Power outages are common and can inconvenience many homeowners. Investing in an emergency generator will ensure you won’t deal with flooded basement, spoiled food, and frozen pipes when the electricity goes out. These units come in different sizes, and it can be difficult to select the appropriate one for your needs. This guide outlines the sizing process and essential considerations when purchasing your home generator.
The appropriate generator for your residence will depend on the appliances you intend to run in your home and the house size. Do you want to power small fridges, lighting fixtures, or charge devices?
This might require less power than running water heaters, a sump pump, or an HVAC unit. When listing your home items, ensure you include blenders, toasters, coffee makers, washing machines, and any other equipment.
A whole house generator might power different items in your home, but the units come in various sizes, depending on wattage needs. Here are some residential items and the average operating wattage per hour to give you an idea:
Determine the Wattage Necessary to Run Each Item
Once you have the household item list, establish the power needs for each appliance. Get the information from the manufacturing labels. Equipment with compressors, heating elements, and motors like hair driers, pumps, fridges, and grinders have running and starting wattages.
The items’ power demand is higher when turned on and drops to a lower level when off. The wattage required to start the equipment can be over two times higher than it needs to operate constantly.
Lights, TVs, and laptops have similar running and starting wattages. Consider this when purchasing your home’s generator, as it will help you choose an appropriate size. If an appliance requires more starting wattage than your machine produces, you may not run the equipment.
Add the Total Wattage
Power units for a generator are in kilowatts or watts. Ensure you change the power information on your items into watts, the energy they consume when running. Voltage is a measure of how an electric current travels through the unit.
Amperes determine the power needs for an appliance. These units relate, and you will use them to calculate the generator size you need for your home.
Use this formula;
(P) Wattage = (V) Amperes x (I) Volts
Add all the wattage your household items require and calculate to get an idea of the generator size appropriate for your home. Pick a slightly bigger generator than your home needs to avoid overloading. Operating equipment at a full load can impact its lifespan, and running a generator at a full capacity may cause it to produce noise.
Keep in Mind the Power Outage Rate in Your Area
Other factors can determine the unit size you need for your home besides the generator’s power output requirements. The power outage rate in your region is a significant factor when purchasing a system.
If your home is in an area that experiences extreme weather conditions, a more powerful generator can help. Regions that experience more prolonged blackouts require more robust units. Ensure you invest in a generator that can power your home and run essential equipment without issues.
Standby generators will do in these areas. They use natural gas and are large enough to power your residence for an extended period. Standby units turn on automatically when a blackout occurs and connect to the electrical panel.
Home Standby Generators
These can restore power for all your home’s appliances. Standby generators turn on/off automatically and can serve you without issues when an electrical outage occurs. Installation is permanent outside your residence and requires a professional to complete the job. Fuel sources for these units include natural or propane gas.
Portable units come in different sizes. These generators can power job sites and homes or serve as a backup power source. The systems may not run all your home’s appliances, meaning you will need to choose the necessary items to operate with a portable generator.
Portable Inverter Generators
Inverter units boast cleaner energy than most generator types. They are more fuel-efficient, quieter, and lighter. The systems are suitable for recreational uses, including camping, boating, and tailgating. However, you can use them to run some appliances in your home.
Inverters offer reliable and consistent energy without power surges. This is essential for electricity-sensitive home appliances such as TVs and phones.
How Heavy Are Generators?
Generators can be exceptionally heavy to move or lift, depending on size. When picking a unit for residential use, consider essential features like portability. If you need a moveable generator, purchase a system with wheels. You don’t need to move your machine? A permanently installed unit can work for you.
How Do You Start a Generator?
Generators come with two starting options, including electric or pull. Some may have both, which is convenient for a homeowner. If the unit’s battery dies, a pull start option is critical. Ensure you can use the pull start without issues if this is the only option to run your generator.
Overheating and Overloading
Generator overheating or overloading can be disastrous. Units with an automatic shutoff function can enhance your home’s safety when overloading occurs. Straining your generator with increased energy demands can enhance malfunction risks.
Ensure you choose a unit suitable for your home’s needs to avoid stress. Generators need frequent repair and maintenance for an extended lifespan. A bigger unit will avoid under-powering or overloading for a seamless operation.
Choose an Appropriate Generator Size for Your Home’s Needs
A generator is a vital home investment, and it is best to select the right size for your residential use. This will ensure an adequate power backup solution to run your household items during a power outage. When selecting your system, evaluate your power needs to avoid common pitfalls. The market has different options to choose from, which can be challenging. If this seems complicated, consult a professional to guide you with the selection.