Generators - January 2019

Generators - January 2019

Dear Matt,
I’m thinking about getting a generator for my home.
What size or type do I need to look at getting?

That’s a timely question! Generators are a great source of backup power.

A portable generator is designed to have a few things plugged into it. A standby generator powers all or parts of your home and can often automatically start when the power goes out. A standby generator should always be installed by a certified electrician. 

I’m going to focus on portable generators. The short answer to your question is wattage. Generators rate by wattage and appliances in your home are also assigned wattage by the energy they consume. Ideally, you could add up the wattages needed during emergencies, and that determines the generator you’ll need. However, there’s a little more to it than that. 

The box shows wattages for a few common home appliances. You can find this information for a specific appliance in the owner’s manual. For example, the items in that box add up to 2500 watts to start up. The recommendation is that you oversize your unit for surges and additional load, so for this example, I would start looking for a 3,000-watt generator. 

Starting wattage versus running wattage can be confusing. Generator manufacturers typically provide you with a wattage calculation guide that can assist you in determining which unit is the right fit for your needs. 

Do not forget about sensitive electronics. If this is something that you need, you may want to make sure the unit you purchase has automatic voltage regulators for protection. The bottom line is that the generator you purchase should fit your needs. Also, when you do purchase and utilize your generator always follow proper generator safety. 

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