How Long Does A Generator Last? Factors That Affects Runtime

A power outage can happen anywhere and anytime unexpectedly. To cope with the power outage issue one can rely on generators. But you must have a question in your head how long does a generator last?

No doubt generator is a piece of sound equipment but it has some limitations. You can run a machine continuously for days. Instead, generators are designed to run for a few hours a day. But one cannot guarantee that generator will run for up to this time period.

Several factors decide the longevity of a generator.

In this article, we will elaborate on how long a generator can last and what are factors influence enhancing and reducing their lifespan.

Type Of Generators With Lasting And Running Time

Generators are suitable for solving several problems to provide extra energy reserves without much effort. So it is important to have some knowledge about the generators that which type will be long-lasting with maximum running time.

The working capacity of a generator also depends on two things, one is the type of unit and the other is the type of fuel it uses for running.

So, the lifespan will vary from one type to another and some of the basic and commonly used types of generators are mentioned below.

How Long Does A Portable Gasoline Generator Last?

There are a few things to consider while dealing with portable gasoline generators.

There is a standard run time for every projector and you cannot use a generator longer than that particular period.

A portable gasoline generator can run non-stop for hours on the gas tank but not any longer without stopping.

Normally, it can last for 6 to 12 hours but it also depends on the size, brand, and amount of energy consumed by the unit. Some brands last longer than other generators such as the WGen3600v generator can run up to 18 hours over one tank of gasoline.

How Long Does A Portable Gasoline Generator Run?

In case you’re using a portable gasoline generator and want it to run for hours continuously, you will need to stop it from time to time to add fuel to it.

Never add fuel inside the generator when the engine of it is running. This is the most important thing and you should never ignore it. As the consequences will be damaging by causing a massive fire.

When the generator gets very hot and even if a small amount of fuel or vapor can cause a severe fire. So, it is highly recommended to turn off the generator and wait for at least 5 to 10 minutes to let it cool and then add gasoline inside it.

How Long Does A Gas/ Portable Gas Generator Last?

It is not easy to find out the exact runtime of a generator because it can vary depending on the load. A generator’s load explains how much power the generator will produce and also on the appliances that are getting power through it.

It is obvious that a generator with a half load will last longer as compared to one with a full load. You still cannot find the exact number but you can estimate it. To make that estimation of runtime, divide the fuel capacity of the generator by its rate of fuel consumption.

Suppose you start with a full tank of gas and it will give you the maximum runtime. You can ask the generator dealer for fuel consumption and fuel capacity rate. You can also estimate this in comparable numbers.

The lifespan of Gas/ Portable Gas Generator

Portable generators working on natural gas have different running times but it can also depend on the underground fuel line. You won’t need to worry about filling the gas tank instead the supply will be controlled by the township.

These generators have a run time of almost 200 hours without any problem which is more than enough. In case of any damage to the pipeline due to any disaster, access to the fuel will be limited or restricted.

Lifespan Standby Generator?

standby generator

As compared to portable generators, standby generators are a bit more expensive and quite larger, and usually installed on a fixed position to the ground. They are designed mostly for the purpose of backup power during an outage, that’s why they run longer than portable generators.

Diesel generators have a comparably larger tank and run longer than other generators. Many diesel generators have a tank for 24 hours, but some can last up to 48 or even 72 hours. To refill the tank with diesel, make sure to let it rest for some time to cool down.

These generators are particularly designed for long-term usage and on average they can last up to 300 to 500 hours approximately 2 to 3 weeks.

Note: Do not use a standby generator longer than the recommended period as it can lead to massive damage to the generator as well as electrical wiring at home.

How Long Does A Standby Generator Run?

They run on natural gas lines or can be connected to 500 to 1000 gallons of propane storage tanks. A standby generator can run up to 3,000 hours by powering a medium-sized home at its best. On average, if you face 3 blackouts within a year, and use the generator for almost 30 hours per blackout while adding the time for maintenance, your generator will last for 50 years.

The lifespan of a Propane / Portable Propane Generator?

You can easily control your fuel tank if you are using a portable propane generator. You can also extend the running time by your will. For this purpose, you’ll have to connect two propane cylinders to one gas line with the help of a stopcock valve or you can also use a changeover regulator.

This is a convenient method by which you can get the supply from one tank by keeping the other one closed. By turning on the stopcock valve, you can easily change the propane cylinder.

This will make your generator run non-stop for long period. You can try this hack by having an infinite supply of propane and as result, your generator will work continuously for 150 to 200 hours (approximately 1 week).

Your generator will only stop when there will be a shortage of fuel supply otherwise nothing can stop it.

The lifespan of a Solar Power Generator?


Generators are not limited to just different types of fuels. Nowadays many people are investing in solar power generators at home. A solar panel can be connected to a solar generator or with a backup battery system that can also be connected to the solar panel placed on the roof of a home.

Let’s take an example to elaborate it, suppose if a fridge requires 1000Wh and an LED light requires just 100Wh, a refrigerator with 1000Wh will last for only one hour and the LED light will last up to 10 hours. But comparably, solar generators do not provide more power than fuel generators.

You can also try a backup battery system that can last way longer if you run your appliances on solar power in the daytime and store an excessive amount of energy for the night.

How Long Does A Solar Power Generator Run?

The energy stored in a solar generator can be measured in watt-hours. The longevity of the generator also depends on the power consumed by appliances. It also depends on the size of the battery and the actual amount of energy needed to use it that will last for 3 to 12 hours typically worth of power.

Life of Continuous Power Generator

These continuous power generators are designed with heavy-duty materials and are capable of handling heavy loads without any need for extra repairs. They have a special cooling system with cold water jackets to keep the engine safe from overheating.

Because these generators are made to run continuously, they do not last longer than standby generators and need replacement after every few years. The heavy-duty material and the replacement costs make these generators highly expensive.

How Long Does A Continuous Power Generator Run?

Though each generator has a limited range of running periods, there are some generators that are capable of running indefinitely. These types of generators are mostly used by people living off-grid. Commercial sites also use these types of generators.

As these generators are made to run continuously, they do not last longer than standby generators and need replacement after every few years.

When To Replace Your Generator

Though generators are a piece of essential equipment you can rely on during a hard time it is true that generators do not last forever. There comes a point when you have to purchase a new generator to replace the older one.

The following factors show that now is the time to replace your generator:

Too many repairs: Aside from proper maintenance to make sure that your generator is going to run smoothly, you shouldn’t repair your generator more than once or twice within a year. If you’re continuously facing a breakdown in its functioning and every time you try to use your generator it doesn’t work smoothly then you will have to replace your generator right at the spot.

Guaranteed Lifespan: Things start showing bad symptoms over time and as long as you use your generator it will start getting older. An average standby generator can last for 10,000 to 30,000 hours of use. If you are taking proper care of it and using it continuously with maintenance then a generator will last for 30 years.

Issues in Starting it Up: A new generator starts up quickly at just one try and there are some automatic systems that start by themselves when needed. If it is taking time to start due to a fuel problem then this isn’t something to be worried about. In case this problem is showing up even after several repairs replacing your generator will be an essential thing to do.

Factors That Influence Runtime

There are the following factors involved in influencing the runtime of a generator:

Wattage Requirements: It is a straightforward point that describes that larger generators need more fuel as compared to smaller ones. Also powering higher wattage to household items and higher quantity of items require more fuel.

It will be particularly stated on the operator’s manual that how much fuel your unit will drain after every hour while operating at its maximum capacity.

Durability & Warranty: When a question like how long does a generator last, rises in your head, do you mean over its lifetime?

Some manufacturers provide warranties of a lifetime but this is not so common. Many reputable companies and brands offer guarantees for 5 to 10 years or 3000 to 5000 hours of power.

But with proper care, you can make your generator last longer than expected.

Maintenance : Without routine maintenance, no generator can last longer and not even work properly. A generator will fail to run if you don’t fire it for a few months. This is important to keep the electric battery fresh and charged.

It is also good the check the rust and oil change after every 50 hours. There are many other things that require maintenance to enhance the lifespan of a generator.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Generators Last?

Most generators come with 2 to 3 years of limited warranty. They will last longer if you are following the instructions for keeping them maintained. For example, if you use your generator for 500 hours a year, it could last you as long as twenty to forty years. That is possible only when you oil it when needed to maintain it regularly, and so on.

How often should you replace a generator?

It mainly depends on the size and quality of a generator but most manufacturers predict that a generator remains reliable for 10,000 to 30,000 hours which is almost equal to 25 to 40 years while keeping the maintenance in check.

Is it worth fixing an old generator?

If you are giving attention to preventive maintenance properly to make your generator run smoothly, you don’t need to repair your generator more than once or twice a year. But if your generator breaks down continuously after every use, then it’d be better to replace it with a new one instead of spending money on repair costs.

Can you run the generator overnight?

Though a generator cannot consecutively for 24 hours without any breaks some can run for 24 hours by 1/2 load. Some diesel generators can run for 48 hours straight or even 72 hours. At the same time, gas generators can also last indefinitely if the fuel doesn’t end.

How long can a generator run continuously?

Mostly the maximum runtime of a generator is already mentioned in the specifications of a product. The number is actually based on 1/2 load such as using the half of power that the machine can generate easily. While on average a generator can run continuously for 8 to 12 hours.

As an Energy and environmental engineer, I worked in eco bottle manufacturing for the last three years. Currently, he is the leading engineer in a Lithium Iron phosphate battery manufacturing company.

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