Letter Re: Questions on Backup Generators

Thanks for the great blog. I have purchased several items from your sponsors and appreciate your screening them for us.

I live in suburban Detroit and am looking to find a small farm. Values are still declining here. Until I can make a move, I’m stuck living in suburbia. Currently I own a cheap gas generator and am looking to upgrade. Should I go with a diesel or tri-fuel generator? Can you suggest some sources? God Bless, – Bob P.

JWR Replies: That all depends on how many hours you intend to run the genset. Because they run at lower RPM, a diesel is preferable for a genset that will get “high hours.”

Another factor is the local ordinances on fuel storage. If you cannot legally have a 2,000 gallon diesel tank, but you can have a 2,000 gallon propane tank, then your choice is clear. If ordinances are very restrictive fuel tanks, then you might consider a “plumbed-in” genset, running on utility-piped natural gas. (The best solution, of course is to move somewhere out in the country, where there are no fuel storage restrictions. But I recognize that family and work obligations might preclude such a move.)

Do comparison pricing via the Internet. Generator sales is a very competitive market, especially in the current recession. And, since shipping costs are substantial, it often pays to find a vendor that is fairly close by.