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7 Questions To Ask BEFORE You Buy A Generator

Usually after any power outage, talk quickly turns to thoughts of buying a generator. Today, with those outages becoming more frequent and longer-lasting, that talk is turning into action for many people concerned about the health and comfort of their families.

So let's take a brief look at what you should consider BEFORE you decide on the generator that best suits your needs.

✔ Why are you buying a generator?

People buy generators for a variety of reasons. Some want to avoid the discomfort and inconvenience of an extended power outage. Some get a generator for a home that is permanently (or temporarily) off the grid. How long will your generator be expected to run without interruption? Is it for emergency use only? Many home generators are not designed to run for long periods of time. Check the warranty. When there is a limit on the type of use, it’s often an indicator that it will not last long.

✔ What size do you need?

This is an area where you can save (or waste) a lot of money if you don't choose correctly. It’s important to think through your requirements. What do you want or need to keep running if the power goes out? Many people do not need to power everything in their home at the same time. If you can hold off on using all your heavy appliances at the same time, you can reduce the size and cost of your generator and save a lot of fuel.

✔ Where will you locate the generator?

If you are going to permanently install it next to your home, you need to leave enough room for it to be fully accessible from all sides. It can’t be near a window or opening into the home. Natural gas powered generators require the utility company to upgrade your meter and add additional gas pipes because of the volume of fuel it will use. Propane powered generators are connected to storage tanks and will empty an average tank quickly. In addition, the gas lines will need to be buried. Diesel powered generators either have a built-in fuel tank, a sub-base tank that fits under the generator or one that is mounted next to it.

✔ How are you fuelling your generator?

Once you decide whether you’re going with diesel, gasoline or propane, you need to consider how you feel regarding the storage of the fuel you select. What is your fuel resupply plan? How much fuel will you need to operate your generator for 3 or 4 days? Depending on the fuel type, generators of the same power rating can use drastically different amounts of fuel.

✔ Is the generator easy to maintain?

Keeping your generator in good working order requires proper maintenance. Most generators are destroyed by a lack of maintenance. It is not uncommon for an oil change that’s due to be skipped during a power outage and by the time it’s over or the morning comes, the engine has suffered irreparable damage. Diesel powered generators can operate up to 500 hours between oil and filter changes. Other types of generators require service at least every 100 hours. Are you able to change the oil yourself or do you need a company to service the generator for you?

✔ What is the generator’s run time?

Power outages occur more frequently and last longer than they used to. Your backup power generator should be able to operate for as long as needed without worry of failure or expensive service to maintain it. Gas type generators typically use a small high-speed engine that's air-cooled and can't run full-time. They wear out quickly and therefore require frequent oil changes and cool-down periods every day or two. A diesel powered generator can run nonstop for three weeks before an oil change is required and no cool-down period is needed. Diesel engines typically last 20 times longer.

✔ What restrictions does the warranty have?

Consider the warranty and read the fine print. Many companies limit the engine warranty so it only covers emergency standby use. You can’t use them for portable power, at the cottage, camp or off-grid for example. This is common with Natural Gas, Propane and Gasoline powered generators. Diesel powered generators seldom have any restrictions on use and can be used non-stop if needed.


Although the questions contained in this checklist are important considerations, they aren’t the only ones.

For more information contact us at 1-877-510-6807 or email us at info@auroragenerators.com.

About The Author: Aurora Generators manufactures superior diesel generators for home, off-grid, industrial and commercial use. Every diesel generator we manufacture is powered by a Perkins engine, the same engine Caterpillar counts on globally for superior performance. We ship anywhere in North America.