When you’re choosing the ideal generator for your company, one of the key factors you’ll need to consider is the type of fuel it uses.
Each fuel comes with different storage requirements, availability, prices, and other concerns to think about before making an investment in a particular kind of generator. To help you make the most informed decision, we’ll cover the positives and negatives of the four main fuel types: gasoline, propane, diesel, and natural gas.
Gasoline-powered generators are the most common, thanks to the accessibility and affordability of this type of fuel. That means gasoline gives you the widest choice of generators to choose from in terms of efficiency, power output, and cost. But there are a number of drawbacks to this type of fuel:
- Gasoline is an extremely flammable liquid, making it dangerous for storage.
- It has a short shelf life due to the presence of ethanol, which means it may only last for 3 months at a time. Stale fuel can cause generator damage, prompting problems with the engine.
- While all generators require oil changes, gasoline models demand more frequent maintenance. You’ll need to check the oil regularly to keep the system running
As one of the safest fuel options for generators, propane has a long shelf life and is easily accessible. Propane generators run differently to gas and diesel models; because the fuel is already in gas form, you won’t need a carburetor, and fewer moving parts means propane generators are less likely to break down. The long life of propane makes it more convenient for storage, and you can even access propane during a power outage, as there’s no need for pumping. On the other hand:
- There are fewer options available for propane generators when compared to models using other fuels.
- While propane generators can offer a great deal of convenience in terms of accessibility and storage, they may not offer as much power as gasoline and diesel in the long run.
- Although propane costs per gallon are similar to those for gasoline, the fuel source burns much faster, meaning more expense.
Over the years, diesel generators have earned a reputation for being highly reliable, durable, and long lasting. Diesel is best for high-power applications. In other words, if you’re planning to use more than 150 kW of power, diesel may be your best solution. As the least expensive generator to operate, diesel models are safe, effective, and ideal for long-term use. Each gallon of diesel burns longer than propane, gasoline, and natural gas. Like gasoline, diesel is also easy to obtain. But there are some downsides to consider:
- Diesel is often more expensive than gasoline, although it’s worth remembering that it burns for much longer.
- Like gasoline, diesel begins to break down quickly (after just 28 days). This means that you won’t be able to store large amounts of fuel for potential power outages or blackouts.
- Diesel generators can cost more and be much louder than other models.
Natural gas generators are popular because natural gas is easily accessible and plentiful. The substance performs well in cold weather, and is very inexpensive when compared to other fuel sources, such as propane. What’s more, unlike gas or diesel, natural gas never goes stale. Natural gas is also available during outages and is the cleanest fuel around. The most significant problems with natural gas are:
- While natural gas is cheaper to obtain than other fuel sources, there may be additional expenses involved when setting up your system, as you’ll need the machine to be “plumbed” into a gas line.
- There’s no way to store natural gas, which means you’ll always be reliant on third parties to deliver your fuel to you when you need it most.
- It’s difficult to find portable natural gas generators. The nature of these systems makes convenient “plug and play” units a rarity.
Contact Sloan Electric today to speak to our knowledgeable team about your generator needs and concerns, so you can keep making the most out of the machinery at your company.