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Petrol or diesel – which generator is best?

Petrol or diesel generators

When investing in a generator there are a number of things to consider to ensure you get the most suitable machine for your requirements. Choosing between petrol and diesel is one of them.

Generally, petrol generators are cheaper than their diesel counterparts but don’t let that sway you straight away! If you’re looking for an occasional use generator that is more likely to be used for a camping trip than to power a bore pump on the farm, then a petrol generator is likely to be adequate for you depending on its power output. But for any applications requiring long periods of use, especially if it is unattended, diesel may be the better option.       

Portable diesel generator
Yanmar YDG2700N diesel generator

To put this into perspective let’s consider the major difference between diesel and petrol. In a petrol engine, fuel is mixed with air, compressed by pistons and ignited by sparks from spark plugs. In a diesel engine, however, the air is compressed first, before the fuel is injected, or put more simply the explosive heat energy is produced by using highly compressed hot air to ignite the fuel rather than using a spark plug. 

What does this mean? This means that diesel fuel is less volatile and more efficient than petrol with most of the heat energy produced during the combustion process going into the spinning of the engine and not out the exhaust.

What does this all really mean? It means that diesel engines are:

  • More fuel efficient
  • Less flammable compared to petrol
  • Have a longer useful life
  • Less wearing parts like spark plugs, carburetor, magnetos and leads
  • Overall, diesel engines emit less hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and lead pollution than petrol engines, but do produce more noxious gases and significantly more particulates
Westinghouse WHXC5000 petrol generator
Westinghouse WHXC5000 petrol generator

So when considering whether to buy a petrol or diesel generator the key deciding factors are:

  • The price
  • The safety risks of petrol fuel
  • Storage of the fuel and its shelf life
  • The effects of the fuel on the components if left sitting idle for extended periods
  • The cost of components to replace

Generally, diesel generators are more efficient but it’s important to consider the above and your usage levels before deciding. Whichever option you pick, choosing a well-respected, reliable brand rather than a cheap alternative that may break down quickly is one of the greatest considerations.

Our experts are always happy to pass on their years of experience to help you choose the best generator option for your application. Just give us a call on 1300 278 655 to discuss your needs.



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