What Kind of Oil Does A Generator Use?

Knowing which oil your generator uses will help you buy the best brand for it. There are many types on the market, and each has different qualities that they claim makes them the best. 

You need to know a thing or two about generator oil to buy the right type. In this article, I share why generators need oil, which type is best to buy, and mention two alternative devices you can use if you want to replace your fuel-powered generator. 

Why Generators Need Oil

Generators need oil for various reasons. Oil functions inside a generator, helping it perform smoothly and preventing engine damage. 

Oil Prevents Friction

Without oil, engine parts will rub against each other and scratch while your generator is in use. This can lead to damaged gears. If friction frequently occurs, your generator engine could need replacement. 

Oil lubricates the necessary parts to ensure no friction when they rub against each other. 

Oil Prevents Overheating 

Metal parts rubbing together can cause issues inside a generator when they get too hot. They’ll stop moving efficiently and slow the engine down. 

Oil lubricates these parts to create a barrier that helps them run smoothly. You don’t have to worry about overheating when they move while lubricating. 

Oil Prevents Debris Build-up 

Dust and dirt tend to build up in generators that stand outside. If there’s a build-up in your generator engine, it won’t work correctly. Sufficient oil creates a barrier that stops dirt from entering and accumulating in your generator. This prevents long-term issues. 

Oil Prevents Corrosion

Generators are primarily made from metal. It can erode and rust if you don’t use yours for a while. Using oil can prevent this from happening. Since it keeps the metal lubricated, it also creates a barrier that stops water from pooling up when it rains. 

What Type Of Oil Does a Generator Use?

Your generator’s manual should indicate which oil works best with it. If you’re still unsure, you can ask the salesperson or decide which oil you think will work best.

Choosing the right oil is vital. There are many different types ranging from synthetic to mineral. You should keep the viscosity of the oil in mind. The numbers on the bottle have a significant meaning, and it’s important to know what they mean. 

The viscosity refers to the flow ability of the oil. Lower numbers like 0W-20 mean that the oil flows faster. Higher numbers like 20W-50 represent a slower, heavier flow.

Mineral Oil: This is the most natural oil you’ll get that can safely be used in a generator. It’s made from refined crude petroleum. 

Synthetic Oil: These oils have been designed specifically for their intended use. In this case, you’ll find synthetic oil made for generators. 

Semi-Synthetic Oil: A semi-synthetic oil is made by mixing synthetic- and mineral oil in a balanced blend. This makes the oil semi-natural and suited for its task. 

The Pros and Cons of Different Generator Oil

The type of oil you use is up to you and your generator. Each oil has its own positive and negative qualities that can influence your decision. 

The Pros and Cons of Mineral Oil

Natural: Mineral oil is available in nature and can be extracted from the ground. Performance: Mineral oil isn’t as effective as synthetic and semi-synthetic oil for generators.
Price: It’s half the price of synthetic oil. Mineral oil is the cheapest oil option. Thickness: The oil is thicker than synthetic oil, making its flow heavier. A heavier flow can require more use from your generator.
No leaks: The thickness of mineral oil makes it less likely for leaks to occur. Maintenance: Although it’s cheaper than synthetic oil, the number of times the oil has to be replaced can get expensive. 

The Pros and Cons of Synthetic Oil

Tasks: You can be assured that your synthetic oil will perform the required job since it’s made specifically for that purpose.  Price: Synthetic oil is more expensive than mineral oil because of the lengthy production process. 
Performance: Synthetic oil protects the engine and reduces the wear and tear of its operation. 
Viscosity: These oils have a better flow and temperature resistance than mineral oil and semi-synthetic oil. 

The Pros and Cons of Semi-Synthetic Oil

Price: You can enjoy some of the benefits that synthetic oil offers for almost the exact price you would have paid for mineral oil. Degrading: The oil degrades a lot faster than pure synthetic oil. 
Purity: This oil is purer than mineral oil but still not as artificial as synthetic oil. 

Oil Generator Alternatives

If you’re not in the market for an oil generator, you can choose one of these:

#1 Solar Generators

Solar power is taking the world by storm. People who want to go off-grid primarily choose the sun for their energy needs. Solar-powered generators are a great alternative to oil models. They’re green and more cost-effective!

You won’t have to buy oil or diesel to power them, and they can help run many appliances in your home. 

#2 Inverters

Inverters outnumber generators in many ways. They work with batteries and convert DC to AC for use with most appliances. You won’t be able to permanently run all your devices on inverters, but they’re good to go while they’re charged. 

Like solar generators, inverters don’t harm the environment. They also operate quietly and don’t cost much to maintain. 

In Conclusion

Your point of departure for choosing an oil for your generator should be the instruction manual that comes with it. If the manufacturer mentions that any oil will do, keep qualities like oil’s viscosity in mind when choosing one. Your generator model, budget, and personal preference will determine your final choice.

I hope this article was helpful and that you find the right oil for your generator. If you have a recommended brand, pop it in the comments. Any additional generator questions are also welcome!