A Brief Guide to Diesel Generators

One of the most interesting questions posed by people considering an investment in a generator is whether they should purchase a gas or diesel generator. Before we answer that question, let's be sure you understand exactly what a generator is. Generators are mechanical devices that are designed to create electrical energy. They use complex systems to create a very even flow of electricity, and can be used to supply a home or building with power during emergency situations or when no other outlets are available.

Generators are often found in two very common styles - portable and stationary (also known as standby). The portable units tend to be powered by gas or diesel fuels while the standby systems rely on tanks of propane and/or natural gas. The standby systems are usually designed to generate the largest amounts of electricity and can be used for an entire home, but many portable systems are used by home and property owners too.

So, this brings us back to the question of whether someone should choose the gas, diesel, or propane models.

The Fuels Required

To best answer that requires a bit of understanding about energy output and expectations. To keep things as simple as possible, you should just accept the fact that propane is one of the most cost efficient fuels, and that is why the standby models use it. Diesel is next in line and has less consumption per watt produced than gas.

Also consider the way that diesel is used as a fuel in other machines. For instance, most of the "big rigs" on the road (which tend to drive thousands and thousands of miles each year) are fueled with diesel. The same can be said of most heavy duty equipment, and this just tells us that diesel is best in terms of longevity as well as cost.

It is also interesting to note that a diesel generator tends to need less upkeep and maintenance than a gas model because it has no need for things like spark plugs and other commonly malfunctioning parts.

The Power Created

So, this is a fairly good explanation of the reasoning behind so many consumers opting for portable and diesel generators. Of course, this means we have to ask if the devices can create the same amounts of energy as propane and gas powered units, and in a single word, the answer is "yes".

Just like the standard gas models, a diesel generator may be able to create from around 1500 watts of electricity up to 8500 watts, or more depending upon the model.

When a machine is capable of roughly 5000 watts it will be able to power the standard home with enough energy to keep a refrigerator running, a heating system working, and a few household electronics operating. The more wattage, however, the more devices it can power.

Naturally, this means that more fuel is going to be required, and this tends to be one of the "downside" issues with a diesel generator. For example, many generators will run for around eight hours before they must be manually refilled by the owner. Of course, the diesel generators are known for having operating costs of around 35% less than a gas generator, and this means that longer time periods between refills are entirely possible.

Pros and Cons to Consider

Are there other pros and cons that need to be considered? Like all equipment, you do have to consider such things as maintenance, installation issues, and any other factors that might make you more or less happy with the outcome.

For example, a diesel generator is usually portable, and that means that there will be a need for extension cords running from the machine to the home appliances, or other devices. A good portable has a variety of outlets to accommodate heavy duty and normal weight cords. It will also have smart devices that can help with power management issues.

Consider that the better diesel generators have automatic off switches to prevent damages to appliances if power is restored while the unit is running. They also have automatic shut off if the oil is too low as well. Most will also need heavier duty wheels to allow them to be relocated with ease, and these rarely come as part of the purchase price.

There is a lot of good to be said about a diesel generator if you want to keep your essential household or property systems running when electrical service is unavailable. Just make sure you know what your wattage requirements are, and you can choose the best diesel model.