How Long Can You Run a Generator Continuously for Different Types?

February 12, 2021 | By Ronny Bell | Filed in: Blogs.

In this world where living without electricity is practically impossible and unimaginable, power outages sometimes still happen. Generators are modern solution that provides power sources for various electronic appliances and devices in times of emergency. However, when these urgent periods last for unpredicted length of time, you may begin to wonder, how long can you run a generator continuously? You may find out about the answers, including for different types of generator below.

What Condition to Run a Generator Continuously?

How Long Can You Run a Generator Continuously

According to the data in 2017, there were more than 3,500 reported cases of power outages in U.S alone. The number keeps decreasing as time goes by, but the number of affected people is increasing, as nearly 18 million people affected in 2016 to more than 36 million during the next year, which shows that it’s a problem that concerns more and more people.

The looming threat of power outages is always presents across the world, especially when the weather starts to become erratic. In U.S, as of 2017, the power outages last 81 minutes in average, but that doesn’t mean in other part of the globe, these events won’t last longer, so it’s necessary to know ‘how long can you run a generator continuously’ if you rely on one.

How Long Is The Average Generator Run Time?

In general, power backup devices are not built to provide extremely lengthy duration of supplying energy. The average generators offer electricity between eight to twelve hours. It’s possible to find generators that are able to last for couple of days, but it’s nearly not possible to keep the machine works for a week.

How Long Can You Run A Diesel Generator Continuously?

Diesel generators are probably the cheapest and most cost-efficient option of generator types. However, still, different models offer different runtime.

Technically, diesel generators can run non-stop if it has fuel. However, it is completely not advised to constantly refilling its tank infinitely. The machine requires break, at minimum 15 minutes, not to mention its needs for maintenance and service.

How Long Can You Run A Natural Gas Generator Continuously?

Natural gas generators mostly used combination between fuel and air to produce power, then utilizes piston to solidify the mixture.

Similar to diesel generator, a natural gas generator is in fact can run as long as it is fed by fuel. In average, it should be fine to run this type for several days.

How Long Can You Run A Portable Generator Continuously?

How long portable generator can run varies widely, depending on the model. The longest time it is able to function is nearly a couple of days.

That being said, portable powers need long breaks, so you need to have different session. Constant running will make the engine collapses due to overheating, even when there’s cooling system.

How Long Can You Run A Dual Fuel Generator Continuously?

Dual fuel generator is capable to run by two different fuel types, which mostly natural gas and diesel. Some models allow you to mix both of these fuels at the same time or use them separately. However, there are also some models that only let the users to interchangeably use the fuel, depending on which one is more efficient.

For generator that uses propane fuel, you have control over the fuel tank, which in results provides extra option to keep it running by constantly supplying the fuel. In theory, it is possible to replace empty tank with fully filled one, so closing the possibility of fuel being run out.

However, the limit of how long can you run a generator continuously lays in its engine’s oil. The oil normally will wear out after maximum 200 runtime. Majority of modern generators also have auto shut-off feature when the oil starts to give out.

How Long Can You Run A Solar Generator Continuously?

How long can you run a generator continuously for solar type depends entirely on the battery capacity, its charge, and load. Similar to other categories, its battery runs out faster when it is being connected to more appliances.

Having powerful solar generator doesn’t exactly result in longer runtime, because it depends on its load as well. For instance, solar generator with 500W may maintain LED light to run for a hundred of hours, but it may not capable to run small refrigerator for more than ten hours.

What Needs to Be Considered to Run A Generator Continuously?

There are several factors that can affect ‘how long can you run a generator continuously’. Here are three of the most important factors to be considered:

1. Size

Amongst the primary factors that determine the runtime of generator is the size. The larger the generator, the larger its fuel tank, and vice versa. It means that larger generator has capability to deliver more power for longer time.

2. Stress

The more issue can potentially show up when you apply more stress into the generator. Applied stress also affect the machine’s life cycle, which may lead into several other issues such as overheating.

The majority of generator models will slowly breaks down once it puts into twenty-hours of constant hours – even more so if it’s done several times. They will need break in order to not wear off in short time.

3. Coverage area

This mostly applies for generator that’s used to power a building. Surely, smaller generator will have a hard time to supply power for huge space. It might be possible at some points, but then the runtime is probably going to be very short.

Generators are designed and built to provide electricity power in needed times, such as at times of power failure. However, it needs to be noted that they are merely there for backup sources – thus should not be used to replace the primary utility power sources. They are only a temporary alternative.

As a matter of fact, there is no simple question over the question of ‘how long can you run a generator continuously’. Aside from the technical specification, it also depends on how the device is maintained and being taken care of.


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