To Use Ethanol or not To Use Ethanol, That is the Question {Is non-ethanol gas worth the cost?}

To Use Ethanol or not To Use Ethanol, That is the Question {Is non-ethanol gas worth the cost?}

To Use Ethanol or not To Use Ethanol, That is the Question {Is non-ethanol gas worth the cost?}

We have all heard that non-ethanol gasoline can help prolong the life of small engines like those used in lawn care equipment. 

But is it really worth the cost to spend extra on non-ethanol gas, or are you better off running over a stack of cash with a lawn mower?

Here’s the deal, we did some digging and asked lawn care professionals who have been in the industry for decades, as well as car enthusiasts if non-ethanol gas is worth the cost.

And the answer was pretty straightforward; non-ethanol gas can be worth the cost SOMETIMES, but there are some huge catches most people don’t see.

Below you will find everything you need to know about when to use non-ethanol gasoline and when it's simply not worth the extra cost. 

Let's dive in!

The price difference between ethanol free gas and gas with alchol additives

II. Ethanol Gasoline vs. Regular Gasoline

Ethanol is a plant-derived alcohol that can be used as fuel and is commonly added to gasoline. The first recorded use of ethanol goes back to 1826, and since then, it has gradually made its way into almost all of the gasoline that is available at the local fill station.

In the 1970s, the United States government began to encourage the use of ethanol as a way to reduce air pollution. 

Ethanol is a renewable fuel that can be produced from a variety of sources, including;

  • Corn, 

  • Sugarcane, 

  • And switchgrass. 

While ethanol is cheaper and can reduce air pollution, it is less energy-dense than gasoline. Worse still, ethanol doesn’t burn as completely as pure gasoline. Therefore it can lead to premature corrosion, especially in small engines. 

III. Ethanol Gasoline for Lawn Mowing Equipment

So, when it comes to your outdoor tools and equipment, is ethanol worth the investment? 

Well, the short answer is yes! But it's not that simple. 

Here’s the deal, as one Facebook commenter put it, when it comes to small engines, it's best to use non-ethanol gasoline. On the other hand, for bigger engines like lawnmowers, it’s generally not worth it.

Ethonal free gas is worth the cost for small engines

But it's still not that simple. Take a look at this comment:

Ethonal free gas is a good option for winter storage

As you can see, it's really not if but when you should spend the extra dough.

You see, while ethanol-free gasoline can be better for small engines like back leaf blowers, edgers, and commercial weed eaters, it may not be necessary to use it all the time.

Do lawn care professionals use ethanol-free gas? (Market Research)

To find out more, we asked lawn care professionals whether or not they spend extra to use ethanol-free gasoline in their lawn care equipment.

And when we polled lawn care pros at large, we found that there is a nearly even split down the middle on whether or not using ethanol-free gas is worth the cost. With only a slight majority (58%) of lawn care professionals saying yes, using non-ethanol gas is worth the cost.  

Is non-ethanol gas worth the extra cost? Lawn care and landscaping equipment Poll

A final point to consider is simply following the manufacturer's guidelines. 

Follow manufacturer guidelines on the ype of gas to use

If your equipment is covered under warranty, even if you use ethanol gasoline, you may simply find peace of mind in saving some money and knowing that your equipment is still protected

Of course, you could just avoid the whole issue by switching to battery-powered lawn equipment

IV. Ethanol Gasoline for Vehicles

So what about when it comes to an automobile? Is ethanol-free gas worth it?

Here is the opinion of one automobile enthusiast:

“Ethanol-free gas has a higher energy content, which can result in improved fuel economy So, Ethanol-free gas has several benefits, including: 1. Increased fuel efficiency, 2.longer engine life, 3. easier starting, and 4. better fuel stability. Also, It has more BTUs than E10.” -Joinal Abden Co-Founder of Automobile Lesson 

But it really depends on your goals. For most vehicles, going with the cheaper ethanol-gasoline combo will likely save you money in the long run. But you should always follow manufacturer guidelines. 

Do automobile enthusiasts use ethanol-free gas? (Market Research)

To find out more, we polled automobile enthusiasts to see if they recommend using ethanol-free gasoline in cars and trucks. 

And like lawn care pros, many car enthusiasts recommend using ethanol-free fuel.  61% of the enthusiasts we polled said, yes, it is definitely worth spending extra at the pump for the reduced wear and tear on the engine. 

Is non-ethanol gas worth the extra cost for cars and trucks? Poll results

However, you have to keep in mind many of those that responded to this poll likely have collectible cars that they want to keep going for as long as possible. And in those instances, it is certainly worth investing in the length of the vehicle.

Yet, for the average traveler who uses their car to commute to and from work, it's likely not worth spending the extra cost at the pump. 

This point is reiterated by Joe Giranda of CFR Classic:

”If you have an older vehicle that isn’t being used for long trips, or if you’re not looking for maximum performance, spending extra on non-ethanol gas may not be worth it. However, if you have a newer vehicle that will be seeing a lot of use over the years and you want to maintain its peak performance, the lower corrosive nature of non-ethanol gas can help keep your engine in good shape and maintain its fuel economy, which may result in increased mileage over the life of the vehicle.” -Joe Giranda Director of Sales & Marketing for CFR Classic

On the other end of the spectrum, "flex-fuel" cars are designed to run on high levels of ethanol. For those car owners, gasoline with a minimum of 70% can be used to run their cars. While it may be damaging to most cars, you can't beat the more than $1 per gallon in savings flex fuel can offer. 

70% ethanol flex-fuel is very cheap

V. Ethanol gasoline and the environment

When it comes to ethanol use, aside from the reduced cost, the environmental impact is perhaps the greatest advantage of ethanol use in gasoline. 

Ethanol, aka grain alcohol, is a renewable source of energy that can reduce the negative impact on the environment. Here's the deal, plants trap carbon and ‘sink’ it into the earth and into the crop itself. The emissions created by ethanol are offset by the growth of the crop itself. 

It’s true ethanol’s carbon dioxide emissions are nearly equivalent to those of oil-based fuels. But this environmental impact is offset by the carbon that is captured during the growth cycle of the plant

Have bad gas? No, not that kind! Check out our guide to disposing of old/bad gasoline.

The price difference between ethanol and non ethanol fuel

VI. Ethanol Gasoline Cost and Availability

According to the Department of Energy, the national average for the cost of regular non-ethanol gasoline in January of 2023 was $3.31. Alternatively, pure ethanol cost an average of $2.77.

This is crazy because ethanol fuel is actually more expensive to produce. But because of government subsidies and tax breaks, gasoline that is diluted with ethanol is significantly cheaper at the pump. 

Aside from the high cost of ethanol-free gas, it's also difficult to find. While “Premium” 93 octane gas is fairly common. Ethanol-free gas isn’t available at most gas stations. So you will likely have to go out of your way to find it. 

Most gas stations don't advertise ethanol-free gas, but if you look at the pump, you may see a sticker like this one below that indicates that the gas is non-ethanol. 

Non ethanol gasoline

Here's a great resource: Has a list of gas stations that sell gas that does not have ethanol additives.

VIII. Conclusion

At the end of the day, when it comes to maintaining your lawn equipment, especially small engines like weedeaters and leaf blowers, ethanol-free gas is the way to go. Especially if you won’t be using the equipment often, for example, when you store your lawn care equipment for the winter

When it comes to lawn care and landscaping professionals, using non-ethanol gasoline in their small engines is a great way to maintain your equipment. Ethanol-free gasoline can ensure that your equipment remains reliable and will reduce the issues you might run into. Especially if you don't use the equipment regularly.

On the other hand, using gas for your cars and trucks is not as cut and dry, and it really depends on the type of vehicle and how you intend to use it. 

Looking for more to read? Check out this guide of great yard clean-up tips.

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