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Diesel Generators vs. Petrol Generators

by Nick Coulson
Should you buy a petrol or a diesel generator? It's a tough question, but to answer it, you must analyse exactly what you want to achieve with your genset.
As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the operation the greater the need for a diesel generator. Petrol generators are great for small-scale projects like providing power for a camping trip or even running a small hobby farm, but the enhanced muscle and efficiency of a diesel generator makes it the “Gennie” of choice for larger-scale operations.
If you need your generator to provide power to farms or construction projects over a wide area, or if you need to augment the power supply to an off the grid solar powered house, a diesel generator is for you.
Let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of both petrol and diesel generators.

Fuel Efficiency
While it is commonly accepted that petrol is cheaper than diesel at the pump, as crude prices continue to fluctuate, we are seeing the balance tip in diesel’s favour. Diesel is still the more expensive per litre in Australia, but the differences aren’t as extreme as they have been in recent years.

However, such a statistic is a little misleading. What you really need to know about is the fuel efficiency of a diesel generator compared to its petrol guzzling counterpart. Diesel engines tend to be more fuel efficient than petrol engines, with a 120kW diesel generator achieving an efficiency of between 10.9 and 32.1 litres per hour depending on its load, which is considerably better than a petrol generator.

Petrol generator manufacturers are doing their bit to improve the efficiency of their gensets by adding fuel conservation devices to their products, but the trusty diesel generator still leads the race.

So, the diesel generator’s low fuel consumption makes it the winner of round one, but what about round two: longevity? There’s no point in splashing out on a nice, shiny new generator if it’s going to conk out after a few uses, so which type of generator is best for more long-term operation?
Whichever generator you choose, it’s going to be working hard to give you the power output you require. However, while petrol generators stress and strain to produce the desired power levels, diesel machines can produce the same wattage without breaking sweat. Because they do not need to work as hard to give you the power you need, less pressure is placed on their inner-workings, meaning that less maintenance is required to keep your generator running smoothly.
What’s more, the self-lubricating properties of diesel fuel also help to contribute to the longevity of a diesel generator. With a petrol generator, you will need to use additional lubricant - 2-stroke engine oil, for example - which may cause its fuel delivery system to deteriorate after extended periods of use. This leads to costly repairs and maintenance jobs, two things that you do not have to worry about with a diesel generator.

The most efficient diesel generators will require only minimal maintenance and will be less costly to run. One of the reasons for this is the relative simplicity of the diesel engine when compared with the engine of a petrol generator.
For example, a petrol generator requires an ignition system to get it going, while a diesel engine does not. One less component in a machine is one less potential repair job.
It is also the simplicity of the diesel generator that helps it to keep its cool even in Australia's harsh climate. Diesel generators operate at far lower temperatures than generators fuelled by petrol, and at far less revolutions per minute, decreasing the general wear and tear associated with running a generator frequently and for long periods of time.

So, it is the diesel that bears the weight of scrutiny and collects the crown. No longer perceived as a dirty, clanking piece of industrial kit, the diesel generator has the efficiency, reliability and raw power to give you exactly what you need from a genset.
Hopefully we've helped make the buying decision a bit easier when comparing a diesel generator vs. a petrol generator.
Why not contact our friendly team on 1300 793 001 to discuss your requirements or email us today!


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