What Size Generator Do I Need?

If you are shopping for a new generator, then you likely have a specific purpose – or multiple purposes – in mind. Maybe you are planning for some extended camping far away from a source of electricity. Or perhaps you are planning for how to manage your household or business during a time of anticipated electrical interruptions. from fires, hurricanes, blackouts, or electrical grid mismanagement.

Take these steps to determine the size generator that you need.

Review the appliances / items you want to power

The information you are looking for is the required wattage to run the appliance. This will always be found on a label directly on the appliance or item itself. If the item is too big to easily move while you are doing the calculations, you can also look it up at the manufacturer’s website.

Add up all of the appliance wattage or amperage (they may be listed differently on different appliances) to get a total.

Make sure that you check both the “starting wattage” and the “running wattage” for each appliance. Just like a car, many electrical items need a little extra boost of energy to get started. You will need a generator that can handle a scenario where all the appliances are starting at once, because that is the situation for your starting point when you are turning it on after a power outage.

Now you will want a generator that can manage that load, or something slightly larger (after all, the one appliance you really can’t let fail is your generator!)

Additional considerations

When you are purchasing a generator for a specific purpose, you also need to think about how much noise that generator creates.

Many companies offer slightly quieter models for a higher price point.

Additionally, running your generator at max power also causes it to work harder and to make more noise. You might consider getting a slightly stronger-than-needed generator in order to keep the noise level down.

This noise consideration is especially important if you will be camping around others, or if you live in a densely populated neighborhood where the noise from your generator will be disruptive to yourself and others.

This matters less, of course, if the generator will largely be used during hurricanes or other crisis moments, when neighbors will tend to be much more tolerant of noise as they deal with more pressing issues.

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