What Size Generator Do I Need? (Detailed Explanation)

by Johnathan Roos

For most, power generators are simple devices that supply backup power. While this is true, there are still many different features to consider when choosing the right generator for you. For starters, many fail to answer the question:  what size generator do I need?

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right sized generator for your power needs. One of them is the power requirement in your house. Here, we will be discussing everything you need to know about generators to help you choose the right sized power generator for your home.

Adding up All the Starting Watts and Running Watts You Need

what size generator do I need

Using the Total Amount of Watts

There are three different methods to figure out the starting watt and running watts of your devices. Adding up those numbers will give us an estimate to help answer the question of what size generator do I need.

Most home appliances need more starting power than the amount of power required for running continuously. From the device’s user manual or searching on the web, you can know their starting watts. But for running watts, you can follow one of three methods from below.

  • First Method

This is the easiest and quickest method of all that involves checking the labels of the appliances. You will see that it includes some basic information like input/output voltage, current consumption, wattage, etc. This information is also available on the user manual or gets it searching the web.

  • Second Method

Not all of the devices come with a label that states the wattage. This second method requires figuring out  the amperage rating of the device in any way. After that, find the standard voltage rating in your area and multiply the number with the amp to know the watts.

  • Third Method

The third method involves purchasing a calculating power device. This device is put in between the desired home appliance and the power line. After turning on the appliance, you will see the power it is consuming on the LED monitor.

Different types of generators

Using one of the three methods above, you can figure out the power requirements for your home and decide on a specific generator. There are many different types of generators on the market, each with different power requirements and in different sizes. Here are a few:

Very Small Generators Ranging from 900 to 2000 Watts.

This type of generator is mainly used for recreational uses such as camping or gathering outdoors. It is capable of running a few small appliances, charging your phone, or running a large appliance. No other generators are as portable as this one making it convenient for RV owners and small homeowners.

  1. Small Generators Ranging from 3000 to 4000 Watts.

Small generators are very portable and can power basic devices. This makes them suitable for homes with little requirements. You can power a refrigerator, a TV, and a microwave at the same time, even after considering the starting watts.

  1. Medium Generators Ranging from 6000 to 7500 Watts.

If you want to run some more appliances or run with more runtime, you should consider medium sized generators. With such a generator, you’d be able to power an entire house during a power outage.

Large Generators Ranging from 7500 to 15000 Watts

With large generators, you won’t have to choose between the number of devices or runtime. These generators are a bit harder to use on your own and you may need extra help. Overall, they are great for powering an entire household for a long period of time.

How to Choose the Right Generator

In the US, people experience power outages several times a year, averaging about 3 hours in total. It is wise to invest in a generator that will power your necessary appliances, even if power outages aren’t that common in your area. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a power generator for you:

  • Homes experiencing frequent power outages

For large homes with the requirement of running all available appliances, you will need to buy a home standby generator. You can choose large inverters if the requirement involves fewer devices to run. From the methods described above, you will know the power you need to run the devices and buy a capable generator.

  • Homes experiencing occasional power outages

If you don’t face frequent power outages in your area, then a heavy duty power generator won’t be necessary. But it is still a good idea to have one on hand just in case. Opt for larger power inverters with minimal power requirements. This will let you run necessary devices without having to break the bank.

  • For recreational and outdoor uses

There are recreational inverters and small-size portable generators that will let you power up the necessary equipment outdoors. These generators are convenient for camping trips or a small gathering in the backyard due to their portability.


Starting Your Power Generator

Starting your power generator may seem simple enough, but without the proper precautions things can go wrong very quickly.

  1. Put the generator in a suitable location where there is proper ventilation and protection from the rain.
  2. Fill up the fuel tank so that you can get enough runtime before the next refill.
  3. Turn the fuel valve to the on position and get ready to start the engine.
  4. Finally, pull the cord of the engine quickly that will start the motors almost immediately. Most modern generators come with an electrical ignition system that won’t require you to pull the cord.


Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we will be answering some of the most asked questions.

What can you run on a 5000-watt generator?

A 5kW or 5000W generator can run any home appliance with an energy rating below 5000 watts, including lamp, fan, radio, television, water pump, hairdryer, portable electric heater, etc.

Can you run a generator at night?

Yes, you can run a generator at night, as long as there is enough fuel in the generator.

Should I turn off my generator at night?

If you have a gasoline generator, you have to give it some time to cool down the engine in between the tank refilling times. This applies for both the day and night time.

How long can you run a generator without turning it off?

You can run a generator as long as you can provide the fuel continuously before turning it off. But it is recommended to take a break after long-running hours to increase the engine’s life.


Final Thoughts

With the information provided in the buying guide, we hope that you have all the information you need to decide what size generator you need.  After calculating your power requirements and desired runtime, you are one step closer to a reliable source of backup power.

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