More and more of us are keeping a generator and fuel on hand around the house because of threats of power outages from floods from storms from earthquakes from wildfires.
Here in California, we're under a threat of widespread power outages to make sure we don't have wildfires.
So let's figure out how to fuel your generator but more nuanced, how to long term store said fuel.
I'm gonna face all this advice, boy it's a big boy.
On the most common generator I see everywhere these Honda EU 2000 eyes, a little red Honda's.
This is a generator that has a four-stroke engine inside of it.
That's key, because a four-stroke engine is a kind of engine you have in a car, and that means these use the same kind of pump gas, not the kind of gas where you have to manually Julie add oil that's like on a chainsaw, it's a two stroke engine.
Everything's hunky dory until you wait for a disaster and that's what we do by definition, so fuel sits around sometimes for years And that may not be good for three reasons.
First, it's subject to oxidation.
There's always some air in any fuel tank.
There needs to be to allow for expansion.
And the fact that the fuel gets burned down when it's in the generator.
Oxidation's kinda like what happens to metal when it rusts.
It's not good for fuel, it degrades it.
The second big issue is water.
Not pouring in, but water seeping in from the environment.
Now gasoline is hydrophobic.
It wants nothing to do with water it repels it and doesn't blend with it.
But the ethanol that you find in pump gas today in almost every part of the U.S. is hygroscopic it brings water in from the environment.
Now that's okay.
To a certain small percentage a gasoline ethanol mix can absorb 1 1/2 to 1 percent of its total volume.
Of water, and keep it blended and bound together.
After that point, you get what's called phase separation.
The water starts to overload the blend.
The alcohol and the water marry, separate from the gas.
And can create a separate later that the engine doesn't wanna drink.
That's when things begin to tip to a poor-running generator.
And the third issue, I think is less of a problem, are microorganisms.
Believe it or not, there are microbes that can live in ethanol enhanced gasoline.
I think the ethanol is what actually attracts them, they can live off of that, feed off of it, and then their excretions are acidic which can attack the metal parts of the generator and start the slow process of corrosion.
So there are three things you wanna do here to keep your fuel tidy to keep this guy ready.
Now, you may have noticed, you can get gasoline for your car almost anywhere, and it's pretty rare that you're gonna get some bad gas that causes that thing to conk out.
So what's the big deal?
The big deal is that this is a small deal.
This is a little tiny gas engine in here, as we mentioned, with a little teeny-tiny carburetor.
I mean, look at this guy.
If you're familiar with automotive carburetors at all, this is the part that blends air and fuel and sends it into the engine.
This thing is dinky.
Then if you go further and pull this guy out and remove the jet, this is the little tiny valve that meters how much fuel is going in to blend with the air There's a hole in there so small our camera literally can't show it, to say it's a pinhole would be grossly over exaggerating its diameter.
It's one of the tiniest holes you'll ever see in an automotive part.
That could be so easily overwhelmed.
A little bit of water in the fuel looks like a tsunami to this thing.
So these have a very sensitive need for good, clean gasps.
Let's see how we do that over time.
Now before we go any further, since this is that rare seen in that video where you can actually kill yourself, some safety steps I want you to follow.
Handle gasoline in big, open, well-ventilated areas, ideally outdoors, but we're here on our set which is a big auto shop And it's got the big roll up doors on both sides wide open.
I've got big ventilation here so I'm okay because the second thing is be aware of vapors.
Whenever a can of gases open vapors can escape.
They're heavier than air, they go down low and crawl across the ground.
And if they then made up of source of ignition, a pilot light or a spark, you've got a problem that you didn't see coming.
Wipe up spills and take care of those rags, they should go outside.
Don't keep really rags indoors under any circumstances.
Like goes for paint, varnish.
And gasoline and the fourth things is make sure you've got a fire extinguisher around that is among other things B rated.
Cuz the B is for petroleum and oil fires this is the one you wanna have.
If it has other grades that's great Right, but the B is the right one for working around cars and gas.
Now let's get going.
Finding out what gas your generator takes usually isn't on a label on the fuel filler like it is on a car it's probably in the manual here for this Honda it says, Let's see unleaded gas.
86 octane or higher, and up to 10% ethanol can be blended in.
We call that E10 for the automotive market, right?
So pretty common pump gas you can find.
But there's also a note in here that says that ethanol-blended gas should have some kind of corrosion inhibitors and chemicals to keep it all together.
This is where it gets interesting.
A short cut around that is to use gas without ethanol at all, which is also fine.
This guy can tolerate ethanol but doesn't need ethanol.
And again, that's all about fighting the instability of fuel overtime.
You probably heard about this fuel additives.
They claimed to do exactly that.
You add a little bit of this to the fuel in the tank of your generator, and then sloshing around in there and you should be good to go for it says about a year, it's not that long but it's buying you more than the six months that we're told, is the rule of thumb for untreated gas.
But a study by the University of Nebraska found that only two of eight brands of fuel conditioner, meaningfully increased fuels ability to deal with water and ethanol blended pump gas.
Which brings us to our final.
vinyl, rather heavy and rather expensive option and that is to buy fuel that doesn't have ethanol in it at all, but it's otherwise perfect for our generator.
This is a sunoco fuel, they sell this in cans part of their race line 95 octane.
So it's more than this engine wants but it's not crazy.
It's unleaded, that's critical.
It has no ethanol in it whatsoever.
And it comes sealed up, factory fresh in a nice little pour out can like this.
They say it's good for, in excess of, three years shipped like this.
And I'll bet that's conservative.
So this is a great solution and it's everything your generator wants.
The downside is cost.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area anyway, we get ripped off anyway, this was $68 for a five gallon can that's what 12 or $13 a gallon, but that may last you five years or more of peace of mind.
That's actually pretty cheap insurance.
So it depends how you look at it.
After this has been sitting around your garage for five years or so, or maybe in your generator, you may say wait a minute even that's too old.
What do I do with it?
You can pour it off into your car.
It's just high octane unleaded gas.
Pretty good stuff.
Most cars don't want ethanol.
Most air quality regulators and other authorities want ethanol so your car doesn't care.
But you might technically be out of compliance where you live.
By running this inside of an on road motor vehicle just bear that in mind.
Finally where do you keep this stuff obviously away from any open flame.
Like in your garage far away from the furnace and ideally.
Like in a garden shed outside.
That's really good cuz it's ventilated and it's away from ignition sources.
In most municipalities, and again, check your local codes, you can keep one or two five gallon or smaller containers of gasoline or other type combustible fuel on site.
If you get beyond that, either larger containers or more total volume, they typically want you to have some kind of fire-rated outdoor storage shed.
That's your fire marshall in your area who requires that.
Play it Safe, think long term, get yourself set so you don't need to worry about this every year.
But when the lights go out, you're ready to have yours stay on.