Generator Fuel Types In-Depth Guide

Read This and Know The Best Generator of Each Fuel Type - Diesel, Gasoline, Propane, Natural Gas and Solar

Top Diesel

Diesel

Top Advantage

  • Great fuel efficiency and engine life.

Main Disadvantage

  • Louder engine.

Ratings

  • These factors are rated on a scale of 1 to 5. Five being the best possible.
  • This is not a ranking system to say for engine wear solar is 1, diesel is 2, gasoline is 3, natural gas is 4 and propane is 5. Two fuel types are allowed to be rated the same thing for the same factor.
  • It is not intended for these ratings to be added up to get a total out of 25. It is simply a way to compare between the fuels. Solar may have a good rating for most of these factors but the main disadvantage will probably make it unattractive to most.
Diesel Ratings:

Engine life (5 best; 1 worst): 4

Safety (5 best; 1 worst): 4

Pollution (5 least; 1 most): 2

Cost per Watt (5 best; 1 worst): 4

Availability during a power outage (5 best; 1 worst): 3

Top Diesel Generator

DuroStar 6,000W Fully Enclosed Diesel Powered Portable Generator

DuroStar DS7200Q 6,000 Watt Diesel Portable Generator

This was a very easy choice.

When you’re looking at diesel generators, you already know you’re going to get exceptional run-time for the fuel volume. And this one does not disappoint. Off only 3.83 gallons of fuel, you’ll get 12 hours of run-time (at half load). Do you realize how awesome that is? This is a 6,000W generator remember…

…As a comparison, this generator’s smaller gasoline counterpart (a 4,000W) gets 8 hours of run-time off 7 gallons of gasoline. So you see what I’m saying?

So you’re probably scanning up the page now to see what the main disadvantage of diesel is. Well, I’ll tell ya, it’s noise level. Usually diesel generators are significantly lounder than other fuel types. However, you will notice in the image that this one is fully enclosed to contain the noise. In fact, with this enclosure, this diesel is only about as loud as your vacuum cleaner once you move a few feet away from it. In my opinion, that’s not bad for a 6 kW beast.

Top Gasoline

Gasoline

Top Advantage

  • Wide range of gasoline generators to choose from. Gas stations are everywhere.

Main Disadvantage

  • Gasoline can only be stored for a few months before it goes off.

Ratings

  • These factors are rated on a scale of 1 to 5. Five being the best possible.
  • This is not a ranking system to say for engine wear solar is 1, diesel is 2, gasoline is 3, natural gas is 4 and propane is 5. Two fuel types are allowed to be rated the same thing for the same factor.
  • It is not intended for these ratings to be added up to get a total out of 25. It is simply a way to compare between the fuels. Solar may have a good rating for most of these factors but the main disadvantage will probably make it unattractive to most.

Gasoline Ratings:

Engine life (5 best; 1 worst): 3

Safety (5 best; 1 worst): 2

Pollution (5 least; 1 most): 2

Cost per Watt (5 best; 1 worst): 4.5

Availability during a power outage (5 best; 1 worst): 2

Top Gasoline Generator

There are a lot of very good for the money gasoline generators. Because there are also many different styles, here, I am going to tell you the best one for 2 separate categories: top inverter and top conventional.

Inverter generators are quiet, very portable and, as such, best for camping and other recreational activities.

Conventional generators are the open frame ones that you probably think of when you think of portable generators. They are less expensive and *usually* more powerful.

Top Portable Inverter Generator

Yamaha 2,000W Portable Inverter Generator

Yamaha Inverter Generator IsoView

Yamaha hit a sweet spot when they designed this 44 pound nearly silent 2 kW inverter generator. The proof of this is the fact that this generator month-in-month-out is the most popular on the market. And not just for inverter generators. For ALL generators.

It is fuel efficient: burning through only a can of soda worth of gasoline per hour… And it has a 1.1 gallon fuel tank to supply it with fuel for about 11 hours (at half load).

It is highly portable: weighing in at only 44 pounds it resembles a beefy briefcase and so you can easily bring it with you wherever you go.

It is really quiet: people love how when they turn on eco mode they forget it’s on when they’re right next to it.

Top Conventional Generator

DuroMax 10,000W Portable Generator

DuroMax XP10000E Portable Generator

I like what this generator has to offer. I rated it the number 1 best generator for the money not long ago on the Top Generators 2012 page. The reason for giving it this accolade is that it is a 10,000W powerhouse and yet, only costs just over $1,000 and often comes with free shipping on Amazon.

It is designed by some good engineers – let me tell you 1 reason why – the engineers wanted a quieter generator so they isolated the motor mounts from the steel frame. Now, you may think this is the obvious choice, because of course you want the motor vibration to dissipate before it reaches the roll cage and rattles the entire generator…

…Including (and especially) the power panel and other sheet metal parts. But, I can definitely tell you that some generators mount the engine directly to the frame. Your ear drums will literally feel the pain if you purchase a model that does this. They vibrate like a jackhammer.

Top Propane

Propane

Top Advantage

  • Can be stored indefinitely. And so, you can always have a stockpile for when you need to generate electricity.

Main Disadvantage

  • Engine life tends to be poor and only a fraction of, say, a diesel engine’s life.

Ratings

  • These factors are rated on a scale of 1 to 5. Five being the best possible.
  • This is not a ranking system to say for engine wear solar is 1, diesel is 2, gasoline is 3, natural gas is 4 and propane is 5. Two fuel types are allowed to be rated the same thing for the same factor.
  • It is not intended for these ratings to be added up to get a total out of 25. It is simply a way to compare between the fuels. Solar may have a good rating for most of these factors but the main disadvantage will probably make it unattractive to most.

Propane Ratings:

Engine life (5 best; 1 worst): 2

Safety (5 best; 1 worst): 3

Pollution (5 least; 1 most): 3.5

Cost per Watt (5 best; 1 worst): 3

Availability during a power outage (5 best; 1 worst): 3.5

Top Propane Generator

It’s a toss up between 2. They’re both comparable price and power. I suppose the main differences are (1) the color (2) the tank holder that is included below the handle on the Generac generator (3) the Generac has wheels and (4) you can plug your sensitive electronics directly into the ETQ.

ETQ 3,500W Propane Powered Portable Generator

ETQ PG30P11 Propane Portable GeneratorETQ has packed $2,000 worth of features into this $500 generator:

  • When you stand a few feet away from this generator it will sound no louder than when your cleaning dishes right overtop of your dishwasher while it is running.
  • You get super clean and consistent utility quality power, so you can rest easy knowing your sensitive electronics can plug straight in.
  • Off a normal barbecue size propane tank (20-lb tank) you can power your stuff for almost 12 hours (1/2 load).
  • Since propane burns clean you can also rest easy knowing your helping the environment by going propane for your generator.

All this adds up to a sterling generator. Think about it: propane can be stored in those tanks indefinitely. You can keep a few around and when the power goes out next time you can hook one up to this generator and barely notice the power is out.

 

Generac 3,750W Propane Powered Portable Generator

Generac 6000 LP3250 Propane GeneratorNotice how this propane generator has wheels and the propane fuel tank holder to make transporting this generator easier?

You can put a 20-lb or 30-lb propane tank into that holder – whichever you more commonly use around the house.

With the 20-lb tank you will get about 9 hours of run-time (at 1/2 load). But seriously, how easy is it to change the fuel tank on your barbecue? It’s that easy on this generator. So, you can rest easy knowing that during even the longest of power outages (or camping trips) you’ll have power for the essentials.

Top Natural Gas

Natural Gas

Top Advantage

  • Most areas have an underground natural gas line feeding their house. This means in most power outages natural gas is freely available.

Main Disadvantage

  • Higher initial cost of most decent sized (above 7 kW) natural gas generators.

Ratings

  • These factors are rated on a scale of 1 to 5. Five being the best possible.
  • This is not a ranking system to say for engine wear solar is 1, diesel is 2, gasoline is 3, natural gas is 4 and propane is 5. Two fuel types are allowed to be rated the same thing for the same factor.
  • It is not intended for these ratings to be added up to get a total out of 25. It is simply a way to compare between the fuels. Solar may have a good rating for most of these factors but the main disadvantage will probably make it unattractive to most.

Natural Gas Ratings:

Engine life (5 best; 1 worst): 2

Safety (5 best; 1 worst): 3

Pollution (5 least; 1 most): 4

Cost per Watt (5 best; 1 worst): 3

Availability during a power outage (5 best; 1 worst): 4

Top Natural Gas Standby Generator

Generac Guardian Series 20,000W Standby Generator With Transfer Switch

Generac 5875 Guardian Series Standby Generator

So if you are often left feeling powerless during frequent blackouts or live in an area prone to natural disaster like Hurricane Alley or Tornado Alley then you’ll want this natural gas standby generator…

…The advantage of an automatic standby generator backing up your home power is that it’s already hooked up to your home power circuit and senses when the utility supply turns off. It then, in a matter of seconds, powers up and your lights and whatever else switches back on without you doing anything except wonder why the lights flickered.

With this 20,000W smart generator you could quite easily power most of your home including central A/C or heating, fridge, lights, cooking appliances, TV and even your sensitive electronics since Generac has included True Power Technology. True Power Technology ensures low distortion electricity similiar to that of the utility supply.

All this adds up to the best home backup generator in existence.

Top Solar

Solar Power

Top Advantage

  • After high initial setup cost, cost to run is basically free given that the Sun shines down without you paying for it.

Main Disadvantage

  • Very high initial setup cost. Area of solar panels required to provide adequate electricity is very large. Energy is dependant on the Sun shining instead of you putting fuel in. Because its energy must be absorbed over time that means you must store it for when you need it in battery banks.

Ratings

  • These factors are rated on a scale of 1 to 5. Five being the best possible.
  • This is not a ranking system to say for engine wear solar is 1, diesel is 2, gasoline is 3, natural gas is 4 and propane is 5. Two fuel types are allowed to be rated the same thing for the same factor.
  • It is not intended for these ratings to be added up to get a total out of 25. It is simply a way to compare between the fuels. Solar may have a good rating for most of these factors but the main disadvantage will probably make it unattractive to most.

Solar Ratings:

Engine life (ie. solar panel life)  (5 best; 1 worst): 5

Safety (5 best; 1 worst): 5

Pollution (5 least; 1 most): 5

Cost per Watt (5 best; 1 worst): 1

Availability during a power outage (5 best; 1 worst): 5

Top Solar Generator

Sunforce 60W Solar Charging Kit

 

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