generator fuel types

All About the Four Basic Generator Fuel Types

There is so much going on in the world today, especially the violent storms taking place everywhere You never know when the power will go out. This is why everyone should have a backup generator. Generators can also come in pretty handy when going camping, or for contractors who need to power up their tools and more. But, which is the best to buy a gas-fueled generator, natural gas generator, diesel generator, or a propane-fueled generator? We’ll review the four basic generator fuel types out there.

Let’s take a look at the most important factors…
  • Fuel efficiency how much would it take to run per hour
  • Cost to run
  • Noise output
  • Safety hazards
  • Environment
  • Maintenance required
  • Easily accessible
  • Shelf life

Now we will look at all four fueling possibilities than everyone can decide for themselves which best fits their needs.

Gas Fueled Generator

This type of generator is the most common since gas is easily obtainable from the nearest gas station. Also, it’s less noisy than the others options on our list. However, it is less efficient than the other fuels. You’ll also want to keep in mind that while the price of gas is high now, it will get even higher during a crisis.

Another thing to consider is that in an emergency situation there may not be any electricity. This can be an issue because electricity is required to get gas. Most will prepare in advance and have gas on hand when needed. But keep in mind that it has a shelf life of only 12 months. Keeping gas around can be very dangerous as gasoline is highly flammable. If it should spill out, the tiniest spark could set it off to go up in flames.

Not only that but when burned, gasoline pollutes the environment and the fumes that it puts out are toxic to breathe in.

Propane Fueled Generator

In its raw state, propane is contained in natural gas. But the propane we’re familiar with has been separated and stored in cylinders. Because it is contained in spill-proof cylinders, it is safe to store away for when it’s needed.  Additionally, it has a long shelf life which is great for when you want to prepare because you can keep it on hand for a long time.

If you are caught without propane when there is an emergency, you won’t need to worry. Electricity is not needed to obtain propane so you’ll be back in business in no time.

Propane also evaporates immediately. This lessens the concern for any spills. It burns clean and there is little pollution created from it burning.

Propane is about half the price of gas per gallon which makes it a great choice fiscally.

One bad thing about propane generators is that the fuel systems are typically much more complicated than gas generators. You’ll need to keep this in mind in case your generator breaks. It will be much harder to repair.

You’ll find that propane is a less efficient fuel source. Propane operated generators also cost more than other fueled generators. And because of the state of this fuel, if the weather ever reaches 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less, propane will freeze and be useless.

Diesel Generator

Diesel generators are known to be very reliable and stable. Due to this, diesel generators are used as backup generators for homes, hospitals, and more.

One thing to note about diesel fuel is that although it costs more than regular gas, it is much more efficient.  It takes less to operate a generator than any other fuel.

Compared to other generators, diesel generators can be more or less expensive depending on the brand. The noise level can also vary based on the models available. But the good news is they cost less to maintain.  You will find, however, that these generators are usually heavier than others.

What we like about diesel as an option is that it is the safest source of fuel as it is much less flammable than other fuels. Generators that use diesel does not contain dangerous wires or spark plugs.

One of the downsides is when diesel is used, it causes heavy pollution in the area. Diesel can operate under below zero temperatures with fuel additives so you wont need to worry about the weather when using this type of generator. Diesel has  an 18 to 24-month shelf life so you’ll be able to keep this fuel source on hand for a while.

Natural Gas Generator

Natural gas is made with a variety of different gasses—propane, ethane, methane, and butane and is generally the least expensive of fuels. In fact, coal is the only fuel that costs less than natural gas.

Moreover, it can be purchased in cylinders or through pipelines that are less expensive. Additionally, natural gas does not produce an odor as most others do. (This can be troubling because it is harder to detect leaks.) Not only is natural gas, a cleaner source of energy, but it is also one of the cleanest burning fuels.

One of the reasons why we like natural gas generators is that they run very quietly.

Some of the disadvantages of using a natural gas powered generator are that during an emergency crisis, it may be hard to get. Natural gas is also extremely explosive and can pose a threat if lines break.