How Much Propane Does a Generator Use?

Date: September 21, 2022

Usage Depends on the Generator Size

generators tennesseeSummer electrical storms and power outages go hand-in-hand. As just one of many examples, in mid-June, about 36,000 Tennessee residents lost their power after a storm knocked down trees and power lines. Many of the reported outages, which happened in the midst of sweltering temperatures, occurred in the Nashville area.

Fortunately, many Tennesseans have found a solution to wide-scale power outages: whole-house propane gas generators, which are available in varying sizes to power as much or as little as you need to keep your family and home safe and comfortable.

Once considered a luxury, whole-house generators are growing in use because they ensure your sump pump, home security systems, heating and cooling equipment and any needed medical devices will continue to run in the event of a prolonged electrical power stoppage. (A smaller, portable generator is much more limited in capacity).

The question is, how do you pick the right generator unit for your Tennessee home? People also wonder, “how much propane will my generator use?” If you’ve been considering purchasing a whole-house generator for your home, here is vital information to consider.

Generator Size and Capacity

The size of the generator you will need depends on two factors: the square-footage of your home and what appliances you want to power during an outage. A good way to think about the “electric load” in your home is to break your usage down into two categories:

  • Essentials: medical equipment, lights, refrigerator, sump pump, furnace fan, security system, TV/computers.
  • High-wattage items: air conditioning, heating, clothes dryer, water heater, oven/stove.

Generators come in a range of sizes and prices; a small, easy-to-place 8-kilowatt (kW) unit, for example, can operate power essentials such as lights, refrigerator, TV, and other small appliances. A large 25 kW commercial-grade generator, on the other hand, can easily run an HVAC system in addition to those smaller items.

Propane Usage

According to Generac, a leading manufacturer of generators, a 22-kW generator would burn approximately two gallons per hour (gph) at a 50% electrical load and 3.6 gph at full load. A larger 38- kW unit would burn three gallons of propane per hour at half-load and 5.4 gph at full load.

This may sound confusing, but an experienced licensed electrician can help you with all of these load calculations to ensure you choose a generator that can handle the desired emergency electrical power needs of your household.

Other key points to understand when researching generator fuel usage, in addition to a particular generator’s fuel consumption rate, are the characteristics of the fuel that powers that engine.

Propane offers advantages that other fuel sources can’t match. Propane doesn’t degrade over time, unlike diesel or gasoline. This makes propane the ideal stand-by power fuel.

How Does a Propane Generator Work?

A whole-house propane generator is a permanent fixture located outside your home. It’s connected to your home’s electrical system with its own fuel source. Basically, it looks like an outdoor central air conditioning unit with a cap on it.

The generator is designed to start automatically when you lose power from your utility –usually between 10-30 seconds after an outage. When utility power is restored, the generator will shut itself down. All of this happens whether or not you’re at home.

Benefits of a Whole House Propane Generator

The biggest benefit to a whole house generator, of course, is that you’ll never be without power again! Being able to switch between the grid and generator power is a priceless convenience.

Imagine never having to suffer through the inconveniences of a power outage again – no more unexpected nights at a hotel or friend’s house, no more spoiled food, no more loss of TV, phone or computer service, no sweaty nights without your air conditioner or cold nights without heat, and no pipes bursting due to lack of heat in the house, to name just a few of the hassles—and costs–you have to deal with during an extended power outage.

To learn more about propane gas generators, please reach out to your Tennessee propane company and they’ll be glad to give you expert advice. If they don’t install propane generators, they’ll most likely be able to refer you to a trusted contractor who does.