How Long Can You Run a Generator?

A generator is a useful piece of equipment in many situations. Whether you’re dealing with a power outage at home or need electricity at a worksite or campsite, you need a dependable generator to get a reliable source of power. If you’re in a situation where you need continuous power for a long period of time, like a prolonged power outage, you may be pushing your generator to its limits depending on the type of generator you have and the type of fuel you’re using to power it.

There’s a big difference when it comes to the performance of portable generators vs. standby generators. Here’s what you need to know.

Portable generators

Portable generators are small and compact. They’re useful in situations where you need a temporary power source, like on a worksite or campsite. Since they run on petroleum fuel, there’s a limited amount of time for which you can run them—usually for a maximum of 12 hours, depending on fuel tank capacity. Once the generator has run out of fuel, you need to wait for it to cool down before refueling.

In other words, there will inevitably be some downtime if you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with an extended power outage. It’s often a hassle to replenish the fuel in a portable generator, and they usually have exposed engine parts that can get very hot. You always need to exercise caution when using a portable generator.

Standby generators

The main difference between portable generators vs. standby generators is that the latter option is installed professionally in advance of power outages. Standby generators are a permanent solution to power outages. They’re much safer than portable generators, since they require no hands-on operation—they simply power on automatically and run on natural gas or propane when the primary power source shuts off.

Standby generators can power critical and sophisticated appliances in homes and businesses. Unlike portable generators, which cannot power features like HVAC, security systems and other items that are hardwired in, a standby generator has the capability to power lighting, HVAC, refrigerators, sump pumps, security systems and much more. You don’t need a complex network of extension cords to bring power to these items—just leave them plugged into their usual wall sockets and let the standby generator supply the power.

As far as the length of time you can run a standby generator, many manufacturers recommend a limit of 500 hours maximum. If you’re using the generator continuously, it equates to about three weeks of continuous use, compared to just several hours if you’re using a portable unit.

Understanding the differences between portable generators vs. standby generators can help you determine which option is ideal for your needs. If you’re having trouble deciding what type of generator you need for your home or business, rely on your local electrical equipment company for professional guidance. Contact Central Equipment Company today to learn more about different types of generators and discover the best option for your applications.

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