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Are you looking for ways to make your diesel generator last as long as it can? Or are you looking to buy a used generator and want to know how much time it has left before it dies?

Either way, the¬†key is knowing how long a diesel generator is supposed to last. You’ll find that answer in the following guide.

In this article, we’ll teach you the average life expectancy of a diesel generator and how it compares to other types of generators. We’ll also explain the various factors that affect the lifespan of a diesel generator.

Read on to learn all the ins and outs of diesel generator life expectancy.

Average Diesel Generator Life Expectancy Based on Usage

The first factor to consider is usage. On average, diesel generators last from 10,000 to 30,000 hours of use. Usually, this equates to about 20-25 years of use.

But, again, this is only an average estimate. Obviously, a generator that runs constantly is going to hit the 10,000-hour mark a lot sooner than one that is only used for emergency power during blackouts.

This can make shopping for a used generator a little tricky.¬†Unless the usage of the generator has been metered or¬†documented, there’s no telling how many hours it’s racked up.

Do Diesel Generators Last Longer Than Natural Gas or Gasoline Generators?

Yes, diesel generators have a much longer average lifespan than other generator types. One reason is that diesel generators have simpler mechanics than these other types. Plus, they run at a much lower RPM than natural gas/gasoline generators.

Both of these factors mean that diesel generators incur far less wear and tear than other generators. Thus, natural gas and gasoline generators wear out 10 times faster: about 2,000-3,000 hours of use maximum.

The fact is that other generators are made as an economic choice for those who don’t need to use their generator often. But if you need a long-lasting generator for industrial use, diesel-powered generators are the clear choice.

Type of Usage

The lifespan of a generator also depends on¬†how¬†it’s used. Here’s how the type of usage affects the generator’s lifespan.


For the first example, let’s say you run a diesel generator at maximum power, 24/7. Working the generator this hard with few breaks in between puts a lot of wear-and-tear on it.


On the other hand, not using the generator enough can be even worse. If the generator sits for months at a time between uses, this is often harder on the machine than overuse.

When you use¬†a generator that has settled for too long, there’s more friction when the moving parts rub against each other. This means the¬†machine goes from cold to hot very fast whenever it’s used. Then, it’s shut off and cools all the way down again.

Besides the increased friction, these rapid temperature changes are very hard on the generator. Regular use also prevents oxidation and keeps the fuel inside from degrading before you can use it.

Additionally, generator problems are usually indicated by changes in performance. Thus,¬†infrequent use also makes it difficult to notice any problems that need fixing. That is, you can’t tell if the generator’s performing differently than normal if you barely¬†use it.

Improper Sizing

Another form of misuse that shortens a generator’s lifespan is improper sizing. If the generator isn’t the appropriate size for the work it’s been doing, it causes one of the two situations we just described. That is, it’s either overworked or underworked.

A generator that’s too small for the job is straining as hard as it can, all the time. This wears out its various components very fast.

Conversely, an oversized generator that¬†never works at full capacity¬†usually gets clogged up with a build-up of carbon deposits. This phenomenon is known as “wet stacking.”


Lastly, like all machines,¬†proper maintenance is key¬†for maximizing a generator’s lifespan. Here’s a short guide on how maintenance affects a diesel generator’s lifespan.

General/DIY Maintenance

First, oil and fuel filters must be¬†changed at regular intervals¬†in order to keep the generator and its components running smoothly. Neglecting this maintenance will cause components to fail and damage the whole system. And, as stated, the system needs to be run frequently to “exercise” its moving parts.

Yearly Professional Maintenance

Generators also require professional service at least once a year. Not all generator problems are preceded by performance issues. Yearly, professional inspections are¬†the only way to know for sure if there’s a problem.

Besides, it’s best to fix these problems¬†before¬†they’re noticeable.¬†If you can notice a generator problem, it means it’s already caused some amount of damage/wear-and-tear. Identifying/fixing these problems early on through yearly service greatly extends the life of the generator.

With proper maintenance, your diesel generator can last as long as 50,000 hours of use.

How Long Will Your Diesel Generator Last?

So, what’s the takeaway? The real answer is that the lifespan of your diesel generator depends on how well you take care of it. If you want yours to last, make sure it’s the right size, run it often, and take care of the necessary maintenance.

On the other hand, maybe you’re shopping for a reliable, used diesel generator. In this case, try to find out how the generator was used and for how long. Your best bet, though, is to have it evaluated/sold by trustworthy generator experts, like IMP.

To learn more about why you should choose us, click here. Or, send your questions to us directly through our Contact Us page.