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Proper Portable Maintenance

Portable Generator Maintenance: Oil and Fuel

When preparing your portable generator for use, especially when being used as a backup power source, It is important to perform proper maintenance. There are many components that you must maintain on your generator, but we’re going to focus on two of the most important: oil and fuel. Here are some important tips to remember when maintaining your portable generator:


1. OIL

It’s essential to maintain your generator by regularly servicing the oil in the engine. The last thing you want during an emergency is to have your portable generator’s engine shut down from lack of oil. Especially when you’re relying on it to power necessary appliances in your home.
Every time you used your generator, you should check the engine oil level. Usually every 100 hours—or every season—you should change the oil. However, if you use your portable generator in any extreme conditions, such as in a dirty or dusty environment, or in extremely hot weather, you should change the oil more frequently. Additionally, when disposing of oil, make sure to return it to a collection center to avoid pollution.


Before we talk about maintenance for your fuel, let’s discuss the fuel requirements for your portable generator:

  • Use clean, fresh, unleaded gasoline
  • Fuel must have a minimum rating of 87 octane/87 AKI
  • While up to 10% ethanol is acceptable, non-ethanol-premium fuel is recommended
  • DO NOT use E85, gas/oil mix, or modify the engine to run on alternate fuels

Depending on the portable generator model, you will either need to keep an eye on the fuel gauge, or you will need to manually check the fuel level. When refueling, you should always turn the generator off and let it cool down a bit first. This will allow hot components to cool and avoid a fire if gasoline is splashed or spilled.


When you’re not using the portable generator consistently, it is recommended you start and run it for a half hour every thirty days as a way of “exercising” the generator. If you are storing your generator between uses, make sure it’s in a dry, safe place to prevent moisture, which can cause rust to accumulate in the fuel tank. Here a just a few more guidelines to follow:

  1. Add fuel stabilizer if your portable generator is being stored for over 30 days
  2. If fuel stabilizer is added, prepare and run the engine for long term storage
    1. Run the engine for 10-15 minutes to circulate the stabilizer
    2. Do NOT store fuel from one season to the next unless properly treated with fuel stabilizer
  3. If fuel stabilizer is not used, drain the fuel tank prior to storage.


By following these easy steps for your fuel and oil, and maintenance for other generator components, you can ensure that your portable generator will be ready when you need it—protecting you and your family from whatever outage situation comes your way.


Maintenance Essentials

In addition to proper oil and fuel maintenance, it is important to keep your portable generator's oil and air filters fresh. To learn more about maintenance essentials, view our maintenance kit page.