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Which Generator Fuel Is the Best for Your House?

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There are several reasons to own a home generator. They can keep your perishables in excellent condition if the local power grid fails, and they can even help keep your electric car charged and ready to go.

However, there are quite a few different types of generator fuel to choose from. Understanding how these fuels are similar and how they differ can help you choose the right type for your generator and your household.

Let's explore the most common types of generator fuels and their respective advantages and potential drawbacks.

Gasoline

Gasoline generators tend to be the most common type of home generator. They can also be the most affordable. Gasoline tends to be a relatively cheap and fantastically accessible fuel source, but it can emit harmful fumes.

Additionally, gasoline is a flammable substance that can pose a significant fire risk if stored improperly. However, it's also a portable fuel source that works well in compact generators.

If you need to leave your home but take your generator with you, a gas option could be your best option. Still, gasoline can go bad after a few months, especially if it's stored in non-airtight containers.

It's also one of the least efficient and most polluting forms of fuel.

Pros

  • Often affordable
  • Very accessible
  • Great for portable generators

Cons

  • Could emit harmful fumes
  • May be difficult to store safely
  • Has a relatively short shelf-life
  • Not an efficient fuel source

Diesel

While plenty of vehicles and household appliances run on gasoline, far fewer consumer machines utilize diesel. The price of diesel fuel is typically higher than the cost of gasoline.

But the fact that diesel is less commonplace could be a boon during a disaster. If your community is rushing to fill their vehicles with gasoline, you may struggle to find a gas station willing to let you fill up extra storage containers.

However, diesel fuel will likely still be plentiful, ensuring that you have plenty of power for your generator. Diesel-powered generators tend to be substantial, hefty devices. They're difficult to move and they're not environmentally-friendly.

Some areas may have restrictions on diesel generators and diesel fuel usage, so it's crucial to double-check your local guidelines before installing a diesel generator.

Pros

  • Just as accessible as gasoline
  • Could be more available during a crisis
  • Lasts slightly longer than gasoline

Cons

  • Can emit toxic fumes during and before usage
  • Diesel-powered generators tend to be rather loud
  • May require large storage tanks for extended use

Propane

Propane is a simple alternative to gasoline or diesel generators. Unlike messy, fume-emitting gasoline, propane arrives pre-stored inside of a pressurized tank.

This tank can prove dangerous if stored in extreme temperatures, as the propane gas within is exceptionally flammable. Still, it is far easier and safer to store several tanks of propane than it is to keep several gallons of gasoline on-hand.

Propane gas also enjoys a longer shelf life than diesel or gasoline fuels, ensuring that homeowners enjoy a greater return on their investment. This type of fuel tends to burn cleanly.

This can make it a great option for homeowners looking to make a positive environmental impact. Propane may also be more available than gasoline or diesel in the midst of an emergency.

You can often find ready-to-use propane tanks at gas stations or outside of hardware stores. A propane-powered generator may also be quieter than alternatives. Propane generators may feature air-cooled or liquid-cooled engines for better performance.

If you're interested in learning more about this type of home generator, you can read more here.

Pros

  • An affordable alternative to gasoline or diesel
  • An environmentally-friendly choice
  • Produces less noise than comparable generator fuels
  • Could be more accessible during a disaster
  • Stores well in most conditions

Cons

  • Tanks can explode under excess pressure, potentially causing harm to household members or property
  • Installation costs for propane-powered generators tend to be higher
  • Propane generators tend to experience a shorter life than their gasoline or diesel counterparts

Natural Gas

Tapping into a natural gas line to fuel your home's generator is a long-term solution that can also help lessen your generator's negative environmental impacts. Natural gas fuel can be pumped into a home and may be available during a power outage.

However, some types of disasters can make natural gas generators either useless or potentially dangerous. Earthquakes, for example, can loosen valves and pipes, resulting in a natural gas leak.

Without proper safety precautions, this leak could result in poisoning, fire, or an incendiary explosion. Besides, many homeowners aren't fortunate enough to live above a natural gas deposit.

This means that many will not have the option of choosing this fuel source, making it one of the least accessible generator fuels.

Pros

  • This fuel burns cleaning, emitting low pollution
  • Naturally-occurring fuel type
  • Could be immediately available during a disaster

Cons

  • May not be available for all homeowners
  • Could pose health and safety risks
  • Can be expensive to install and set-up

Bio-Diesel

Bio-diesel presents nearly all of the same advantages as standard, traditional diesel fuel. However, it also offers a few worthwhile benefits. Firstly, bio-diesel is an eco-friendly alternative to types of diesel made from fossil fuels.

This type of fuel is derived from natural sources or recycled from used oils and fats. This makes it a renewable fuel resource, and one that burns more cleans than standard diesel.

However, unless you have an agreement with a local restaurant or bio-diesel distributor, you may struggle to find and store a practical amount of this type of fuel.

To maintain your generator and prevent mechanical issues, you'll also need to ensure that your fuel mixture is consistent, which can be time-consuming and messy. However, if you procure your bio-diesel from a nearby eatery, you may enjoy the smell of delicious fried foods while you wait-out your power outage.

This scent is bound to be far better than the smell of acrid, burning fossil fuels.

Pros

  • An environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional diesel fuel
  • Could be procured at little cost, or for free
  • Just as powerful as standard diesel

Cons

  • Can be difficult to obtain
  • Fuel requires consistent testing and balancing

Find the Best Generator Fuel for Your Home

When accidents or disasters happen, you'll be glad that you chose the right generator fuel. Understanding which fuel works best for your generator and your home is crucial to enjoying electricity and comfort in the toughest of conditions.

Before you spend hundreds of dollars stocking-up on this year's fuel, be sure that you're making the best possible choice. Your future self, and your wallet, may just thank you.

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