ACADEMY ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS Commercial / Industrial Electrical Construction since 1986

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Residential Generator Fuel Sources


We talked about natural gas, natural gas, it’s convenient and it’s very rarely that the natural gas fuel source will fail. Unless, if they’re digging in the street and they hit a pipe but for that to happen, when you need your generator is extremely rare. But if you don’t have a high pressure gas service to your home or your business, now we have to think about how we’re going to fuel that engine.

To stay with the economics of a spark-ignited engine, the next choice that we have is to go to propane. Propane fuel is a great fuel. It’s actually a little bit more volatile than natural gas. So generators that we can get 17KW out of on natural gas, I can get 20KW out of that on propane because the fuel is a more powerful fuel.

So, how do we do the propane? Propane fuel can be done multiple ways. We can put a hundred gallon tank above the ground and put that next to a shed. It’s got to be 10 feet away from the generator, 10 feet away from the house, and 10 feet away from your property line. And we can use that to fuel the engine and stay with a spark-ignited engine.

If that’s not the case, then our next fuel source is diesel fuel. Now diesel fuel generators are a better engine than spark-ignited engines, just because of the inherent nature of a diesel engine and the amount of torque that that engine makes. So it responds much better to load changes, doesn’t bog down as easy, and it’s a great engine. However, now we need to get fuel to it.

Generally speaking, we put a sub-base tank, which is a tank that sits in the same footprint of the generator. We don’t bury them, which we can also bury propane tanks by the way, but. It sits in the footprint of the generator. And anybody can bring you diesel fuel. Even if you had a bunch of five gallon cans, you could go move fuel yourself.

We have trucks with hundred gallon tanks and pumps in them, so we can move fuel. Your local fuel oil company can also fuel that for you. If you do the propane, we got to get the propane company to come, so there’s double-edged swords to everything.

So fuel sources, natural gas, if you can, propane above the ground tank, propane into ground tank or diesel. Those are your choices for fuel for a standby generator.