The idea is that a generator will run for as long as it needs to or for whatever length of time fuel is fed to it. Many standby generators are connected to natural gas lines, so there is no need to have to stop it and refuel it – it has a constant supply of fuel from the utility company.
If the generator is fueled by diesel or liquid propane, there will be a fuel tank on the property, causing the generator to be limited by the amount of fuel that is inside the tank.
During an extended power outage that can last for days, you will want to conserve your generator usage. This is especially true if you are running off of diesel or liquid propane. If you are using liquid propane or diesel, then you most likely already have a relationship with a refueling service. This means that they can come by your home and top off your tank. To keep your generator running, you will need to contact your fuel service provider to make sure they periodically top off your tank.
You may also want to periodically shut down your generator to allow the engine to cool. Residential standby generator users may decide to shut the generator down while they are at work or at night while everyone is asleep. However, Minnesota winters can be harsh, so shutting down at night may not be practical. If the engine runs at 3600 RPM, then it can run hot and use a lot of oil. You will certainly want to shut these down periodically and let them cool.
If the engine runs at 1800 RPM, the engine uses less oil, runs cooler and it is ideal for extended power outages. While more expensive than the 3600 RPM engines, they are quite reliable and even more efficient. If your goal is to have a reliable generator for the long-term, then 1800 RPM works. The 3600 RPM engines are designed for shorter power outages.
One way to determine what sort of RPM you need is to consider the power outages that have happened in the past and how long they lasted. If you have a long record of short power outages, then the 3600 RPM can work fine. If an extended power outage happens, then you will want to shut down the 3600 RPM generator periodically.
Diesel generators are considered the most reliable. However, they run an average of 25% more expensive and it is important to keep an eye on the fuel tank to ensure continuous running of the generator.
When considering a generator for your home or business, it is best to consult with an experienced generator company to get the answers to your questions. You can receive brand-specific information and information specific to the Minnesota climate and the frequency of power outages in your area.