Generators come in different shapes and sizes. One variation based on the engine specification is the choice of 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine. There are different pros and cons of each engine type and it is very important to know about their working, advantages, disadvantages, and power production capacity so that you can make the best decision.
In this article, we will discuss the working of 2-stroke engines as compared to 4-stroke engines, pros and cons and which one is better and why. We have put in a lot of effort for doing research on this and want you to make the best possible decision while buying your next generator.
2-Stroke VS 4-Stroke Generator
In order to understand the difference between 2-stroke and 4-stroke generator, you need to have a basic understanding of the definition of a stroke. A stroke is defined as the phase of an engine cycle during which the piston travels from the top to the bottom or vice versa. Usually, the mechanical stroke is defined in very complex ways; we want to keep things easy and understandable for you!
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As the name implies, a 2-stroke engine completes a power cycle with two strokes of the pistons in the engine. The end and the beginning of the combustion happen at the same time. The intake and exhaust of air take place simultaneously as well. In a 2-stroke engine, you need to add oil with the fuel as a basic requirement. Generators which have a 2-stroke engine are lightweight as compared to generators with 4-stroke engines.
2-stroke generators are designed for places where you need a small power range. Most 2-stroke generators are found in the size of 500 watts to 800 watts and may go up to 1200 watts.
Pros of 2-Stroke Generators
Following are the pros of 2-stroke generator:
Simple Design – The design of the 2-stroke engine is simple and easy to understand. In case your 2-stroke generator breaks down, you will be spending very less on the maintenance.
Size and Portability – 2-stroke generators are small and less in weight. This feature makes them highly portable and easy to carry around. If you are an avid traveler and like to camp in the open, then 2-stroke generator can easily meet your electricity needs in the open. You can easily charge your phone, laptop and other on the go small devices.
No Separate Oil – You do not need to keep a record of working hours of your generator. Lubrication needed for engine parts is provided by the oil mixed in the standard fuel. The oil which you are going to add is very low. Most 2-stroke generators work at a ratio of 32:1 to gas to oil.
Optimal Power – 2-stroke generators deliver more power because in a 2-stroke engine every alternate stroke delivers power as compared to a 4-stroke engine which delivers power after every 4 strokes. This feature allows the generator to deliver more power at a small size.
Cons of 2-Stroke Generators
A 2-stroke engine has the following drawbacks:
Limited Power – 2-stroke generators have a limited power range. It is their main limitation that you cannot use them to power large spaces.
Time-Consuming – Starting this generator is time-consuming. It has a very small tank and if you are planning to run it for a long duration, you will have to fill in the tank often. You will also have to mix oil with gas, this will consume a lot of time. It is also difficult to start it by pulling the starting-rope with your hands.
Wastage – If you have mixed oil and gas and you do not need generator any more for some time, the mixed oil and gas will be wasted as you cannot use it elsewhere.
Expensive – if you run your generator for long periods of time, oil addition can be expensive. Further, fuel is also wasted during the starting of the generator.
High Maintenance – We agree that the price of maintenance is less but it is required more frequently. Spark plugs and filters need to be cleaned and replaced much more often as compared to a 4-stroke engine.
Emission Sound – 2-stroke generators produce a lot of sound while running. You need to get an additional muffler to reduce their exhaust sound.
Pollution – 2-stroke generators produce a lot of pollution. They let out gases which can be harmful to human beings.
4-stroke engines are in vogue nowadays and almost all the generators you will find will have a 4-stroke engine installed in them. In a 4-stroke engine, the intake and exhaust of air are separate. Compression and combustion also take place separately. The power is produced after every 4 strokes of the piston.
The engine design in a 4-stroke generator is more complicated as compared to 2-stroke generator engines. You do not need to add any additional oil along with the standard fuel apart from the separate engine oil which needs to be changed at the prescribed limit of working of the generator. The 4-stroke engine is heavy and as a result, the overall weight of the generator is also more. These generators could be found in with a larger wattage i.e 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 and above.
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Advantages of 4-Stroke Generators
With a generator having a 4-stroke engine, you can enjoy the following benefits
Fuel Efficiency – 4-stroke generators are more fuel efficient as compared to 2-stroke generators. They are easy on your pocket. They consume the fuel on every 4th cycle; hence they save the extra usage of fuel.
Durability – 4-Stroke engines are more durable then 2-stroke engines. A 2-stroke engine works more as compared to a 4 stroke engine for a specific time. It is evident from the fact that a 2-stroke engine produces more heat and more exhaust in one hour as compared to a 4-stroke engine.
Less Sound & Pollution – A 4-stroke engine produces less sound and makes less pollution. It is safe for the environment. This is due to the fact that you do not have to add oil in the gas and hence no oil is burned during the combustion process.
No Extra Oil in Fuel – There is no need to add extra oil along with the fuel in the fuel tank. Separate engine oil is used which needs to be replaced after every 500 hours of activity.
Disadvantages of 4-Stroke Generator
With the benefits of a 4-stroke generator, come the following disadvantages
Complex Design – The design of the 4-stroke engine is complex, hence it makes the overall design of the generator complex and difficult to understand.
Expensive – A 4-stroke generator is expensive to buy and also expensive to maintain and repair. Its frequency of breaking down is usually low but when it goes rogue, its repairing is expensive.
Less Powerful – A 4-stroke engine is less powerful as compared to the 2-stroke engine because it delivers power on every 4 strokes.
Conclusion: Which is better and why?
Which generator is best for you, the answer to this question really depends on your needs. If you are looking for a generator under the power of 1000 watts, is portable, lightweight, then a 2-stroke generator is your go-to option. Mixing the oil/gas can be a little difficult in the beginning, but once you do it for a few times, you will manage it very well. If you travel a lot and like to go camping in the mountains and forest, then this is the generator for you.
If you want a standard generator for your house or generator then you must choose a 4-stroke generator. First of all, you will not find a 2-stroke generator large enough to support your needs for your home or office. Secondly, 4-stroke generators are fuel-efficient; hence they will save you a lot of money while running for long periods of time. Their exhaust is less harmful and they produce less sound while running.
We are sure that now you have a clear picture in your mind that which generator is better and which one you should buy.