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A home generator can mean the difference between being comfortable and trying to stay warm in a cold house when the heat’s been cut off or trying to stay cool in a house whose air conditioning has gone out due to a power outage. If a power outage is prolonged, it may mean the difference between being able to stay in your home at all or having to shelter elsewhere. But what are the power requirements if you want your generator to run your house for more than a day or so? What should you look for when it comes to a generator?
First Thing: Wattage
Starting watts is the wattage that it takes to have the generator start up in the first place. In some larger appliances, the starting wattage tends to be much higher than the running wattage or rated wattage, which is the wattage it takes to keep the appliance running over time. For example, a ceiling fan needs 1,200 watts to start up while it takes 800 running watts to keep the fan operating. A clothes dryer needs 6,800 starting watts and 5,400 watts to keep it running. Sometimes, an appliance’s starting wattage can be two or three times higher than its running wattage. The running wattage for a central 3-ton air conditioner can be 3,000, but its starting wattage is 7,500. Many appliances have stickers or come with owner’s manuals that show how much wattage is needed to power them.
The third type of wattage to consider is surge wattage. This is the highest wattage that your generator is able to produce. If you need to run everything, such as lights, fridge, oven, HVAC system, and other devices from your generator, you’ll need to add up the running and starting wattage and add about 1,000 to 2,000 more watts to compensate for the surge wattage.
Generator Sizing for the Whole House
The wattage your appliances use ranges from 10 to 12 watts for your cellphone charger to over 25,000 watts for an electric furnace. You can calculate this yourself by adding up the wattages or having an electrician do it, but make sure that you buy a generator that can handle the wattage your home needs. One tip is to get a generator that doesn’t need to use more than 90% capacity in order to power your home.
As you don’t want to buy a generator that’s too small, you don’t want to buy one that is too big for the job, either. It’s rather like buying an air conditioner. An air conditioner that’s too small won’t cool down the house, and one that’s too big cycles on and off and wastes money. The problems that can arise with a generator that’s too small are even more serious than buying an AC that is too small for the space it needs to cool. A generator that can’t handle the wattage in your house will shut down and might damage your appliances in the process. A right-sized generator won’t cut off like this, will have a longer life span, and won’t need to be repaired as often. This is because it won’t have to overwork to run the electrical appliances and devices in your home.
Is a Home Standby Generator for You?
Home generators are a good investment if you live in a place where the power goes out pretty frequently and stays out for more than a few hours. You can also benefit from a generator if you live in an area that is often in the path of hurricanes or other violent weather that can knock out power for days or even weeks. Home standby generators can be connected to the circuit breaker in your home, and they come on immediately when there’s a power outage. That way, you won’t have to do without heat, hot water, or a sump pump that can remove water from your basement if there’s a storm. A home standby generator is also important if you rely on essential medical equipment that runs on electricity.
Generally, a 1,000- to 3,000-square-foot home can be serviced by a generator that provides 15,000 to 18,000 watts. A house that is 3,000 square feet or more can get by with a generator that provides 20,000 to 24,000 watts.
Types of Generators
There are several different types of generators for the home, and they can differ in the amount and type of power they can provide. For example, an inverter generator differs from a standard generator in that it uses three phases to produce electricity. In the first phase, it produces an alternating current, which is then turned into a direct current. Finally, the electricity is converted into an AC current. This helps the power remain stable and makes an inverter generator ideal for laptops and cellphones. It can also be portable.
The standby generator is large, not portable, and its capacious fuel tank and fuel-efficient engine allow it to deliver the wattage needed to run the appliances in the entire house. Many now also come with Wi-Fi.
Generators can be powered by gasoline, but those powered by diesel are more efficient. Since diesel has a lower burning temperature than either gasoline or propane, there’s less stress put on the engine. This gives the generator a longer working life. Generators that use hydrogen as fuel are fairly new and can be hard to find, but they are fuel-efficient and can deliver higher wattage than other types of generators. They are excellent for homes that really need an uninterrupted supply of power. This includes homes where people are dependent on medical devices powered by electricity.
Figuring out the right generator wattage for your home depends on several factors, such as the type of generator and what you’ll need it for.
Check Out Some of the Bestselling Portable Generators Below
- 9500 Running Watts and 12500 Peak Watts (Gasoline); 8500 Running Watts, 11200 Peak Watts (Propane); Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start; Up to 12 Hours of Run Time on a 6. 6 Gallon Fuel Tank With Fuel Gauge
- Features Two GFCI 120V 5–20R Standard Household Receptacle, One Transfer Switch Ready 120V L14-30R, and One RV Ready 120/240V 14–50R; All Outlets Have Rubber Covers for Added Safety
- Powered by a Heavy Duty 457cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV Engine Featuring a Long-Lasting Cast Iron Sleeve With Automatic Low Oil Shutdown and Digital Hour Meter. VFT display gives you real time updates with the voltage output, frequency, and lifetime hours
- Plug-and-Play: Comes With a Remote Start Key Fob, 12V Battery Charger, Oil, an Oil Funnel, a Tool Kit, and a User’s Manual to Get You Started Right Out of the Box (Minimal Assembly Required)
- All Westinghouse Portable Generators are Functionally Tested in the Factory and May Contain Minimum Residual Oil and/or Fuel Odor; EPA and CARB Compliant; Backed by 3-Year Limited Service, Labor, and Parts Coverage with Nationwide Customer Service Network
- SPEED UP YOUR RECHARGEABILITY: It takes only 2 hours to recharge 80% battery of the power station through the wall outlet and 60W PD USB-C port simultaneously. You can also recharge your power station with an AC adapator when at home, through the car outlet during a road trip or simply use a Jackery SolarSaga 100.
- SAFE & STEADY POWER SUPPLY: Armed with a 293Wh lithium-ion battery pack, the Explorer 300 features 2 Pure Sine Wave AC outlets that deliver stable and safe 300W power. The portable power station weighs only 7.1 pounds. You can simply rest assured in outdoor off-grid activities.
- POWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS: Featuring 2* AC outlet, 1* PD 60W USB-C port (input/output supported) , 1* fast charge 3.0 port, 1*USB-A port and 1* DC car port, the power station can recharge itself and charge (up to) 6 devices (e.g.Drones, Macbook, Cameras, etc.) at the same time to satisfy your outdoor needs.
- GREEN POWER SUPPLY: The power station is compatible with the Jackery SolarSaga 100 solar panel. The integrated MPPT controller enables the solar generator set to operate at its max power point, so that it speeds up the battery recharge, making them ideal portable power kits for tent camping, overland journey and etc.
- WHAT YOU GET: 1* Jackery Explorer 300 Portable Power Station , 1*AC adapter, 1* car charger cable, 1* user guide
- Ultralight body weighs in at a mere 39 pounds for easy transport and storage .Designed to mirror a pure sine wave, this generator limits total harmonic distortion to under 0.3 percent at no load and under 1.2 percent at full load, making it safe to run laptops, cellphones, monitors, tablets and other sensitive electronics.Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle, two 5V USB ports, and a two-year warrantyMaximize fuel economy by engaging the eco-mode switch. This allows the generator's engine to automatically adjust its fuel consumption as items are plugged into and unplugged from the panel, preventing the unnecessary usage of gasoline.
- Extremely quiet operation comparable to the sound of a normal conversation according to the US Department of Health and Human Services
- Produces 2350 surge watts and 1900 rated watts of clean power for safe charging of sensitive electronics (phones, tablets, televisions, computers, etc.)
- Our 79cc 4-stroke OHV engine operates at an extremely quiet 51 decibels at quarter load, quieter than a window air conditioner or the average conversation.
- Fuel shutoff maximizes the generator’s lifespan by using up the remaining fuel in the carburetor before shutting down