Generator Fuel: Choosing between Diesel and Natural Gas

Diesel vs Natural Gas Generator: Choosing the Right Fuel Type

Posted in: Diesel Generators Engine & Drivetrain Performance Power Outages

Getting a diesel vs natural gas generator is a question commonly asked. Generators are lifelines during power outages, but choosing the right fuel source can be a critical decision. In this post, we’ll discuss two of the most popular fuel options: Diesel vs Natural Gas. We’ll weigh the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed choice based on your unique needs and circumstances.

Diesel Generators: The Pros and Cons


  1. Least Flammable Fuel: Diesel is the least flammable among common fuel sources, offering peace of mind regarding safety.
  2. Readily Available: Diesel fuel is efficient and easily obtained, even during disasters, as it’s essential for various industries like the military, trucking, and farming.
  3. On-Site Fuel Delivery: Options for on-site fuel delivery make diesel generators convenient and reliable.
  4. Cost-Efficient Operation: Diesel generators are cost-effective, consuming approximately 7% of the rated generator output at full load.
  5. Designed for Heavy Loads: Diesel engines thrive under heavy loads and are built for extended operation periods.
  6. Sub-Arctic Operation: With fuel additives, diesel generators can operate in sub-arctic conditions.
  7. Competitive Pricing: Diesel equipment is competitively priced, making it an attractive choice for water-cooled models with similar features.
  8. Long-Term Cost Efficiency: In high-use scenarios, the long-term cost of operating diesel generators is lower than gaseous alternatives.


  1. Storage Tank Costs: Installing large storage tanks can increase the system’s cost.
  2. Fuel Availability: Diesel fuel may not be readily available during power outages.
  3. Storage Considerations: The need for a large fuel tank depends on location and the likelihood of extended power outages.
  4. Higher Noise Levels: Diesel engines tend to produce more noise, requiring proper sound measures.
  5. Fuel Quality and Maintenance: Diesel generators demand clean, moisture-free fuel and slightly more maintenance than gaseous units.
  6. Regulatory Requirements: Some areas require double-wall containment tanks, increasing system costs.
  7. Weight and Planning: Diesel generators are typically heavier and require more planning for transportation.

Natural Gas Generators: The Pros and Cons


  1. Abundant Fuel Source: Natural gas generators have an unlimited fuel source.
  2. Clean Burning: Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel, reducing emissions and environmental impact.
  3. Availability During Outages: Natural gas tends to be more available during power outages.
  4. Quieter Operation: Natural gas engines produce quieter noise levels.
  5. Emission Compliance: They are more emission-compliant, meeting stringent environmental regulations.
  6. Convenience: Natural gas is a convenient and readily available fuel source.
  7. No Wet Stacking: Gaseous engines do not encounter the problem of “wet stacking” that is commonly experienced by diesel engines.
  8. Affordability: Smaller air-cooled models are budget-friendly.


  1. Availability Concerns: Natural gas may be scarce during certain natural disasters.
  2. Lower Power Output: Natural gas generators provide about 30% fewer BTUs per unit than gasoline.
  3. Higher Installation Costs: Fuel system plumbing can result in higher installation costs.
  4. Limited Fuel Access: In some areas, natural gas is not readily available.
  5. Temperature Sensitivity: Natural gas can begin to derate at temperatures above +20 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Higher Initial Costs: Generators running on natural gas may have an initial cost 15% to 20% higher, especially in larger sizes.
  7. Higher Operational Costs: Natural gas generators can be up to three times more expensive due to fuel consumption.
  8. Shorter Lifespan: Air-cooled gaseous engines have shorter lifespans compared to diesel-powered sets.

Conclusion: Which Generator to Choose

When selecting Diesel vs Natural Gas generators, consider your application and location. Safety, cost-effectiveness, and availability are critical factors in making the best choice for your unique needs. Evaluate the pros and cons carefully to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

Additional Considerations:

Hurricanes and earthquakes can disrupt natural gas lines, affecting supply.

Proper maintenance and compliance with safety standards are crucial for both types of generators.

In the end, the right generator choice can provide peace of mind and reliable power, whether it’s during a storm or for continuous operations.

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