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Whether you are going on a camping trip or want a backup power supply in case of blackouts, it’s important to make sure that you know how long you can expect your generator to last. The answer might not be as simple as you expect. This will often depend on the type of generator that you have. Let’s look at some of the varieties and examine how each one performs.


Gasoline or Diesel-Powered

Let’s start by talking about the most common type of generator. Gas and diesel generators have earned a reputation for being easy to use, with fuel being readily available. Plus, they are known for their reliability.

There are plenty of models available, ranging from a compact 1,000-watt system to a more powerful 12,000-watt generator. This can make finding exactly how long the generator will last. On the lower end, you can expect the generator to last for around six hours. On the upper end, they can last for 12 hours on a single tank. The most fuel-efficient generators will last for around 18 hours.

The good news about a gas generator is that, as long as you keep the fuel tank topped up, they should run for days without any problems. Just remember to give them a few minutes to cool off before you try to add fuel. If you open the cap too soon, there is a risk that you will hurt yourself. This article has some other tips to help keep your generator in good condition.


Propane Generators

Propane generators work by burning gas, which is provided by a propane tank that is attached to the generator. Because of this, how long the generator will last will depend on the size of the tank that you are using. For example, if you are using a 20-pound tank you can expect the generator to last for between four to eight hours. If you want it to last longer, you can use a bigger tank, or link multiple tanks together. This can get you over 100 hours of fuel.

However, even if you have a lot of fuel there is still a limit on how long you can run the tank continuously. This is because you will run out of oil, which will cause the machine to stop working. Generally, you’ll need to refill a propane generator with oil every 100 hours. But it’s best to double-check this with the owner’s manual.


Solar Generators

If you are planning on using the generator for an extended period, you might want to consider using a solar generator. Unlike the other options on this list, there won’t be any need to stop and refuel these devices. All you need is to find a sunny spot, so the panels can add power to the battery. With the right solar and battery combination, you should be able to continue power for years.


Standby Generators

So far, we’ve been focused on smaller portable generators. However, you might want to have a larger standby generator. These are designed to be used in the event of a power failure, keeping the lights on until the electricity company can sort out the problem. Because of this, these models tend to be a lot larger, often producing around 10,000 watts.  They also tend to have more advanced fuel systems. They might be linked to the house gas lines and will often run on either propane or natural gas.

Because you will be able to run them continuously for a long time. You should be able to run them for between three to six days. After this time, you will need to stop and replace the oil.


Size of the Fuel Tank

Of course, the type of generator you are using isn’t the only thing that will determine how long it can run. One of the most important elements is that you will need to consider is how large the fuel tank is. Usually, the larger the generator is, the bigger the tank. You can find the fuel tank capacity in the product description.


Whether it’s Equipped With an Inverter

It’s also important to think about what you are using the generator for. Most models will come with an inverter. This allows the generator to rev down as you decrease the amount of power you require. So, if you only have a light load, like running a few lights or charging phone batteries, your generator should last for a long time.

However, these inverters also have a downside. They will drive up the costs of owning a generator. This article goes into more depth about the pros and cons of inverter generators.


Recommended Run Time

Just because it will be possible to run the generator continuously for hours on end doesn’t mean that it will be a good idea. This is because of something known as heat build-up. Without giving the engine a break, the temperature will continue to rise. This can start to damage the equipment, shortening the lifespan of your generator. The recommended run time is usually around 12 to 24 hours. You can check this in the owner’s manual.


Generator Quality

Finally, it’s important to think about the overall quality of the generator. If you try to run a low-quality generator continuously for hours at a time you will start to run into problems. The parts aren’t equipped to stand up to that kind of pressure.

There are a few things to look for to make sure that you are getting a high-quality generator. First, it’s important to pick something that has metal parts, rather than plastic fittings. It’s also a good idea to look for something that comes with a long warranty period. It’s typical to get a one-year warranty. Though some will come with three or five-year warranties. Finally, you should be reading through reviews to see whether the customers who purchased them had a good experience. To help you with this, check out what the experts had to say about this list of 10000-watt generators.



The last thing you want is for a generator to die unexpectedly, cutting off your electricity when you need it most. The good news is that most generators will be able to run for six hours without any problems. A good generator will be able to run for days, as long as you give it a little downtime to re-fuel and keep an eye on the temperature.