Natural Gas, Propane or Diesel Generator: Which is Best?

Are you considering a generator purchase but unsure which fuel source to use? With several available options, it can be a confusing choice to make on your own. We provided some basic information below for each fuel type, however we highly advise speaking with a generator specialist before making a final decision on generator equipment for your home or business.

Natural Gas

Natural Gas is a relatively consistent fuel source as it is provided by local municipalities. With natural gas, you do not have to schedule fuel delivery to replenish fuel supply, it is simply delivered as it is used. There is a risk of losing fuel supply, should the natural gas lines be interrupted or damaged due to extreme weather or seismic events.

Natural gas is used in both residential and commercial applications. When used in commercial settings, it is more cost effective to use natural gas with a smaller engine as the bigger the engine, the more expensive a natural gas option becomes. Natural gas powered generators rated higher than 150KW can cost up to 1.5 times more than an equivalently rated diesel powered generator. A natural gas generator does not require a fuel tank as the generator connects directly to the municipal natural gas source through piping.

Propane

Propane generators allow the owner full control over the fuel source, meaning owners are fully responsible for the fuel supply. Owners must schedule fuel deliveries with a propane supplier. The risk with propane is that owners could struggle obtaining fuel before, during or after a natural disaster when fuel is needed most. Not only do fuel supplies become bottle-necked during times of disaster, roads may be inaccessible which can prevent fuel deliveries.

Propane is used in both residential and commercial applications. Like natural gas, when used in commercial settings, it is more cost effective to use propane with a smaller engine as the bigger the engine, the more expensive a propane option becomes. Propane generators are less common in larger applications as the fuel source does not provide as much power as its counterparts, natural gas and diesel. Propane powered generators rated higher than 200KW can cost up to 2.5 times more than an equivalently rated diesel powered generator. A propane generator requires an external fuel tank to be connected to the generator with piping. The larger the generator, the larger the propane tank needs to be.

Diesel

Diesel generators allow the owner full control over fuel source, meaning owners are fully responsible for the fuel supply. Like using propane as a fuel source, owners must schedule fuel deliveries with a diesel fuel supplier. The risk that owners take is that they could struggle obtaining diesel fuel before, during or after a natural disaster when fuel is needed the most. Diesel fuel becomes bottle-necked during these times and inaccessible travel routes can make fuel delivery difficult or impossible.

Diesel fuel is used in commercial applications only and may be used to support generators as large as 4MW. Diesel generators can have a sub-base fuel tank. In larger applications, an external fuel tank may be required which works in conjunction with the sub-base tank. Today’s diesel fuel requires maintenance, especially in applications with fuel tanks holding large quantities of fuel for extended periods of time. With the requirements for Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel and contamination due to bio-diesel fuel, the need for fuel polishing is even more important to protect diesel engines from damage. Click here for a short clip that explains what bio-diesel fuel is and why it requires fuel polishing.

So, how do you decide which fuel type is best for you? The decision depends on the type of application, the type of fuel most readily accessible to you, and your budget! Our experienced sales experts can provide more information and help you make the best decision for your generator purchase. Contact us at 800-253-6617 or sales@fmgenerator.com today to discuss your needs with our team.