Ultimate Guides To Choosing The Right Generator Fuel Type

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Are you going to buy a generator? This purchase includes many critical choices, and fuel is one of the most important.

When choosing the right generator fuel type, you have four options: diesel, gasoline, natural gas, and propane. Each comes with its benefits and drawbacks.

We will discuss four types of fuel for generators right here. Let’s check the pros and cons, and then you will know what you need most!

Choosing The Right Generator Fuel Type

There are four types of generator fuel. We will explain how they work, the pros, cons, and safety features.


Diesel is a type of liquid fuel from crude oil. Diesel engines can work powerfully and efficiently. You can find them in trucks, boats, cars, trains, and buses.

Diesel is also the most popular generator fuel because it is easier to maintain and may last for years with little or even no upkeep.

Diesel-powered engines are the most productive because this fuel has a higher power density than other fuel sources. It also has a cheaper investment.

Although these generators are low-maintenance, you should use them once a month to prevent problems.

The fuel runs less cleanly than propane, natural gas, or gasoline, and engines in particular places have short runtimes. Also, these engines are often louder.

You can find this source in many places in the United States. Sellers often store it in containers.

Diesel, like gasoline, is a flammable fuel. Hence, try to handle and store it with extra care.


  • Diesel is easy to find.
  • Such engines are the best option for long-term uses.
  • These devices are also the least expensive to run and maintain.
  • This fuel is the least combustible of the four sources. Thus, you can store it on-site for convenient and quick refilling.


  • This power source can only last for 18 to 24 months.
  • Compared to other options, these engines create more noise.
  • Because diesel is less productive in low temperatures, you have to combine it with other fuel to run generators in cold regions.

Diesel is the most popular choice

1. Diesel is the most popular choice (Link)


Standby units that run on gasoline are a fantastic choice, but they are inconvenient and costly to maintain.

Although people don’t often use gasoline for standby generators, some portable units still run on them.

Getting fuel for your generator is as simple as taking metal canisters to the local gas station. In modest volumes, the price is reasonable.

Due to the high volatility of this fuel, the US government restricts its storage to 25 gallons, which is only enough to operate a generator for two to three days.

Gasoline has a short shelf life as well. Within a month, most gasoline mixtures start to degrade and retain moisture.

If gasoline is older than one year, it may contain chemicals that wear down motor components, causing the engine to malfunction.


  • Gasoline is the easiest source to get.
  • The method of fuelling gasoline generators is straightforward.
  • For transportable and small standby generators, gasoline is the best option.


  • The life span of gasoline is only 12 months.
  • Gasoline is very flammable and poses a potential hazard when kept on site.
  • Gasoline is costly, and the need for it always grows after a catastrophe.
  • Compared to other sources, gasoline is the least ideal for the cold.

Gasoline is very easy to obtain

2. Gasoline is very easy to obtain (Link)

Natural Gas

Natural gas (NG) is a type of hydrocarbon gas that contains mostly methane. We often use it for heating and cooking.

When added to generators, the gas comes out as soon as the power stops working. The spark plug will ignite the gas, running the generator.

People have distributed NG across the country via a pipeline system. Hence, this source is easily accessible.

If you buy a natural gas generator, make sure to have your gas pipeline connected to the generator by an expert.

You will benefit from having natural gas delivered straight into your generator after installing it, saving you the headache of carrying fuel and refilling the container yourself.

However, natural disasters may destroy the gas lines. There will be no fuel left to run the generator.

Natural gas provides a number of other advantages. It’s cleaner than diesel and other fuels, making it a perfect pick in countries with tight emission controls.

Some homeowners have also claimed that the gas also makes their generators work more quietly and smoothly.


  • NG is plentiful and easy to obtain.
  • In extremely cold temperatures, this fuel outperforms all other sources.
  • You don’t need to refuel this type of generator.
  • NG is the most environmentally friendly fuel and enhances long-term generator functionality.


  • TNG produces less power and a higher consumption rate than other options.
  • Because broken gas lines create a serious public safety danger, this option is unsuitable for providing power backup in earthquake-prone regions.

Natural gas is the most eco-friendly way to power your house

3. Natural gas is the most eco-friendly way to power your house (Link)


Propane is highly-processed hydrogen and carbon-based fuel. It is a by-product of petroleum refining and natural gas production.

Propane works like natural gas when applied to generators. However, it’s heavier and can burn cleaner. You will also find it less efficient than diesel and gasoline.

Although propane is more costly than natural gas, you can distribute it in metal cylinders, saving the cost of attaching the engine to the gas lines.

Propane cylinders are easily accessible at retailers across the United States and are straightforward to bring back to your house.

Unlike diesel and petrol, which deteriorate over time, propane can last a long time, allowing you to store up in advance of the next power outage.

As a result, propane is a brilliant option for people who only need to use their generators occasionally.


  • Engine noise is minimal with propane engines.
  • Propane is an emission-free, clean-burning fuel.
  • Propane has a long shelf life, making it simple to stock onsite for recharging.


  • The system in propane generators is complicated.
  • Propane storage bins are pressurized and combustible.
  • Installation and upkeep of a propane engine can be costly.
  • This kind of generator consumes a lot of power.

Propane is a clean-burning fuel

4. Propane is a clean-burning fuel (Link)

Summary Of Fuel Factors

Have you decided which fuel source is best for you? If not, let’s check this comparison table so that you can compare the options easier.

Criteria Diesel Gasoline Natural gas Propane
Cost Cheapest Costly Varying Costly to upkeep
Safety Excellent Poor Medium Medium
Environment impact Poor Poor Excellent Excellent
Availability Medium Medium Excellent Medium
Operation Good Poor Excellent Medium to good
Engine life Medium Poor Medium Medium


Fuel Preference By Use And Geography

As you can see from the table in the previous, diesel and NG seem fine in most cases.

However, your choice should depend on other factors, such as where you live and what you use the generator for.

So, we will recommend the best option for every particular case. You can relate to our reference if you can’t make up your mind.

  • Locations: Pacific Time Zone (PT), Mountain Time Zone (MT), Central Time Zone (CT), and Eastern Time Zone (ET).
  • Use: Residential, ranch, and industrial.
Residential Ranch Industrial
PT Diesel, Propane Diesel, Propane Diesel, Propane, NG
MT Propane, Diesel Diesel, Propane Diesel, Propane, NG
CT Diesel, Propane, NG Diesel, Propane Diesel, Propane, NG
ET Diesel, Propane, NG Diesel, Propane Diesel, Propane, NG

Consider how and where you use the generator to choose the best solution

5. Consider how and where you use the generator to choose the best solution (Link)


Frequently Asked Questions

Buyers have shown their concerns when searching for generator fuel types. Here are some of their frequently asked questions.

1. What is the best type of fuel for a generator?

It depends on your requirements. Here are our recommendations:

  • Cheapest: Diesel
  • Best for safety: Diesel
  • Best for the environment: NG
  • Best for availability: NG
  • Best for operation: NG

No matter which type you choose, it may come with risks. Please check this video to learn some safety tips while using the engine:

2. Is it cheaper to run a generator on gasoline or natural gas?

No. Diesel and natural gas are the cheapest sources to run a generator. Compared to other options, gasoline is costly, especially when the demand increases.

3. What is the cheapest power source for a generator?

Natural gas and diesel are the two cheapest solutions. However, comparing these two is difficult.

Diesel is more expensive than natural gas in general, but it has a higher power density and hence burns more effectively.

4. Can a generator run on oil?

If you have residential heating oil, you may run your diesel generator and use the oil as a source.

Nevertheless, losing energy during the cold months might put a lot of stress on your fuel supply.


To choose the right generator fuel type, you should carefully consider each option’s benefits and drawbacks. Then, think about your location and the fuel application to make the final decision.

Hopefully, you will find this article helpful. For any further information, please feel free to ask. Thank you for reading!

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