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What Size Generator Do I Need to Power My House?

A male hand is pulling an electrical cord plugged into a socket

Generally, American households may experience power loss at least one to two times a year, averaging around three hours. In comparison, power outages due to extreme weather or other natural disasters may last for several days or weeks.

When this happens, many people go through all kinds of ordeals until the power is restored. Thus, looking into the market’s favorite tri-fuel generators is an excellent idea. But what generator size does a typical American household need?

How To Calculate the Generator Size

The generator size is measured in watts or electrical output, not by the machine’s dimension or weight. A small camping generator measures from 1,000 to 3,000 watts, while heavy-duty ones are at 10,000 watts. Let’s see what other factors you need to consider to determine the right size for your home.

Essential Household Devices 

To know the type of generator you need, determine which appliance you want to run using backup power. This way, you can calculate how much you need to run essential appliances.

Power Requirement Calculator

One of the best ways to know your household’s required generator power is by utilizing a power requirement calculator. You have to look out for two things when using this tool.

First is the starting wattage, which will tell you how much power a particular appliance needs to start. Second is the running wattage or the amount of energy it needs to continuously run after it starts.

You can also check this generator wattage estimation guide if there’s no information on the label. Adding the two will give you a rough estimate of what size of generator you should get for your house.

Bigger Is Better

You will want to get a generator with several hundred extra watts allowance. This way, you can extend its lifespan because you won’t have to run it on full load. For example, if your appliances require a running wattage of 6,800 and 8,200 watts to start, pick a 7,500-watts-rated generator with starting watts of 9,500. Additionally, the excess wattage will help reduce its noise while in use.

Generator Types To Consider

Even if you rarely experience power interruptions, having a generator ready will give you peace of mind. Here are some generator types worth considering:

Recreational Inverter

This generator type is the lightest, with models mostly weighing around 60 pounds, making it easy to transport or store. There’s no additional expense for installation. Plus, it operates quietly and can pair with other units to increase power.

Most models have user-friendly features like fuel-level indicators, while others come with smartphone apps. They offer up to 2,000 watts but have limited connectivity options because they can only power devices with standard plugs.

 Gasoline generator for generating electricity in an emergency

Midsized Inverter

A midsized inverter offers up to 3,500 watts of power. Most models of this lightweight machine weigh less than 150 pounds. It can power up lights and a refrigerator for up to 18 hours effectively, consuming two to three gallons of fuel. However, this inverter can only power items operating at 110 volts with two- to three-prong standard plugs.

Portable Generator

When it comes to cost versus capacity, a portable generator is one of the best. Some models can even supply enough power for the whole house. It can provide up to 7,500 watts with an option to connect to your breaker panel equipped with a transfer switch.

With this ability, the generator allows you to operate hardwired equipment, like a water pump. That said, the cost of connecting the generator to the breaker panel can be as expensive as the machine itself. Also, it’s noisy and runs on gas, consuming a lot of it. Most models are bulky, usually weighing around 300 pounds.

Large Inverter

Large inverters also offer up to 7,500 watts, like portable generators. This should be enough to support essential appliances in the house. You can also connect it to the breaker panel for running hardwired equipment.

This fuel-efficient inverter operates quietly with a steady power supply, making it suitable for sensitive electronic devices. The problem with this gasoline-powered machine is its price range. However, the ones with the high price point offer better performance.

Home Standby

Home standby units are permanently installed near the house, providing an uninterrupted power supply during outages. They offer maximum output to power the entire house all at the same time. You don’t have to connect cables, start an engine, or flip a switch. Visit Bravo Electro to browse for more power supplies.

You can power a home standby machine using natural gas or propane, similar to some favorite tri-fuel generators. Apart from the high price range of the unit, the installation cost is also expensive. Also, it’s not ideal in low-lying areas.

Surviving a Blackout

In case of a blackout due to an emergency, it is best to prepare an emergency tech kit in addition to food, water, and medical supplies. Make sure you pack power banks, portable chargers, and power stations. It would also be ideal to have flashlights and other light sources, a decent radio, and an emergency phone.