How Long Can You Run Your Generator?

While most power outages are brief, a blackout may last several hours or even days in rare cases. If you rely on a whole-house generator to provide backup power in an emergency, you’re going to want to run your generator for as long as you possibly can.       

How long can a generator continuously run? Is it safe to constantly run a standby generator? Here are a few factors to consider when deciding how long to run a generator.

Type of Fuel

In theory, a generator should run indefinitely as long as it has a steady fuel supply. Most modern home backup generators are fueled by propane or natural gas; however, some homes rely on gasoline or diesel-powered units.

While gasoline and diesel generators are effective, they have some significant drawbacks compared to their propane and natural gas counterparts. As is the case with all gas-powered machines, the tank will eventually run dry and will have to be refilled before further use. 

Depending on the tank size, power output, and electrical load, gasoline or diesel-powered generators can run from 8-24 hours. For short blackouts, this isn’t a problem; however, in a prolonged emergency, you may have to go outside into hazardous conditions to refuel.

Natural gas and propane eliminate the need for refueling in the middle of a power outage. Generators connected to a natural gas line have a virtually unlimited supply of fuel, as long as the gas is available. Similarly, many generators run off large propane tanks that can hold to 1000 gallons. Since generators only consume about one and a half gallons of propane an hour, they can continue to produce power for weeks.

Maintenance Prolongs Generator Life

To keep a generator running smoothly, routine maintenance is crucial. Even though your generator may have the capability to run for weeks at a time, you’ll need to change the oil and perform basic maintenance every so often. Generac recommends changing the oil in a generator after every 100 hours of use. Regular oil changes help maximize power output, reduce wear, and extend the life of your unit.

In addition to routine oil changes, it’s essential to have your standby generator professionally serviced and inspected at least once a year. A visit from a generator technician helps to identify any minor issues and address them before they grow into bigger ones.

Is it Safe to Run a Generator for Long Periods?

While it’s possible to run a generator for days at a time, there are some risks involved. The longer a generator unit runs, the more heat builds up. Typically, under average conditions, the likelihood of suffering permanent damage is minimal. But if a generator continuously runs for more than 12 hours in temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a much higher risk of heat-related component damage.

High-Performance Generators

Are you looking to protect your family and your home from blackouts this year? Give us a call today! At Midwest Generator Solutions, we can help you find a Generac, Kohler, or Briggs and Stratton generator that perfectly fits the needs of your home.