How To Choose The Right Fuel for Generators

October 19, 2023

Selecting the appropriate fuel for your generator is a critical decision that impacts its efficiency, reliability, and overall performance. Since their inception, generators have played a pivotal role in powering various applications, evolving from early models that used rudimentary fuels to today's sophisticated options. The history of generator fuel highlights its central role in harnessing power for countless industries. In this guide, we'll delve into essential considerations that aid in determining the optimal fuel type for your generator, ensuring seamless operations and prolonged lifespan.

fuel for generators

How To Choose The Right Fuel For Generators - Important Things That You Should Know

Generators have been vital for powering various applications since their invention in the 19th century. Choosing the right fuel is crucial for their efficiency and longevity. Common fuel types include gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane, and biodiesel. Factors like cost, availability, storage, emissions, and power output influence the choice. Gasoline is convenient but less efficient for long-term use. Diesel offers better fuel efficiency and longer shelf life. Natural gas is cleaner but requires a constant supply. Propane is portable and clean-burning. Biodiesel is renewable but less common. Opting for the best fuel type ensures optimal generator performance and reliability.

What Is Generator Fuel? 

A generator fuel is a combustible substance used to power generators, which are devices that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. These fuels can include gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane, and more. When the fuel is burned within the generator's engine, it produces high-temperature gases that expand rapidly, driving the engine's piston and turning the generator's rotor. This motion generates electrical energy through electromagnetic induction. The choice of fuel impacts factors like efficiency, emissions, and maintenance. Different fuel types have varying energy densities and combustion characteristics, influencing the generator's overall performance. Considerations like availability, cost, and environmental impact guide the selection of the most suitable fuel type for a specific generator application.

What Fuel Does A Generator Use? 

Generators can utilize various types of fuel to operate efficiently. Common options include gasoline, which is easy to find but less efficient for long-term use; diesel, known for its efficiency and durability; natural gas, offering cleaner combustion; propane, a portable and clean-burning choice; and biodiesel, a renewable alternative. The choice of fuel depends on factors like the generator's intended use, availability of fuel, cost, and environmental considerations. Each fuel type has its advantages and drawbacks, influencing the generator's performance and overall efficiency.

Types of Generator Fuel 

Generators rely on various fuel types to function efficiently and provide backup power during outages. Common generator fuel types include:

1. Gasoline

Gasoline, a widely used generator fuel, finds applications in various industries and is commonly used in portable generators. It's easily accessible at gas stations and can be ordered online through services. Its convenience makes it suitable for short-term power needs, but it may not be as efficient for prolonged use due to its lower energy density. Gasoline-powered generators are often utilized for recreational activities, residential backup power, and small-scale events.

2. Diesel

Diesel fuel is prevalent in larger generators used for backup power in commercial and industrial settings. It's known for its efficiency and durability. You can find diesel at fuel stations or arrange for delivery. Diesel generators are commonly employed in industries requiring sustained power, such as construction, healthcare, and manufacturing.

generator fuel delivery

3. Propane

Propane, a clean-burning and portable fuel, is often chosen for its convenience and reduced emissions. It's used in generators for various applications, including residential backup power, outdoor events, and recreational vehicles. Propane can be obtained from local propane suppliers and is available in refillable tanks. Propane-powered generators are popular for their ease of use and environmental friendliness.

 4. Natural Gas

Natural gas is commonly employed in stationary generators for continuous power supply, especially in buildings and facilities connected to natural gas lines. It's a clean-burning fuel that reduces emissions. Natural gas can be accessed through utility providers and is ideal for critical operations that require seamless power, like hospitals, data centers, and commercial spaces. Natural gas generators provide reliable performance and are favored for their low environmental impact.

types of generator fuel

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Each Generator Fuel Type? 

Generator FuelProsCons
GasolineEasy availability, suitable for portable generatorsLower energy density, not ideal for prolonged use
DieselHigh efficiency, durable, suitable for larger generatorsLower energy content may require tank refills
PropaneClean-burning, portable, reduced emissionsLower energy content, may require tank refills
Natural GasClean combustion, continuous supplyRequires gas lines, may be impacted by outages

How To Choose The Right & Best Fuel For Your Generator? 

To select the ideal fuel for your generator, consider factors like intended use, availability, efficiency, and environmental impact. Determine whether portability or stationary power is required. Assess the local availability of different fuel types and their costs. Consider the generator's energy efficiency and emissions. Factor in any long-term storage needs. By weighing these considerations, you can make an informed decision to choose the right and best fuel that aligns with your specific power requirements and values.

Factors You Need To Consider

The following are the factors that you must consider.

Shelf Life

Shelf life refers to the duration that a fuel can be stored before its quality degrades. It's crucial to consider when choosing a generator fuel type because some fuels, like gasoline, have shorter shelf lives, making them less suitable for long-term storage. For generators used infrequently, fuels with longer shelf lives, like diesel or propane, are preferable, as they maintain their integrity over time.


Safety is paramount when selecting a generator fuel type. It involves assessing the fuel's flammability, toxicity, and potential hazards during storage and usage. Prioritize fuels that are safe to handle, store, and transport, minimizing the risk of accidents or environmental harm.


Storage pertains to the conditions and containers needed to house the chosen fuel type. Different fuels require specific storage methods to maintain their quality and prevent contamination. Proper storage practices ensure that the fuel remains usable when needed, reducing the likelihood of generator malfunctions.


Availability considers how easily fuel can be obtained in your location. Having access to the chosen fuel type ensures uninterrupted generator operation. Services like fuel logic can aid in maintaining a constant fuel supply, which is crucial during emergencies.


Delivery options are important, especially for larger quantities of fuel.  Fuel logic is an example of a convenient solution. Reliable fuel delivery ensures a continuous fuel supply without the need for frequent trips to fuel stations.


Cost considerations involve both the upfront price of the fuel and any associated costs, such as storage equipment and delivery services. Balancing cost with other factors is crucial to determining the most economical choice for your specific needs.


Portability refers to the ease of moving the fuel and the generator. For mobile applications or locations without fixed fuel sources, choosing a fuel type that is easily transportable, like gasoline or propane, can be advantageous.


Sustainability involves evaluating the environmental impact of the chosen fuel type. Opting for cleaner-burning and renewable fuels aligns with sustainability goals and reduces carbon emissions, making it an important consideration for environmentally conscious choices.

Other Things You Need To Know About Generators 

Following are the things that you must know before purchasing a generator. 

How Much Does It Cost To Run A Generator? 

The cost of running a generator depends on various factors, including the generator's fuel type, its efficiency, and the local cost of fuel. Gasoline-powered generators typically have higher operating costs due to the fuel's lower energy density. Diesel generators are more fuel-efficient but may have higher upfront costs. Propane and natural gas generators offer competitive operating costs and cleaner combustion. The overall cost varies based on the fuel price, generator size, and runtime. Efficient fuel management and considering factors like maintenance and storage contribute to determining the actual cost of running a generator.

What Is The Safest Fuel For A Generator?

When it comes to safety, diesel stands out as the preferred fuel for generators. Its lower risk of ignition compared to gasoline makes it safer to store and handle, reducing the likelihood of accidents. Additionally, diesel has a longer shelf life, ensuring a steady and reliable fuel supply over time.

However, diesel generators tend to be louder and produce more emissions than natural gas or propane alternatives. To maintain optimal performance and prevent issues like "wet stacking," it's important to operate diesel generators at around 80% of their capacity. Despite these considerations, diesel remains a top choice for those prioritizing safety and reliability in generator fuel selection. You can consider Fuel Logic's fuel delivery service to avoid all these potential issues with an ongoing generator fueling service.

What is the Most Efficient Fuel for a Generator?

Diesel has emerged as the most efficient fuel for generators for a number of reasons. Diesel generators are renowned for their efficiency and low maintenance requirements compared to other fuel types. They typically offer more horsepower per gallon of fuel than gas-powered generators, making them a preferred choice for many applications. Moreover, diesel generators can operate for extended periods without maintenance, adding to their appeal to users seeking reliability.

While diesel generators are generally more durable than their gas counterparts, irregular operation may increase the likelihood of breakdowns. Despite being more expensive initially, diesel generators are often preferred due to their efficiency and reliability over time.

Diesel is considered safer to store than gasoline, requiring higher temperatures for ignition and boasting a longer shelf life. Diesel fuel's efficiency is also noteworthy, providing a much higher rate per gallon, making it an efficient choice for powering generators, particularly in scenarios where prolonged operation is required.

How Do You Refill A Generator?

To refill a generator, follow these steps:

1. Turn off the generator and let it cool.

2. If applicable, disconnect the power source.

3. Identify the fuel type and the generator's fuel tank location.

4. Open the fuel tank cap carefully to release pressure.

5. Pour the chosen fuel into the tank, avoiding spills.

6. Close the tank cap securely.

7. Wipe off any spilled fuel.

8. Restart the generator and check for leaks.

How Can I Make My Generator Last?

To ensure the longevity of your generator:

- Choose the appropriate fuel type and ensure a clean fuel source.

- Perform regular maintenance, including oil changes and filter replacements.

- Store the generator in a dry, clean, and well-ventilated area.

- Keep the area around the generator clear to prevent overheating.

- Operate the generator at its recommended load capacity.

- Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for usage, maintenance, and storage.

- Consider professional servicing for optimal performance.

Ensuring Generator Reliability: Choosing the Right Fuel and Taking Action

In conclusion, selecting the right fuel for your generator is a critical decision that impacts its performance, safety, and longevity. Assess factors such as fuel shelf life, safety considerations, storage options, availability, and sustainability. By making an informed choice and following proper maintenance practices, you can ensure a reliable power source and extend the lifespan of your generator. To keep your generator fueled and ready, take action with Fuel logic.

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