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Propane vs. diesel generators – which is the better backup?


A natural disaster can strike at a moment’s notice, with little warning or time to prepare your family and home to weather the days or weeks ahead. Don’t leave your family’s safety and comfort to anything but an affordable, reliable, and instantly available fuel: propane. 

What are some of the benefits of propane generators?

1. Propane is readily available

Unlike diesel and gasoline, which require electrical pumps to reach customers, propane is readily available in times of crisis, such as ice storms, high winds hurricanes capable of severing your home from the electrical grid, or other natural disasters causing power outages. Standard sized tanks can be kept on hand for a sudden power outage, and are available for purchase in every community. For areas with frequent power outages, an on-site storage tank ensures year-round access to a fuel that is clean-burning, efficient, and safe. You’ll also avoid the long lines at the pump, because in most areas, propane can be delivered right to your home or place of business. 

2. Propane generators start easily

Propane generators are easy to start in any condition, unlike gasoline that commonly develops “gum” deposits, or diesel engines, which are notorious for starting difficulties in colder environments. When there’s a power outage, a propane standby generator will start providing power automatically in just a few seconds. And unlike diesel fuel, propane is always ready for use because it doesn’t require fuel additives or suffer from degradation over time. 

3. Propane generators provide longevity over diesel generators

Additionally, propane engine generators aren’t susceptible to “wet-stacking” of fuel injectors that commonly plagues diesel systems tasked with running without a direct load. Diesel engines can become tainted by carbon deposits, resulting in over-fueling that leads to sputtering, rough running, and excessive smoking. 

Aside from immediate reliability and ease of use, propane generators last a long time, and run trouble-free for thousands of hours, with less regular maintenance to keep them ready for use at a moment’s notice. 

How noisy are propane generators?

Propane generators are much quieter to operate vs diesel fueled and gasoline engines. This isn’t just good for your family; it’s a benefit to anyone within earshot of your home. With a propane generator, you’ll get an outstanding source of reliable back-up energy, without all the annoying noise that’s commonly associated with standby generators. 

Environmental effects of propane generators

And for those concerned with the environmental effects, a propane generator is hands down the way to go. Propane is one of the cleanest burning fuels in use. It produces fewer particulates and less greenhouse gas per gallon than either gasoline or diesel. Propane exhaust is colorless and nearly odorless. In locations with air quality concerns, diesel engines are prohibited from operating during certain times of the day, due to their toxic emissions. Propane generators can operate anywhere, anytime, with limited concern for environmental impact. 

Another reason the propane vs diesel generator discussion favors propane is the long-term cost of ownership. With lower maintenance, less fuel price volatility, propane’s molecular integrity, and the exceptional shelf life of propane engines, the total cost of ownership outperforms diesel fueled or gasoline engines for portable or whole house standby generators. 


Additional uses for propane generators

There are a number of uses for a propane generator, beyond the need for standby power in the aftermath of a hurricane, fire, or storm.

Many work sites rely on propane generators to power tools and other construction equipment. The reliability of propane, and the long shelf life ensures progress isn’t interrupted. Because propane can be stored on the job site, there’s less lost time, and it’s always ready to provide the power needed to keep work moving ahead. Travelers and campers rely on propane generators to provide the comfort of home on the road, without disturbing others who want to soak up the wilderness. Outdoor parties and special events are better with power, and with a propane generator, even the biggest outdoor venues can be converted to well-lit, comfortable areas. Guests won’t be forced to yell over the constant rumbling of a diesel motor, or return home smelling like diesel exhaust. 

Propane generator safety

Like any fuel, there are safety concerns. Propane, like any fuel, shouldn’t be used in sealed indoor areas. Regardless of fuel type, most generator-related injuries happen when a generator was used in a tightly sealed space, leading to an unsafe build-up of carbon monoxide.

Also, if you plan to use a larger on-site storage tank, be sure it, and related fuel lines, are installed by a professional. This will ensure your family’s safety, and save money from potential leaks caused by improper installation. 

Don’t wait until there’s an emergency to take steps to protect your family from the unexpected. During big storms and natural disasters, it’s common to see panicked demand for portable generators and standby generation systems. By planning ahead, and weighing your options ahead of a crisis, you’ll make a cleaner choice about which power solution can best fuel your family’s needs. Propane Generators can be found at your nearest hardware store such as Lowe's.

Contact Ferrellgas about your propane generator needs

For more information about the way a propane generator can help your family, visit or contact your local Ferrellgas office to learn more about other propane solutions for your home.


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