Standby Power: Evaluating Generator Fuel

There are several considerations for choosing a standby generator, one of which is generator fuel. The type of fuel a generator uses determines fuel availability, fuel cost, and duration of emergency power, to name a few. Below, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of six types of generator fuel regarding these and other concerns.


Advantages. The biggest advantage of gasoline is its availability. For portable generators, especially those that routinely move to new locations, gasoline can be the optimal choice.

Disadvantages. Gasoline has at least three disadvantages: it is quickly consumed, has a low shelf life of 12 months, and is highly flammable, which makes it dangerous to store in large, onsite fuel tanks. These characteristics make gasoline a poor choice for industrial emergency power generation.


Advantages. Petroleum diesel offers advantages that gasoline does not, such as low flammability, low purchase price, ability to be safely stored in fuel tanks, and slow consumption. These characteristics make diesel a good fuel choice for stationary industrial generators.

Disadvantages. The drawbacks of diesel include: the need for fuel storage tanks, predisposition of generators to wet stacking when they operate under light loads for long periods of time, and potential for high emissions.

Bio Diesel

Instead of being made from petroleum, Bio diesel is made from natural, renewable energy sources such as vegetable matter.

Advantages. Bio diesel offers the same advantages as petroleum diesel, with the added advantage of cleaner emissions. Bio diesel standby power generators are an excellent choice for buildings located in restricted emission zones.

Disadvantages. With the exception of high admission levels, the disadvantages of bio diesel are the same as petroleum diesel.

Emulsified diesel

Emulsified diesel is diesel that contains a percentage of water and an emulsifying agent that keeps it mixed with the diesel.

Advantages. Emulsified diesel offers the same advantages as petroleum diesel and bio diesel. Emulsified diesel is a good option for standby power generators in buildings located in restricted emission zones.

Disadvantages. With the exception of high emissions, the disadvantages for emulsified diesel are the same as for diesel and bio diesel. Another potential disadvantage is mixing water with diesel if the mixing is done onsite.


Advantages. Propane has several advantages, particularly: long shelf life, low emissions, easy storage, and elimination of wet stacking.

Disadvantages. The main disadvantages of propane are: it can be expensive, hazardous to store due to its pressurized state, and extremely dangerous if it escapes from its fuel line. It should also be mentioned that propane generators are more expensive than diesel generators, and have a shorter life span.

Natural gas

Advantages. Natural gas offers the same advantages as propane, with the added advantage that its supply is limitless when it runs on utility supply.

Disadvantages. Natural gas has many of the disadvantages of propane. It does not entail storage concerns, but it could be discontinued if earthquakes, explosions, falling trees, etc. damage gas lines.

Prime Power has expertise in generator fuel

At Prime Power, we specialize in servicing, repairing, retrofitting, and installing various types of standby power generators, giving us unique insight into which types of fuel and generators work best in certain facilities. To learn more about which fuel option is best for your building, call us today for a free consultation.

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