesel engines and it can also be combined with petroleum diesel in various percentages. An example of this is B20, which is a blend that’s made up of 80 percent petroleum diesel and 20 percent biodiesel.
How safe is it to run portable generators on biofuel?
If you own a portable generator, you might be wondering if you could use biofuel to run it. This is where biodiesel comes in, thanks to how it’s made.
Vegetable oil (such as that found in soybeans or palm oil) can become fuel as long as engines are built to be able to handle its increased viscosity as compared to traditional diesel fuel.
By processing the fuel, this can help to change and reduce its viscosity, and when that happens it is possible to use biofuel in a diesel engine, such as a portable generator.
While that sounds promising, there are some drawbacks. For starters, it’s not always easy to know how well this biodiesel has been processed. There are other things to bear in mind if you’re interested in running your generator with biofuel so that you don’t damage it.
- Biodiesel is a natural solvent. This means that it breaks down deposits in the fuel system and pulls them into the fuel filter. The danger of this is that when those deposits accumulate, they can clog the filter and cause engine problems and even engine failure!
- Biodiesel is corrosive. Another important thing to bear in mind is that biodiesel, while healthier for the environment, can be corrosive. If your generator is one that contains rubber-like materials, such as in its gaskets, these can be broken down by biodiesel. In addition to rubber, plastic, paint, and glue can also be corroded by this biofuel.
- Biodiesel’s viscosity can lead to engine failure. If you’re not 100 percent sure that your generator can run on biodiesel, this could result in the fuel’s viscosity being a major problem for it, so always make sure. Since biodiesel has larger droplet sizes than traditional fuel, this can clog the injection system of the engine.
- Biodiesel absorbs more water. When compared with traditional diesel, biodiesel absorbs more water. When there’s more water in the fuel, this prevents lubricity and it can shorten the lifespan of your generator’s engine. Just to make matters worse, the addition of water in biodiesel can increase corrosion and it also stimulates bacteria to grow.
- Biodiesel solidifies at low temperatures. Since biodiesel can be produced from various natural sources, it’s not always easy to know at what temperatures it will solidify and cause problems to your generator engine.
- Biodiesel can only be stored for six months. This can be problematic if you don’t use your generator on a regular basis. If you do have biofuels in storage, always make sure you use them within that time frame.
If you’re interested in putting biodiesel in your generator, it’s worth investing in a type that is known to be safe for use in it so that you prevent the above problems and concerns from affecting you.
How to make DIY biofuel and store it?
Did you know that you can make your own biofuel at home? This is an exciting idea, and it’s really not difficult to achieve, although you will need to purchase the correct equipment.
Before we outline the steps to follow when it comes to how to make your own biofuel, there are some important things to know.
- Biofuel production makes use of a methoxide reaction, which releases heat. This means you need to avoid using plastic vessels when producing your own methoxide as they can dissolve or explode! Rather choose to use stainless steel containers.
- Methanol and lye can be very dangerous, so use them with caution. Always wear protective gear when making your own biofuel as these substances can blind you if they enter your eyes.
- Since you’ll be using vegetable oil to make your biofuel, bear in mind that it’s better to choose one that’s as pure as possible to ensure good quality of your DIY fuel. While you might be tempted to get gallons of leftover vegetable oil from restaurants in your area, this can cause the oil to be high in fatty acids, especially since some restaurants will reuse their oil many times before throwing it out. Too much fat, and other impurities, in vegetable oil, will reduce its quality.
While you can make your own biofuel with vegetable oil, you will need specialized equipment, which can be expensive. The two main pieces of equipment are:
- Biodiesel processor
- Drying tank
Here are the steps to follow when making biofuel at home:
- Get methanol at your local chemical distributor or even a race car shop.
- Mix the methanol with a catalyst – you can use caustic potash or lye – to produce methoxide. Remember to wear protective eye gear!
- Put the methoxide aside and place your vegetable oil into a Biodiesel Processor. (You can purchase biodiesel processors on Amazon.)
- Heat up the oil to temperatures between 130 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Now, take your methoxide and pour it into the processor. You should mix it for a few hours. This will ensure that the oil will separate into glycerin and biodiesel.
- When the time is up, you need to drain the glycerin layer.
- Wash the biodiesel with water, so as to remove contaminants from it.
- Let the biodiesel separate from the water for a bit of time, then drain off the water. Don’t spray water too aggressively, and make sure that you use the same amount of water to match how much biodiesel you have. So, if you have 30 gallons of biodiesel, you need to wash it with 30 gallons of water.
- Drain the water and put the biodiesel in a drying tank.
- When the fuel is dry, it’s ready to be used in a diesel engine!
An Important Note About Acidity When Making Your Own Biofuel:
When making your own biofuel, you need to ensure that it’s properly filtered and that it’s acid content is not too high.
To be sure that high levels of acidity won’t cause your generator problems, make sure you do a titration test to test for acid. This will tell you how acidic the oil you want to use is so you can make it better for your generator.
How To Do A Titration Test
In order to check the acidity of your oil, you’ll need the following items:
- 1 gram lye
- 1 liter Distilled water
- 2 beakers
- 10 milliliter isopropyl alcohol
- 1 millilitre of vegetable oil
- Electronic pH meter
- With your scale, measure one gram of lye.
- Then, measure one liter of distilled water in a beaker.
- Mix the water and lye together.
- In another beaker, measure 10ml of isopropyl alcohol.
- Put 1 ml of vegetable oil into the alcohol.
- With an eyedropper, put a 1ml drop of your water-lye solution into the alcohol-oil solution.
- Use an electronic pH meter to measure the pH level of the mixture.
- You want to keep adding drops of water-lye solution into the alcohol-oil solution until you get a pH level of between eight and nine. Measure the solution after every drop that’s been added so that you can settle on the perfect pH level.
How To Store DIY Biofuel
Once you’ve made your own biofuel, you have to ensure that you store it correctly otherwise it will degrade and go to waste. Generally, biodiesel that’s been made from vegetable oil can be stored at temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
To prevent the oil from becoming gel-like in consistency, an underground tank can be useful for storage. If that’s not an option for you and you want to store the biofuel above the ground, bear in mind you might need to insulate the tank, depending on the climate in your region.
Here are other important points to bear in mind when storing your DIY biofuel:
- Always make sure that you store your biofuel in an airtight container. This will help to prevent contamination. If biodiesel becomes contaminated with microbes, they can grow quickly and make the biodiesel unusable within a few hours, so you really need to be careful with how you store it.
- You can’t make biofuel and then store it for years. You have to make sure that you use your biofuel within six months, as after that period of time it starts to break down and become useless.
Biofuel Pros and Cons?
Even though biofuel has many benefits, there are some important cons you should know about it. Let’s analyze its pros and cons!
- Biofuel is good for the environment because it’s renewable, thanks to how it’s made from organic materials. Even agricultural by-products can be gained during the production of biofuel.
- Biofuels are cheaper than traditional fuels. The supply of traditional fuels can decrease due to demand, which keeps its prices high. But biofuels have an advantage because they’re more affordable, especially when they’re locally sourced and produced.
- Biofuel can always be produced. Why? Because biofuels don’t rely on one source as compared to traditional fuels which need to be made from crude oil, a non-renewable source that isn’t limitless. Biofuels can be made from various sources that are completely natural and easy to find.
- Biofuels can be produced locally. This is one of the biggest biofuel benefits: it can be made in various regions on a local basis because it uses organic materials.
- The production of biofuel uses a lot of water. This is basically because of the plants that need to grow before they can be used. This can put pressure on our natural resources, especially in areas where the water might not be managed in smart ways.
- Biofuel production can affect human food supply. Since biofuel production can make use of items that are also found in food, such as corn or soybeans, this means that it can adversely affect our food supply, especially if farmers end up growing crops specifically for biofuels.
- Biofuel crops could pollute the environment. An example is corn. According to research published in NPR, corn production results in 4,300 premature deaths every year in the U.S. as a result of air pollution. While this isn’t as a result of the corn plants in and of themselves, ammonia that’s released by fertilizers is what contributes to pollution and therefore makes corn have a higher pollution footprint.
- Biofuel might not save as much energy as we think. While there’s no doubt that biofuel has its merits, it might not save as much energy during its usage as we assume. Some experts believe that widespread production of biofuel which produces enough biofuel to replace a gallon of petroleum-based fuel would need to make use of the same amount of energy as several gallons’ worth of fuel, as How Stuff Works reports.
Biofuels are an interesting solution to the fuel problem we face. Despite their potential drawbacks, since they’re environmentally-friendly and make use of natural substances, they can be an excellent green alternative to help us meet our fuel requirements.
If you’re looking for the best biofuel generator, you’ll surely find one in our guide in which we’ve featured five of the best biofuel generators you can find on the market. We’ve studied their pros, cons, benefits, and special features, to help you make the best generator purchase according to your needs.