How Long Can You Run A Generator Continuously?

How can you check the generator capacity for running continuously? Let me help you with this.

Generators are great power backup and have different uses. They are useful for lighting your camping trips and providing electrical energy to your outdoor party and powering your home during power outages and blackouts, they help with medical devices also.

Most of the time, you need to use it for a short time. But in extended power outages during extreme weather, and disasters, you may need to push a generator to its limits.

Here arises the question , how long can you run a generator continuously before you run into trouble?

There a number of factors come into play, mainly the size of your generator, the brand and the fuel source. Let’s Explore

Portable Generator with Gasoline

If you’re running a portable generator on gasoline, you will need to stop it time by time instead of running it continuously.

Tip: In gas generators, never add the fuel while the engine is on or running. It seems easy to add gas but by doing this you can cause massive fire or an explosion.

When your generator is running it can be very hot, and it is a risk if a small spill or even fumes could start a small fire that quickly spreads to the fuel tank in the generator or the tank that you are using for refueling. It could be Dangerous.

Best advice: turn off your generator for 5 to 10 minutes before adding more fuel.

With gasoline generators, you cannot really run it continuously beyond the standard runtime. Most gasoline generators can run 6 to 12 hours depending on the size and brand and the power you are using from the generator.

Tip: Some generator options run longer than the others.

Portable Generators With Propane

If you are using the generator with propane, it uses the fuel tank, it offers some additional options for keeping your generator fueled continuously.

The best and simplest way to extend the runtime of generators using propane is to hook up two or more propane tanks to a single gas line via changeover regulator or the stopcock valve. 

By this, you can turn on the flow from one propane tank and leave the other closed. When the time comes to switch the propane tank, you can simply open the stopcock valve.

In this scenario, you can actually replace the empty or depleted propane tank with the fresh tank so you can never run out of fuel.

Now the question arises here that, How long can your generator use the endless supply of propane?

Many portable generators need maintenance every 100 hours, but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. The thing that truly limits you is the oil in your generator’s engine. The oil normally runs low after 150-200 hours of use, now some modern generators automatically shut off when oil runs low in order to protect the engine.

Always remember and make sure that heat build-up is also an important consideration when running the generator beyond its runtime. Generators can handle some marginal amount of heat in a circle of 12 to 24 hours, once you go beyond the limit of the continuous per day, you may be causing the risk for your generator to permanently damage the engine.

If you are running the generator in warm and hot weather, consider packing it with ice and using a fan in front of the generator to try to cool its engine down as much as possible.

Tip: Always keep in mind that running your generator at high wattages can generate more heat and more chances to permanently damage your generator.

So, if you manage your generator properly. You can surely run it continuously on propane for as long as 150 to 200 hours.

Standby Generators

To run power continuously there is the possible option, portable generators are not the best option for you. The best option for you is a standby generator to run power continuously.

These generators are specially designed for extended use. Standby generators have efficient engines that are specially designed for longer time frames. These generators can also run on natural gas lines and via connection to massive 500 or 1,000 gallons of propane storage containers.

Warning: You do note that all standby generators have a recommended limit of continuous use. The average typically moves around 2-3 weeks of non-stop power generation.

However, it is possible to run your standby generators for more than the recommended limit of use. But, doing this can cause permanent damage to you home appliances and wiring and the generator as well.

Pros and cons of the generator

ProsCons
Seamless switching between systems means it is worry freeThey are noisy so check the noise ordinances
The continual flow of power is of particular importance for people who depend on powered, home medical equipmentStandby generators can be costly, especially for ones large enough to run an entire house
Dependable electrical powerThey depend on a fuel supply
The transfer switch acts as a surge protector and prevents back-feeding electricityInstallation requires advanced plumbing and electrical skills
During outage you can continue to use any of your electric appliancesThey need regular maintenance. Your generator is an engine

Conclusion: How Long You Can Run Your Generator?

A portable gasoline generator can run continuously for typically 12-18 hours using a tank of gas but not much longer without stopping.

By using a large propane tank, you will examine that our limiting factor is probably mechanical in nature (typically engine oil). For most of the propane generators it means around 5-8 days.

But a large standby generator connected to a natural gas line can give you around 500 to 600 hours or around 20 to 22 days respectively. 

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