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Propane vs Diesel Generator

propane vs diesel generator
Written by Jamie Masterson

After experiencing a power interruption, you may be wondering about a backup generator that could supply enough power during an emergency situation. Sometimes, it may happen that line power wouldn’t be an option in your project area. Generators could be very useful to solve your problems!

Though a generator is giving you a supplementary, primary or even backup power, it is important to check that the generator is providing electric current efficiently and safely. There are various fuel choices and sizes that may confuse you which one would be the best for you. Here are some ideas about diesel and propane generators as well as their pros and cons to make it easy for you to select one.

Propane And Diesel Generator Types

Generally, generators use diesel or propane as the fuel especially for construction sites. Propane generator is useful as it provides some advantages such as:

  • Easy to catch fuel
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to start in cold season
  • Suitable for remote sites
  • Fuel doesn’t damage in storage

There are also some disadvantages of it like it is costly to get large propane tanks. It could be dangerous if you are not able to handle it properly.

On the other side, diesel generators are the largest and heaviest. They are mostly suited for higher KW electrical connections on the construction sites. They are less flammable, inexpensive and easier to obtain.  The disadvantages are:

  • Noisy
  • Unsuitable in cold weather
  • Fuel gets damage after 18 to 24 months
  • shelf life of Short fuel
  • dirty exhaust

Fuel costs

Diesel is less expensive than propane because the power produced by propane is more expensive than the power produced with a diesel-fueled generator. The cost of the fuel depends highly on the area that you are living. There is not the same amount of propane or diesel in each region of the country. Thus, the fuel cost is not constant.

Diesel generator exhaust contains more ash and soot, so environmental cost is important to consider as well. Moreover, propane generators are portable and smaller that’s why more people like to use these types of generators.

Maintenance

generator maintenance

You have to make sure that your generator receives regular maintenance. You have to decide the maintenance schedules according to the use frequency. Diesel generators require overall maintenance than portable propane generators as the engine of the diesel generator is similar to the car engine. The maintenance of propane generators and natural gas generators maintenance is much similar. To maintain everything properly, you have to check the diagnose possible problems, load bank and control panels as well as indicators for both generators. You should change the air filters, fuel filters and worn-out parts occasionally when needed.

Propane generators maintenance includes:

  • check hose for leaks or cracks
  • change fittings and valves for ensuring that the lines are properly secured
  • change flicker plugs and oil when needed
  • make sure that the tank and fuel pressure remains at the mentioned level

diesel generators maintenance includes:

  • diesel fuel treatment is required as the fuel could go bad with the time
  • cleaning carbon deposits is also needed
  • check the fuel pressure regularly
  • drain and check accumulated water from the gas tank
  • replace or filter fuel if needed
  • change oil

Ensure that your generator is maintained by a professional who could understand the procedures and the machine. Though it is a tough work to do, it could make your generator long-lasting.

Longevity

Propane generators are not disposed to ‘wet-stacking’ of injectors which usually plagues diesel techniques tasked through running even without a straight load. Diesel engines could become dirtied with carbon deposits that results in over-fueling and leads towards rough running, excessive smoking and sputtering.

Besides, ease of use and immediate reliability, propane generators are long lasting and could run trouble free for years. They require less maintenance than diesel generators.

 Availability and efficiency

The main fact that you should consider while deciding the best kind of generator is the availability of oil or gas. In some areas of our country, propane is hard to find and sometimes refilling stations are at such locations that it would be impossible to move your big generator there. Moreover, a full-load generator operating could burn about 10 gallons of the propane in a day. This would cost you double than a diesel generator.

On the other hand, diesel fuel is available almost everywhere and you could find it without any hassle. Your generator could easily get fuel from the diesel fuel tank that means you could power 2 engines from one tank.

Diesel generators are also more economical and efficient than propane generators. It uses 1/3 of a fuel gallon in an hour and you have to power it for about sixty hours before you want to refuel. the generator automatically turns off when the tank is empty and provides you enough time to make plans for going to a refilling station.

Noise and fumes

The sound from the diesel generator is louder than the propane powered generator. In fact, this subject is argued around the campfire and social media. Diesel generators emit an exhaust fume as well as odor.

Many generator owners think that the propane generators produce less noise. This is an important fact for choosing propane generators over diesel as quieter generators are beneficial for your family.

Environmental effects

The people who are concerned about the environmental effects, propane generators are the best for them. It is the clean burning fuel and produces fewer greenhouse gas and particulates than either diesel or gasoline. The fumes of propane are nearly odorless and colorless.

In some areas where people are concerned about air quality, diesel engines are forbidden because of their poisonous emissions. You could operate propane generators anytime and anywhere without any tension.

Here is a chart to give you a proper idea about both of these types that may be useful to compare.

Factor Propane Diesel
Mobility May be a bit heavier if carried liquid propane. Difficult and heavy to carry.
Disruptions A little disruption. Vibrations and noise disruptions.
Maintenance It needs oil and lubricants periodically but less than diesel generators. It needs oil and lubricants for better running and needs cleaning the exterior.
Emission Not much emission. Releases gases like sulfur oxide and carbon monoxide that are harmful.
Placing Should be placed in an open space. Should be placed outside in an open area due to the toxic gases
structure Smaller than diesel generators and doesn’t require big parts. A big fuel engine and tank.
Fuel feasibility It could be stored without any difficulties and also available in the time of emergencies. extended shelf life and easily available.
Cost A little bit expensive Expense varies in different regions
Efficiency Highly efficient and could meet some requirements like the other. Better bet for calamities and disasters. It could support a high load of work, provides a power supply that is uninterrupted.

Conclusion:

If you are living in such an area that is more likely to have natural disasters, you have only one option- getting an appropriate generator. Usually, people like to choose propane powered generators because of its stability and higher energy output. However, diesel generators would be useful for more strong service and it provides more output at less cost. Just keep in mind that, no matter which type of generator you are going to use, good maintenance is a very important fact to consider.

About the author

Jamie Masterson

With decade-long experience as a generator technician, Jamie has worked with USA’s top generator manufacturers and suppliers as an independent contractor.

The long years of service to the industry has taught Jamie the ins and outs of troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining all kinds of generators in home, industrial and outdoor settings.

Jamie thinks this platform is a great opportunity to share his tips and tricks with you so you can make the most of such power equipment for better living.

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