How Long Can a Normal Generator Actually Run For?

Looking for a new generator or just not sure how long a generator can run for? Well, it's time to learn new things about generators.

Generators are one of the best answers to our reliance on electricity in today’s technologically driven world.

However despite their excellent convenience and practicality, generators have their limitations, and many people have concerns about how long they can run for, and how reliable the power they provide is.

There are many factors that can affect how long a generator can last, and in this guide, we’re going to look at the various types of generators and how long they can run for, as well as other factors which can impact generator run time from fuel type, to wattage and the amount of power being drawn to help give you a better idea of how much power your generator can provide you with.

How long does a generator last for?

For those of you who are in a rush and need a rough idea of the longevity of your generator, we’re going to give a quick rundown of each generator type and its duration here.

Be warned however that there are many factors that can make a generator run for longer or shorter periods of time, and we won’t be able to account for all of these factors in this quick estimation.

Gas generators

Gasoline generators can typically run for around 16 hours, however, this can, of course, vary depending on the size of the generator as well as the fuel tank and amount of power being drawn from it which can all change the duration quite significantly.

What’s more, gasoline generators shouldn’t be refueling while they’re running, so you should avoid running it down too low and make sure you turn it off if you can, to allow for refueling and avoiding overloading as well as overheating.

Propane generators

For propane generators, they can last anywhere up to 150 or even 200 hours depending on factors such as supply, power draw, and wattage, so again, there are many variables that can affect the actual run time, but this is clearly significant and much more than the average gas generator.

Keeping things safe

There are also a ton of factors that can affect how safe it is for you to run your generator for an extended period of time, and some of these are important to know to prevent potentially dangerous situations such as fires, as well as breaking your generator.

Keeping the generator cool is an important aspect of extending its runtime and ensuring it lasts well, so don’t run it unnecessarily and allow it to cool if you can. Don’t position it near sources of heat and allow it access to air if you can.

Also, ensure that there is enough oil in the generator, as extended use can lead to oil shortages which can be catastrophic for the generator and leave it damaged or ruined entirely, and this can not only cut your run time short but make it so that your generator is permanently damaged or compromised reducing future capacity and run time.

Most good generators will use an oil warning light or some other way to warn you of an oil shortage before it becomes dangerous.

Fuel storage is also an important factor for both safety and how long you can run your generator.

Keep your fuel well away from heat sources and don’t refuel your generator while it’s running to avoid dangerous situations such as fire or even explosion.

Propane generators are safe to refuel while running if needs be, but it’s still good policy to refuel when powered down if you’re able to.

Exterior temperatures can also play a role in how safe it is to run your generator for an extended period, and in warmer weather conditions this makes running the generator much more taxing.

Standby generators

Standby generators are the more expensive and permanent generators preferred for home use in emergency situations and are designed to provide backup power during outages.

These generators can come in a range of sizes and use different fuels, but they are often designed to run continuously as long as they have enough fuel.

Diesel versions are limited by the gas tank and can run for up to 72 hours, while some natural gas generators are connected to the home gas supply and can theoretically run indefinitely as long as the home gas supply remains steady and uninterrupted which is the ideal choice for people who want maximum peace of mind and confidence in their backup power supply.

Solar generators

Solar generators are much weaker and unreliable than other types of generators but they can provide a great renewable source of energy for people who are off the grid or interested in green living.

These systems can run for a certain period of time depending largely on the amount of power being drawn. 

Generally, however, they are quite weak and won’t last as long as gas, propane, or other generators with these fuel types.

If you’re all in on a solar generator, here are the 10 best solar generators.

Can generators be used in wet weather?

Whether you’re camping or your generator needs the ventilation of the outdoors, it’s quite common for generators to be used outside.

However, most generators shouldn’t be used outdoors during wet weather conditions such as rain, sleet, or snow, as electricity is always dangerous when near water, and even a generator can generate enough electricity for this to be a no-go situation.

Speaking of generators, you might be interested in another article I wrote on tent heaters and how they can keep your tent toasty.

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Jakob Staudal

I love to spend time outside and reconnect with nature every now and then and cut-off all the noise from social media and everyday life.