What Size Generator for Home

Home is the comfort zone for breathing, relaxing, and living the way you want to. To enjoy the lifestyle and the comfort level everyone looks at their needs and requirements. Before buying any home appliance or machine one has to ensure whether you need them or not will it be useful or not. There are many other questions that you might ask yourself before buying anything for your home. Similarly, a generator is one of those machines which can not be bought for home without checking out the requirements.

During an electricity shortage a generator can keep your house warm in winter or cool in summer, can keep your food fresh in the refrigerator, and your gadgets on charging. Assuming you have one? It is a common trend, people often buy generators during harsh weather or when natural calamities like storms hit. In a rush, they make the wrong decision for choosing a generator type.Ā 

What Size Generator for Home
What Size Generator for Home

Knowing Your Power Priorities

It is always better to know the power priorities of your home before buying a generator for your home. The generators are sold on behalf of their power output which is measured in watts. The amount of power output determines how many appliances it can run. Generally, 5,000 watts can power basic appliances in a typical home.

Having a deeper look towards the appliance requirement experts suggest that a refrigerator consumes 600 watts, sump pump 750 to 1,500 watts, portable heater 1,500 watts, Window air conditioner 1,000 watts, Lights 60 to 600 watts, and computers 60 to 300 watts.

There is a hack to easily determine which outlets and appliances are controlled by each circuit breaker in your panel and label them accordingly. Purchase a small electric device called a digital circuit breaker finder, which you can buy for less than $50.

Translating The Data Tag

It is easy to determine the power needed by some of the appliances by looking at their data tags that are attached to the electric motor of the appliances. It is crucial to have data tags attached to the motors of electrical appliances that must include volts, amps, phase, cycles, hp, and sometimes code.

Maximum vs. Rated Power

Usually, the generators are advertised at the maximum wattage they can produce and rarely with a rated power mentioned on them. You must know the difference between the maximum and the rated powers. A maximum power output that a generator can produce is available for up to 30 minutes. Whereas, the rated power that a generator can produce for long periods of time. Typically 90% of the maximum power. In general, use rated power to determine if a generator will be able to adequately power your applications continuously.

What size generator do I need for a 200 amp service?

The service panel is normally rated at 200 amps 240 volts and the average home uses approximately 140 to 160 amps of 240 volts power to operate everything at the same time. The larger appliances like a well pump, kitchen stove, water heater, electric dryer, electric heater, and heat pump system consume 240 volts power and the lights and other smaller appliances will use 120-volt power.Ā  It is important to consider this difference in doing the load calculations because the important calculation is to determine just how many amps and watts you will need.Ā 

What can you run on a 2000 watt generator?

Running only a fridge on a 2000W generator is no issue, however, the problem arises when multiple elements are powered together on a generator. A microwave that consumes 650 watts for cooking purposes and a 500-watt refrigerator leave enough power from the generator for lights and electrical power ports to work.Ā 

2,000-watt portable generators have become a powerhouse class of generators thanks to their compact sizes, convenient outlets, and ample power. There is also now a huge variety of affordable inverter generators offering 2,000 watts of power, thatĀ  are quieter, lighter, and more efficient than their traditional counterpart

Know The Power-Outage Scenario Of Your HomeĀ 

Rarely, people are aware of the fact that before buying the right size generator for the home first step is to look at the power-outage scenario. A power outage can be frequent, occasional and you might rarely lose power. For each condition, different types and different watts of a generator are used for the home.Ā 

Frequent Power-outage

Frequent power outages are the worst because they are prolonged electricity shortages. It can happen because of multiple reasons like harsh weather conditions (blizzards, ice storms, and hurricanes). To survive in such conditions you have to be very skillful in selecting the generator. The best generator for frequent power-outages is a home standby generator, larger inverter generator, and portable generators.

These three types of generators are capable enough to power your entire house while directly connecting to your homeā€™s circuit breaker panel. Ultimately, it allows you to control and run appliances that are hardwired, such as central heat and air conditioning, well pumps, sump pumps, electric ranges, and water heaters.

Any of these generators make sure to install a transfer switch at your breaker box. A good, licensed electrician should be able to handle the job.

Occasional Power-outage

Such power outages occur only sometimes and they donā€™t stay for long. Typically, these outages do not require thousands of dollars to be invested in a home standby generator. For such cases, large inverter and portable generators suit the best. By doing so it will save you thousands of dollars. It still requires a transfer switch installed.

Rare Power-outageĀ 

Despite the rare power-outage, youā€™ll still be wanting some peace of mind in case of emergency situations. The best suitable generators for rare power-outages are the midsize inverter generator and a recreation generator.

Midsize inverter generators have ample power to run a fridge and a window A/C or space heater, as you can see in our interactive tool. Recreational models are compact enough to toss into the back of a pickup to power a TV and cooktop at a tailgate. Go Wildcats!

Features To Consider For Home Generator

Don’t let the heavy rain and merciless storms keep you in the dark. Install the generator at home and make life easy. Before installing make sure you check out these features of the generators including the automatic CO shutoff, Low-Co engine, automatic start, electric start, alternative fuel capacity, fuel gauge, low oil shutoff, multiple outlets, and removable consoles.Ā 

Automatic CO Shutoff

It is a safety feature for new portable generators that automatically closes the engine if a CO sensor detects levels of the deadly gas building up to certain limits. A portable generator should possess this feature to earn standard recognition in the list of CR recommended products.Ā 

Low-CO Engine

The low carbon emission generators are environmentally friendly that also promote the goodwill of the product in the market. A brand like Ryobi is encouraging the use of low-carbon engines and is working against the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Automatic Start

When the power goes off, the generator automatically switches on. This is a great feature to look for especially if you travel a lot or work far from home, and can’t always get back home in an emergency.

Electric Start

Several portable models own this push-button alternative to get rid of the pull-starting mechanism. This feature only adds to the cost of $50 if the battery is not included. Stationary models have automatic starting.

Alternative Fuel Capacity

Most portable models can run only on gasoline. There are portable models that are also equipped to run on a propane tank or natural gas. Whereas, converted kits are also available for converting.

Fuel Gauge

Especially during long power outage situations fuel gauge is really an appreciable feature to glance at how much fuel remains in your portable generator.

Low-Oil Shutoff

If oil falls below minimum levels, the generator shuts down to prevent engine damage. Conventionally, a standard feature on stationary generators, it’s increasingly common on portables.

Multiple Outlets

Four or more lets you best use the wattage by distributing the load. Multiple outlets are recommended for using it only in an extreme pinch at home, or for when you’re away at a campsite.Ā 

Removable Console

Removable consoles connect to the generator for plugging in appliances without running (potentially risky) extension cords outdoors.

Type of Generator For Your HomeĀ 

You can opt for any of the generators according to your home among the four. Home standby generators are installed permanently, can run on natural gas or propane, and can automatically start during an outage. Portable and inverter generators can both be moved around, though they come in different sizes. Some are better for transporting to the main gates of homes, while others are better fixed as a backup power source. And portable power stations are large batteries that store electricity for when you need it.

Home Standby Generators

  • These units are the most expensive ones among the rest ranging from $3000-$6000
  • They must be installed by an expert which again adds to the cost
  • It requires an experienced electrician to reduce the noise levels according to the d proper location.
  • These start automatically when the power goes out, and typically supply more power than other options.
  • They are self-reliant and let you know when maintenance is needed.Ā 
  • You have your choice of fuel to power these generators. Propane generator is less risky to store than gasoline, or natural gas, which provides an unlimited supply of power.Ā 
  • They range from roughly 5,000 to 20,000 watts.Ā 

Portable Generators

  • These units tend to cost less than home standby generators within the range of $400 to $1,000
  • They typically run on gasoline that you may need to store in large quantities.Ā 
  • A stabilizer must be added to your fuel for prolonged storage.Ā 
  • Portable generators can be usedĀ  anywhere on or off your property but never in an enclosed space
  • These models can quickly produce deadly levels of carbon monoxide.
  • If it’s raining, shield your generator with a canopy designed for your particular model.
  • Several of these models offer electric starting. The battery required, however, may not be included.
  • They provide from 3,000 to 8,500 watts.

Inverter Generators

  • These models generally cost more than portable generators of a comparable output because their engines are more complex.
  • Inverter generators are much quieter than their conventional units because they throttle up and down to match demand rather than run at full power all the time.Ā 
  • They are equipped with sophisticated exhaust systems which also help tamp down the noise.
  • They run more efficiently and produce fewer emissions
  • They range from $500 to $4,000

Portable Power Stations

  • These generators donā€™t use gas or propane. They are powered by a battery that can be chargedĀ 
  • Portable power stations own the latest technology thereby, they are relatively new to the market, and they typically cost more than portable gas generators.
  • These devices are extremely quiet.
  • They donā€™t produce fuel emissions/carbon monoxide, so you can use them indoors.
  • Donā€™t power multiple appliances or run them for an extended period of time, since they donā€™t output as much power as portable generators and you can’t keep them running without recharging them.
  • There are no issues with starting because there’s nothing to start.
  • Typical cost $750 to $3,000

And Yes, a Transfer Switch Is a MustĀ 

A transfer switch securely connects a home standby or portable generator to the circuit panel through one cable. BY not installing a transfer switch youā€™ll endanger utility workers and damage the generator itself.

Safety precautions are always the best option before using electronics. Thus, it is highly recommended to install a transfer switch by a licensed electrician. Total installation cost plus a labor cost will take $500-$900.

The transfer switch switches on automatically in a stationary model. On the contrary, for portable models, a flip switch is required when the power goes out. Most of the transfer switches are designed for 220-volt input and it depicts that it can work for 5,000 watts or more. For stationary models, the transfer switch shuts off automatically when the power goes on and for portable generators, you’ll flip the same switches the other way to bring up live power.

A much more inexpensive idea than a transfer switch would be installing an interlock device instead. It costs $100-$200 less than a transfer switch and can be installed in less time by an electrician. This covers your service panel’s main cutoff switch when the power comes back. This will refrain you from accidentally switching on the generator.Ā Ā 


Working by flashlight while hurrying to get the power-up, they might step on the critical safety steps of the generator. And people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning related to generators. Therefore, it is very important to choose generators that meet your home requirements and also do not destroy the environment.Ā 

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My career as an Industrial Electrician with over 20 years experience in maintaining small, medium and very large generators plus repairing small engines and working in an auto electrical shop have placed me in the unique position to provide quality advice on all your generator needs. šŸ˜‰

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