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How Long do Generators last? Let’s find out!

DISCLAIMER: AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE I EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES. THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS THAT WILL REWARD ME MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE WHEN YOU USE THEM TO MAKE QUALIFYING PURCHASES. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ MY EARNINGS DISCLAIMER.

Standby generators typically last 1,500-3,000 hours, which is about 15 to 30 years (depending on how frequently you use it and how well you maintain it). Portable generators usually last around 1,000 and 2,000 hours, which is about 10-20 years (if you use an average of 100 hours per year). The diesel generator is a whole another “animal”! They say that they last a whopping 20,000 to 30,000 hours, which means about 200-300 years! Did anybody check that?

Standby and portable generators are the two primary types of generators available. A portable generator will most likely be used to power critical appliances and in an emergency situation, while standby generators will keep your home running normally.

What is the life expectancy of a generator? The entire lifespan of your generator will vary depending on the kind and size, but a typical range is 1,500-3k hours for a standby generator and 1k-2k hours for a portable generator.

Portable generators will last significantly less time due to their smaller size (and the temptation to overload them). They get overheated more often as well.

To keep your generator in a good shape, you want it to perform a self-test and let it run (on low RPM) for around half an hour once a week. The generator is supposed to be started on a regular basis through automatic controls which keep it well-lubricated, thereby extending its life.

This basically means that you will be using at minimum 24 hours a year of your generator time regardless if you have a power outage or not. If weekly testing takes 24 hours each year, plus 4 power outages (20 hours each) and we get:

24+80=104 hours of usage every year

This is the average usage time for most standby generators. People that travel with portable generators usually have very different needs, so their time may vary. Also, you may NOT get four blackouts per year 🤔

Your generator will outlast most household appliances and yard cleaning equipment. It can even survive longer if properly maintained and cared for. It’s also critical to buy the best brand possible (that we can afford). These companies built their reputation for decades and put all this knowledge into high-quality construction and long-term durability of your generator.

Even though high-quality generators are more expensive, it may still be a worthwhile investment for your due to the longer lifespan. Regular preventive maintenance is also necessary if you want the generator to last as long as possible. Also, don’t forget to use only high-quality oil and fuel.

It is very important to keep your generator free of dust and moisture to increase its lifespan. Even though these are tough machines, you may want to consider replacing your generator before their “deadline”. Why? New technology.

Not too long ago, we did not have brushless generators and inverter-generators. Problem with changes in regulations could also come up. Their job is to protect the population from emissions and high noise levels.

In this case, they may come up with a rule, where getting a more technologically advanced model will not be an option any longer. And… as time goes by, generators with better technology or battery backup systems will become more affordable.

Standby generators

Diesel and natural gas are commonly utilized to power stationary standby generators for business and as a “whole house” power backup solution. They are usually professionally maintained, ensuring that they are always in perfect working order.

Diesel generators with 1,800 RPM have a longer lifespan than gas generators with a 3600 RPM motor. Diesel engines wear out less due to the lower speed and superior lubrication.

Diesel generators have a lower RPM than both gasoline and natural gas generators, which means that their components will last longer due to the slower movement and the comparatively basic physics of diesel engines. As a result, a diesel generator’s lifespan is substantially longer than any other generator.

Portable generators

Portable generators are typically fueled by gasoline or propane. Diesel engines are not commonly used in portable generators because they are heavy and noisy.

Portable generators are much smaller than standby generators, and they are meant to be lightweight, portable, and easy to use when electricity is required. They typically are used in less-than-ideal settings, such as open areas where dust and humidity are present.

You can imagine that this type of environment is not favorable with electrical/mechanical components and the generator’s lifespan will be shortened because of that.

How to increase a lifespan of a generator

Dust and condensation are two basic enemies of electrical components. When the insulation on the field windings gets deteriorated, it can cause a short circuit.

Rusty connections will fail to make good contact. If you inspect and clean important components as part of your monthly and yearly maintenance, your generator will last a lot longer!

These problems can be avoided with proper care and storage. Replacing electrical and mechanical components is also a normal part of routine maintenance.

Your generator’s life will be extended if you follow the manufacturer’s maintenance and storage recommendations. Also, using a generator at full capacity for extended periods of time (especially in hot conditions) will cause it to wear down faster and not last as long as it should.

If you own a Generac generator and live in an area where it gets very cold, here is one very important tip for you:

#133 Thinking of Buying a Generac Generator? You Need To Watch This!

When running a generator, it may be a good idea to turn off the generator from time to time to allow the engine to cool. This is particularly important if the generator’s engine is running at 3600 RPM. These engines operate hot.

During these periodic stop downs, make sure to check the oil level. When adding oil, be careful not to overfill. If you want the best dependability, consider generators with engines that spin at 1800 RPM.

While they are more expensive than 3600 RPM generators, they are also more dependable and efficient.

Doing the following can extend the life of standby generators by decades:

  • Use high-quality fuel and oil. Well, this baby is almost like a car with no wheels… Take good care of it and it will take good care of you!
  • Do frequent exercise (once a week). This allows the lubricating oil to heat up and circulate through the engine, which helps keep the engine strong and healthy. It also helps you verify that everything is running smoothly and the fuel level is adequate.
  • Do regular preventative maintenance. Once a month, you should check the oil and coolant levels in the engine. Both of these fluids are essential for the generator to run smoothly.
  • Clean air filters. You should also make sure the generator’s filters are not clogged, so the air can keep coming through. Clogging could be easily caused by fallen leave or snow.
  • Watch out for rodents. You should make sure no rodents or other small pests have taken up residence in the enclosure.
  • Do regular inspection and cleaning of components. Every 6 to 12 months, you should hire a qualified technician to perform a more detailed inspection of your generator. The technician will inspect the batteries, spark plugs, belt drives and change any malfunctioning components if necessary.
  • Size your load adequately! The projected load should not be too large or too small for your generator while taking care of your needs.

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