Portable Generator Power when off grid or emergencies

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How Much Does it Cost to Run a Generator?

There are loads of situations where you might need to employ the help of a generator. Whether you’re working in a remote location, out on a camping trip, or looking for a way to provide power during a blackout, a generator is the perfect tool for the job. 

However, one thing that a lot of people forget when they purchase or rent a generator is to factor in the running costs. Not doing this can easily eat into your budget as you’ll be spending money on fuel that you didn’t account for. 

So, how much does it cost to run a generator? Let’s take a look at this in more detail below. 

Type of Generator

Before we get into the financials of it all, it’s important to note that the running cost of a generator ultimately depends on the type of fuel your generator uses. Fuel costs fluctuate quite regularly, so when you’re calculating how much your generator will cost to run you’ll first need to know how much fuel it uses per hour. 

This is information that you can usually find in the generator’s instruction manual, but if you can’t seem to find this information anywhere it would be worth getting in contact with your generator brand’s customer support team. 

Once you know your generator’s hourly fuel consumption, you’ll be able to calculate how much it will cost to run inline with the price of the fuel it uses. 

Gasoline Generator

Most generators use gasoline as their fuel source, especially portable generators. Let’s say that you have a standard 5KW portable generator that typically consumes about 0.75 gallons of gasoline per hour. 

So, if your 5KW portable generator uses 0.75 gallons of gasoline per hour, and you were to leave it running for a 24 hour period, it would use 18 gallons of gasoline. 

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The price of gasoline has held steady over the last few years at around $2.89 per gallon in the United States. To work out how much a gasoline generator would cost to run, we simply need to multiply the price of the gasoline by the daily consumption.

This means that a 5KW portable gasoline generator would cost $52 per day to run. Of course, the price of gasoline does fluctuate so this figure isn’t set in stone, but by following the multiplication method of consumption x price, you’ll be able to accurately estimate how much your generator will cost to run. 

Diesel Generator

Diesel generators are less common than gasolene generators, however, just like gasoline, the price of diesel fluctuates as well. For this example, let’s say that you have a 20KW portable generator that runs on 1.6 gallons of diesel per hour. Let’s also say that the average price of a gallon of diesel is around $3.17. 

Using the same multiplication method as we did for a gasolene generator (consumption x price), it would cost $122 to run a diesel generator for an entire day on a full load. 

Propane Generator 

Propane generators are much more environmentally friendly, however, while this is better for the environment it isn’t necessarily better for your wallet! Propane generators use fuel much more quickly than gasoline or diesel generators, and a 20KW propane generator will use around 3.45 gallons per hour.

Just like all fuel types, the price of propane also fluctuates but on average a gallon of propane comes in at about $2.50. This means that running a propane generator for 24 hours will consume 83 gallons of propane, costing a hefty $207.50.

If you have a standby generator that runs off propane, you may find the immediate cost is reduced slightly as the tank is larger and many fuel companies offer a price reduction on purchasing larger amounts.

However, the running costs will still remain the same since a standby propane generator will also use around 3.45 gallons per hour. 

Natural Gas Generator

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While you’ll almost never find a portable generator that uses natural gas as its fuel source, this is becoming an increasingly popular option for standby generators. The reason for this is because they are the cheapest of all generators to run over a 24 hour period. 

Will a 20KW Generator Run My House

The average cost of natural gas in the United States is $3.25 per thousand cubic feet, and a 7KW natural gas generator will use around 118 cubic feet of fuel per hour. This means that the hourly cost comes in at just $0.82!

Of course, a larger natural gas generator, let’s say 15KW, would cost more to run as it would use around 245 cubic feet of fuel per hour. However, this is still significantly less than all other fuel types and would only cost $1.71 per hour. 

This means that running a natural gas generator for 24 hours would cost just $20-$40 per day, depending on energy usage. It would also only cost around $5 per month to carry out your weekly 10-minute ‘exercise’ procedure. 

Final Word

There are two main things to bear in mind when you’re working out how much it costs to run a generator. These are the generator’s fuel consumption per hour and the current price of the fuel it uses. 

By multiplying these two figures together you’re able to get a fairly accurate figure, which you can then apply to your budget. 

You’ll also need to think about how many things you’re using your generator for. The more power it puts out, the quicker you’ll need to top up the fuel again and, as such, the more money you’ll spend. 

Portable generators of all fuel types are fairly inexpensive to run for temporary projects, however, if you’re thinking about having a standby generator installed that can be called upon during a power outage, the best choice to go for would be a natural gas generator. 

These are the most cost-effective and, unlike all other fuels, come with a much more manageable running cost of between $20-$40 per day. 

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All the article on Oofgrid offer help and practical advice for using and purchasing a portable generator. However, We are enthusiasts and not qualified electricians. Always seek professional advice when working with electrical or Petrol appliances.