How Long Do Generators Last?

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Stationary generators are built to handle a life exposed to the elements, and as they don’t have to deal with the rigors of travel or dangerous environments, they stand to last quite a bit longer than portable units.

As these generators are used in emergency situations to keep essential appliances alive and kicking, companies are obliged to make sure they’re as reliable as possible, which no doubt bolsters their service life too.

How Long Do Generators Last?

With figures provided by the folks over at Generac, we can estimate that a standby generator will last for around 3000 hours of runtime.

This is based on an average annual usage of 91 hours, 11 of which are made up of self tests. The rest are made up of four hypothetical 20-hour power outages.

With this in mind, a stationary standby generator should last for about 33 years, which is really quite astounding, and considering four full day outages a year is very unlikely, an even longer service life isn’t completely beyond the realms of reality.

However, this is based on Generac technology, which, according to Generac, has the potential to last three times longer than a lot of the competition.

So, let’s conclude that a high quality, modern standby generator will last for 33 years when well looked after, while a lesser quality unit may have run its course shortly after a decade of service.

Though, depending on how well you take care of it and the number of outages it faces, you might get 15 years out of a lesser quality unit.

How To Improve The Service Life Of Your Generator

Consider the following points if you want to squeeze as much life out of your generator as possible!

Monthly Maintenance

Monthly maintenance should be carried out by you and include a lot more than simply changing the oil.

It’s essential to remove as much dust and condensation from the critical components of your generator.

You’ll need to replace the filters at least every few months and remove the moisture from the fuel tank.

If you know a little bit about the anatomy of a generator, you may also be able to identify faulty parts and switch them out yourself, but don’t worry if not, as these will be picked up during a professional examination.

Yearly Maintenance

This is where you’ll contact a professional engineer and have them assess the state of your generator, something I’d consider particularly important for backup units, as you don’t want to be left in the lurch when the grid leaves you in the dark.

If there’s anything amiss with your generator, they’ll make short work of the diagnosis and work on finding any necessary part replacements for you.

Proper Storage

Providing portable generators a safe, dry, cool spot with excellent ventilation is an absolute must when they’re not in use, and if they have to stay outside, you should at least invest in a suitable cover.

You can also provide stationary standby generators some form of shelter in the way of a free-standing canopy or a model-specific cover.

Lighten The Load

Whenever possible, you should ease up on your generator and unplug a few appliances, especially if your model has variable RPM.

However, if you’d rather not have to sacrifice any of your home comforts during a blackout, it’s worth selecting a generator with some serious headroom.

The general idea here is that you don’t want your generator to be going hell for leather every time you use it, as this puts an awful lot of strain on the components.

It’s a much better idea to spend a little more money for extra capacity that you never or rarely use, as your generator will last a lot longer.

Empty The Tank

If you leave fuel to stagnate in your generator, you’ll be dealing with some pretty nasty buildup, symptoms of which include starting issues and fast-tracked component deterioration, so it’s essential that you drain the tank after each use.

Some generators have special modes designed to run until empty, but even if yours does not, you’ll need to burn off that excess fuel sloshing around in the tank.

Monitor Output

An easy way to keep tabs on the state of your generator even if you know zero about how it all works is to simply monitor its performance.

If you notice the output starting to dip, there’s a good chance that something’s not quite right. In this instance, it’s best to schedule your annual service sooner rather than later.

When Should I Replace My Generator?

We’ve discussed how to keep your generator generatin’ for as long as possible, but no matter how well you look after your generator, it will die a death eventually, so let’s discuss when it’s the right time to say goodbye.

Significant Rust

Generator got a case of the rusties?

This is usually a sign that you haven’t been keeping on top of monthly maintenance, and if it’s widespread, it’s only a matter of time before it’ll become unreliable… if it works at all.

Yearly Maintenance Becomes Twice Or Thrice Monthly Maintenance

If you’re having to call out for repairs more than once or twice a year, it’s not looking good.

At a certain point, you’ll be spending so much money on repairs that you might as well put the cash towards an entirely new generator.

Obsolete Technology

After a certain amount of time, it’s very possible that the manufacturer will resign your model to the annals of history and move on to bigger, better things.

In this instance, an upgrade might be worthwhile, as you’ll then qualify for full support from the manufacturer moving forward.

Environmental Concerns

The laws surrounding pollution are constantly in flux, meaning a generator might be deemed ecologically safe upon purchase, but a few years down the line, be considered a hazard.

The only option here is to invest in a more eco-friendly unit.

Final Thoughts

It’s impossible to say exactly how long any one generator will last, as there are just too many contributing factors, but, although it seems like a chore, we should all be thankful that we, the owners, have such a huge impact on the service life of generators.

It puts things in our control, allowing us to get hands-on and make the most of our investment.

Take care of your generator and it will take care of you!