Category Archives: Generators

Try a Lister Generator for Off Grid Applications

Lister CS Engine

Lister CS Engine

A generator can come in handy if you need large amounts of power for your particular needs, especially if you live off-grid. But you don’t necessarily have to invest in a large, loud and expensive generator that may not even last as long as expected. Rather, consider going for a Listeroid or Lister clone diesel engine, which is relatively more robust, reliable, and efficient.

Lister diesel engines were first introduced in 1929, with a horsepower of 5hp at 600rpm. These were soon replaced by the 6hp 650rpm standard engines. These cold-start engines came out in various models before their production ended gradually between the 70s and 80s. When you see the build quality it is not surprising the old engines are still going strong today, sometimes used along a more recent group of “Listeroids”.

The Listeroids are Indian versions of the original English Lister engines. These are sold in varying degrees of price and quality. The primary components have a high quality covering, but the engines need to be cleaned to get rid of any sand on the casting that may quickly damage your new engine. The most common grievance is mostly reported on the finishing and final assembly. Once they have been thoroughly cleaned and checked they provide similar power and reliability as the original engines.

You can use the original generators that came with the “Startomatic” Listers or a more modern

generator or alternator to charge your battery tank or operate demanding equipment. But there is much more to a Lister engine than just making electricity than those benefits. It can power any older machinery with a belt drive, as well as modern equipment such as water pumps.

The slower rpm and indirect fuel injection of the Lister engine enhance its ability to reduce wear and burn alternative fuels. Waste oils such biodiesel and waste vegetable oil are great alternatives to run diesel for your workhorse. Lister diesel engines have been shown to run for decades with little to no maintenance.

Any maintenance it does need should not be a source of concern. The limited number of components and simple design of the engine allows anyone with minimum experience to conduct most maintenance tasks. The engine can weigh up to 1,000lbs, but fortunately, once situated it is not necessary to move it even in the unlikely event of major work being needed.

It doesn’t matter if you are buying a Listeroid or reassembling an original Lister diesel – these engines come with lots benefits, including long lasting performance, simple construction, and multiple fuel choices, making it an ideal alternative for most homesteads.

Petrol and Diesel Generators Off Grid

Small diesel generator

Small diesel generator

Petrol and Diesel Generators for Off the Grid Living

Power is of the utmost necessity nowadays and lack of it can be a problem. That’s why in the case of an outage, many activities are paralysed and a whole city may come to a standstill. That isn’t a problem for off grid situations as they will already have other means of generating power. There are several ways of doing that- solar panels, wind turbine or generators.
Power generators come in various forms and one may not be sure which to purchase. Popular options include petrol and diesel generators. So as to assist you in coming up with an informed choice that will be worth your money, let’s take a look at the pros and cons to these generators:

Diesel Generators

These are usually the popular option and for a reason. Here are some pros to show you why. The first advantage that diesel generators have over petrol generators is that they are very efficient with fuel. Due to the motor’s high compression of fuel, it ensures that more of the fuel ends up in combustion and less goes to waste.
Doing a cost comparison to petrol generators, diesel generators are cheaper to run. For this reason, diesel generators are found providing the power in most industries. As such, if you are looking for an off grid power option but on a budget, a diesel generator is a viable generator.
Another good point of diesel generators is that they last longer. This is because diesel generators do not have to work as much as petrol generators so as to get equal power output and they are generally built more robustly. This means that the engine parts usually under less stress than the faster running lighter weight petrol alternatives. Also, another contributing factor is that diesel is usually self-lubricating. This means that the fuel delivery system to a diesel generator lasts longer than in a petrol generator.

Disadvantages are they emit more fumes compared to petrol generators per litre of fuel. However, the fact that they use less fuel may give them the upper hand.
They can be expensive to fix so even though they may be long lasting, once they fail, you can get a big bill. Be aware this is not always the case, particularly with older designs.

Petrol Generators

Compared to diesel generators, petrol generators have a wider choice of models to choose from, particularly for the smaller models, which means that you can get a model that suits your price range easily. Even though diesel generators are hyped on being fuel efficient, petrol generators come in various kinds of economy models and additional features which ensure that gap is bridged.

Petrol generators are lighter weight so if portability, for power tool use or similar, they can be better.

Unfortunately for petrol generators, the fuel is more volatile than diesel. This means that it is less safe to transport in bulk due to the risk of accidents.
Having to generate a spark for ignition means they can be more prone to breakdown. This also leads to more maintenance issues compared to diesel generators. They also tend to heat up more than diesel generators. This means that they tend to suffer more wear to their lighter weight parts leading to a shorter lifespan.


Overall I’d have a petrol generator for short term portable use and a heavily built diesel for long term fixed applications. Depending on your situation and mechanical aptitude I’d suggest looking at vintage Lister generators for really long term reliability. You can read about them in my other posts. If you just want a plug and play generator that has electric start and requires no more mechanical knowledge than you can get from the owners handbook then go for a modern quality make (petrol or diesel) and you’ll be very happy with your choice.