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can you use red diesel in a generator?

BISON will analyze in depth the key issues of fuel selection for diesel generators, clarifying ideas and considering the environmental impact of red diesel.

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The term “red diesel” may be unfamiliar to some, but in fact “red diesel” is, as the name suggests, a unique colour variant of conventional diesel fuel. But it is more than just a unique colour. The essential difference between red diesel and regular diesel does not lie in its chemical composition, but mainly in its associated regulatory norms and tax implications. Named for its distinctive red dye, red diesel proves its difference to regulators and ensures that its use is compatible with specific uses – primarily off-road applications.

This solution raises an intriguing question: can it be used in generators?BISON will analyse in depth the key issues of diesel generator fuel choice, clearing the air and considering the environmental impact of using red diesel.

Let’s get started.


what is red diesel?

Red diesel is scientifically known as ‘petrol’ and has the same chemical composition as standard diesel fuel, also known as DERV (diesel engine road vehicle). It consists of about 75 per cent alkanes, 12 per cent aromatics and 10 per cent naphthenes. The only difference between red diesel and standard diesel is that the former incorporates a red dye for clear identification.

While the difference may seem minor, the distinction between red diesel and standard diesel runs deep into the realm of laws, regulations and taxes. To encourage off-road vehicles and machinery to use the more affordable fuel, red diesel is taxed at a much lower rate than regular diesel. The red dye acts as a marker to ensure that red diesel is not used for unauthorised purposes, such as powering ordinary road vehicles that must use standard diesel.

However, the permitted uses of red diesel go beyond road vehicle use and relate to many industry-specific regulations. In some areas, red diesel is permitted for specific agricultural, marine and construction equipment, depending on the local jurisdiction and refining process.

Getting to grips with the red (diesel) rules is not simple, but it does emphasize the need for a thorough understanding when considering fuel options. Next, we look at the key question: Is it feasible and beneficial to use red diesel in diesel generators?

Can I use red fuel in my generator?

The ability of red diesel fuel to meet the needs of running diesel generators is a technical and legal issue. Technically, red diesel fuel is perfectly capable of driving generators. It has a similar basic composition to regular diesel fuel and therefore has the necessary properties to power a diesel engine.

However, this is only one side of the equation. Stepping out of the technical side and into the legal realm, we find a different story as to why this is not always the wisest choice. While red diesel is economically more attractive due to its low cost and low taxes, its use is heavily regulated and restricted by many governments around the world.

Who can use red diesel?

The use of red diesel is restricted to “off-road” applications and is normally only permitted in industries such as agriculture, forestry, horticulture, fish farming, and the passenger and freight rail industries, and in some cases in the maritime industry. Recently, there have been changes in regulations in certain areas that have further restricted the use of red diesel and even squeezed its use in these industries in an effort to create a cleaner, greener environment.

Therefore, it is important to understand the legality of using red diesel in a given situation before choosing to use it in a generator. Misuse of red diesel in disregard of its legal framework can result in severe penalties, including hefty fines or legal prosecution.


What are the advantages of using red diesel?

So why should you choose red diesel fuel for your diesel generator?

There are many benefits to using red diesel, including


Red diesel is cheaper than other diesel alternatives because it has a 40% lower fuel tax. This means that you can save money on fuel costs even when you factor in the maintenance costs of your generator.

Efficient fuel consumption

Another advantage of red diesel is that it offers a very efficient way of consuming fuel. This means that you can get more heat out of less fuel, so you can save more money and save on fuel at the same time.

Safer for your property

Red diesel is a safer option because this fuel does not produce toxic fumes like natural gas generators. Compared to other fuels, red diesel is usually less likely to burn.


In concluding this journey of in-depth discussion, we must return to the question we began with: can red diesel fuel be used in diesel generators?

From a purely technical perspective, the inherent properties of red diesel enable it to power diesel generators. However, the key factor affecting this ability is the strict legal framework regulating the use of red diesel. Let us emphasise again – although technically applicable, the use of red diesel in generators may be illegal under various local and international regulations.

BISON We hope this article has enlightened you on the red diesel debate. Remember, the right fuel secures power in a responsible and sustainable way. Being informed, complying with regulations and making conscious choices is the way forward. Keep exploring, keep learning and keep moving forward!

use red diesel in a diesel generator FAQ

Red diesel has the same composition as road diesel or white diesel, but with the addition of a red marker dye. Like white diesel, red diesel is made in petroleum refineries by distilling and refining crude oil. At the molecular level, petrol consists of carbon chains and carbon molecules of different sizes.

Other names for red diesel include 35 second oil, tractor diesel, agricultural diesel, backhoe fuel, generator fuel, cherry diesel, and medium diesel.

Red diesel will not damage your engine or other vehicle components. This is because red diesel fuel is the same as regular diesel fuel, only red in colour. The diesel engines in off-road equipment and vehicles are the same as those used in regular cars.

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