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How Long Can a Generator Run?

Generators can be a life-saving backup power source, especially during "hurricane season." But how long can they run? And is there a difference between a residential standby generator's run time and a portable generator's? Below, we will discuss the basics of generator usage and give you an idea of how long each type of generator can run.

Note: Even though we're offering some general information below, always read your owner's manual to get the lowdown on the safest way to use your specific generator model.

How Long Can Portable Generators Run?

Portable generators are not intended for long, continuous use. In other words, you should only be using your portable generator for short periods. How long a portable generator can provide continuous power generation varies depending on the fuel source, size, and model you buy:

  • Gasoline-powered portable generators can run for about 6 to 16 hours at a time.
  • Well-managed propane portable generators can run for about 150 to 200 hours at a time (about up to 8 days).

If you need to run your portable generator for longer than that, you should consult the manufacturer's instructions to avoid any hazards. Some manufacturers may recommend changing the oil and filter after running the generator for a certain number of hours (similar to the maintenance you perform on a car).

You Might Also Like: What Kind of Generator Do I Need? Portable vs. Standby

How Long Can Standby Generators Run?

Residential standby generators are different from portable generators in that they are permanently installed and designed to handle prolonged use. They can typically power more appliances and electronics at once than portable generators, and most can run safely for days or even weeks. They usually run on natural gas or propane, but some models can be fueled by gasoline, diesel, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Some factors can affect a standby generator's run time, such as the size of the generator and the appliances or electronics that are being powered. In general:

  • Propane-powered standby generators can run for about a month on the supply in their propane storage container, give or take a few days. This is assuming you have a properly sized container.
  • Natural gas-powered standby generators can run indefinitely if there is a natural gas supply. However, it's essential to give the equipment "cool-downs" and not let it run longer than the manufacturer's instructions recommend. In general, a standby generator can safely provide non-stop power generation for about 2 to 3 weeks before needing a break.

Running your standby generator longer than the recommended use period can damage the generator and your home's appliances and electrical system. Make sure to track how long your generator runs to avoid overworking it.

Do you need standby generator services in New Orleans, Metairie, or anywhere in the North Shore area? Contact Stuart Services today at (888) 650-5655, and don’t forget to ask about financing or promotions we may be offering!

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