Unfortunately, utility power outages are bound to happen due to uncontrollable circumstances like heavy rains, snow, hurricanes, and storms that can damage the power lines. Blackouts cause inconveniencing situations for homeowners like frozen pipes, flooded basement, spoilt food, and moldy walls. If any of your family members rely on power to run medical instruments, a power failure can be very deadly.
A generator is the first line of defense against such issues. You, however, need to ensure that you choose the right generator size that meets your household needs. If you buy an undersized unit, it will strain to meet your power demands, shortening its lifespan. An oversized unit will result in unnecessary power loss and can damage your appliances. Follow the guide below to determine the right generator size for your house.
1. List All Home Appliances You Intend to Power
The size of the generator you need will depend on the size of your house and how many appliances you want to run. There is a significant difference between a home that uses a generator to power lighting fixtures, small fridges, charge devices and those that need to power an HVAC unit, sump pump, and water heater. Include TVs, AC, dishwashers, computers, microwave, washing machine, drier, home heaters, freezers, coffee makers, toasters, blenders, and other equipment in the list.
2. Determine the Wattage Required to Run Each Item
Once you have a list, you need to determine the power requirement of each appliance. You can get this information from the label. Equipment with motors, heating elements, or compressors like ACs, coffee machines, grinders, fridges, pumps, and hair driers have both starting and running wattages. When turned on, they will have a higher power demand which then drops back to a lower level. Starting wattage can be two to three times higher than what equipment needs to run constantly.
Devices like laptops, TVs, and lights have similar starting and running wattages. Pay attention to the starting power when choosing the generator size. If your equipment draws more energy than your generator can produce, then you might not be able to run them. If you can’t find the starting wattage on the label or user manual, it’s a good idea that you contact the manufacturer.
3. Work Out the Total Wattage
Keep in mind that generator power units are usually in watts or kilowatts. You, therefore, need to convert all your appliance’s power information into watts. Watts is the amount of energy consumed by a device while in operation. On the other hand, voltage measures how strongly an electric current moves through the system. Amperes determines how much power the appliances need. The three units relate, and they will help you in calculating your generator size using the formula; (P) Wattage = (V) Amperes x (I) Volts.
Do the calculations and add all the wattage for your appliances to give you an idea of the right generator size. It’s best if you pick a generator slightly bigger than your needs to prevent overloading it. Keep in mind that running a machine at full load can significantly shorten its lifespan. Also, a generator operating at a full capacity is more likely to produce noise.
If your AC draws 2,400 watts at start-up then drops back to 1,000 watts, a generator that produces 2,500 watts start-up and 2000 watts continuous is ideal. Suppose you also have a water pump with a starting wattage of 1,100, running continuously at 300 watts, a freeze that runs at 1,000 watts at peak and drops down to 400 watts, a TV of 200 watts, lights that require 100 watts, and a 150 watts laptop.
Add the running power of all the appliances which is 1,000 + 300 + 400 + 200 + 100 + 150 = 2150 watts. Next, add the highest starting wattage, the ACs at 2,400 watts, to get 4,550 watts. In this case, you can choose to buy a generator of 4,600 watts. For this option, you will first start by connecting your AC, then gradually add all the other appliances. After all, it’s rare that you will need to run all your equipment simultaneously, so you probably need to account for the highest wattage of your appliance to determine your generator size.
However, if you want to start all the appliances right away, you need to get the total power requirement. In this case, 2,400 + 1,100 + 1,000 + 200 + 100 + 150 = 4,950 watts, meaning that the 4,600-watt generator may not produce enough power. A generator of about 5,000 watts can handle the sum of the peak power demands for such appliances.
4. Consider the Rate of Power Outages in Your Region
Besides calculating the required power output for your generator, other factors can affect the size of your unit. Consider the rate of power outages in your region. If you live in areas prone to severe weather events, you will need a more powerful generator than the calculated size. The longer blackout lasts, the stronger the unit you require. Ensure that the generator has enough energy to power the entire house and run all the appliances you can’t do without.
Standby generators are a good option in such a region. They are pretty large, and they use natural gas to power your whole home for an extended period. Standby generators connect directly to your electrical panel, and they turn on automatically in case of a power failure.
If you have occasional outages, you don’t need to go for a huge unit. The same case happens if your region rarely has blackouts. For this, you can stick to the calculated power output based on the number of appliances. If you rarely experience a power failure and only need a generator for peace of mind, you can opt for portable generators. They are smaller with varying power output, so you can choose one that suits your needs. However, this option will power only a few appliances like refrigerators, cell phones, and light fixtures. Smaller models can provide power for about six to eight hours, while larger ones can run for up to 18 hours.
A home generator is an essential power backup solution that will help you operate your appliances even after a blackout. There is a wide range of options in the market today, and selecting the right one can be a bit challenging. You need to choose a big enough generator to handle all your power needs. Still, you shouldn’t buy an oversized unit to avoid unnecessarily high upfront and maintenance costs. The above guide should help you determine the required power output of the generator. Determining the right generator size may seem somewhat complex, especially if you have multiple power requirements. If you can’t figure it out, it’s a good idea that you consult a professional.
Should you need help determining the right generator size for your home, or in case of other generator-related issues, reach out to Black-Haak. Our company deals with electrical repairs, generator installation, drain cleaning, toilet repair, water heaters, and septic services. We also offer furnace and AC installation, repair, and maintenance services in Fox Valley, WI, and the nearby regions. Call us now, book an appointment and try out our services.
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