A generator is a handy machine that comes quite in handy in many ways. You can use it for almost anything requiring power. You can use it to light your camping trip, power your RV tour, power your job tools, or use it during a power emergency. Even though we only need the generator for a few hours, prolonged power outage presents a situation that raises the question; how long can you run a generator continuously?
The answer is a bit complicated considering there various factors that affect how long you can run your generator like the generator type and fuel capacity. Without further ado, let us jump right to the topic.
Portable generators are mostly used in the current time. These are the models used for camping, tailgating, in the RVs, and other outdoor functions. Other people use them for home backup power for the essentials and sump pump. What’s more, some use them for light outdoor tasks like running a mower, pressure washer, and more. A portable generator either runs on gasoline, propane, or dual fuel. Let’s look at each of these types to know more about how long you can run them.
If you’re using a Gasoline Portable Generator, the amount of time you can run the generator is the most limited. The reason behind this is, you cannot refuel the gasoline tank while the generator is running. Of course, it’s highly tempting, but it’s hazardous and dangerous at the same time.
When a generator runs for some time, it gets hot. When you’re refueling it, gasoline fumes could spark and cause fire or even an explosion when the fuel tank’s fuel burst into flames. That’s why it’s advisable you turn off the generator, allow it to cool down before refueling it.
That means, for a gasoline portable generator, how long you can run, it is limited to the generator’s runtime. That may be anything from a few hours to 15 hours or more, depending on the generator type, size, and the amount of power you’re drawing from it.
If your generator is a portable propane generator, you’re in control of the fuel tank. You can decide to use the smallest, or you can go to the largest. That provides you with an additional option of keeping your generator fueled continuously.
You can decide to extend the generator runtime by selecting to use the most massive propane tank available, use two standard tanks, or use a single gas line through a stopcock valve or using a changeover regulator.
That allows you to seamlessly turn on propane flow on one tank while leaving the other closed. And when it’s time to switch the propane tanks, all you need is twist the stopcock valve. In this case, it’s easier to replace the depleted tank with a full tank; that way to never run out of fuel.
Assuming you have a continuous flow of propane, how long can you run a generator continuously?
Most of the generator demand maintenance after every 100-hours that isn’t what sets the limit. The thing that genuinely limits how long you can run your propane generator, in this case, is the amount of engine oil in your generator. Typically, the engine oil runs low after 150 to 200 hours of use. Most of the modern generators automatically shut down when the oil level goes below the protective capacity.
Another thing that might limit how long you run your propane generator is the heat built up when the generator runs beyond its runtime. In most cases, generators may build up a bearable amount of heat when it runs for over 12-24 hours. However, when this goes beyond a day, you’re putting your generator at risk of building up to intolerable heat that permanently damages it.
If the generator is running in warm weather, you should use a fan and try to cool the engine down as much as possible. It would be best if you also remembered operating your generator at a higher wattage to generate heat that can become unbearable. If you can manage your propane generator right, you can continuously run your generator for around 150 and 200 hours. The same applies to dual fuel portable generators.
If you need a generator that runs beyond its run time or the 150-200 hours, the generator you might be wanting to use is a standby generator. It’s more capable of running for a few days without any runtime limitation.
What’s more, standby generators come with a robust and more efficient motor specifically designed to handle heavy-duty and long-term usage. And you know what, these generators are designed to operate on those continuous-flow natural gas or a massive propane tank. There even those that use huge diesel tanks for an uninterrupted run.
However, most manufacturers recommend running standby generators for around 500 hours continuously, depending on the model. Of course, you can potentially carry on for more hours, but you will be risking your generator to permanent damage or accelerate your engine wear and tear.
How Long Can You Run A Generator Continuously?
If you’re using a portable gasoline generator, your limitation would be the runtime of your generator. That depends on the fuel tank’s capacity and the amount of power you’re drawing from it. It’s usually more than a few hours but less than a day.
If you have a portable generator that runs on an unlimited propane supply, your limitation would be the engine oil life and the maintenance hours. That allows you around 200 hours of continuous run or eight straight days. However, this is to be monitored for any heat buildup.
If your generator is a standby unit running on a continuous flow of natural gas or a massive propane or diesel tank, you have up to 500 hours or preferably 21 days of runtime. That is when you need to service the generator.
Remember, whenever you run your generator continuously for an extended period, you should monitor it. The generator might be made to deliver backup up power that can handle no so much abuse; with time, it’ll start to break down.
Unless it’s necessary to run your generator continuously, you should avoid it. It’s ideal to allow the engine to cool down and give you time to perform the required maintenance before using it again.
There are so many variables working across a generator’s usage continuously, and that’s why answering this question is a bit trickier. You have to keep in mind the type, size, and the stress level your generator can handle and the overall usage. One specific thing about this topic is, you must never run your generator for too long without giving it a break. It’s even best to provide it with a break; even machines enjoy rest.