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How long can you run a house on a generator?

Making the decision to purchase a generator is a big investment, and it makes sense to be as informed as you possibly can before you take the plunge.

Generators are designed to make life easier during the event of a power outage– and by nature, power outages are unpredictable. Once that power goes out, you’ll most likely have no way of knowing when it’ll get turned on, beyond a vague estimate provided by your power company.

That’s why knowing how long you can power your house with your generator is imperative, allowing you to prepare yourself for the next power cut you experience in your area.

How long can generators run?

This is a question that doesn’t have one definitive answer. Instead, the length of time that a generator can run depends on two main factors: the type of generator you own, and the type of fuel it runs on.

What types of generators are there?

The two primary types of generators available on the market are portable and standby generators.

Portable generators, as you might guess from their name, are designed to be portable. This portability, however, means that they aren’t as heavy-duty as other types of generators.

Typically, a portable generator is used for things like powering an RV, or powering just a few appliances in the event of a power outage. 

While they are definitely useful and reliable, portable generators aren’t really meant to provide power for an entire home, and often they are not capable of doing so.

Standby generators, on the other hand, are a lot more powerful than their portable counterparts. It’s specifically designed to provide power to homes, or other buildings, in the event of a power failure.

How long does a portable generator run?

Portable generators are designed for lighter use than standby generators.

This means that it’s highly advisable to use your portable generator for just a few hours at a time. Even though they can theoretically run for longer, it’s best to shut down the generator and allow it to cool down every so often.

In other words, in the event of a power failure, you can power a few key appliances with your portable generator– for example, the refrigerator, although you should always double-check the power requirements for your appliance versus the capabilities of your generator, just to make sure everything will work the way you want it to.

We’d recommend using your generator for increments of 8-10 hours at a time, allowing it to cool down in between. This will also help you conserve fuel.

How long does a standby generator run?

Standby generators are designed to power homes and buildings for extended periods of time. This means that if you’re facing an extended power outage, a standby generator is your best bet.

The type of fuel your standby generator uses also determines how long it can run at a time. If the generator is in good shape and has been properly maintained, it should be able to run as long as it has fuel.

Some standby generators are powered by gas lines– which, if they’re still accessible during a power failure, mean that your generator can run for as long as you need it due to the virtually infinite supply of gas that it’s drawing from.

Other standby generators rely on propane for fuel, so the amount of time they can be used to power your home depends on the size of the propane tank that your generator is connected to. If you have a 1,000-gallon tank, it may be able to power your home for up to two weeks.

Got more questions?

Because there are so many types of generators available on the market, with different fuel requirements and capabilities, it’s common to have plenty more questions before you’re ready to choose a generator to power your home in the event of a power failure.

If you’d like to talk generators with one of our experts, simply give us a call or reach out via our contact form. We’re here to help!