Diesel vs Natural Gas Generators

Diesel vs Natural Gas Generators

Why You Should Buy Diesel Over a Propane Generator

By Walter Noziak

There is nothing worse than a natural gas or propane generator when it comes to power generation. As a fuel source, natural gas and propane contain a lot less energy. To produce power, you require a lot more of it. The engines are also less efficient and most of the energy from those fuels is lost as heat. In your home furnace, heat is what you want, in  a generator it is just a loss of expensive power. See price chart below.  

Normal generator engines operate at 1800 RPM. This is the same speed car engines run at on the highway. The lack of power from propane engines would necessitate using a larger engine. Instead, manufactures produce smaller engines and run them at double the speed; at 3600 RPM. If the engine in your car did this for hours, it would likely blow up! There is an incredible amount of heat and wear and tear happening in an engine at high speed. Many of those propane / natural gas engines don’t even use a radiator like your car does to keep them cool. Cheap aluminium blocks is what they have.

The air cooled, 3600 RPM propane / natural gas engines seldom last more than 2000 hours and have much higher maintenance requirements. They are not designed to be used for anything but emergencies.

Excessive wear in those engines means you have to change the oil every 100 hours. The Perkins diesel engines used in Aurora Generators need to be changed every 500 hours. During a power outage, do you want to worry about an oil change every 4 running days or every 20 running days?

You can expect over 20,000 hours running life from a Perkins diesel engine running at 1800 RPM. 10,000 hours at 3600 RPM. 2000 hours from a propane generator. Why buy propane?

Look at what a generator costs to run for one day.

A $5000.00 Propane Generator / 3000 hours life x 24 hours = $40.00 a day

A $10,000.00 Diesel Generator / 20,000 hours life x 24 hours = $12.00 a day

Now add the fuel. If you wanted to produce 20,000 watts of power to supply an average home, a propane generator will use about 4 gallons an hour, a diesel would use 1.3 gallons an hour.

Propane at $2.40 per gallon x 4 gallons x 24 hours = $230.40 x 7 days = $1,612.80
Diesel $1.48 per gallon x 1.3 gallons x 24 hours = $46.18 x 7 days = $323.26

If you use your generator for one week, at this rate you will have spent $1,289.54 more for propane fuel over diesel to do the same job that a diesel generator could do.

And remember, you also have five times the oil and filter changes to do with a propane generator.

Finally, look at the warranty policy for the propane / natural gas generators. If they are used when traditional power is available, the warranty is void. Few carry more than 1-2 year warranty. 

Diesel generators typically have a 5 Year warranty. Your application does not matter. They can be used all day, everyday.  

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