Sometimes, we need our generators for more extended periods. Overnight, a few days, sometimes continuously without turning it off.
Whether you are using your generator during a power outage, a camping trip, or an outdoor party, it's essential to know how long a generator can safely run.
As there are a few different types of generators, we will look at a few to ensure no generator is left out!
Portable Generator with Propane
Propane generators offer a few options to keep them continuously fueled. The easiest way to extend your generator’s run time is to hook two propane tanks to a single gas line.
You can do this with a stopcock valve or changeover regulator to turn the flow from one propane tank, leaving the other closed. It is easy to switch the tanks thanks to twisting the stopcock valve.
Once one tank is empty, you can swap it out with a fresh tank, ensuring that you never run out of fuel. Now that we have created an endless supply of fuel, how long should you run the generator for?
Generally speaking, portable generators need maintenance every 100 hours of use, but some leeway with this depending on your generator. The real limit of your generator will be the oil levels in the engine.
Typically, your oil will run low after 150-200 hours of use. These days, modern generators have an auto shut-off function to ensure your safety and protect against damage to the generator.
Another factor to consider when running your portable propane generator is the heat of the generator. Generally, a generator will not overheat when it’s run occasionally. Anything over 24 hours can risk heat in the engine, which can cause damage to your generator.
Generators used in warm weather can suffer heat damage quicker. A quick trick to avoid this is to use ice and a fan to keep the engine e as cool as possible. Larger generators with higher wattages generate more heat, so be aware of this also.
Your propane portable generator can continuously run for anywhere between 150 and 200 hours before you need to carry out any maintenance on the generator.
If you need to run a generator for longer, standby generators can be a better option for you. Compared to portable generators, standby generators are larger and efficient, designed with long-term use in mind.
Standby generators can also operate on natural gas lines or connect to larger propane tanks, ranging from 500-1000 gallons. Depending on the generator you have, it is recommended to limit your generator to 500 hours of use. That’s roughly three weeks of continuous use!
Standby generators tend to be more costly than their portable counterparts and usually more expensive to run also. When using the generator continuously, be sure to consider the added cost of this to avoid any nasty surprises when your gas bill arrives!
You can run your generator for longer, but some risks could damage your generator’s engine and any appliances you may have plugged into it.
Things to consider
When running your generator for extended periods of time, you will have to consider a few factors to ensure it runs safely.
As we mentioned earlier, if your generator runs on propane fuel, you will need to ensure you have enough fuel for your use time. Additional tanks can be helpful to do that.
Those running on propane fuel generators will need to be mindful of the oil levels, as your generator can only last as long as your oil levels remain at a reasonable level. Those whose generators have auto-shutoff features when their oil levels are low will need to be extra mindful of this.
Keeping an eye on the heat of your generator and its engine is another crucial factor. You will need to keep the heat down to ensure that it does not overheat. Ice and fans can help control this, and you will need to be mindful of any auto-shutoff features on your generator.
It is also important to remember that while generators are handy to power your home, devices, or traveling purposes, they are not meant for sustained use. They are designed as backup power in emergencies, and over time will start to break down if used continuously.
If it is not needed to continuously run your generator, we would recommend turning the generator off and letting the engine cool down completely. You can then carry out any maintenance before turning the generator on again. Generally speaking, this will allow your generator to run for longer with better performance rates.
Remember that if you run into any difficulties, check your generator’s warranty or contact the manufacturer for further support. Generators typically come with a two-three year warranty, after this point a generator can start to show its age and is often due for an upgrade.
Keep in mind that continuous use without the proper maintenance will shorten its life and sometimes even void your warranty! Be sure to study the warranty carefully before running your generator to ensure it remains in place at all times.
When it comes to running your generator for continuous use, there are a few factors you will need to consider. Keeping in mind the running cost, maintenance, and time you can safely run your generator is essential before you power the generator.
Those with small portable generators should get a continuous run time of up to 200 hours depending on their tanks’ oil levels and their access to fuel. Regular maintenance is required to avoid overheating and damage to the generator.
Those with larger standby generators can see continuous use for up to 500 hours, or 21 days, depending on access to natural gas lines and the generator’s maintenance. Whichever generator you have, be sure it is properly cared for to ensure longevity.