How to Select The Right and Efficient Fuel for Your Generator
When it comes to selecting a generator for your house or business needs, one of the most important considerations is fuel type. You will need to decide which fuel will be the best choice.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that all fuels are the same, and they are not. They differ from each other in price, availability, and storage requirements.
There are commonly four fuel choices available: gasoline, propane, diesel, and natural gas. You can select the one based on the fuel availability near you and depend on the use of a generator.
If you find it hard to obtain propane on regular days, you just think about how you will manage during a natural disaster. In this scenario, propane is not a good choice.
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In this post, we will discuss those four most common fuels, so you know how each fuel differs from the other. Then, you can ponder over which fuel to choose that will best fit your needs.
Different Fuel Types
This is the most common fuel and is available almost everywhere, even in remote places. It is one of the easiest fuels to obtain, but it is not a practical choice in the long run due to its price. They are expensive. If you plan to use a generator daily, then the fuel cost will be reasonably high.
You will see gasoline used as a fuel for small portable generators, while for standby generators, it is not as common as diesel or natural gas.
Also, it is a highly flammable gas, and you will need to be very careful if you plan to store it in large quantities. As per the law, you can store a maximum of 25 gallons, which lasts for a day or two.
On top of its highly flammable nature, it also has a short shelf life, and you cannot store it for longer. Even with the stabilizers added, it will stay good for 12 months only. If you use degraded gasoline, then it will wear down the engine parts.
Moving on, the fact that it is most easily available is true on normal days. But, during natural disasters, there might be a shortage due to high demand. So, when you use up the fuel you have. After a day or two, your generator will sit silently and without providing any power.
Diesel is the most efficient fuel, and it has a very quick kick in time. This is the reason why it is most commonly used in standby generators and especially for emergency units at hospitals or police stations.
Unlike gasoline, diesel is not that expensive, but its prices are prone to fluctuations. The efficiency will reduce the cost of operation when needed in large quantities.
One thing some might not like about diesel is that it doesn’t burn as clean as any other fuel, which sometimes poses a problem to get pass-through regulations set for acceptable exhaust.
Other than that, diesel is also volatile. If you want to store it in large quantities, then you need to be careful. Without stabilizers, you can expect it to stay good for 12 to 18 months.
Additionally, with diesel generators, you won’t have too much worry about the maintenance as it has very minimal maintenance needs. This is because there is no spark plug to ignite the fuel, so fewer problems.
But, occasional maintenance is required, and to keep it in the best shape, you should run them once a month. Moreover, diesel generators are noisy.
The diesel doesn’t give the same outcome in colder temperatures, so it should be used with some other fuel. Also, the fuel you add to the engine should be clean and maintained properly as it can clog the engine and the fuel filters.
Propane is the cleanest fuel of these four but is not as efficient as gasoline or diesel. Propane is obtained as a by-product of natural gas. It costs less than diesel or gasoline but is more expensive than natural gas.
You will find the propane distribution station almost everywhere, and it is available in cylinders that directly get connected to the generator. These gas cylinders are available in different sizes, which will determine the runtime of a generator.
Moreover, if you like, you can install a bigger custom-made tank at the house to store propane in more quantity. Propane has the longest shelf life, and it will survive for about 10 to 12 years without any kind of degradation.
Its long lifetime makes it very good fuel to be preserved and used in emergencies. Now, if you decide to install the large custom tank, then its maintenance and installation will be costly, so you will need to be ready for that.
In the end, propane generators are silent, much silent. So you will have power without noise and complaints from your neighbors.
4. Natural Gas
Natural gas isn’t available in cylinders or at any gas stations, and it is available in pipelines directly at the house and continuously. There will be no need for storage or stabilizers.
Mostly, standby generators run on natural gas, and it ensures continuous runtime without having to worry about fuel depletion and tank refueling. Moreover, you will require a professional to make a connection from the pipeline to the generator.
It is a clean fuel, cleaner than gasoline and diesel. This means you can purchase and run this generator in states with strict regulations. Natural gas generators are also quiet and run smoothly like propane generators.
Each fuel of these four differs from each other in many terms, which makes certain fuels suitable for certain applications only.
For example, gasoline is not used as a fuel for standby generators because it is expensive and less efficient. You will mainly see portable generators or RV generators which run on gasoline.
For standby generators, diesel is used but not for home backup solutions. Natural gas or propane is a more suitable solution for home backup generators. Diesel is used for industrial and commercial generators.
After knowing all these differences, you can choose the best fuel based on its availability in your area, based on what your generator will be powering and its type, portable or standby.