How Do I Know What Size Generator to Get for My Home?

How Do I Know What Size Generator to Get for My Home?

Backup or standby generators are a great sense of security for many homeowners today. Having these generators on hand in the event of a natural disaster or power outage is a great solution to maintaining electricity for those essential appliances including the sump and life pumps, and the refrigerator. Determining what size generator you will need will require that you calculate the amount of watts that are used by each electrical appliance in your home. (This only applies to those appliances that you wish to provide power to in the event of an outage.) You can easily find this information on your appliance nameplates or within the handbook that came with your appliances. Keep in mind, the more appliances you add to your list, the higher the costs will be and the larger sized generator you will need.

Create a List

The first thing you should do to determine the size generator you will need for your home is to create a list of all the appliances in the home that you wish to supply power to in the event of an outage. This would include important appliances such as your freezers, refrigerators, furnaces, sump, lift, and ejector pumps. Next to each appliance you should include the amount of wattage each one needs in order to start and run. Again you can easily find this information on the nameplate of the appliance or by searching the handbook that came with the appliance. The information should be displayed in either watts, kilowatts, or volt-amps. (For appliances that are measured by volt amps, you simply multiply the amps by the voltage to get your require

Note: For those who have older appliances or cannot find the information on the starting power requirements you should reach out to the manufacturer for the appliances and find out what the information is. Some companies have websites which have charts that provide the wattage information for you.

Totaling Other Appliances

Next you’re going to need to determine the total running power requirements for things that do not have different starting and running loads. Some ideas of these appliance types would be incandescent lights, toasters, and water heaters. Once you have all of this information you will need to add all the totals together that you’ve obtained and this will give you an idea of the amount of power you will need for the home, thus the size.


Depending on the amount of power you need you can opt between a 240 volt and 120 volt generator. The 240 volt is great for running electric stoves, electric dryers, and central air conditioning unites, dishwashers, baseboard heaters and more. Be sure to select a generator that has both the total power requirements and voltage that is needed to run the appliances you’re looking to keep running in the event of a power outage.

If you’re trying to save money, you can go for a smaller unit if you live in an area where the power outages are far and few in between. You can choose a smaller unit that will allow you to plug in your appliances as you need them. Also for those who also want to keep their computers powered, you will need to go a bit larger (30% more than what you calculated on wattage) to compensate.

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