How long does a standby generator last?
When you buy a generator, you want to make sure it will last. A stationary, fuel-powered generator can cost between $7,000 and $15,000 for a medium-sized home, plus installation and maintenance costs. If it is properly maintained, a backup generator made by a reputable brand should last about 3,000 hours. This means that if you run the generator for about 100 hours per year, your generator will last about 30 years.
For a more exact calculation, estimate the number of hours you think you would need to run the generator per year. For example, if you typically experience three power outages per year, each lasting 20 hours, your generator would be in use about 60 hours per year. Next, add to that the number of hours you run your generator per year for maintenance purposes. If you run your generator weekly for 15 minutes, as we recommend, that will add about 13 hours to your total run time. That means you would run your generator about 73 hours a year, which would mean your generator could last as many as 41 years.
Of course, other factors play a role as well, including the capacity at which you run your generator (running it at a higher capacity wears out the engine faster) and how well you maintain it. It’s also important to buy a generator from a reputable dealer. To find trusted dealers in your area, try using AlltimePower’s free generator pricing calculator. Our service will help you estimate how much you can expect to spend on a generator and match you with excellent generator dealers near you.
How long does a portable generator last?
Portable generators typically do not last as long as stationary generators. Depending on the quality of the engine, you can expect a portable generator to last between 1000 and 2000 hours. That means if you run your portable generator an average of 100 hours per year, it will last between 10 and 20 years. A portable generator’s lifespan can be reduced if it is exposed to a lot of moisture or dust, so it’s important to make sure it is properly stored and maintained.
When deciding between a stationary and portable generator, however, there are factors to consider beyond the generator’s lifespan. For example, a portable generator is much less expensive than a stationary one. They typically run between $200 and $5,000, and since they do not have to be installed, you will also save money on installation costs. Additionally, if you want a generator you can transport to power an RV, for example, a portable generator may be the right choice. Read our blog post on the subject to find out more about the difference between standby and portable generators.
Buying a generator that will last
Extending the lifespan of a generator starts with choosing the right dealer and brand. Research the brand of generator you buy to make sure the engine is high quality. Ask your dealer if the generators they sell have pressurized lubrication. Engines with pressurized lubrication tend to have a much longer lifespan because the lubrication allows oil to circulate in the engine immediately after it starts up. This keeps the engine from remaining cold, which would cause it to become more worn down over time.
You’ll also want to make sure you buy the right size generator for your home. Buying a generator with a lower capacity than you need to run the most important appliances will put a strain on the generator engine. Each time you run your generator at or near full capacity, it will put a strain on the engine and shorten your generator’s lifespan. Before you buy a generator, take the time to calculate how much energy your household uses.
If you are buying a second-hand generator, your generator will likely be less expensive, but it will also have a shorter lifespan. Be sure you buy it from a reputable dealer who will give you an accurate understanding of how many more hours of runtime the generator has. Rather than buying a used generator, you may want to buy a generator that has had its internal parts disassembled, inspected, and rebuilt according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Any damaged parts will have been replaced, and the dealer will have a better understanding of the generator’s health.
Installing your generator
To ensure your standby generator has a long lifespan, make sure it is installed in a location likely to stay cool and dry all year round. Your installer will be able to help you, but you know your home best. Think of areas that have flooded in the past or have the potential to flood and avoid those areas. It’s also a good idea to install it in a spot that is shady most of the day and away from the wind. Too much wind could cause excess dust and dirt to damage the engine.
Of course, you’ll need to balance other concerns when installing your generator. For example, generators can be loud, so you will want to install it away from bedrooms and, if possible, living spaces. It is also helpful to install the generator near the home’s circuit panel so it’s easy to connect it to the power circuit. Standby generators are commonly installed on concrete panels near the sides of homes, though this may vary depending on your individual needs.
Portable generators do not need to be installed, but it’s important to store them in a place that is cool and dry. Garages and small sheds are good examples. If you want to store your generator outside, it’s a good idea to buy a generator enclosure or cover to protect it from rain and snow. For long-term storage, you should also remove any excess gasoline in the portable generator’s tank. If gasoline is left in the tank or fuel lines for more than 10 days, it can cause corrosion.
Generator maintenance and repair
Owning a generator is like owning a car: if you want it last, you need to care for it. We recommend creating and following a regular maintenance schedule. Every week, you should run your generator for 15 to 20 minutes. This allows the lubricating oil to heat up and circulate through the engine, which helps keep the engine strong and healthy. It also helps you verify that everything is running smoothly and the fuel level is adequate.
Once a month, you should check the oil and coolant levels in the engine. Both of these fluids are essential for the generator to run smoothly. You’ll also want to make sure the generator has air to breathe. Keep overgrowth and fallen leaves away from the engine, and during the winter, brush off any snow that may have accumulated. Finally, you should make sure no rodents or other small pests have taken up residence in the enclosure.
Every 6 to 12 months, you should hire a qualified technician to perform a more detailed inspection of your generator. Most dealers offer maintenance packages for the generators they sell. The technician will lubricate the oil, check oil and air-intake filters, and inspect the batteries, spark plugs, and belt drives. He will also make sure no dust or rust has started to accumulate inside the engine.
When to replace your generator
As your generator nears the end of its lifespan, you will probably start to notice signs that the engine is wearing down. For example, an old generator may provide less consistent power than it used to. Lights may flicker on and off, or certain appliances may cut in and out. You may notice that your generator takes longer to start up than it should. The lights may flicker for several seconds before the generator can start up fully.
Another common sign of a worn-down generator is high fuel costs. As mechanical parts become less efficient over time, the engine must consume more fuel to produce the same amount of power. You may reach a point where you decide it’s worth buying a new generator to reduce the amount you are spending on fuel. Old generators also tend to require more repairs, so buying a new generator may save you from high repair costs as well.
Sometimes, homeowners decide to replace their generator before the engine wears out. For instance, as technology advances, newer generator models may become more desirable. Another reason for buying a new generator is that a generator may no longer be able to provide enough power for a family’s changing needs. If you buy a generator just large enough to run a few appliances, but later have children or renovate your home, you may need a larger generator.
To find out what your home’s energy needs are or may be in the future, try using AlltimePower’s generator sizing calculator. The service will tell you what size generator you need. This will help you decide what kind of generator to buy or, if you already own one, find out if you need a larger generator than the one you currently own.