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Diesel vs Gasoline and Natural Gas Generators


Generators are widely used as backup generators in the event of a power outage and you definitely don’t want to get stuck without one during a prolonged blackout. Using a generator is extremely useful for camping as well, as long as you keep it small in size and get the most technologically advanced model you can afford (inverter generator, preferred dual fuel).

Both gasoline and diesel generators are dependable, have comparable fuel costs (with fuel supply readily available), and work quite well with heavy motor loads. Diesel generators are the safest generators out of three, first of all, due to the lack of spark plugs and it is also classified as a “combustible” fuel, which is much less flammable than gasoline.

Today, with the introduction of bi-fuel generators, you can use many fuel forms on a single generator. These generators, also known as dual fuel generators, are a perfect workaround for when there are fuel supply problems during a crisis. Typical configurations combine the benefits of propane and gas generators while allowing for simple switching between the two.

Diesel vs gasoline generators

Now, let’s look at the differences between the gas (or petrol) and diesel generators. The first and the most noticeable difference is that Gasoline-powered generators use a carburetor to mix the fuel and air (before compression ) vs in a diesel engine fuel and air are entering the engine separately (the compression ignites the fuel).

Here is a good explanation:

Gasoline Vs Diesel - 4 Major Differences


This means that portable diesel generators are generating more power with the same amount of fuel. As a result, they would be less expensive to run and will provide continuous electricity to your home or company. Now, let’s compare:

replacement of spark plugs or the maintenance and replacement of carburetors. A water-cooled diesel engine with 1,800 RPM will run for 12,000 to 30,000 hours before requiring substantial maintenance. A gasoline engine, on the other hand, can operate for 6,000 to 10,000 hours before requiring substantial maintenance.

  • Lasts longer. The fact that diesel engines burn cooler than gasoline is one of the reasons why they last longer. The extra heat generated by gasoline wears down components.
  • Less corrosion. Diesel engine systems often last longer because diesel fuel exhaust is less corrosive than gasoline engine exhaust.
  • Better cooling system. Diesel engines are more suited to long-term use than gasoline engines. The majority of larger diesel generators are designed with a liquid cooling system, while smaller, compact gasoline generators are air-cooled. The reason for this is that gasoline generators are NOT designed for long-term use. Air-cooled models can overheat when used for long periods of time, particularly in high-temperature environments.
  • Better load handling. Diesel engines are often designed to run for long periods of time under heavy loads. They usually do better under heavy loads than they do under light loads. Gasoline generators are only designed to be used on a temporary basis. They aren’t designed to withstand big power outages.

Why is gasoline better?

  • Price. A gasoline generator is less expensive.
  • Noise. It makes less noise before it gets to full speed, especially if you compare it to OLD diesel generators. After that, diesel and gas generators are about the same in noise output. Diesel generators are getting better!
  • Size and weight. One big disadvantage of diesel generators is that they are large and heavy! Gasoline generators are lighter and more compact.

The weight and the cost of diesel generators (including maintenance) is usually something worth considering, especially if you are planning to use it on the road (or a sailboat 😊):

Diesel VS Gas Generator?! | Sailing Wisdom

Diesel vs natural gas generators

Diesel generators are often used as a backup power source in the event of a power outage. Diesel generators, which come in single-phase and three-phase versions, can be found not only in the medium to large enterprises but also in households and small offices.

Natural gas and diesel generators both good options as standby units and have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. With the introduction of recently produced fuel sources (such as biodiesel), these alternative fuels are becoming less toxic to the atmosphere and air pollution.

For a diesel engine, noise is a major concern. While newer models are becoming quieter, older models can still be noisy. Diesel generators are also big and heavy.

Why use a natural gas generator over a diesel?

  • Natural gas generators are typically attached to a gas line, resulting in a ready-to-use fuel supply.
  • Because of the reliable fuel source, the generators are ideal for high-power applications.
  • Natural gas generators are less expensive to install and operate for longer periods of time than diesel generators.
  • Natural gas is cleaner than most other fossil fuels, emitting fewer pollutants.
  • Natural gas generators do not emit the pungent odor associated with diesel fuel combustion.

Here is a good review of a natural gas generator (Cummins RS25):

Cummins RS25 Generator Review

Why use diesel generators over natural gas?

Diesel generators need less maintenance, resulting in lower maintenance costs.  They are durable, efficient, and have a long lifespan. These generators are usually smaller in size as compared to natural gas models with comparable capabilities.

  • Despite being a relatively clean fuel, natural gas generators need more maintenance, resulting in higher maintenance costs and more downtime.
  • Natural gas generators have a shorter lifespan.
  • They are larger and take up more space than their diesel counterparts.
  • Natural disasters can disrupt the natural gas flow.
  • Natural gas is explosive; fire hazards can occur if a pipeline bursts.

For those who need more specific data on the electrical production of both types of generators, watch this video:

Electric Power Webinar: Gas vs Diesel Generator Sets

Click on the white button above to find your electrician!

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