A generator is a great thing to have when the power goes out, but it can be costly. The fuel consumption of generators accounts for 20% – 30% of their total operating cost.
Fortunately, there are some easy steps that you can take on how to reduce generator fuel consumption by as much as 40%. These tips will help you save money on fuel and improve your generator’s efficiency.
How to Reduce Generator Fuel Consumption
1. Pay Close Attention to the Fuel Level in Your Generator’s Fuel Tank
Every time you refuel, check the level of the gasoline in the tank with a dipstick or gauge.
Be sure that none of the openings is submerged when refueling to prevent fuel from spilling into the carburetor and flooding the engine. If the fuel level is too low, the generator will have to work harder to generate power, which will increase fuel consumption.
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2. Keep the Generator Clean and Well-maintained
A clean generator runs more efficiently and produces less noise than a dirty one. Be sure to keep the air filter clean and replace it when necessary.
Also, check the oil level periodically, and change the oil when necessary. Dirty oil can cause your generator to run inefficiently or stop running altogether.
3. Use Trickle Chargers to Extend Battery Life
If you plan on using generators for more than two hours at a time, use a trickle charger to keep your generator’s battery fully charged. This will decrease fuel consumption by up to 30%.
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4. Turn Off the Generator When It’s Not in Use
If you have a portable gas generator, turn it off when you’re not using it. A portable generator won’t run out of energy if you shut it off, and it can last for years if treated well.
If your main electric generator has a battery backup system, turn it off when you don’t need power because the battery backup will drain the primary batteries when it is in idle mode.
5. Use Your Generator for Shorter Periods
Know how much fuel your generator uses per hour and cut back on its use accordingly. Longer periods of idle time can increase fuel consumption by up to 40%.
For example, if your generator uses 2.5 gallons of fuel per hour at full load, you can avoid having to refuel by running it for only four hours instead of six.
6. Stop Idling the Engine Before Shutting Off the Generator
Most generators have an electronic timer that automatically shuts them down after a few minutes of inactivity. Turn the generator off entirely before stopping the engine from saving even more fuel.
7. Remove Carbon Deposits from Your Generator
If you notice that your generator’s engine runs rough, emits smoke, or backfires when started, carbon deposits may be the cause.
Carbon deposits can build up on piston rings and valves and can eventually cause them to stick, which will increase fuel consumption.
8. Use Fuel Stabilizers to Increase the Life of Your Generator
Fuel additives like STA-BIL can help keep your gasoline fresh for up to 12 months after it is purchased. Using a fuel stabilizer will make your generator more efficient and prevent corrosion in the fuel system.
9. Regular Maintenance Will Help Your Generator Run More Efficiently
Regularly maintaining your generator’s carburetor, cleaning the cooling system, and adjusting valves will ensure that it runs as efficiently as possible.
It is a good idea to have a professional mechanic check your generator periodically for signs of wear and tear.
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10. Change the Spark Plug Regularly
Be sure to change the spark plug and spark plug wire when necessary. Old plugs can cause backfiring and other malfunctions that increase the generator’s fuel consumption.
11. Use the Correct Fuel Type for Your Generator
Use UNLEADED gasoline in an outdoor generator set. Never use gasoline with more than 10% ethanol because it can destroy rubber components in the fuel system.
If your engine runs poorly or won’t start after adding ethanol-enriched fuel, you may need to replace the carburetor or fuel injectors.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Generators’ Fuel Economy
Do Generators Use Less Fuel with Less Load?
Yes, the less load put on a generator, the less fuel it uses. If you don’t plan to use your generator for more than two hours at a time, turning it off when it’s not in use will maintain its battery so that you can save even more fuel.
Do Generators Use More Fuel When They Idle?
Yes, turning a generator off and on frequently will increase fuel consumption. If your generator is not needed for more than two hours at a time, turn it off completely to save fuel.
Can I Use a Fuel Stabilizer to Save Fuel?
Yes, using a fuel stabilizer like STA-BIL can help increase the life of your generator and keep it running efficiently. It will also help to prevent corrosion in the fuel system.
How Do Generators Use More Fuel in the Cold?
When the temperature drops, gasoline becomes thicker and requires more energy to burn. When it’s sold out, using winter-grade gasoline can help your generator run efficiently in colder temperatures.
Can I use an Extension Cord to Save Fuel?
No, using an extension cord can decrease the generator’s power output and increase fuel consumption. It is best to plug appliances directly into the generator.
Can I Run Two Generators Together to Save Fuel?
No, running two generators at the same time can damage them and will increase fuel consumption. It is best to have one generator for every necessary appliance.
Settle for The Right Generator Fuel
The more you know about how your generator works and what is required to keep it running efficiently, the less fuel you will use.
Don’t be intimidated by the inner workings of a generator, and try to learn as much as possible so that you can be sure your generator’s engine functions correctly and efficiently at all times.
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References and Citations:
U.S Department of Energy; Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy- Fuel Efficiency https://www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/fuel-efficiency
Howard Energy Inc. : Generator Fueling Tips to Reduce Fuel Consumption https://www.howardenergyinc.com/blog/generator-fueling-tips-to-reduce-fuel-consumption/