How Long Should You Leave Your Generator Running?

Got a generator? We can help. Here's how long you can leave your generator running

Learn the truth about how long you can run your generator

Generators run on gas to produce electricity, and they’re one of the most useful machines that you can own. Ideal for blackouts, outdoor partying, and a slew of other activities, every household should own a generator.

However, just because they’re able to bring the fun (and convenience) doesn’t mean that generators should be kept on for extremely long periods of time. Aside from the risk of running out of gas, you also want to keep the generator in the best shape possible.

If you’re wondering how long you should leave a generator running, here’s some useful information that will keep you informed and educated on the topic.

Generators Should Be Used as a Source of Backup Power

It’s important to remember that generators are a source of backup power, meaning that you shouldn’t be using them all the time for everything. Generators are not designed to run continuously without ceasing, and doing so could actually damage the machine. While the length of time you can leave a generator running will vary depending on the machine and the amount of fuel, you should never leave a generator running for weeks or months on end.

Fortunately, many generators have a built-in shut off switch that will automatically turn off the machine before it runs out of fuel, helping to prevent damage to the generator. However, just because a generator has this feature doesn’t mean that you want to be using it all the time. Always do your best to attend to your generator and turn it off within a reasonable amount of time.

How Long Can You Safely Run a Generator Continuously?

When it comes down to it, there is no hard and fast number of hours that you can safely run every generator. Ultimately, the exact amount of time will come down to the machine, as well as factors such as how old it is and how much gasoline it's carrying.

However, most generators will fall somewhere in the range of eight to twenty-four hours without needing refueling or to be turned off. Some high-end generators will run for longer than this, and of course, some will run for fewer hours. Always check with the manufacturer to find out exactly how many hours your generator will run with a full tank of gas.

What Kind of Gas Does a Generator Take?

For a gas powered generator, you’ll want to use regular unleaded gas with a minimum of 85 octane. Never refuel your generator while it is on. Rather, you’ll want to turn your generator off and let it cool off for at least two minutes before pouring fuel into its gas tank.

Additionally, generators also need motor oil to be added to them before they are used for the first time. Remember, generators contain motors inside of them, so you’ll want to treat these machines similarly to how you would a vehicle. Always check the motor oil level before starting your machine because running a generator that does not have enough motor oil in it will ruin the machine’s engine.

Do Generators Come with Warranties?

The short answer is yes, most generators will come with a warranty. However, the length and coverage of generator warranties can vary greatly depending on the brand and cost of the machine. More affordable generators will generally offer a one-year warranty, while higher-end models will offer closer to a four-year warranty on average.

Because generators are motor-run devices, you always want to check to make sure that the warranty included with your generator purchase covers engine problems. Warranties will often be voided if you have gotten into an accident with the generator, abused the generator, damaged the generator, or operated the generator incorrectly.

What Can a Generator Be Used For?

Once you’ve got your generator in your hands and have determined how long it can safely run for, explore your options for using it. Generators can serve bigger purposes than merely providing electricity when a power outage occurs.

Take your generator out camping, use it for a backyard party, or bring it to a tailgating party to truly get the most you can out of it. The biggest factors that you’ll want to be most aware of are how long you’ve been continuously running it for and how much fuel is in its system, and how well you are maintaining it. If you can handle these factors, you can do just about anything with a generator.

Resources — Tool Powers, Generators Zone, Tough Ass Tools, Honeywell Generators