Diesel Powered Electric Generators
Diesel fuel is an excellent fuel to operate electric generators with. Diesel has historically been less expensive than gasoline (although that may be changing) and is readily available almost anywhere.
Diesel Fuel, ( when stored correctly) is very stable, has good shelf-life, and is usually not affected by the elements or mechanical
disruptions that cause most residential power outages. Another major advantage to diesel is the lower operating temperature of the diesel
engine itself. Diesel fuel enables combustion at a lower temperature and thus the entire engine does not have to endure the effects of a high
temperature operating environment, this adds significantly to the overall expected life of the engine and greatly reduces the maintenance
cost of engine repair and / or rebuilds (which are to be expected at some point).
For these reasons, manufacturers of large backup and emergency generators (industrial generators) usually make this
fuel option as a primary fuel source on their industrial stand-by generator models. These generator units are generally very large
and may be used to supply entire factories, hospitals, malls or other large facilities. The exception to these units being very large and/or industrial
are the smaller diesel powered jobsite, marine, or RV generators. The photo above gives you a good idea of what an industrial diesel powered generator unit might look like.
Industrial Diesel Generators
Large stationary industrial backup / standby generators generally run on diesel fuel, but some can be powered by Natural Gas depending upon the application and setup.
Diesel is preferred because of the lower operating cost and longer useful life of the overall generator unit. These units are usually engineered specifically for their particular application. The manufacturer can assist you with unit configuration. Large fuel storage tanks are
generally engineered to fit the needs of the particular customer needs. Diesel fuel can contain stabilizer additives that extend its shelf-life for those applications
where the generator may not be used for long periods of time (emergency / backup). However; even these installations usually "swap" out their old fuel supply with a fresh supply
at least once a year.
Portable Diesel Generators
Some portable generators are powered by diesel fuel as they come from the manufacturer.
The vast majority are powered by gasoline, however; most industrial-strength "jobsite" generatorsare built to
run on diesel fuel. This includes hand-portable (sometimes on a wheeled cart) and small and large trailer mounted generator sets.
Diesel powered portable units can be expected to have a much lower overall operating cost when compared to a gasoline powered unit
of this size and class. Eventually,a (air cooled) gasoline engine will require major overhaul or replacement, where a (air cooled )
diesel powered unit will require less maintenance and have a much longer useful life because of their lower operating temperatures and speeds.
This lower "overall cost of ownership" explains why diesel fuel units are preferred by contractors who depend on their equipment to operate for long periods
and demand a long life in order to keep cost down.
RV Diesel Generators
RV diesel generator applications are available where this makes sense depending upon the available fuel source. RV motor homes that
use diesel fuel for their primary engine fuel many times will have a diesel generator onboard. If you require a diesel RV setup
please make sure that the RV unit you want to purchase comes with that option directly from the manufacturer.
Marine Diesel Generators
Many marine generators operate on diesel fuel due to the nature of the boating environment and the desire to share the same
fuel source with the primary propulsion power plant. Since space and weight is at a premium onboard a ship the addition of another
fuel system with the capacity to operate for extended periods may not be desirable. Also, the longer expected life of a diesel engine
and the need to operate the generator constantly make the diesel generator a natural fit for large boating / shipboard applications.
Home Backup Generators
Diesel fuel is generally not used in the home backup generators, although it is possible to configure a home backup system that
runs on diesel fuel, you will need to obtain a smaller diesel unit and engineer a suitable fuel storage and delivery system. Some manufacturers offer these units, but you need to ask for this option specifically.