When you are in need of power, you need an option that is not going to let you down and can handle the demands of your power needs. Whether you need to power lights and appliances during a weekend in the woods or need backup in a weather-forced power outage, a diesel generator makes for a great solution.
There is a lot to consider when determining how to select a generator. In order to find the best diesel generator for you, you should pay attention to a few important qualities and specifications. At GeneratorTools, we are happy to be a helping hand along the way.
How Does a Diesel Generator Work?
A diesel generator works similarly to a diesel engine. The engine generates power using a four-stroke cycle, which turns a motor to create an electric current. The four strokes in the cycle are:
Throughout this cycle, air enters the engine cylinder, and a piston compresses the air. Once the air is completely compressed, a fuel injector shoots diesel fuel into the cylinder. The injection of diesel fuel into the compressed air causes immediate combustion, forcing the piston down. When the piston comes back up, it pushes the exhaust gas out of the chamber.
In a diesel engine, compression alone is enough to cause the mixture to combust as the extremely tight compression immediately heats the mixture. The combustion of the air/fuel mixture keeps the piston in motion, turning the crankshaft that spins a motor and creates the electric current.
Diesel vs Gas Generators
Gas generators operate in a similar way to diesel generators. The key difference between the two is that normal gas generators rely on a spark plug to ignite the air/fuel mixture instead of relying on compression alone. While they operate differently, they both are excellent options depending on your needs.
Many people choose a diesel or gas generator because they are efficient and more than capable of powering multiple appliances. However, the final choice comes down to a few key differences.
Diesel Generators Have More Power
Because diesel generators rely on compression for their power output, they are also able to generate more power than gas generators. Diesel generators require that the air is packed together more tightly than with a gas engine. Since the engine is able to compress the air so tightly, it is able to compress more oxygen in each cycle. This higher amount of oxygen leads to a higher power output during combustion.
Diesel generators are often used for commercial purposes because they can handle a much higher power output. These generators are also more able to withstand long-term use compared to gas generators.
- Rugged and Sturdy Frame: Durable, fully welded 1 1/4" steel frame provides exceptional protection in demanding applications, ensuring the generator withstands harsh conditions
- High-Performance Diesel Engine: Yanmar LW Series 435cc air-cooled direct injection, industrial-grade diesel engine delivers reliable and efficient power, making it suitable for continuous operation
- Efficient and Low Maintenance: Diesel power requires less maintenance, offers higher fuel efficiency, and provides a longer operational life, saving you time and money in the long run
- Clean and Reliable Power: True Power Technology: Delivers less than 5% total harmonic distortion (THD), ensuring clean and smooth operation of sensitive electronics, tools, and appliances without any risk of damage
- Convenient and Versatile Features: Integrated hour meter for tracking maintenance intervals, single-touch electric start for easy startup, and idle control to conserve fuel and reduce noise, making it an ideal choice for job sites and extended events
- Switch between gasoline (11,000 surge watts, 8,300 running watt) and propane (9,500 surge, 7,500 running) with the simple turn of the selection dial
- Voltage easily goes from 120V to 240V, perfect for transfer switches and emergency backup
- Electric start powers the 457cc 4-stroke OHV engine with the turn of a key
- 6.6-gallon tank provides up to 8.5 hours of half load run time
- Includes four 120V GFCI outlets (5-20R), a 120V 30A twist lock outlet (L5-30R), a 120V/240V 50A outlet (NEMA 14-50R), a 12V DC cigarette-lighter-style plug, a bottle of oil, a 47-inch LPG connection hose, and a two-year warranty
- 9500 Running Watts and 12500 Peak Watts (Gasoline); 8500 Running Watts, 11200 Peak Watts (Propane); Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start; Up to 12 Hours of Run Time on a 6. 6 Gallon Fuel Tank With Fuel Gauge
- Features Two GFCI 120V 5–20R Standard Household Receptacle, One Transfer Switch Ready 120V L14-30R, and One RV Ready 120/240V 14–50R; All Outlets Have Rubber Covers for Added Safety
- Powered by a Heavy Duty 457cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV Engine Featuring a Long-Lasting Cast Iron Sleeve With Automatic Low Oil Shutdown and Digital Hour Meter. VFT display gives you real time updates with the voltage output, frequency, and lifetime hours
- Plug-and-Play: Comes With a Remote Start Key Fob, 12V Battery Charger, Oil, an Oil Funnel, a Tool Kit, and a User’s Manual to Get You Started Right Out of the Box (Minimal Assembly Required)
- All Westinghouse Portable Generators are Functionally Tested in the Factory and May Contain Minimum Residual Oil and/or Fuel Odor; EPA and CARB Compliant; Backed by 3-Year Limited Service, Labor, and Parts Coverage with Nationwide Customer Service Network
Gas Generators Are More Compact
Since gas generators do not need larger engine cylinders for extreme compression of air and fuel, they are usually smaller in size than diesel generators.
You do not always need a powerful generator for every job. In some cases, you may value size over power output. If you need a generator to bring with you to the campsite or tailgate party, and you do not expect much out of it, then a gas generator may be enough.
- 3600 Running Watts and 4650 Peak Watts; Recoil Start; 4 Gallon Fuel Tank With Fuel Gauge; Up to 14 Hours of Run Time Per Tank
- Features One 5–20R 120V Household Duplex Receptacle, One RV-Ready TT-30R 30 Amp Receptacle, and One L5-30R 30 Amp Receptacle; All Outlets Have Rubber Covers for Added Safety
- Plug-and-Play: Comes With Oil, an Oil Funnel, a Tool Kit, and a User’s Manual to Get You Started Right Out of the Box (Minimal Assembly Required)
- Powered by a 212cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV Engine Featuring a Long-Lasting Cast Iron Sleeve With Automatic Low Oil Shutdown
- All Westinghouse Portable Generators are Functionally Tested in the Factory and May Contain Minimum Residual Oil and/or Fuel Odor; EPA and CARB Compliant; Backed By 3-Year Limited Service, Labor, and Parts Coverage and Nationwide Customer Service Network
- 149cc engine generates up to 3600 surge watts and 2900 rated watts
- Produces clean power to prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as smart phones, tablets and laptops
- Ultralight body weighs in at a mere 46 pounds for easy transport and torage
- Fuel shutoff maximizes the generator’s lifespan by using up the remaining fuel in the carburetor before shutting down
- Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one TT-30R RV receptacle, one 12V DC receptacle, two 5V USB ports, and a three-year warranty
- 𝑾𝒊𝒅𝒆 𝑨𝒑𝒑𝒍𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏: The TogoPower GG1000 gas generator is a great back up outdoor generator for home use, job sites, camping, and more.
- 𝙀𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙜𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙮 𝙋𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙧: This gasoline powered generator has a starting power of 1000W and a running power of 800W. It can support small household appliances such as blenders, coffee pots, blow dryers, fans, lamps, and more. This generator features 𝟭𝟮𝟬𝙑 𝘼𝘾 𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙥𝙪𝙩 𝙫𝙤𝙡𝙩𝙖𝙜𝙚.
- 𝙃𝙞𝙜𝙝 𝘾𝙤𝙢𝙗𝙪𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙀𝙛𝙛𝙞𝙘𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙮: This generator uses 90# Petrol & Oil mixing (50:1) to provide you with power on the go. This unit can run 𝙨𝙞𝙭 𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙨 𝙖𝙩 𝟱𝟬% 𝙡𝙤𝙖𝙙 when the 1.1 gallon tank is full.
- 𝘼𝙞𝙧 𝘾𝙤𝙤𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙋𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙧 𝙎𝙮𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙢: The reliable 63cc two-stroke 𝙊𝙃𝙑 𝙖𝙞𝙧 𝙘𝙤𝙤𝙡𝙚𝙙 generator can provide plenty of power to handle all kinds of appliances. Portable and Easy To Use: Weighing only 35 lbs, this generator is easy to use and move around. Therefore, you and your family don't have to worry about power consumption outdoors.
- 𝑷𝑶𝑹𝑻𝑨𝑩𝑳𝑬 𝑨𝑵𝑫 𝑬𝑨𝑺𝒀 𝑻𝑶 𝑼𝑺𝑬: Lightweight and mini outdoor generator is easy to move and 𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙖𝙧𝙧𝙮 𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙙𝙤𝙤𝙧𝙨 even without the wheel kit. Your satisfaction is our priority and we 𝙨𝙪𝙥𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩 𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙚 without reason. In addition, we provide a one-year after-sales warranty service.
Diesel Generators Are More Fuel Efficient
One of the first considerations to make when choosing between a diesel generator and a gas generator is their fuel efficiency. After all, a generator’s fuel efficiency determines the power output and, ultimately, how much money you spend on refueling it. The fuel efficiency of these generators often makes them a worthy investment.
Gas Generators Need More Maintenance
One of the largest benefits of a diesel generator is that it needs very little maintenance to keep it running strong. On the other hand, gas generators are not as convenient. Gas generators use a carburetor to blend the air and fuel mixture.
Unfortunately, the carburetor is more likely to fail or malfunction than components in a diesel generator. As a result, gas generators are not quite as reliable as diesel ones.
With a diesel generator, the only maintenance necessary includes regular oil changes as well as fuel and air filter replacements. You should also have your generator regularly inspected by a qualified maintenance professional.
Diesel Generators Cost More
Not only is the upfront cost of a diesel generator higher than a gas generator, but the price of diesel fuel is also higher than regular gasoline. Altogether, you are going to end up spending more on a diesel generator than a gas generator. As a result, your choice of generator will depend on how much value you get for the price.
For smaller jobs, a cheaper gas generator may be more than enough to handle the task. However, if you are planning on using your generator extensively, the higher upfront cost may be worth it. Between the lower maintenance and higher output, diesel generators are more expensive for a reason.
Types of Diesel Generators
Although the mechanics of diesel generators are usually the same, they are several different types with different benefits and capabilities. Because of their specific benefits, you should make special considerations about which would work best for you as the type of generator you decide on will be directly related to your needs. There are three main types of diesel generators.
Portable generators are exactly as their name describes. These generators are smaller, easier to move, and best suited for transport. They may even have wheels on them to make transporting them easier.
The tradeoff is that the small size of portable generators makes them less powerful and limited in their fuel capacity. As a result, they are better for temporary use rather than long-term use on a property.
Inverter Diesel Generators
Inverter generators are another type of portable generator but with the ability to regulate engine speed and power output. These generators have an internal electronic component that adjusts the engine speed depending on the power needs of the load.
The ability of these generators to regulate their output makes them more fuel efficient. By reducing engine speed based on the amount of power output needed, the generator does not run at continuously high outputs or burn unnecessary fuel.
Their engine efficiency also allows them to operate more quietly. Therefore, inverter generators are the better option when camping or staying in an area with noise restrictions.
Standby generators are stationary and permanently installed on a property. These generators are the most powerful, have the longest run time, and are the most capable. At the same time, they are also larger than the other types of generators.
How to Connect a Generator to Your House Without a Transfer Switch
These generators are often used to help back up your home or business during a power outage. Some of which are even powerful enough to keep your operations running at full capacity. Standby generators are often capable of running heating systems, air conditioners, and vital appliances like refrigerators. As a result, they can be a huge difference maker in winter storms or hot summer power outages.
What to Consider When Buying a Diesel Generator
The last mistake you want to make when buying a diesel generator is to buy one that cannot power all of your devices. You also do not want to buy a generator that cannot go where you need it to. As you search for the best diesel generator for you, you should consider its power output, size, operation system, fuel efficiency, and more.
Of course, you buy a generator to generate power, so the most important consideration to make is how much power output it has. Diesel generator power output ranges from 8 kW to a hefty 30 kW. In commercial settings, generators can generate as high as 2,000 kW of power, but they are not entirely common.
When comparing power outputs in your search for a generator, keep in mind that you do not want to run a generator at maximum capacity for an extended period of time. Therefore, you should look at the startup wattage for the appliances that you need and choose a generator that is rated above that amount. For the sake of your generator, it is important that it provides more power than your devices need, not just enough to power them.
Especially with the increasing costs of fuel, you do not want to spend more on fuel than necessary. Fortunately, when you buy a diesel generator, you can compare the fuel efficiency of different models. Buying a generator with lower fuel efficiency could end up losing you considerable money overall.
As you comb through your options, you should look at how much fuel your generator uses per hour. Generators have different fuel consumption ratings on different loads, so consider what you are going to use your generator for in order to accurately calculate how much fuel you may use. Of course, if you plan on running your generator close to full capacity, you can expect to burn more fuel per hour than if you are running it at only half load.
Not only do generators differ in fuel efficiency, but they also have different tank sizes. Therefore, you should consider your access to fuel and how frequently you are going to need to fill it up.
In instances where generators are going to be frequently running and in areas away from gas stations, it is better to buy a generator with a tank that can hold considerable amounts of fuel. If you are going to be using your diesel generator just a little bit at a time, then a high fuel capacity is not going to be as important.
Whether you are looking for a portable generator or standby generator, size and weight are two important factors. For a portable generator, you will want to be sure that you will be able to carry it in your vehicle and have enough room for the rest of your camping or tailgating gear.
For a standby generator, you should know the size so that you know how big its footprint will be and how much space it will take up in your yard, warehouse, or another area. Since standby generators often need a concrete foundation installed, the size of the generator can also affect installation costs, so it helps to know what you are getting into.
Weight is also important to look into before purchase. Even generators listed as portable can be several hundred pounds, so you should make sure to look through all of the specifications before making your final decision.
A control and management system provides important information about your generator and can make it easier to operate. Some generators are more advanced in their control management systems than others, with the ability to highlight performance issues like low fuel or mechanical problems. More advanced systems even have an automatic shut-off system in the event of serious concerns, like low oil pressure, high system temperatures, and engine operation issues.
A control system is especially important in commercial applications and when handling heavy loads. As you weigh your options, you should choose a diesel generator with a management system that is easy to use and provides information that you think you may need.
Power Management System
Many generators now feature a power management system, which provides additional information about power flows through the unit. Power management systems provide the ability to kick on automatically during a power outage and can also control power output depending on the priority of the loads on the unit. This system prevents the generator from overloading when powering larger appliances.
If you are powering larger appliances, then you should consider a generator with a power management system.
Generators can use different methods for starting. Some of the mechanisms include a key, a push-to-start button, and a remote start. Some generators are even equipped with automatic start, allowing them to power on as soon as a power outage is detected.
For many people, the difference between a button and a key does not make a significant difference. However, remote start and automatic start capability can provide a large advantage. For example, if a storm causes a power outage in the middle of the night, then remote start allows you to get the power up and running without leaving the house. An automatic start system is even more convenient, kicking on as soon as an outage is detected.
In commercial applications or to back up larger houses, a single generator is not always enough. Additional generators that run in a parallel or modular sequence can provide extra power or kick on if the primary generator fails.
In the event that you may want to scale up in the future, you should pay attention to whether the generator you buy now will be able to handle a parallel set. Some generators make the process simple enough to install in a matter of minutes, while others are not capable of linking with other generators at all. Therefore, modular capability should play a role in your decision-making.
How Big of a Generator Do I Need?
The size of the diesel generator you need depends on the size of the job that you need to be done. If you are using a generator while you are camping to power a few devices, like a coffee maker, some lights, and cell phone chargers, then you can get away with a much smaller generator.
However, if you are buying a generator because you live in an area with frequent power outages, then you are more likely to need a larger standby generator. Ultimately, a larger size equals greater power output, so if you have big power needs, you should prepare to have the storage for a larger generator.
Your size needs will also depend on whether you need a portable or stationary generator. A portable generator is clearly the much better choice for situations like camping, tailgating, or overlapping.
On the other hand, to power operations at your home or business or for backup power during storms, a larger stationary generator is fine. In fact, if you are not moving your generator, it often makes more sense to buy a larger one since it will likely have a greater power output.
How Much Does a Diesel Generator Cost?
Diesel generators can fall into a wide price range. Typically, you can find a diesel generator priced between $800 and $20,000. Of course, more powerful generators are going to cost more than those with lower power outputs. Diesel generator prices depend on a few key factors, like:
- Generator size
- Power output
- Type of generator
- Fuel capacity
If you are planning on having a diesel generator installed to power your home, then you will also need to consider installation costs. A standby home generator can cost between $500 and $5,000 to install. The installation price includes the labor cost for connecting the generator to the gas line, a concrete foundation for the generator to sit on, a permit if needed for the city or HOA, and installing a transfer switch if necessary.
Top Diesel Generator Brands
In your search for the best diesel generator, you will come across a long list of brands. Some of the top brands include:
Many brands have their own reputations, which could influence your choice. To learn more about each of the brands, their benefits, and their reviews, explore the GeneratorTools brand guide.
Trust GeneratorTools in Your Search
Altogether, diesel generators are fuel efficient, powerful, and capable of taking on some tall tasks. However, there are several considerations to weigh as you explore options for a diesel generator, and the industry is constantly seeing new developments. As you look for the right generator to fit your needs, GeneratorTools is here to help.
At GeneratorTools.com, you can find a complete buyer’s guide for diesel and gas generators. We provide a breakdown of all the industry’s top brands so that you know what to expect from each one. We also have an extensive list of reviews and guides to help you better understand what to look for and how to compare different generators. Explore our guide for yourself, and simplify your search.