How Much oil for a generator

How Much Oil does a Generator take?

Engine oil for your generator (and any other machine) plays the important roles of lubricating and cooling the engine. Without the right amount of oil in the generator, it’ll heat up and its parts will wear out quite fast. You should, thus, know the exact type and amount of oil to use for your generator.

Below, we discuss the various aspects about engine oil for your generator from the first time, changing the engine oil and general maintenance about the generator’s engine oil. We also take a look at the amount of engine oil needed for each size of the engine.

Engine oil is far much more important than even the fuel for your generator. Running the engine without engine oil can easily lead to its permanent damage. Luckily, modern generators have sensors that won’t allow the engine to start or run when the engine oil is below the recommended value.

First Time Engine Run

When you run your generator’s engine for the first time, you should ensure that the break-in period is properly handled. The break-in period is the first 5 hours the generator will be running. In this period, the generator should be run at or below 50% of its output. You should also change the load amount often to cool and heat up the stator windings. The other benefit of varying the amount of the load is that it helps seat the piston rings in place. When you’ve run the generator for the first 5 hours, you should change the engine oil after that.

The oil change should be done in small amounts until it appears at the bottom of the filler plug which is a threaded hole in the crankcase. If the oil level is low, it’ll lead to the LOW OIL sensor coming on and the engine not starting.

Too much oil, on the other hand, causes the engine breather system to eliminate the excess oil into the air cleaner box next to the carburetor. With time, this oil purge blocks the free entry of air into the carburetor. The engine becomes flooded with fuel which messes up the workings of the spark plug. This usually prevents the engine from starting.

The type of engine oil to use for your generator as directed by Champion Power Equipment is as follows:

Champion Oil type Recommendation

As can be seen here, the type of oil depends on the climatic conditions and other aspects.

The viscosity of the engine oil should be as follows:

Oil Viscosity chart

When you decide to use synthetic engine oil for your generator, only use it after the first 5-hour break-in period. Synthetic engine oil doesn’t change the recommended oil change interval for your generator. The advantage with synthetic engine oil is that it works better in cold and hot climates.

The Amount of Oil to Use for Your Generator

The guide for the amount of engine oil needed is as follows:

Engine CapacityAmount
80cc Engines0.4 quarts
170cc to 224cc Inverters0.6 quarts
114cc to 224cc Engines0.6 quarts
270cc to 459cc Engines1.1 quarts
717cc Engines1.4 quarts
754cc Engines1.6 quarts

Basically, the larger the size of the engine, the more the amount of engine oil you’ll need. The dipstick for the oil level has the FULL and ADD sections with the optimal amount being just below the FULL reading. Never let the oil go below the MIN value.

What determines Generator oil capacity

The type and amount of generator engine oil you use depends on the following aspects:


In hot areas, you should use engine oils that are more viscous. This is because they can withstand high temperatures without evaporating like the thinner oils will. Thinner oils are best suited to colder environments are they don’t freeze up as easily as the thicker ones do.

Engine Capacity

Generally speaking, a larger engine will need more oil to cool and lubricate it. The same holds true for generators. As seen in the above sections, engine capacity is directly proportional to the amount of oil used.

These aspects will usually be stated in the generator’s manual. If not, search only for your engine capacity and climate to find out the most recommended oil type for its engine.

Generator Oil Maintenance Tips

Some of the tips to put into practice with your generator are as follows:

  • Check the oil level frequently especially when you run the engine often.
  • Change the oil every 100 hours of runtime.
  • If your generator has an oil filter, make an effort to change it once every time there is an extended period of usage. You can change it after every 50 hours of operation.
  • Always check the level of the engine oil before starting the generator. This is because you’ll get a true value of the oil as opposed to checking after running the engine. Running the engine often gives a higher than true value.
  • Before draining the oil during an oil change, run the engine for about 10 minutes to warm it up.

Following these tips helps you enjoy a long service from your generator. A poor oil routine can easily lead to the permanent damage of your generator.

What to look for when choosing good engine oil

If you’re on the market for engine oil, consider the following aspects:

The brand

Oil brands can be quite confusing as they promise different things and deciding on which one actually delivers is a bit difficult. However, going for the premium brands or brands similar to that of your generator is the best way to find good engine oil.

Engine type

There are 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines even with generators. Modern generators are mostly of the 4-stroke type and they use SAE 30 engine oil or its synthetic versions the SAE 5W-30 and SAE 10W-30.


Ratings from industry experts, users and the company itself are important when it comes to making a decision on the oil to get. Manufacturers will often display any ratings and certifications on the bottle of engine oil. Besides that, you can easily do an online search of the engine oil in question to find out what other users think of it.

Operating temperature

Given that most generators will be running outdoors, the type of engine oil you get for them is a major determinant of how well they will operate. For example, it can be in a freezing environment or one that’s very hot.

The oil you choose for either environment will determine how effective the generator will work. Engine oil types such as the SAE 5W-30 work well in low temperatures. The same is also great for high temperatures such as those up to 100 degrees.


Viscosity refers to how easily a liquid is to pour. With engine oils, the lighter ones (easier to pour) are best suited to colder environments as they won’t freeze up. For warmer environments, the more viscous ones are the better suited ones for use as they are best suited to high temperatures where they don’t evaporate under high temperatures.

Synthetic or Conventional Oil

Conventional engine oil is for everyday use with lots of generators that don’t have lots of work. If you have a new generator and don’t run it that often or that long, conventional engine oil will work for you.

On the other hand, if you use your generator frequently and require high-performance engine oil, synthetic options are the best.

These are oils with additives to make them last longer and at higher extremities in terms of temperature and other conditions without compromising on the quality of the operation. They can be quite costly but they’re worth the extra cost.


Can you put too much oil in a generator?

Yes. If you add oil to the generator beyond the MAX or FULL point, it’ll be too much.

How much oil does a Briggs and Stratton generator take?

It depends on the size of the engine of the generator. However, they typically take 28 oz.

How long can a generator run before adding oil?

A generator can run for 100 hours before needing additional oil.