Diesel Generator Basics



This article was written to give our clients a brief tutorial on diesel generators and their features and benefits. We believe that purchasing a generator can be a major investment, and when you call US Power Diesel Generators you work one on one with a professional, highly trained sales engineer with project managment expertise. At US Power Diesel Generators, we build our business on referrals and loyal, repeat customers by going the extra mile and exhausting every option until you have the right new or used generator for your facility or organization.


Typically generators run on diesel, natural gas or liquid propane. Backup generators – permanent installations designed to provide power to your business during emergencies – most often are run on diesel, simply because diesel engines last a long time and they are cheap to buy. Because they can be connected directly to your utility lines and draw fuel when they need to, natural gas and propane generators are popular in applications of 125kW and smaller. For every application that requires more power than this, the natural gas/lp generator will be typically at least twice as expensive as a diesel generator. This is because the manufacturer must take an engine with twice the necessary horse power and "gasify" it, which cuts HP in 1/2. A diesel generator is a good, economical choice for most commercial applications, such as permenant standby applications as well as those providing power at construction sites which require both portability and substantial power.


In addition to being more affordable, diesel powered generators are very dependable: most run at 1800 RPM and are water-cooled. This gives them a greater life span than the standard 3600 RPM, air-cooled portable gasoline generator. In fact, you can often get 15,000 to 30,000 hours of use out of a diesel engine before it requires significant work, as long as it is well maintained and exercised regularly.


Although fuel prices are constantly in flux and subject to radical changes over time, as seen in 2005 through the present, a diesel generator is typically cheaper to operate than a generator that runs on natural gas, gasoline, or propane: fuel costs per kilowatt (kW) produced are as much as 30% to 50% less than other fuels. However, diesel generators require deliveries of diesel fuel and a large holding tank, and while the EPA has set firm guidelines for emission which has led to considerable improvements in filters and reductions in emissions, diesel generators are still not as clean-burning as other types.


Diesel generators range in size from 6 kW to over 3,000 kW. It’s more typical to find a diesel generator in the range from around 20 kW up to 2000 kW. These large diesel generators are commonly available as “towable” models: they’re mounted on a basic trailer, ready to be towed to your work site. Determining your peak load over the past 24 months is a good place to start when deciding on the size your facility requires.


We can provide you with the specific generator that best fits your needs from our used diesel generator inventory , used natural gas generator inventory, or new generator line of custom configured units. We can significantly beat any competitor's price on comparable equipment – just give us a shot! US Power's no-pressure, straight-talking, service-oriented sales staff will assist you in the selection of the right generator for your particular application, even if it is not from us. If you would like to do some research on your own, browse our website for more information on generator features and benefits, automatic transfer switch basics, peak control energy savings that pay for your generator, generator selection, and standby power installation.