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Diesel Vs. Gasoline Generators
Homeowners who want to keep the power on in their homes when grid utility power fails may choose between portable diesel generators or portable gasoline generators rather than installing a more expensive permanent backup system. Since they are movable, portable generators are perfect for powering isolated homes and job sites where grid power is not an option. While there are other generators fueled by solar, biofuels, wind, geothermal and liquid propane and other fuels, this article explores the advantages and disadvantages of mainstream portable diesel generators and gasoline generators.
Diesel vs. Gasoline: Efficiency
One advantage portable diesel generators have over gasoline generators is fuel efficiency. Diesel generators use less fuel than their gasoline counterpart. Basically, in a diesel generator, compression ignites the fuel. Fuel and air are introduced into the engine separately. Only air is compressed, which allows the engine to run more efficiently by using less fuel.
By contrast, gasoline engines mix the fuel and air together in a carburetor prior to compression, which results in less fuel efficiency. Because portable diesel generators are more fuel efficient, they will run longer on the same amount of fuel and provide uninterrupted power to your home or facility.
According to Diesel Service & Supply, "An 1800 rpm water-cooled diesel unit operates for 12,000 to 30,00 hours before any major maintenance is necessary." Similar gasoline generators will require service after 6,000 to 10,000 hours of operation.
Diesel vs. Gasoline: Noise & Heat
Older models of portable diesel generators were noisy and not suitable for high-density neighborhoods. Newer models run more quietly and require less maintenance than gasoline generators because there are no carburetors or spark plugs. Also, diesel generators will last longer since gasoline burns hotter than diesel and results in a shorter life span of the equipment.
Diesel vs. Gasoline: Cost
Generators are either air-cooled or liquid-cooled. Whether the portable generator is diesel or gasoline powered, liquid cooled units are typically more expensive and used for larger projects.
For price comparison purposes, a Troy-Bilt 5500 Watt portable gasoline generator costs about $700, while a portable diesel generator by Pramac of the same size will run about $3,100. To justify the higher sticker price, manufacturers of diesel generators, such as Peak Power Tools, argue that their products use up to 40% less fuel, require no maintenance and will last longer.
Homeowners who want a portable generator for sporadic, short-term power outages may want to consider an air-cooled portable gasoline generator. For long-term or extended use, such as for job sites and remote homesteads, a liquid-cooled, portable diesel generator may be the best choice.
Smaller units are suitable for small, single-family homes where few appliances will be drawing on the energy. Larger homes or families requiring more power for Internet, medical equipment, etc. may need a generator with more output. The more watts, the higher the price tag.
Buying the right portable diesel generator or gasoline generator is easy once you have decided if it will be used for extended or short periods of time, the number of appliances that it needs to power and of course, your budget. If you have any questions, contact your local electrician for guidance.
Author Caryn Colgan is a home improvement expert, writer and photographer based in Colorado. Ever wanted to ask a property owner how to care for a property? You can ask Caryn - she's an expert.