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How long can a generator run continuously?

woman and child smiling

On average, a standby generator can run for up to 3,000 hours powering a medium-sized home, though it is recommended you do not run a generator for longer than 500 hours continuously.

Two factors affect the amount of time a whole house generator can continue to run:

  1. Generator type
  2. Fuel source

Every generator is different – some are designed to run for days at a time, while others are built to run for only hours at a time. In this article, we’ll explore how fuel and type can affect run time.

Generator types.

The main types of generators are standby and portable generators. These types of generators are designed to help you keep lights on during a power outage, however not all generators can be left running for days at a time.

generator behind house

How long can a standby generator run?

A standby generator is a stationary electricity source designed to provide power to residential or commercial buildings for up to several days depending on its size, fuel source, and brand. Unlike emergency short-term generators, standby generators are made specifically for use in longer-span emergency situations. Standby generators come in various sizes and types.

At its best, this kind of generator can run for up to 3,000 hours powering a medium-sized home.

So, if you average 3 blackouts a year and use your generator for about 30 hours per blackout and add the time you run it for maintenance, your generator could last up to 50 years.

How long can portable generators run?

Portable generators can run up to 2,000 total hours. Unlike standby generators, portable generators are designed to run for shorter increments of time – typically about 6-18 hours. These machines will come in handy for RVs on camping trips or to power certain home appliances in an emergency but are not recommended for use during long-term power outages.

pull starting a generator behind house

Fuel sources affect generator run times.

Theoretically, a generator can continue running as long as it has fuel to do so. However, some fuels might be more difficult to obtain a continuous supply of during a natural disaster or other emergencies. In essence, you can keep your generator running as long as you have access to the fuel needed to run it.

Generators run on the following fuel sources:

  • Propane is the most common source of fuel for generators. Among the fuel sources available, propane has the longest shelf life, so you won’t have to worry about the supply in the generator losing its potency over time.
  • Natural gas generators connect directly to your gas line, so there is no need for a fuel tank, and the device can run continuously if gas lines are operating. During natural disasters, however, these are often impractical, as gas lines are the first to be shut off due to risk of fires or other hazards.
  • Diesel generators can be resourceful, although the amount of diesel is limited to the amount you can access and store in a tank and diesel gas can be prohibitively expensive.

Looking to buy a generator?

Choosing the right generator can be difficult. When comparing portable vs standby generators you might wonder if it’s worth the expense to invest in a standby generator rather than a portable one. Our team of generator experts have all the skills and experience necessary to help you choose the right generator for you and your home.

Contact Petro Home Services for a free consultation today!