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Diesel vs. Heating

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What is the difference between home heating oil / fuel oil and diesel?

Can a generator be operated safely using home heating oil?

The following is a synopsis of differences between Off Road Diesel #2 and Home Heating Fuel Oil #2.

Off road Diesel #2 and Home Heating Oil Fuel # 2 may differ only by the red dye added to the fuel and the tax applied.  The fuels may differ somewhat as there is a specification regarding ash and sulphur content allowed for on-road use.

In winter, in cold areas, Standard Road Diesel #2 may be blended with Diesel #1 or Kerosene K-1 to mitigate gelling problems and wax precipitation resulting from the cold weather.  Similar blending may be applied to home heating oil in the within a cold region depending upon temperatures, and climate. During Winter Home Heating Oil may sometimes be sold and used as "Arctic Grade" diesel.  This grade of fuel has less lubricating properties and should not be used in temperatures above about -30 (close enough to the same temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius).

Higher BTU content is available with Home Heating Fuel Oil #4 and Home Heating Fuel Oil #6.  This could be a mixture with heavier petroleum oil similar to automotive motor oil. Such a mixture provides more BTU and allowing a furnace to burn less fuel as more BTU per litre are available.  Blends such of Home Heating Fuel Oil as these should not be used in a Diesel generator.

Sometimes due to economic and shortage fuel distributors may sell other fuels, or combinations and blends of fuel oil to home owners, as Home Heating Fuel Oil.   Fuels such as; Standard Road Diesel #2, Diesel #1, Kerosene, K-1, Jet Fuel, JP-1, Agricultural Diesel, Diesel #2, Home Heating Fuel Oil #4, or Home Heating Fuel Oil #6  can be shipped by fuel distribution companies and sold for use as home heating oil.  Small fuel delivery trucks are more likely to change the fuel they are carrying which may create a fuel mix within the delivered fuel as well.

If for you wish to use only one fuel, consider using off road Diesel #2 for home heating.  It has greater BTU content, has less sulphur content and may surprisingly be a similar price to Home Heating Oil when you calculate based on a cost per BTU. 


Home Heating Fuel Oil #2 and Off Road and Agricultural Diesel #2 appear to be similar products. Home Heating Oil #2 refers to a specific product and specific formulation, which may be a very similar product in terms of composition and formulation to Off-Road Agricultural Grade Diesel #2.

Home Heating Oil is a generic term covering a variety of potential fuel products, formulations, and compositions.  When you purchase your Home Heating Fuel Oil - it is your responsibility to insure the composition and formulation is of the Home Heating Fuel Oil offered.  As previously mentioned, composition can vary for a wide variety of reasons, all Home Heating Oil is not always the same.

If you are considering operation a Diesel generator for prime or standby power, and wish to use Home Heating Oil - CALL YOUR HOME HEATING FUEL OIL DISTRIBUTOR AND CONFIRM WITH THEM the formulation and composition of the home heating oil they provide. Ask them if it is approved for use in a non-transportation or off-road diesel engine

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided as a service for your general information to enable you to ask the pertinent questions of your fuel distributor.  We at Enviroharvest, Power to Go Generators are not fuel experts familiar with various fuel types and compositions.  We recommend that you discuss your plans with your local Home Heating Oil / Fuel Oil distributor.  You must make your decisions based solely upon information given to you by them. We recommend using ONLY standard or agricultural grade or off-road Diesel #2 within your generator set.  We assume NO responsibility or liability resulting from any decision you might make to use any fuel other than grade Diesel #2 within your diesel generator.

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Last modified: April 17, 2010