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What are the different types of generators?

It can be hard to decipher which types of generators would best suit your business. Which is why we have put together a quick and simple glossary to help you decide. Read on to find out about the types of generators we have available, their applications and the features and benefits of each one.

When choosing the right generator, there are generally two options: diesel or gas generators. But how do you choose the right one for you? Both options have their pros and cons, which you should consider when deciding whether to go with a gas or diesel generator. For the different type of generators and their applications, and further information on natural gas vs diesel generator efficiency, find out more below.

Which should I use? Natural gas vs diesel generator efficiency

Choose the right generator for your on-site power needs. Here’s a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of diesel generators compared to gas generators.

What are diesel generators like to use?


  • They’re a quick way of providing reliable, constant power to large sites, for example, hospitals and data centres
  • Diesel generators can be easy and quick to install
  • They can require less maintenance, such as an oil change and air filter clean


  • They can be noisy
  • Fuel can be more expensive due to the cost of diesel

What are gas generators like to use?


  • They’re more environmentally friendly – natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, meaning polluting fuels are not being pumped into the environment
  • They’re more cost-effective – natural gas is a cheaper fuel, making gas generators much more cost-efficient to run, especially for larger scale industrial needs
  • They’re safer – as there are no toxic gases being produced, gas generators are safer to run and maintain
  • They tend to have a longer engine life


  • They only work in locations where natural gas is accessible
  • They rely on a non-renewable energy source, as natural gas is limited

Different types of generators: canopy or containerised?

Industrial generators can be noisy when in operation, which is why they can come with either a canopy or can be containerised. But what’s the difference between these types of generators and why do you need them? Many applications require the use of a generator, in various built up or noise sensitive locations, such as roof tops or in basements. Open sets, or generators without a canopy, can cause disruption to local residents and construction teams.

Canopy Generators

  • Significantly reduce the noise level
  • Protect the equipment from any wind or rain that could potentially damage the system

Containerised generators

  • Offer even greater noise reduction
  • Ideal for those sites with roof top storage spaces
  • Require less maintenance due to their secure container: the generator is self-enclosed in a safe, clean environment.
  • Often the cheaper, more flexible solution as they’re easy to deploy on site and be connected

What are the main applications for the types of generators used in industry?

Standby power

  • Standby power generators are generally powered by diesel
  • Can generate power automatically for as short as a few seconds or longer periods of time
  • Used in times of emergencies, such as power cuts
  • Equipment requires power from mains, resulting in added costs

Prime power

  • Prime power generators can be diesel or gas powered
  • Mostly used if a remote site needs power and there is no supply available on site
  • Ideal for bringing power back to remote locations as well as larger industrial needs
  • Need more maintenance, depending on the run time and operating conditions
  • Can have an unlimited run time, making them highly reliable

Find out about the range of Aggreko diesel and gas generators available for hire.