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February 26, 2018

Generator Fuel Choices

Photo of diesel fuel tank

Diesel vs. Gasoline vs. Liquid Petroleum/Natural Gas

From the articles above, one can discern two potential safety issues with auxiliary generators:  Carbon monoxide and refueling.

Fuel: Combustible or flammable?

Flammable liquids have a flash point of less than 100°F and combustible liquids have a flash point at or above 100°F.   The rate at which a liquid produces flammable vapors depends upon its vapor pressure, so liquids with lower flash points ignite easier.  Fuel will not ignite unless it is a vapor, because the vapor burns, not the liquid itself.   With a flash point of 52 C (125 F), diesel will not ignite until it is heated to a vapor.  Gasoline, on the other hand, has a flash point of -43 C (-45 F), which makes it flammable at room temperature.
When it’s in a puddle, a match will not heat diesel fuel sufficiently to burn.  Obviously, gasoline and gaseous fuels will ignite readily when uncontained.
So, is diesel safer than gasoline, natural gas or LP? Due to the higher flash point I think so.  But, as with all fuels, care must be exercised with storage and refueling.

Fuel Storage

If you expect to run your generator for extended periods of time, it makes sense to look at a separate fuel storage/delivery system which negates the need to manually refuel a hot generator.  Similarly, be aware of the risk associated with pooling vapors from spilled gasoline or LP leaks. Also, periodically have your LP/NG generator stall fuel cutoff feature tested. This safety device turns off the supply of fuel when the generator speed falls below a certain threshold.
Generator installed away from house

Covered generator installation.

 

 

The photo here shows an Aurora Generator installation that is off the house.  Note that there is no enclosure to capture fumes or impair cooling.  The metal roof keeps snow and light rainfall off the equipment.  IMO, this is a good clean installation!  😉

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