What Kind of Oil Does a Generator Take?

Generators can be major lifesavers when the power goes out. With just a flip of a switch, a generator can have you back in the swing of things in a matter of seconds. But a generator, like all other machines, needs to be cared for, and oil is essential to ensure it works when you need it.

But there are many different types of oils to choose from. If you want your generator to stay in optimum condition, its internal combustion needs oil to lubricate its components and reduce friction. The right oil creates a barrier between all the moving parts so that there is little chance of damage when the engine is running. The question is, which to use to keep your generator purring like a little kitten?

Which Oil is Best?

Like there are different types of generators, there are various oils to choose from. Determining the right oil for your generator will depend on several factors. But before you consider any of these factors, you should consult your owner’s manual. 

To the novice, oil is just oil, but if you’re looking to get optimum efficiency out of your generator and make it last longer without sustaining damage, you need to match the oil to the conditions it will be working. The manual will usually give you a very specific type of oil that works best for their generators. 

If, by some chance, you don’t have a manual, or you feel your circumstances are unique, here are a few things that can help you to make the right choice.

Viscosity: Your generator needs a specific consistency, which you can easily find on the label of all oil containers. However, you need to make sense of all those letters and numbers to make the right choice. For example, let’s take these numbers apart so you understand.

SAE 10W-30

  • SAE stands for the Society of Automotive Engineers, a group that has created a grading system for the viscosity of different oils. You should choose an oil with an SAE rating.
  • The 10 tells you how easily the oil can flow when working in cold temperatures (or the viscosity).
  • The “W” stands for winter.
  • The “30” stands for how the oil will flow when heated up to 100 degrees Celsius or higher.

Choosing the proper viscosity will ensure that your oil will continue to run in the conditions you plan to use it.

Operating Temperature: Consider the temperature you want your generator to work in. Synthetic 5W-30 can work in all temperatures, but it will burn out quicker in higher temperatures. The SAE – 30 works best in conditions above freezing, and 10W-30 will work fine in cold temperatures as low as -10.

Whenever you choose oil for your generator needs, always make sure you buy trustworthy brands. You might find that others are considerably cheaper, but they provide you with substandard quality. Consider your purchase of well-recognized brands as an investment in the life of your generator.

Choosing the best oil for your generator will go a long way in ensuring it has a long life and will be there to serve you whenever you need it.