How Long Can a Backup Generator Power a House?

Generators are built differently. Some are made to run for only a few hours in a day, and others can run for days. A generator can run for about 3,000 hours if it provides power to a small or medium-sized home.

Factors like the generator type and the fuel source of the generator affect the amount of time a backup generator can run continuously. Today, we discuss how long different generators can run.

Types of Generators

The type of backup power generator you buy will determine the amount of time you can use it uninterruptedly. The most common types of generators are portable generators and whole house generators.

1. Whole House Generators

Whole house generators keep all your appliances functioning as they turn on automatically during a power outage. The generators can be easily connected to your fuel supply, such as propane.

Whole house generators usually have a backup power source like solar and gasoline. Technology has made it easier for you to manage your whole house generator. There are apps that help you to run checks on your generator from time to time.

A whole house generator can run for days without affecting its lifespan. However, it requires high maintenance, takes up a lot of space in your home, produces noise, and is expensive.

2. Portable Generators

Portable generators are fueled by propane gas, solar, and gasoline. One of the main advantages of this generator is that you can transfer it from your workplace to your home or any other desired location during a power outage.

Portable generators come with outlets where you plug in the appliances that you need to run. Unlike the whole house generator, the portable generator cannot power all devices in your home and only runs for a couple of hours.

The other downside of the portable generator is that it produces noise and does not turn on automatically. You must use the generator about 20 feet away from your home. 

The Type of Generator Fuel

The fuel source determines the generator’s price and how long the generator can run continuously. The most common fuel types used in generators are diesel and natural gas.

1. Diesel

The diesel fuel comes in a small tank attached to the generator. If you are using diesel, you require backup fuel that you can refill to the tank if it runs low to avoid interruption. Generators that use diesel are relatively cheap compared to the ones using natural gas.

The maintenance cost of diesel generators is cost-friendly, and their lifespan is long. Diesel is not flammable like other kinds of fuel, making the generator much safer to use and clean. However, diesel limits the number of hours a generator can run continuously due to refilling and fuel costs.

 2. Natural Gas

Generators using natural gas have a secure fuel supply via a pipeline system. Although natural gas generators are more expensive than their counterparts, the fuel cost is less, and the generator burns clean fossil fuels.

The generators produce less noise compared to other fuel generators. Natural gas generators can run for long hours without affecting their lifespan. 

Power Systems West is an authorized Kohler backup power generator distributor in seven Western states. Our products include diesel and natural gas generators, switchgear, transfer switches, and backup power accessories. Visit us at


Paul Petersen

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