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How Much Does It Cost to Run a Generator?

It’s easy to compare prices between different generator units, yet many buyers overlook one of the most important costs: the price of generating power. So how much does it actually cost to run a generator when the power goes out?

Estimating the cost will depend on the type of fuel your generator requires and its current price on the market. It is helpful to understand how much fuel a generator consumes per hour of run time, so you can then figure out the fuel cost to run the generator.

Your generator’s operation manual should have information about what you can expect for fuel consumption, which should help you estimate the cost to run your generator.
If you’re still unsure what kind of generator would work for your home, our team at Assurance Power Systems has an interactive Generator Buying Guide to help answer your questions along with a request for a free home estimate. Give us a call at (561) 867-4041.
Estimation Guide for Generator’s Running Cost
It is important to note that the cost of running a generator will vary based on the power load, with many modern generators offering low fuel or half-load modes. These variables could lower or increase the estimate costs of running your generator.
Gasoline Generator
Gasoline is the most common fuel source for portable generators. A standard 5-kilowatt generator will typically consume about 0.75 gallons per hour. As of July 2018, the average price for gasoline is $2.89 a gallon in the United States. If you ran the portable generator for a day, that would consume about 18 gallons, meaning the cost to run the generator would be around $52 a day. The price of gas does fluctuate, which can make running this type of portable generators expensive over a prolonged period of time.

Portable diesel generators are a little less common, but like gasoline, their fuel costs can rise and fall. Average cost for diesel per gallon is around $3.17. A 20-kilowatt generator will use up about 1.6 gallons of fuel per hour while running at full load. A ballpark cost would be $122 for a day of run time as the cost to run the generator.
Propane Generator
Propane generators are often the cleaner energy option in the portable generator space. The trade-off is that propane burns more quickly in a generator. A 20-kilowatt generator would burn about 3.45 gallons per hour. In the United States, the average price per gallon for propane is around $2.50, as of March 2018. The cost to run a portable generator for 24 hours would be consume about 83 gallons, costing over $200.
Some standby home generators use propane, with large tanks often installed on site, which helps offset some costs by requiring fuel to be bought less frequently and in bulk. A 22-kilowatt generator for the home will burn around 3.6 gallons per hour under a full load. The cost to run the standby generator is equal to the portable version, a bit over $200 dollars per day.
Natural Gas Generator
Natural gas is becoming the fuel of choice for residential standby generators, since many homes are already being fed a supply of natural gas. Currently, the cost of natural gas in the U.S. is $3.25 per thousand cubic feet. A 7-kilowatt generator will use up about 118 cubic feet per hour, so the cost to operator the generator is just $0.82. For a larger 15-kilowatt unit, that operating costs increases to $1.71 per hour, consuming 245 cubic feet of natural gas.
This means the cost to run a generator during the weekly 10-minute “exercise period” would cost around $4 to $5 a month. And during a power outage, the generator will use around $20 to $40 a day, depending on the energy load.
Learn More About Estimated Costs to Run a Generator
These estimates should hopefully give you a better idea of how much it could cost to run a generator. Of course, as you use your generator, the costs will be real and apparent in fuel prices.
Our team at Assurance Power Systems offers estimates for southern Florida residents looking to install residential generators. Call (561) 867-4041 or contact us online to talk with our knowledgeable team members about the right generator for your home.

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