Should You Buy A Petrol Or Diesel Generator?

No matter what your wattage needs are, there are so many generators on the market that you should be able to find the right generator for you. Generators have a wide range of applications from standby generators that can provide back-up power to homes and hospitals during blackouts, to portable generators which are vital for building companies, restaurants, and events companies. As well as deciding what wattage power capacity you are going to need, another big consideration is whether to buy a diesel generator or a petrol generator. No matter the power source, both kinds of generators can be used for the same applications, but there are some key differences in performance and maintenance that must be considered when deciding which generator is best for you. 

In this article, we will compare diesel generators and petrol generators in five key areas and in doing so, help you to decide whether you should buy a petrol generator or a diesel generator.

1. Do petrol generators and diesel generators need the same maintenance?

Generator maintenance can be very costly, so the less maintenance you need to do on your generator, the more money you will save. Whilst diesel generators and petrol generators can be used for the same applications, diesel generators do not need anywhere near as much maintenance as petrol generators. When bought new, a diesel generator that is well looked after will function perfectly for up to 30,000 hours before it needs major maintenance whereas a petrol generator of the same specifications after 10,000 hours of operation. For example, one important part of a petrol generator is its spark plugs, and these need to be replaced fairly regularly which can be costly. Diesel generators do not have this part because of diesel fuel sparks without them and so you can save a lot of money. Another difference between diesel fuel and petrol fuel that reduces the need for maintenance on diesel-powered generators is that diesel fuel causes a lot less engine corrosion than petrol does and so the generator components last a significantly longer time before they need replacing or repairing. 

2: Which type of generator is quieter? 

Whilst generators can provide all kinds of benefits and be used for a range of applications, one major drawback of generators is that they can be very, very noisy. Everyone has been in a place where the whirr of a generator is very annoying or distracting. Diesel generators are significantly quieter than petrol generators; in fact, many models of diesel generators are designed to be silent. This is very important because generators are often used for businesses or in situations where a lot of noise is inconvenient. People who are going camping often take a portable generator with them to provide power for their camping stoves and lights, and if their generator is noisy it may ruin their trip or disturb other people camping nearby. Beachside restaurants on small islands, where there are unreliable electricity and frequent power cuts will often use generators as back-up power, and if their generator is noisy then the restaurant’s ambiance will be ruined and the diners will not come back. If noise is a big factor in your decision, then you should consider a liquid-cooled diesel generator rather than an air-cooled generator as these tend to be the quietest generators available on the market.

3: Which type of generator is the most reliable?

No matter what you need a generator for, buying a reliable generator is very important. As we have seen, generators can be used for a wide range of applications, but an unreliable generator could cause huge problems whatever they use. When comparing diesel and petrol generators, diesel generators are far better in terms of reliability. Diesel generators can withstand enormous power requirements for an extended period without any drop off in performance. Part of the reason that diesel generators are so much more reliable than petrol generators is that diesel engines have lower revs per minute than petrol engines run which causes significantly less wear and tear on the engine. Diesel generators are also more durable, so are better for applications that require them to be moved around a lot such as on camping trips, and for construction and events companies. 

4: Which type of generator is more cost-effective?

Another advantage of diesel generators over petrol generators is that they are more cost-effective. Brett Patterson from Ablesales ( says that while diesel may be a bit more expensive than petrol, a diesel generator is far more fuel-efficient. Diesel fuel contains about 15% more energy than the same amount of petrol so significantly less diesel fuel than petrol is needed to provide the same amount of electricity. Running a diesel generator can be as much as 50% cheaper than running a petrol generator which will provide some serious savings throughout a diesel generator’s life.

5: Which type of generator has the longest life expectancy?

Because of many of the reasons explained above such as the corrosive properties of both fuels and the difference in rpm, petrol generators have a significantly shorter life expectancy than diesel generators. As well as these contributing factors, another reason why diesel generators last significantly longer is that diesel fuel acts as a lubricant as it is combusting so diesel engines self-lubricate. Additionally, diesel engines burn at a much lower temperature than petrol engines because diesel engines compress twice as much air. A well-maintained diesel generator will not need a major service for well over ten years.

There are several factors to take into account when deciding whether to buy a petrol or diesel generator. As can be seen in this article, diesel generators have a great many advantages over petrol generators, and for the majority of people, a diesel generator is the best option. There is a wide range of generators available on the market so do some careful research and you will be able to find the best generator whatever your requirements.


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