How Long Can a Generator Run Continuously?
Bad weather, human error, and equipment failure can knock out your home or work site’s electricity without warning, which may last up to several days. Fortunately, a fully-loaded portable power generator can help to keep you out of the dark.
When you expect an extended power outage, you might be wondering, "How long can a generator run?”
While the answer depends on several factors, such as the model of the generator, its fuel source, and the size of your home, some high-quality generators can run continuously for weeks. However, others may only run for a few hours.
In this article, we’ll explore all there is to know about generator runtime to help you prepare for possible outages before they happen.
Factors That Affect a Generator’s Runtime
Electricity is a mainstay of our day-to-day lives, and a power outage can be a major disruption. So, with that being said, how long does a generator last?
To answer that, let’s consider three critical factors:
- Fuel source
- Generator model
- Size of your home
Each factor will affect how long your generator will run. As such, when shopping for a generator for your home or work site, it’s important to consider the wattage you’ll need to provide you, your family, or your colleagues with an effective amount of energy.
To that end, you’ll first want to consider the fuel source.
#1 Fuel Source
Fuel keeps your generator running, and it can greatly affect your generator’s performance. For example, a portable generator can last longer on propane than gasoline.
To that end, here are the four main types of fuel sources and how they affect a backup generator’s runtime:
- Diesel – A common type for standby generators, this is the most cost-effective option. But it’s typically used for big jobs over extended periods of time.
- Gasoline – This fuel type is easy to get and is ideal for portable standby generators. But it’s highly flammable when stored or used improperly. Plus, it has a short shelf life and generally has a runtime of 6 to 16 hours, depending on the generator’s tank size and energy consumption.
- Propane – With a runtime between 150 to 200 hours, this clean-burning fuel source has a limitless shelf life and is safer than gasoline.
- Natural gas – Another cost-effective option, this fuel type doesn’t need constant refueling. It’s also environmentally friendly. But, this option may not be the best for areas prone to earthquakes. That being said, natural gas generators can run for up to 500 hours.
If you’re looking to constantly run your generator for a long period of time, propane and natural gas fuel sources are the most effective. In addition to a generator’s fuel source, however, you’ll also want to consider the model of the generator and its compatibility with your home or workplace.
#2 Generator Model
The model of your generator will affect its power efficiency and should be chosen carefully based on what you’ll be using it for. For example, you may need a low-power generator to supply your home during a 2-hour power outage and a high-power RV generator if you plan to embark on long, off-the-grid camping trips in your RV.
To that end, there are three types of home backup generators typically available to those looking for power sources when off the power grid:
- Whole house or “home standby” generators – Can power your home appliances, keep the lights on, charge your devices, and more during a power outage.
- Portable generators – Easy to carry around when you’re camping or working with small tools on a construction site.
- Inverter generators – Work to meet your specific electrical needs, especially when traveling in an RV or boat. Inverter generators commonly use propane, while gasoline works well with portable generators.
#3 Home Size
A home generator converts mechanical energy into enough electricity to meet your power needs. But, how much electricity will you need?
If you’re planning to power multiple appliances, your generator may run for fewer hours than if you were only using it to charge a few devices. As such, when determining how long your generator will run, consider the following:
- The appliances and technology you want to be able to use
- The amount of time you use those appliances per day
- The wattage that each of those appliances would need
Also, consider that a bigger house will require more watts of electricity, which may drain your generator more quickly than if you lived in a smaller house.
Prepare for Power Outages with DuroMax Power Equipment
Bad weather, natural disasters, and power outages are outside our control. But how we choose to handle those situations is. As such, it’s critical that you plan ahead to gauge how long your generator will last during an extended power outage.
For a reliable generator that provides long-lasting backup power in every situation, look to DuroMax Power Equipment. Our generators, which range from 2,300 to 15,000 watts, are portable and feature large fuel tanks and fully-loaded power panels to get you through the night.