Diesel generators are very common during power outages, but renting one for this purpose is not widespread. Renting towable diesel generators (TDGs) may be an option to consider in some situations.
There are two main types of towable diesel generators: stand-alone and on-board generators. Stand-alone generators must be carried on a vehicle or boat; they can't be towed by anything else. On-board generators can be detached from the vehicle they're mounted on and towed behind it with another vehicle, usually via a tongue/hitch mechanism like those used to tow boats or horse trailers.
Renting a towable diesel generator might make sense if you have an outage lasting more than 24 hours but not much longer. Purchasing your generator is often less expensive over time if you use it frequently for short periods, for instance, four or five hours twice a year. If an outage lasts longer than 24 hours and won't happen again for several months, it would be better if you considered a towable diesel generator for rent.
Each situation is different depending on how often you will be using the generator and what kind of power you need during an outage. When in doubt, calling your local rental store to ask questions before purchasing a product is always a good idea.
It may seem like renting means paying more overtime - after all, if you rent something twice, that's two payment installments rather than one purchase price. However, most manufacturers offer discounted rates to retailers who sell items with their brand names; this discount goes straight to the renter. In other words, renters pay less on average regardless of whether they own equipment or not.
Fuel cost is a vital aspect when comparing buying vs renting towable diesel generators. The most popular generators in this category typically cost around $25 per gallon for fuel - that's 4.4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). A typical generator uses about one gallon every four hours, so it costs roughly $6 to run one overnight on a 30-gallon tank. Compare that with the average price of power in your area, which can be several times more than 4.4 cents per kilowatt-hour during peak usage times.
The power cost aspect is also essential when comparing buying vs renting towable diesel generators. When you buy a towable diesel generator rather than rent one, you'll bring it home and start using it right away instead of waiting to use it months down the road when an outage happens. And if you only need power for a few hours every month, the installment payments for a generator and fuel may cost more than power from your utility.
When you buy a towable diesel generator rather than rent one, you will own it and won't have to worry about mileage limits or possible restrictions on where you can take your equipment.
Towable diesel generators are great for occasional use; however, most people don't need that level of power for very long. If you only need the generator occasionally - say, once every three months - it's probably worth buying: there's no extra monthly fee, and maintenance will be cheaper in the long run. On average, towable diesel generators cost about $10,000 to purchase outright.
However, if you're using the towable diesel generator several times a year at remote locations for weeks at a time - say, three or more times per year for four or five hours per use - renting makes sense. Renters typically pay between $30 and $75 per day depending on unit size and whether it has a trailer.
It is not easy to make an informed decision about buying vs renting towable diesel generators before you know the answers to these questions:
Renting might not be your best option if you only need power for short periods intermittently. If that's not the case, renting might be better than buying. Renting small towable diesel generators may make more sense if you can't make an informed decision about purchasing larger generators or only occasionally require more than 1 kW, for example, once every three months. Otherwise, renting big generators covers all bases and makes more economic sense over time because there are no extra monthly fees or mileage limitations to worry about. Renting is also great for people who already own a diesel-powered car or truc