Industrial Generator outside on warm day - Comparing Different Fuels for Industrial Generators: An In-Depth Look

In the world of industrial generators, choosing the right fuel source is critical to ensuring operational efficiency, reliability, and environmental compatibility. In this article, we compare and discuss three primary fuel options: natural gas, diesel, and propane, answering key questions about each one. Check out our handy infographic on different fuel sources at the end of this blog!

Natural Gas Generators 

Natural gas generators are popular due to their clean burning properties and cost-effectiveness. These generators use the energy from natural gas combustion to produce electricity. 

How Does a Natural Gas Generator Work?  

Natural gas generators operate by using internal combustion engines. These engines mix natural gas with air, ignite the mixture, and use the resulting reaction force to drive a turbine. The kinetic energy from the turbine is then converted into electrical energy by an alternator. 

Generally, this is how all hydrocarbon fuel sources are used to generate electricity, including diesel, gasoline and propane. However, each fuel has its own unique properties, which may require different equipment parts to ensure efficient engine operation.  

Are Natural Gas Generators Efficient?  

Natural gas generators are highly efficient, often offering operational efficiency levels of up to 45%. The efficiency can be improved by the generator's ability to use the waste heat for cogeneration. 

What Are the Benefits of a Natural Gas Generator?  

The benefits of natural gas generators include their high efficiency, lower emissions compared to other fossil fuels, and reliable supply due to the extensive natural gas infrastructure in Canada. Natural gas is often touted as a "clean" fuel source, and this is because it produces fewer byproducts than diesel when combusted.  

Diesel Generators 

Diesel generators are known for their durability and power output. They are commonly used in settings requiring high-power applications and continuous operation. 

Are Diesel Generators Better Than Gas?  

Diesel generators can generate more power and have longer lifespans than many gas generators, making them suitable for heavy-duty and continuous use. However, they tend to be louder and emit more pollutants. 

How Long Do Diesel Generators Last?  

With proper maintenance, diesel generators can last over 20,000 hours of operation. The actual lifespan can vary based on operating conditions and maintenance practices. 

Are Diesel Generators Loud?  

Industrial diesel generators are typically louder than their natural gas and propane counterparts due to their need for higher compression. Sound-attenuating enclosures can be used to reduce noise. 

Propane Generators 

Propane generators are valued for their cleaner emissions, quieter operation, and easily available fuel. 

What Are the Main Advantages of a Propane Generator?  

Like natural gas, propane generators burn cleaner than other fossil fuel options, emit less carbon dioxide, and run quieter. The fuel is also easily available and can be stored indefinitely, unlike other fuels. 

Are Propane Generators Low Maintenance?  

While propane generators are generally reliable, they tend to have higher operating and maintenance costs compared to natural gas or diesel generators due to the complexities of the propane fuel system. 

Can a Propane Generator be Converted to Natural Gas?  

Yes, many propane generators can be converted to run on natural gas with a conversion kit. However, this should always be done by a qualified technician to ensure safe and efficient operations.  

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What Type of Industrial Generator is Best?  

When it comes to industrial generators, each fuel type comes with its strengths and limitations. The best choice will depend on your specific needs in terms of power output, operational environment, and maintenance capabilities. 

Get Custom Power Generation Packages at Belair Power and Production Equipment 

If you're looking for the ideal power solution for your operation, the Belair Power team is ready to guide you. As Alberta's #1 choice for custom natural gas, diesel and propane power generator packages, we have your power generation needs covered. Contact us today to learn more!