Every person, especially preppers, should have a survival generator. The 2021 Texas Ice Storm was a big wake-up call for many, myself included. I needed a generator that could power everything I needed through emergencies lasting a few days to a couple of weeks.
The Champion 3800-Watt Dual-Fuel Generator is the best survival generator for short-term emergencies. It’s a versatile generator that can run on gasoline or propane. It will also give you plenty of power to keep your most important appliances running.
In this article, I’ll go over why I chose this generator over other types of generators. I’ll also go into detail about the features that I think make it a good choice if you are looking for a survival generator that will help you get through most types of emergencies or natural disasters.
Why Not Other Types of Generators?
I know that some people who read this article are probably screaming something like this at their computer or phone, “WHAT ABOUT SOLAR?!”; “WHAT ABOUT A STANDBY GENERATOR?!”. Well, here are some reasons why.
Solar power systems can be cost-prohibitive. They almost always cost more per watt than other types of generators. Also, unless you have your roof covered in solar panels with a large array of batteries, you won’t be able to run large appliances for an extended period of time. That is especially true if it is raining, snowing, or cloudy for multiple days.
For most people, solar generators are best used to keep small electronics powered up. These include things like cell phones and computers. They also work well to recharge NiMH batteries for other devices, such as radios and flashlights. Most solar generators do little to help preserve large quantities of food or cool a home.
Standby generators, on the other hand, usually rely on natural gas utilities for fuel. In prolonged or widespread disasters, natural gas utilities can become compromised due to power outages. While natural gas outages are less frequent than power outages, they do happen.
My reason for choosing a mid-size generator instead of one with higher wattage is fuel efficiency. You will need to store way more fuel to run a 10,000-watt generator than a 3800-watt one. I would rather keep my most important appliances running for two weeks than keep my entire house running for one.
Cost is my primary reason for not opting for an inverter generator. They are quiet and more fuel-efficient, however, they are also more expensive. Also, inverter generators with higher wattage tend to be louder than smaller inverter generators. This takes away the primary advantage of owning one.
Enough Power for Essential Appliances
The first reason why the Champion 3800 Dual-Fuel Generator is the best survival generator is that it provides enough power to keep essential appliances running. For me, those appliances are my box freezer and a window air conditioning unit.
I want to keep my box freezer running for as long as possible because it holds a significant amount of meat. I hunt, and the last thing I want to do is let my deer meat spoil. I’m not too concerned about keeping my refrigerator running long-term. Anything worth saving can simply be moved to the box freezer. Being able to preserve that food greatly increases my family’s food storage.
Since a deep freezer can keep food safe for up to 48 hours, it will reduce the amount of time that I will need to run the generator. Even if I only run the generator at night, that should still be enough to keep the food froze.
As far as the air conditioner goes, I live in Texas, so summer power outages can get dangerously hot. Temperatures stay in the ’90s for days at a time and commonly go above 100.
Understanding Watt Ratings
The Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator has 3800 running watts when running on gasoline. This means that it can support a combined load of 3800 watts from the devices it is running continuously. It can also support up to 4750 starting watts.
When using propane as the fuel source, the wattage ratings drop some. Using propane, the generator has 3420 running watts and 4275 starting watts. This isn’t too much of a drop but it will make a difference if you trying to run the generator near max capacity, which isn’t that good of an idea anyway.
Starting watts refers to the additional power needed to start certain devices. Large appliances, such as refrigerators and window A/C units draw more power when starting. This can be 3 times the energy needed to keep it running or more.
Here is an example of how I calculated the watts needed to run my essential appliances:
|Device||Running Watts||Starting Watts|
|Window Air Conditioner||515||1500|
|Lamp (4 at 60 Watts Each)||240||0|
|Tool Battery Charger||300||0|
|Total Wattage Needed||1684 Running||3409 at Startup|
As you can see from the chart, I added up the total running wattage that I would need to power my devices. I then added the starting watts from the device that required the most watts at startup to that total. That means that I need a generator with at least 1684 running watts and 3409 starting watts.
The reason why I only added the starting watts from the device that required the most watts at startup is that, most of the time, those devices won’t be starting at the same time. Plug in the first device, wait a few minutes, and then plug in the other one. This will prevent your generator from overloading because of too many large devices starting at once.
As you can see, 3800 running watts and 4750 starting watts is plenty of power to meet my needs. Even when using propane, which has 3420 running watts and 4275 starting watts, I am still well within the generator’s operating parameters. I should also be able to enjoy maximum fuel efficiency since I am operating the generator under half of its load capability.
Fuel Versatility and Efficiency
Another reason why the Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator is the best choice for survival is its fuel versatility and efficiency. It can run on gasoline or propane and can last for many hours on one tank of fuel.
Having a generator that can run on gasoline or propane gives you multiple ways to keep your generator running during fuel shortages. For example, there is a chance that you may still be able to pick up a propane exchange tank if gas stations are running low on fuel.
Advantages of Using Propane for Generators
Propane has many advantages over gasoline as a fuel for a generator. First, propane is easier to store long-term than gasoline. Gasoline, especially varieties containing ethanol, can go bad within a relatively short period of time. Ethanol is hydrophilic, meaning that it bonds with water.
As time goes by, ethanol bonds with water vapor in the air. The water will then sink to the bottom of the tank, which is a big problem for generators since their fuel is gravity-fed. Gasoline needs to be rotated and probably shouldn’t be stored for more than 3 to 6 months. However, adding a fuel stabilizer can increase this to 1-3 years.
Propane, on the other hand, can be stored for 30 years without problems. In fact, the propane itself doesn’t break down. As long as the tank is in good shape, the fuel inside is safe to use. Propane is also cleaner-burning than gasoline. This will help prevent problems such as clogged carburetors that frequently plague small gas engines.
Even if you still plan to store gasoline as your primary fuel, you should still have a few 20-pound propane bottles in storage. You may find yourself in a situation where the generator won’t start with gas but it will with propane. Having a few propane tanks should help you last through at least a few nights without power.
Related: How to Make a Lights Out Kit
The Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator is very fuel-efficient. It can run for up to 9 hours on one 3.4 gallon tank of gasoline. When using propane, the generator can last for 10.5 hours on one 20 pound propane tank. Both of these time estimates are based on the generator running at half of its load capacity. Running higher wattages will result in poorer fuel efficiency. However, that is true with any generator.
In terms of fuel storage, you can run the Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator overnight for two weeks with:
- (10) 5-Gallon gas cans
- (14) 20-Pound propane tanks
Since a propane tank will last longer than 3.4 gallons of gas you have a couple of options. You could let the generator run for longer at a time. Another option would be to save the remaining propane for smaller tasks when you wouldn’t normally be running the generator. This would allow you to do things like use power tools to make needed repairs.
Another reason why the Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator is the best choice for survival is it’s low cost. Mine cost less than $540 dollars, however, prices can fluctuate.
Purchasing a relatively inexpensive generator will allow you to purchase the items that you need to support it. These items include gas containers, fuel, extension cords, covers, and even items to prevent the generator from being stolen.
If you are on a budget, it is a much better idea to spend $500 on a generator and a few hundred on fuel than to spend $1000 on a generator and not have any fuel stored. Also, generators that have an electronic start, such as this one, have a battery. You will need to take care of the battery, otherwise, you will need to pull start it. This means that you will need a battery charger and maintainer like the one that I got. You can find it by clicking here.
(Note: This generator will not pull start with gasoline if the battery is dead. The reason is that the solenoid’s default mode is propane. This is a safety feature. For this reason, I recommend taking care of the battery, having the means to jump-start it, and storing propane as your primary fuel source.)
Another reason why the Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator is the best survival generator is its portability. It weighs less than 120 pounds and is small enough to fit in the back of a truck or most SUV’s with the back seats down.
This will make the generator easy to take with you if you have to bug out, especially if you don’t have a pickup truck. It will also allow you to use your generator for other tasks, such as building projects and camping.
The Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator also comes with a wheel kit and handle. These allow you to move the generator where you need it to be. I can move my generator from the garage to the backyard with very little effort.
The Champion 3800-Watt Dual Fuel Generator has additional features that make it the best survival generator. These include electric start, Volt Guard, and Intelligauge.
Having electric start makes the generator much easier to start. This is important if a physically weak or injured person has to operate it.
Champion’s proprietary Volt Guard is a built-in surge protector. It is designed to prevent overloads, which can damage certain types of equipment, such as computers. Intelligauge is a visual display that you can toggle between voltage, hertz, and run-time hours. This allows you to monitor power levels and makes keeping track of maintenance much easier.