Generator Fuel Types

Why Fuel Type Matters

An industrial generator is a significant investment, sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars. To maximize your investment, you want to select the right generator. It should not only be able to handle the power requirements of your facility, but it should also use a fuel source that offers the greatest benefits to you. The type of fuel a generator uses can factor into the price tag of the unit, so it’s an important consideration. 

Most industrial facilities elect to use standby generators that are powered by natural gas or diesel fuel. Below, we’ll explore each of these options.

Diesel Fuel

Diesel is a refined petroleum product that comes in liquid form. Generators that use it require a supply of fuel in a tank in order to power up and run. Benefits of choosing diesel include:

  • Steady fuel supply:As long as you have backup fuel, you won’t have to worry about an interruption in your supply, which could be possible if you opt for a natural gas generator and there’s a disruption in the pipeline.
  • Lower unit cost: Generally,diesel generators cost less than natural gas units. This can be an important factor for a business that’s just starting out but still wants to make sure they have a reliable backup power source.
  • Easy maintenance: Generators that use diesel engines require less maintenance compared to other types of generators. This results in fewer repair costs for your business.
  • Less flammable: Diesel is not nearly as flammable as other types of fuel that’s available, so it’s reasonably safe to clean up in the event of a spill.
  • Longer lifespan: These generators tend to last longer than similar gas units. This is because they have a simpler design, which ultimately means there are fewer parts that will need to be repaired. They are extremely durable machines, and with proper maintenance, they can last through many years of regular service for your business.

Natural Gas

Natural gas generators are convenient for many businesses because they have a steady supply of fuel through a pipeline system. Other advantages of natural gas include:

  • No fuel storage required: Unlike with diesel, you don’t have to worry about needing a supply of fuel on hand. Since natural gas is fed through a pipe system, it’s readily available when you need it, barring any break in the supply line.
  • Fuel efficiency: Natural gas is an extremely efficient fuel source. While these units may typically cost more than their diesel counterparts, this initial expense can be mitigated over time since you will spend less on fuel costs.
  • Burns clean: Natural gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuels available. It is virtually odorless, which might be important if you plan to have it nearby any windows or doors. Diesel, on the other hand, omits a strong exhaust that must be directed away from your building.
  • Less noise:These generators tend to be much quieter than diesel units. If noise is a factor in your decision, consider a sound-attenuated enclosure, which would minimize any noise produced by your unit.

Other Types of Generator Fuel

While natural gas and diesel are the most popular choices, there are other fuels available. These include propane and Bi-Fuel.


Since it can be on the expensive side, this type of fuel is best to use in smaller generators like those you might find at a remote work site where fuel sources aren’t as conveniently available.


These generators are capable of running off both diesel and natural gas, so you can use the fuel source that’s available to you when you need to power on the unit. With lower emissions than other generator types, these versatile units also meet stringent EPA regulations.

How Can I Make My Generator Last?

Now that you know about the different fuel types, you can select the best generator for your facility. Ultimately, the right choice will come down to your power requirements, your budget, and the fuel source that suits your preferences.

Once your generator has been installed, you’ll want to keep it in prime running condition so that it will last as long as possible. Generators are expensive machines that require special care to maximize their lifespan. Here are three things that you can do to ensure you get the most use out of your unit:

  1. Periodic Maintenance

The manufacturer will recommend a certain schedule for maintaining your generator. It’s important that you follow this schedule to make sure the generator you have selected will continue to perform reliably. Maintenance will likely include replacing oil and filters, refilling coolant, checking and repairing leaks, and other tasks.

  1. Inspect for Leaks

Leaks can make your generator work extra hard to do the same amount of work, so it is essential to detect them early. Make a point to do an inspection each week. If you notice any fluid pooling under or around the generator, you could have a fuel, coolant, or oil leak. A minor leak can progress very quickly, so you should call a professional right away to repair it.

  1. Address Repairs

Over time, your generator will be subjected to more wear and tear and likely need repairs. Taking care of these repairs promptly is crucial to enhancing the lifespan of your unit. Common generator issues include:

  • Broken belts
  • Block heater damage
  • Overheating
  • Blown head gasket
  • Broken pistons
  • Engine failure
  • Leaks
  • Dead batteries
  • Burned-out motor and coils

If your generator isn’t running as well as it once did, a professional generator specialist can inspect the unit, diagnose the problem, and provide a cost-effective solution. You should address the repair sooner rather than later. Putting it off can lead to your generator shutting down, which can have a negative impact on your production.

Valley Power Systems for Fuel & Power

Buying a new generator is a big decision. To learn more about your power options, call Valley Power Systems. We work with businesses across California, and our knowledgeable team can help you select the right generator for your company’s needs. Contact us today!