It’s difficult to answer as it depends on many factors, such as whether the generator is being used at full load or no load (resting), whether it has any “vibration” type damage, and other considerations too complicated to list here. However, for typical generators, as a general rule, running them at no load (resting) for 2 – 5 hours per week will likely result in 10-15 years of usage.
Whether you have an inverter generator or not is also worth considering, as inverter generators tend to be much more efficient and can run longer than their non-inverter counterparts. For example, suppose you run a non-inverter generator for five hours per week at 50% no load. In that case, it’s likely to last around 5 years, while an inverter generator running for the same amount of time is likely to last closer to 10 years, or even longer.
How long can a generator run?
A generator can run for hours and hours, depending on the fuel type (gasoline or diesel) and the size of the generator.
Typical hours per tank/fillup include:
10 hrs running time with a 40-gallon gasoline tank (5 hours full-load + 5 hours light load)
8hrs using a small 5-gallon generator with a full tank of gas (ideal for power outages)
If you use a larger gasoline-powered portable generator, they can run longer than these hours, but “it depends” on what the generator is being used for.
For example, how much fuel it will burn per hour. On average, a 15 kVA generator working at 60% load will use about 4 gallons (15.4 liters) of fuel per hour or 32 gallons per 8-hour day.
What affects the cost of fuel?
Fuel is a commodity that comes in many forms and will vary from region to region. You may have to pay more if you own a portable generator that requires premium gasoline or diesel. If your generator has an electric start, it will also require additional batteries. And if you are forced to use your portable generator for a long period, you can expect the cost of fuel to add up quickly. For example:
A portable generator that runs on gasoline and uses 1 gallon of gas per hour costs $4 per gallon or $16 per day. If it runs at full capacity non-stop for 3 days, that’s $48 in fuel alone. It can easily cost over $200 per month if you use the generator for 8 hours a day non-stop.
The best way to keep your fuel costs down is to carefully monitor the amount of power you’re consuming. If you have a device that uses 1 watt and runs for 4 hours straight, you will be using 400 watts of power. Multiply that by the cost of one kilowatt-hour and your fuel costs for the day are running at $0.07 per hour, about $8.70 per day or over $73 a month if it runs full time.
Can you run a generator overnight?
The short answer is yes. This shouldn’t present any problems if it’s installed properly and you maintain the generator regularly.
Even if your portable generator lacks an automatic low-oil shut-off system, you should be able to sleep easy knowing that most engines have a separate dipstick near the engine’s base for oil. To keep your generator running for years, check the oil levels as often as possible.
Best place to put a generator?
The outdoors is generally the best place for your generator. It should be protected from strong winds, excessive heat and direct sunlight. If you plan to store it outside, you must keep it covered when not in use. Also, remember that if it’s going to rain or snow, you’ll need to move your generator into a safe location so that dust and water don’t create problems for the engine.
When you do store your generator indoors, it’s a good idea to place it on a cement floor or dig a hole in the ground so that moisture doesn’t seep into the engine as easily. Avoid carpeted floors that can insulate heat from escaping since this will cause the engine to overheat.
If you plan on using your portable generator for power outages, it’s important to consider the fuel costs as well as the operating hours. Purchasing a bigger and more powerful unit will cost you more fuel even if it uses less electricity per hour.
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