A Guide to the Different Types of Generators Available in 2020

Did you know that electrical generators have multiple uses? Whether you’re using a generator to power your RV or provide backup electricity for your home, understanding the different types of generators and how they work best for different needs can save you time and money.

Do you find yourself asking, “Which generator should I get?” If so, continue reading to find out.

Different Types of Generators and Their Usage

There are six categories of energy source generators. The six categories are diesel, gasoline, bio-diesel, propane, solar, and natural gas. These types of generators have specific functions and operate best in different situations.

Diesel Generators

As the name suggests, diesel generators run on diesel fuel. As one of the least flammable sources of fuel, diesel is also just as available as unleaded gasoline. Diesel generators have heavy engines and are not ideal for portability.

They work well for urban use and in colder locations since they are easy to start in lower temperatures. But diesel generators can be difficult. They need regular maintenance from a skilled professional.

Gasoline Generators

Gasoline generators are lighter than diesel generators and easy to maintain. Gasoline is an accessible fossil fuel. So gasoline generators are ideal for when the power goes out for extended periods.

Gasoline generators are loud. If you’re planning a quiet getaway in the mountains, you should choose a different option. They’re also difficult to start in the winter, they aren’t the most environment-conscious.

Biodiesel Generators

Biodiesel generators use a mixture of diesel and bio-friendly products. Some examples of bio-friendly products include animal fat or vegetable oil.

You must keep the fuel ratio at 80-20 for biodiesel fuel to work. Mixing its fuel can be a difficult task. But with anything bio-friendly, the payoff is in pride.

Propane Gas Generators

Propane gas generators produce fewer emissions. They’re also quieter than most generators. Propane is a flammable fuel that’s also available in case of power outages.

Compared to gasoline and diesel, propane has much easier storage since it’s a gas rather than a liquid. Another one of propane’s selling points is its longer-than-most shelf life.

The drawback of propane generators comes from the required professional installation and maintenance. The generators themselves are also expensive. Since they use propane as fuel, they’re less efficient than gasoline or diesel generators.

Solar Generators

Solar generators harness energy from the sun. They produce zero emissions. Likewise, they’re the most costly generators.

Solar generators absorb light from the sun and store it in their batteries. Then, the inverter and charger convert the stored energy into usable energy.

The downside of solar generators is that they take a long time to charge. It’s also not easy to find ones that fit your size needs. They’re quiet and need professional installation with annual or biannual maintenance.

The energy industry is always innovating, and solar generators are a testament to that innovation.

Natural Gas Generators

Natural gas generators are very desirable due to the high supply of natural gas. You can find fuel for these types of generators virtually anywhere on the map.

But despite the easy access to fuel, natural gas generators are hefty and bulky. Because of their size, they require professional installation.

They’re not the most reliable generators, either. They don’t sustain wear and tear well.


Generators are divided into application categories based on their usage, strengths, and weaknesses. This section discusses which generators represent the best option for each of your generator needs.

Portable Generators

Gasoline generators are typically the most portable generators. Some diesel generators also have mobile features such as small size and a less complicated engine.

Portable generators are easy to maintain and are ideal for home appliances and adventures. Some other uses include the following:

  • Home backup electricity for electric appliances such as TVs, refrigerators, security systems, and washing machines
  • An energy source for construction and electric maintenance tools
  • An energy source for devices that plug into the sockets of the generator (perfect for camping)
  • Easy to transport in an RV or recreational vehicle
  • Helpful to small retail outlets and shops
  • And there are also portable power stations like Jackery Explorer or Goal Zero, that offer convenient power supply when you’re on the move.

Standby Generators

Standby generators are generators explicitly made to back up larger circuits such as office buildings. Their engines are highly complex, and their builds are exceptionally durable.

Their bodies protect the engine from rain, high wind, sandstorms, and other elemental issues.

These engines operate on either diesel fuel or gasoline, and they operate as emergency backup systems for hospitals, banks, government buildings, large retail stores, and other large buildings. They can also serve as a backup system for large machinery in the field.

Inverter Generators

Inverter generators are the most mobile of any generator because of their lightweight. They’re also more expensive than most portable generators.

Because they convert direct current into an alternate current, the conversion is a stable process that makes a sustainable energy source for sensitive electronics. The direct current is perfect for car batteries, laptops, RVs, boats, and camper vehicles because it supplies a steady source of electricity.

Industrial Generators

Industrial generators are the least portable on this list and are used as a backup for the grid in times of load shedding or electrical outage. Their size ranges from 25 kW to 3000 kW, and they run on gas or diesel. The 500 kW generator is a popular power output model.

Industrial generators are not for personal usage. They’re used for blackouts in industrial or residential areas and to restart in natural disasters.

Buy the Generator That Fits Your Needs

Most of us will never have to worry about industrial generators or standby generators. The average citizen needs a generator that will backup their home or RV. That means they want to look for either portable generators or inverter generators.

If you want to be environmentally conscious, try finding different types of generators that use alternative energy sources such as solar power.

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