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How Long Can Your Generator Run?

sky view with clouds and lightning

In the past few years, the East Coast has been hit by some serious storms. Many residents of Central Virginia have made the decision to install a generator to keep their power running in the event of an outage. While the summer isn’t quite hurricane season — thunderstorms, heavy rain, and wind are still in the forecast.

When a big storm hits, power could be out for a day or even a week. So it’s important to know how your generator will function, and especially how long it can supply power to your home. Generally, a standby generator will run as long as it has a fuel supply. There are three common fuel supplies for a generator: natural gas, liquid propane, or diesel.

If your generator is connected to your natural gas, you should have an endless supply from your utility company. Just expect a big bill. It’s especially important to conserve generator usage when powered by propane or diesel. Most of the time, you will have a 24-hour fuel tank, although there are options for a 48- and 72-hour tank.

If you’ve already seen your generator through a few storms, you probably have a relationship with a refueling service that can come to your home and top off your generator. Keep in touch with your refueling provider during extended outages so your power stays up and running.

Whole House Vs. Portable Generators

How your generator functions during an outage also depends on whether it is a whole house or a portable generator. Whole house generators are permanently installed outside your home and will start working as soon as the power goes out. These usually run on propane or natural gas. These generators cost more but also have the ability to power your entire home.

A portable generator costs less but provides limited power during an outage. Homeowners generally use these to provide power to a few lights and appliances such as the refrigerator to avoid spoiled food. These are easily stored in a shed or garage.

Generator Maintenance

During an outage, you will need to do some daily maintenance to keep your generator running smoothly. These systems run hot, and it’s a good idea to periodically shut off your generator to allow it to cool down. Most homeowners will turn off their generator at night or while they’re away from home.

Generators also require oil changes, but the frequency depends on their RPM. A 3600 RPM engine will require more oil, so be sure to check the level every day during an outage. Be sure not to overfill it as this can cause issues. These generators are best suited for shorter outages, so let it rest periodically during an extended outage. Engines that operate at 1800 RPM are more reliable and fuel efficient, especially for longer power outages.

It’s also important to regularly service your generator outside of an outage. Central Virginia residents know to call Bradley Mechanical for regular generator maintenance. We’ll make sure your filters are in good condition and will replace them when it’s time for a new one. We can also provide load bank tests, coolant flushes, and belt and hose replacement. Fuel cleaning on a regular basis also helps recondition, stabilize, and decontaminate the fuel in your generator.

For more information on generator installation, maintenance, and repair, call Bradley Mechanical at 804-748-6728.

Visit Our Generators Section