Gas Generator vs. Diesel Generator

Every home, office, job site and factory requires a steady and consistent electrical power supply to operate effectively. Outages can interrupt this electricity, compromising your operations and putting your employees at risk. Generators are often used as standby power to jump into action when access to your main power supply is lost.

These emergency power machines often come in two configurations — gas and diesel generators. Gas generators connect to a gas line that pumps in natural gas, injecting gas and air separately into a carburetor where it is compressed and ignited. Diesel generators tend to be larger, more robust machines that create an electric current by consuming diesel fuel. Both designs yield high-performance tools, yet each has its strengths and weaknesses.

There has long been a debate about gas vs. diesel generators. Which is more efficient? Which offers the highest output? Which is safer for the environment? The list goes on. Unfortunately, there are no cut-and-dry answers to these questions, so choosing which is best for you will usually depend on your line of work and specific needs. Discover more about the advantages and disadvantages of diesel vs. gas generators below.

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Whether you’re considering a generator for your home, business, factory or job site, you’re striving to add a productive machine to your location. Diesel engines are highly regarded for their energy-efficient capabilities, which are often much higher compared to gas generators. They inject and compress air and fuel separately, allowing them to utilize less fuel while producing more power. Though diesel tends to be a more expensive fuel type, your investment will go further and provide more output from every gallon.

Their fuel efficiency and durable build quality often make diesel generators the go-to solution for various high-load applications, including marine vessels and locations not powered by the grid. These machines last quite a while, perform reliably and come in multiple designs to meet the demands of forceful loads. Single- and three-phase generators are available, providing you the electricity to deal with the power demands of homes, offices and even large facilities.

While improvements continue to propel natural gas generators forward, they still do not have the power to keep up with diesel models. Where they do succeed in performance is within applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. It’s crucial to synchronize your machine with your power circuit to optimize performance and minimize damage.


While diesel has the upper hand in efficiency and performance, gas generators are better suited when you’re concerned with emissions. Diesel generators emit many pollutants, so the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains strict restrictions and regulations regarding their use.

The EPA has published a set of tiers pertaining to diesel engines based on horsepower, limiting the use of nonemergency generators to less than 100 hours a year. Emergency generators can only run when the main power source has been compromised or during testing and maintenance. Owners of diesel generators must also maintain detailed records regarding run-time hours.

The EPA tends to be far more relaxed with gas generators. Natural gas generators run on methane, a type of greenhouse gas that emits far less sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, carbon dioxide and other particulates than diesel. These generators are a clean-burning gas alternative, offering a reliable solution with less impact on the environment.

Natural gas generators are quieter than most diesel options, produce little to no off-putting smell and use fuel that is safer to transport using direct pipelines. Whether you have a sustainability-focused operation or you must comply with governmental emission restrictions, natural gas offers a reliable, environmentally conscious power generation strategy.


When considering diesel versus gas generators, the cost is likely to be one of the most important aspects you’ll weigh. Diesel generators tend to have high upfront costs. However, this investment often comes with added assurances of premium build quality using stronger metals and heavy-duty components. This combination usually results in a generator with a longer life span and less required upkeep. A diesel generator can supply you with reliable power while minimizing maintenance and downtime to keep your operations profitable and on schedule.

Natural gas options are more affordable solutions that will benefit your budget. The fuel required to power these devices is widely accessible and noticeably cheaper than its diesel counterpart. However, their combustion-centric design means they will likely require more repairs over time, commonly due to malfunctioning parts like the carburetor or fuel injectors.

Both natural gas and diesel generators will require maintenance throughout the year. It’s wise to establish a schedule to change their oil and filters, inspect their hoses and belts, and ensure their batteries and coolant levels are sufficient. However, gas generators tend to need more maintenance since they utilize additional wires and components. If you know your way around a generator, are confident in servicing your machine and want to take advantage of low-cost operations at your site, a gas-powered generator might be the solution you’re looking for.


Whether you’re a contractor or a homeowner, finding a generator that fits seamlessly within your power grid is crucial. Every generator is designed to address a specific need, reaching its full potential when it meets certain criteria. Both gas and diesel generators can be reliable and efficient while offering long life spans under the correct conditions.

Consider key factors like how long your generator needs to run, what environment it will operate within and what it needs to power. It’s also wise to pay attention to your budget, evaluate your access to a fuel source and think about how much maintenance you’re willing to put into it. Matching the machine you use to your situation is crucial to getting the most out of your power source.

This assessment will also go a long way in helping you decide whether you should purchase a diesel versus a gas generator. Consider the most common applications of each :

  • Diesel generators: Diesel generators are known for their durability and versatility and are often used to prevent delays or costly downtime. They are widely utilized to power hospitals when outages occur, allow for extensive construction operations off the main power grid and provide required electricity at power plants, apartment complexes and manufacturing facilities.
  • Natural gas generators: Natural gas generators are often beneficial for projects with shorter life cycles. You will likely find these machines on construction sites or within homes to provide power after unexpected outages or extreme weather.


Powering your job site requires a consistent supply of electricity. However, it’s crucial to take your time to find the solution that best fits your situation and application. Diesel and gas generators are both high-quality pieces of equipment capable of satisfying your various power supply needs. Yet, these machines have their differences, from price and performance to maintenance requirements.

If you’re not sure which type of generator is appropriate for your project, Louisiana Cat is here to help. Our team has more than 90 years of experience in the industry, supplying contractors and other professionals with high-quality tools and equipment. We have built up a strong reputation as Louisiana’s trusted source for Cat® equipment. Our technicians have the skills and knowledge to guide you toward selecting the right generator.

Explore our catalog of power generation equipment and purchase the model you require today. You can also contact our team online or give us a call at 337-374-1901 to learn more about our selection and services.

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