Fun fact for electricity geeks. I’ve wondered for a while how home generators compare to big central power plants when it comes to producing electricity. After all, I’ve been living in a country (Venezuela) where more and more of the load is going to be covered by these little portable units, and I wanted to know how this would affect gasoline and diesel exports.
I happened across a spec sheet for Honda portable generators up to 6 kilowatts. According to my math, they convert between 13% and 18% of the power in gasoline into electrical energy, when running at their “rated load,” usually about 10% lower than their maximum load.
This is a little better than half as efficient as fixed power plants.
The gasoline-powered generators produce at best 6.13 kilowatt-hours per gallon of fuel, at worst 4.42, and a median of 5.7.
Fixed power plants in Venezuela (I use it because I have it handy – feel free to correct me) in the first quarter of 2010 produced 11.1 kilowatt-hours of electricity per gallon of diesel.
So, to produce a megawatt of power, you need to feed little Honda generators about twice as many gallons of gasoline as the number of gallons of diesel that you would have fed to power plants for the same amount of electricity. Since both gasoline and diesel are effectively free in Venezuela, this means that providing the same social good will cost the state oil company twice as much per unit of electricity produced using small home power plants.
Thank you for geeking out with me. Now back to the pretty pictures.