A generator is a must when you are out for camping or hosting a party outdoor. It can also be used as backup power for your home electricity in case of an emergency.

In most cases, you only require your generator to run for a few hours. But what if there’s an outage of power for very long and now you need to run the generator for a long while?

You may be curious to know how long can you run a generator continuously. Well, the answer to this query is not generic.

The continuity of a generator depends on what type of generator it is, and what kind of fuel it uses. This piece of writing will shed light on different types of generators and their durability.

Factors That Determine the Run-time

The very first thing you have to keep in mind when you think of your generator’s duration is that it depends on various factors. Different scenarios will affect the runtime differently. Let’s take a look at how it can be differently judged based on a few factors.


One of the main factors that decide whether or not your generator will run for long is its size. How so? Well, if your generator is small in size, it means that it also has a smaller fuel tank. Therefore, the ability to contain fuel decreases with a decrement in the size of the machine, and you end up getting less power from it.

Such small-sized generators are usually made for small-time running, so you should not expect it to run for days. Again, for bigger-sized ones, it’s vice versa. The larger generators will run for a longer time without causing a problem.


The stress you put on your generator is also another major factor in deciding the duration. Simply you cannot expect your generator engine to act as your car engine. A car engine won’t trouble you when you run it for a long time. But generators are likely to misbehave if a lot of stress is put.

Moreover, the stress you put on your generator will also affect its life cycle. You may face issues like overheating and sudden shutdown.

Most of the generators may slow start behaving wrong if you continuously use them for more than twenty-four hours on a repeated basis. It’s better to give your generator some break, and it won’t bother you too quickly.

Area It Covers

It is obvious that the type of generator you use should be dependent on how much of the area and power you are using it for, and your generator will accordingly.

Get a small portable generator to get power for your whole house; you will be left disappointed with its performance. A portable generator will not be able to cover such a big place.

Also, the number of machines you will use the generator for and their power usage will also determine its runtime. If you are planning to power up a big house consisting of many lights and fans, with a small capacity generator, then surely it will run for a little time.

So, in case you are thinking about how long your generator may run, take into account its coverage, as well.

Different Types of Generators

Now, let’s take a look at different scenarios of the functioning of generators. As I said earlier, the type of a generator and the fuel it consumes play a vital role in determining how long it will continuously run. Here, I will cover a few of the most common types of generators and explain their duration.

  • Portable Generator with Gasoline

If the generator you are using runs on gasoline, then the continuous runtime for your generator is the most limited. The reason behind this is that you cannot simply apply more fuel to your generator while it is running. You may feel like refilling your fuel tank just by pouring some more gasoline, but it is too dangerous to do so.

Why is that? Well, a generator that’s running for a while is blazing hot. So, when you will add the fuel to the hot tank, it may spark out and cause the generator, and your fuel tank burst into flames. You may as well get yourself heavily injured.

Therefore, to refuel your gasoline run generator, you must turn it off and let it cool for a while beforehand.

That means you are only able to run it up to only a limited amount of time until the fuel runs out. Depending on how much power you are drawing and how much the fuel tank can hold, the runtime for a generator with gasoline generally ranges from a few hours to 12 or more hours.

However, there are a few portable gasoline-run generators that have fuel tanks lasting more than a day. But in most cases, you should expect such generators to run for more than a few hours, but less than a day.

  • Portable Generator with Propane

If you are using a generator that runs on propane, then the capacity of the fuel tank won’t be an issue. Such generators give you an option to keep your generator running without having to stop to refuel. You can continuously keep it fueled because of its mechanism.

What you will need to do is attaching two propane gas tanks to your generator by using a stopcock valve or a changeover regulator. By doing that, you can turn on and off fuel flow from either of the tanks.

You can keep one running and turn off another, so when any of the tanks reaches to an end, you just disconnect it and replace it with a fresh one. Meanwhile, the other tank will keep fueling the machine and keep it running.

This option will enable you to provide an unlimited supply of fuel to the generator. So, let’s assume you have an infinite supply of propane. How long will you be able to run it?

Most of the portable generators that run on propane require maintenance after 100 hours of runtime. However, this is not a must, and you do not necessarily have to be so strict about it.

The issue you have to consider in this case is rather your generator engine’s oil. Because the amount of oil put in the engine is limited, and it is supposed to reach an end after 150-200 hours of runtime. Modern-day generators are designed to shut down after the oil reaches low.

Another thing you need to bear in mind is that such generators will present a lot of heat when you are running it for a long while. Mostly, such generators tend to produce excessive heat after 12 to 24 hours of use.

If you use the generator continuously for more than a day, the heat is likely to reach an extent that may cause permanent damage to the machine.

To tackle this issue, you can use cooling fans or pack the machine with ice. Doing so will keep your machine as cool as possible.

So, the bottom line is that, if you can maintain your propane run generator well, it will give about 200 hours, or about eight days, of continuous power supply. Don’t forget that propane is expensive and you will have to count a lot of money on that.

  • Standby Generator

If you are in need to use your generator continuously for more than a few days, then a portable generator won’t do it. In such a case, you require a standby generator.

Standby generators are generally very large and made to operate for a long time. These have strong motors that are efficient enough to continuously run for many days, and they can handle a lot of power supply. Not to mention that you get various fuel options on many generators.

Some generators are designed to be run on natural gas lines, while some have the capacity to hold fuel tanks of 500-1000 gallons of propane. You can use diesel-run generators as well because diesel is cheap and will save you a lot of money.

Such generators are the best option to supply power for a house or office devices. You can keep them running without worrying as they do not run out early. However, you need to ensure regular maintenance with these generators.

So, how long do they actually run for?

Well, depending on the quality and capacity of such standby generators, most of them are recommended by manufacturers to be run for up to 500-600 hours at most. That is around 21 days straight if you have a continuous supply of fuel. Sounds a lot, right?!

While you may run a standby generator for even longer, it is recommended not to do so. You may risk permanent damage to your generator and the devices connected to it. Herein, cut the engine and apply maintenance for a while, and then re-use it to keep it functioning well.


A generator is your necessary friend when you are in a power emergency situation. When you are going to use your generator for a longer period, it is better to monitor it. Generators are made to help you out with backup power, but keep in mind that machines do need rest.

If you keep using the machine for an excessive amount of time, it will eventually start to get damaged, and that will cost you a lot of money.

In case you are not strictly bound to use the generator continuously for long, it is imperative that you turn the engine off, let it cool down for a while, and turn it on after performing maintenance. With little breaks, you will be very well off with your machine.

You might be interested in:

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Generator?

How To Ground A Portable Generator When Camping

Portable Generator Safety Tips (Be Safe Today) | An Expert Guide

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