4 Incredibly Easy Ways to Optimize Your Generator’s Runtime

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Make the Most of Your Generator Runtime InfoGraphicMany of you who read preppersillustrated.com know by now that our family lived off the grid for over eight years. During that time, we learned firsthand what it might be like if we ever had to survive a doomsday scenario. We didn’t have a well so we had to haul our water to our house and nearly all of our electricity was provided by our generators.

It would’ve been nice if we would have been able to utilize alternative energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, or micro hydro electric generators but we didn’t have that luxury. The trees around our property are way too tall for solar or wind to be a viable alternative and we didn’t have a stream nearby so micro hydroelectric was out of the question as well.

Because our only option for providing our little home with electricity was with a generator, we learned a few tips that I’d like to share with you about how to get the most out of the time that your generator is actually running.

Learn to Make the Most of Your Generator Runtime from Our Experience

  1. The first tip I have for you is to spend a little bit of time and plan the times that you’ll be running your generator around the times when you’ll need to use the most electricity. For example, if you have to do laundry, that would be a good time to run your generator. It doesn’t make sense to run a 5,000 watt generator just so that you can have a few lights on in your house. We’ll talk about that a little bit later in this article.
  2. The next tip is to make use of the time that your generator is running to charge all of your rechargeable devices. If you don’t own rechargeable devices, now’s the time to go out and buy them. Rechargeable devices are much more energy-efficient than devices that use regular alkaline batteries. Not only can you benefit from things as simple as rechargeable flashlights, having rechargeable power tools can mean that you don’t have to run your big generator when you have work to be done around your place.
  3. Next, turn your generator off when you’re not using it. This might seem simple but it’s a difficult habit to get into. If you have to take a bathroom break while you’re running your generator to use things like power tools or other devices that use a lot of electricity, make sure that you turn your generator off while you’re not using it. A lot of people forget about this and they simply leave them running but during a time of crisis, every little bit of gasoline will be precious so make sure that you shut your generator off when you won’t be using it; even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  4. The last tip that I have for you is one that has saved us a lot of money on gasoline. The way we had our system set up was we had a couple of very large deep cycle batteries that are typically used in a battery bank for homes that are running alternative energy systems. We set things up so that every time the generator was running, it was also charging the batteries. Then, when we turned our generator off, we could still harness the energy in the batteries because it was routed through a 12V power inverter and into our home. During times that you are running on your batteries, you can use light loads such as lamps and other devices that don’t require a lot of electricity.

Share Your Tips

I hope you enjoyed reading about these four simple tips and I hope that they’ll help you to conserve your precious gasoline if you ever have to use your generator during a survival situation.

I’d appreciate it if you’d take a minute and leave a comment and share any ideas that you have with us as well. You can leave a comment in the box below.

Before you go, I also suggest that you take a minute and read my article called: Why I Think All Preppers Should Own More Than One Generator.

7 Responses to “4 Incredibly Easy Ways to Optimize Your Generator’s Runtime”

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  1. George Washington says:

    I would suggest using a propane generator rather than a gas one. A gas generator is two stroke and burns a lot of oil, adding to your cost of operation. Also a gas generator goes through spark plugs at a much greater rate than a propane one. I have been running a propane one for over a year now and it is much better than the old gas one I had that died. I predict that my propane generator will last two to three times longer than my gas one.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi George,

      Thanks for your input!

      Most gas generators actually use four stroke engines. Some of the cheaper varieties use two stroke engines but most gas generators don’t. Also, if you keep your air filter clean, the carburetor is adjusted properly, and the spark plug is gapped properly, they don’t go through spark plugs very fast. A spark plug in a properly running gas generator should last quite a while.

      I’ve owned cheap generators that we bought at auto parts stores or farm supply stores for about a hundred dollars that had two stroke engines and they didn’t last very long at all. On the other hand, I’ve owned two Honda EU2000i generators and the first one had thousands of hours on it before it died and when it did die, I think it was my husband’s fault because he added an additive to the oil that was supposed to clean the inside of the engine. Shortly after he added it, it started burning oil and not long after that, the engine went belly up.

      Propane generators do have their advantages in that they don’t produce as much pollution and they do run cleaner so the spark plugs are less likely to foul. You can also hook them up to large propane tanks so you don’t have to keep adding a gas to them. Another advantage to propane is that stored gas will go stale if you don’t us a fuel stabilizer. Even then, it has a limited shelf life. I’m not sure how long propane will last but I don’t believe it is susceptible to the same problems that gasoline is when it comes to long term storage. I can’t say for sure whether one would last longer than a quality gas generator because I’ve never owned one. Propane generators do need the same kind of maintenance that gasoline generators need to keep get the longest life out of them.

  2. Billy Wilson says:

    As for Genys your right , Most larger ones are 4 stroke , But you get what you pay for . You go out and buy some oddball geny with one of those China engines on it , The engines do not last long . I suggest something with a briggs and Stratton , Tecumseh , Kohler , Honda , Kawasaki or even a Yamaha engine on it . The thing is some of those salespeople say Unless you know your engines, Look for a model number on it . The reason to get the name brand genys is you can get parts for the engine and rebuild it should the rings wear out or should an outlet or something gets damaged you can get a part 3 years after you bought it , Most of these flybynight engines change names and you cannot get parts for them after 2 years . Next Dual fuel genys are the way to go useing both propane and gas you can easily adapt these to use with a gasifier . If you have a regular gasoline geny you can buy kits off ebay , amazon etc, for like 100 bux that convert them without a lot of hassle . But most of all when you purchase a geny get one with a cast iron cylinder as these are rebuildable up to about 4 times before having to be bored and a oversize piston put in it . For example I have an old Coleman geny with the old valve in block engine on it but it is a cast iron sleeve engine and has Heavy duty valve guides so this engine is rebuildable at least several times over without much cost . Plus i can still get parts for the rest of the Geny . However due to government regulations most 4 stroke genys now are overhead valve which provides more torque and fuel economy but can be more costly again look at the engine and make sure its cast iron sleeve and next ALL overhead valve engines will have to have the valves adjusted at some time or another due to wear , So get a repair manual for the engine as its an invaluable resource . Also get a reuptable spark plug I have found Autolite works in ALL genys and Small Engines as well and lasts the longest , but Companies like NGK and Denso make good plugs as well and are usually used in the Jap engines . NEVER BUY a noname brand spark plug. I see so many of these come in the shop and that be the problem and these plugs are like a month or so old . If you hate buying filters like I do they do make washable ones which can be purchased , K and N is on mine But also a Prefilter foam wrap is an invaluable thing to have as it can triple your filter life .

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi Billy,

      Thanks for your detailed comment and tips! Yes, we’ve owned three of the very cheap 2 stroke generators and they didn’t last long. One is still running but that’s only because we never use it. When money was tight, we couldn’t afford a nice generator so we tried the cheap 2 stroke geny’s and with as much as we used them, the engines died after a few months of use.

  3. Billy Wilson says:

    I would like to also add that if your going to use a gasifier with your geny , MAKESURE YOU PUT A FEW PIECES OF WIRE MESH IN BETWEEN THE ENGINE AND GASIFIER . This helps keep damaging particles from entering the engine and scorring or damaging the cylinder walls resulting in a short engine life . A good mesh to use is like window screen wire and dont make the mistake of getting that nylon lookalike stuff as it will melt . Also keep the mesh changed out to give good flow .

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi again Billy,

      We’ve never used a gasifier with a generator but I’ve watched a few online videos where some guys were able to get a generator running on them. I hadn’t thought about putting a screen between the engine and the gasifier. Wouldn’t the air filter keep particles from damaging the engine?

  4. Davey Hiltzs says:

    Thanks for the great tips. We’re trying to go off the grid with our house and we need to keep our electricity going before we get our solar panels installed. I can totally see myself letting it run for hours on end. Turning it off when you’re not using it is a simple tip, but you’re right that it’s one you can forget.

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