What Fuel for Standby Whole Home Generators?

 A power loss at your home or place of business is never an enjoyable time. It takes us by surprise and cannot only cause an inconvenience but it can also result in loss of money. Without power you may not be able to work. The food in your refrigerator or freezer may spoil. You may not be able to cool or heat your home. So much of our daily life is dependent on electricity. When it does go out many of us are left wondering what to do now? The good news is that in most cases the power loss does not last long and it typically turns back on after an hour or two.

There are instances though where prolonged power loss can occur. It could be that you live in an area that receives frequent hurricanes. Or, you live in a remote area so that when a storm does hit a simple power loss could translate into days without electricity. A few years back my family and I lived on a farm on about twenty acres. It was about an hour south of Kansas City in a very rural area. I loved the tranquility of it all but we were subject to frequent power loss. It could be from the spring storms or the winter’s ice storms. Whatever the reason was when the power did go out it stayed out for many hours and sometimes days.

It was because of this that we began to look at purchasing and installing a standby generator. While portable generators were an option I did not like all the work that went into setting them up. Each and every time your power went out you had to roll out the portable unit, fill it up with fuel, set it up, route the cords, plug everything in, etc. It is and was a big hassle. Standby systems on the other hand automatically flip on the moment the power goes out in your home. You will typically see a flash of the lights as the circuit board switches over from grid power to standby power. That is it. The rest is done for you automatically.

Over the past few weeks I have been writing numerous articles and research pieces on the topic of these standby generators. The hope here is to cover every possible topic there could be on the subject and to provide my readers with information that is not easily found online today. The article below is going to focus on the various types of fuels that can be selected with your standby generator. This is assuming that you are in the market for a standby system and are doing your research before purchasing. Let’s take a look.

Standby Generator Fuel Types

 When it comes to standby generators there are three main fuel types that you can choose from. These are: Diesel, Natural Gas, and Liquid Propane (LP). Each of these fuel types have their own pros and cons. For example, a diesel powered standby generator is going to last the longest. As we all know, diesel vehicles last longer then standard gasoline vehicles. The same rule applies here. A diesel generator is going to last longer then a natural gas or liquid propane model. The downside here is that diesel can be expensive and that the fuel tank can only hold so much. You are limited by the amount of diesel you have on hand. If you have an extended power loss for two, three, or more days then you could run out of diesel and have to arrange a refueling.

Another option to review is natural gas. A natural gas standby generator would be hooked directly up to the natural gas line that is already running into your home. These gas lines are routed from the city and the gas that flows is practically unlimited. As long as the city has the gas to sell then you will have supply. These types of systems are great as you never have to worry about refueling the generator. The downside here is that only some homes have natural gas lines routed to them. Many rural homes do not have this as a viable option. The other downside here is the overall expense of natural gas. In many instances folks can be surprised just how expensive natural gas is. If you go this route then it is best to research the cost of natural gas and to also watch the seasonal pricing trends so that you know what to expect.

The last fuel type to mention is liquid propane, or LP. An LP standby system works similar to how the diesel fuel type does. You will need a fuel tank on hand in order to supply your generator. The main difference here is that liquid propane tanks are very common when it comes to rural living. When I lived out in the country we had a dedicated propane tank for our furnace, gas oven, and water heater. It gave us all the heat we needed and we only had to fill it up once a year in August. The downside of LP is that you are again reliant on your fuel supply. If you run out of fuel then your generator cannot run.


In my opinion folks there is not one fuel type that is better over the others. They each have their own benefits and drawbacks. In the end they are all going to accomplish the same thing: Providing you and your family with power. If I had to pick out of these three choices then I would opt for the liquid propane. This may be because of my rural background but in most cases rural homes already have a liquid propane tank on the property. It could be used for furnace heat, oven, or even your water heater. Your generator can use this same existing fuel tank. Or, if you wanted to you could purchase a separate tank just for the generator.

As I said before, natural gas is a great option as you have that unlimited supply coming in from the city/county. The downside of this is that you are dependent on the city. If there truly is a natural disaster then can you rely on the city’s gas lines? With liquid propane you have your tanks filled up for the season and you are good to go. The only risk you have here is that you run out but if you have a large enough tank you should be just fine. This is why I recommend purchasing a separate liquid propane tank so that you can have one tank specifically dedicated to the generator without worry of your other appliances leeching off of it.

Ultimately though, the choice is yours. I do hope though that this article was able to inform and educate you on the various options so that you can make the correct decision.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson


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