Generator Fuel Types: Which is Best?

No matter the size of a generator that you need, one of the main questions that will inevitably be asked is what type of fuel is the best choice for your generator. While there isn’t a single answer that fits across the board, there are certain variables that are important to helping you make the best decision. Let’s look at the different types of fuels that are used with generators and weigh their pros and cons.


The top advantages of having a generator that uses gasoline is that fueling it is a pretty simple process and there are a lot of budget-friendly gasoline generators. Gasoline is the simplest fuel to obtain, as a trip to the gas station is a routine in most of our lives. While the accessibility of gasoline is usually a benefit, it can also cause a problem if there is a major disaster or other reason for a shortage of gasoline in your area. Other factors to consider about gasoline are that its shelf life is only about a year, it is very flammable, and is the least ideal of the four options in very cold weather.


Propane is a clean-burning fuel that essentially has a limitless shelf life. In general, propane generators have a quieter engine noise, but because their fuel system is more complicated, installation and maintenance costs can be more expensive. When compared to diesel generators, propane generators typically have a higher fuel consumption rate and a shorter life expectancy.

Natural Gas

Natural gas generators are recommended due to the fact that natural gas is prevalent, plentiful, and easily obtained.  Natural gas is also recommended for frigid areas, as it performs especially well in cold weather.  Like propane, however, natural gas has higher fuel consumption rate and engine life expectancy when compared to diesel. Due to its availability, it is a great selection for areas that do tend to have natural disasters; however, this does not apply to earthquake-prone areas, as broken natural gas pipes can cause major issues.


While the pros and cons can be debated and weighed between the fuel types for generators under 150 kW, diesel generators are typically the best price option for generators that produce 150 kW or more of power.  Diesel generators are also the least expensive to operate, least flammable, and are the best for long-term usage. Also, diesel, like gasoline, is an easy fuel to obtain. While diesel by itself might not be an ideal fuel for frigid temperatures, using a fuel additive solves that problem.  The shelf life for diesel is in the 1.5-2 years range, so it is important that you keep that mind when fueling and maintaining it.

The Winner?

If you are looking for a generator that produces less than 150 kW of power, the differences are not drastic, and you should select a generator that produces an acceptable amount of power for you needs, fits your budget, and uses a fuel that is easily obtained in your area.  Overall, there is a clear winner with generators that produce 150 kW or more of power: diesel.  

If you need help in determining a generator type that perfectly fits your needs, feel free to contact our team of experts. Generators are what we do, and we are available 24/7 to help.