An integral part of our lives, electricity made it possible for mankind to achieve advancements in technology and science. It is impossible to think of any industry that functions without using electricity. While electricity from the grid is a reliable source of power at most times, there will be power outages or requirement of electricity at places where there is no grid. To overcome this problem, we need an alternative source of power. 

This is where an engine-generator set or gen-set, as they are commonly known as, comes into its own. From small gen-sets supplying a few hundred watts of power to run household lights to large ones producing over two and a half thousand kilowatts of power, gen-sets are available for all types of requirements. Diese locomotives are powered by such gen-sets. Gen-sets run on many different types of fuels, depending on the type and size. While small units generally use petrol, the larger ones run on diesel.   

One of the biggest debates amongst engineers’ centers around which type of generator is superior. Is it a diesel-powered generator or petrol-powered one? Both fuel types have their advantages. Let us take a look at them to decide. 


Diesel Generators

Diesel generators are a great deal more efficient with fuel consumption than petrol generators. A diesel generator will burn nearly fifty percent less fuel for generating power than a petrol unit. This is due to their higher compression ratio. Diesel generators are also more efficient in generating power than the petrol versions. This is best observed in places where the generator is run for long periods and the power requirements are high. This makes diesel generators less expensive to run than petrol units.  

Storage of diesel is also safer than gasoline as it is not as volatile. At remote locations where fuel needs to be stored in large quantities, diesel has an advantage in terms of safety and evaporation loss. Since diesel generators do not reach very high temperatures, they do not incur as much wear and tear as a gasoline generator. This translates to fewer repairs and a longer working life. 

Given the fuel and generation efficiency, diesel generators are preferred over petrol gen-sets at places where the requirement is high, both in terms of power output and running period. Mines, construction sites, large buildings, industrial units, and other medium and large-scale operations mostly use diesel generators as they produce more power at lower costs. Brett Patterson from says that diesel generators are better than petrol generators when it comes to large operations. Diesel generators are the backbone of construction and large industrial sites, large housing and office buildings, and mines.   

Diesel generators last longer and require lower maintenance than petrol generators since they do not need to work as hard as petrol ones to generate the same quantity of power. Not only does this mean less stress to the engine, since diesel is a self-lubricating fuel, the fuel delivery system also will last longer. Another advantage of a diesel engine is its lack of an ignition system. And finally, diesel generators are capable of operating for long periods at loads between sixty and a hundred percent. 


Petrol Generators

Available in many more models and price ranges than their diesel counterparts, petrol generators are usually less expensive to buy. Less bulky than their diesel counterparts, petrol generators also take less time to install. Petrol generators produce less noxious gases and CO2 as compared to diesel generators for the same quantity of fuel used. This makes the petrol generator a better option at places where the power load requirement is low and the frequency of use is less.  Starting a petrol generator in cold weather is never a problem, unlike the diesel generator. Petrol generators require regular maintenance for wear and tear. However, they are cheaper to maintain than diesel generators in the long run.  


Which Generator is Better?

Frankly, the answer to this question boils down to the requirements. These include the duration of operation, the wattage required and the budget. Maintenance costs and repairs are also factors that are important in deciding which gen-set is better for your requirements. Your budget would also decide the options between a fully automatic, semi-automatic or manual system.  While smaller establishments and households would benefit more by using a petrol generator, if the requirement is for higher load coupled with longer running hours and regular use, a diesel generator would win hands down.