What Wattage Generator Do I Need

Are you in the market for a generator but feeling overwhelmed by the wide range of options available? Look no further, because in this article, we will help you determine the perfect wattage generator for your needs. Whether you’re preparing for a camping trip or need a backup power source for your home, understanding the wattage requirements is crucial in making the right choice. So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive into the world of generators!

Factors to consider when determining generator wattage

When deciding on the wattage of a generator that you need, there are several factors to consider. Understanding these factors will ensure that you select a generator that can meet the power demands of your appliances and equipment effectively. Here are the key considerations:

Types of appliances and equipment

The first factor to consider is the types of appliances and equipment you plan to power with the generator. Different appliances have different power requirements, so it’s important to know the wattage needs of each one. For example, a refrigerator typically requires around 600-800 watts, while an air conditioner can require 1500-2000 watts or more. By making a list of all the appliances and equipment you plan to power, you can get a better idea of the overall wattage needed.

Starting wattage vs. running wattage

It’s crucial to understand the difference between starting wattage and running wattage when determining your generator’s wattage requirements. Starting wattage refers to the amount of power an appliance needs to start up, which is usually higher than its running wattage. For example, a refrigerator may require 800 watts to start but only 200 watts to run continuously. Knowing the starting and running wattage of each appliance will help you accurately calculate the total power needed.

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Total wattage calculation

To determine the wattage requirements for your generator, you need to calculate the total wattage of all the appliances and equipment you plan to power simultaneously. Add up the starting wattage of each appliance to get the highest possible power demand. However, keep in mind that not all appliances will be running at their maximum power at the same time. For a more realistic estimate, add up the running wattage of each appliance instead. This will give you a better idea of the average power consumption.

Considerations for portable generators

If you’re considering a portable generator, there are a few additional factors to keep in mind. Portable generators are typically used for temporary power solutions, such as during camping trips or in emergency situations. When choosing a portable generator, consider factors such as size, weight, and fuel efficiency. You’ll want a generator that is easy to transport and has a fuel capacity suitable for the duration you expect to use it. Additionally, pay attention to noise levels, as some portable generators can be louder than others.

Considerations for standby generators

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution to power outages, a standby generator may be the way to go. Standby generators are designed to automatically kick in when the main power supply fails. They are typically connected to your home’s electrical system and are fueled by natural gas or propane. When selecting a standby generator, consider the size of your home and the specific power needs you have. Standby generators come in various wattage capacities, so choose one that can handle your expected power load without any issues.

Determining wattage requirements for common household appliances

To help you better understand the wattage requirements for common household appliances, here’s a list that can serve as a guide:

Refrigerator and freezer

A refrigerator typically requires around 600-800 watts to start up (starting wattage) and around 200-400 watts to run continuously (running wattage). A freezer, on the other hand, may require similar wattage requirements.

Air conditioner

The wattage requirements for air conditioners can vary significantly depending on the size and type of unit. A central air conditioning unit can require 1500-3500 watts to start up and 1000-3000 watts to run continuously. For a window unit, the wattage requirements are usually lower, typically ranging from 500-1500 watts to start and 400-1200 watts to run.

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Heater or furnace

The wattage requirements for heaters and furnaces depend on the heating method. Electric heaters and furnaces can range from 1000-5000 watts, while gas-powered units typically don’t require electricity to operate.

Water heater

Electric water heaters usually require around 3000-5000 watts, while gas-powered water heaters don’t have specific wattage requirements as they operate independently of electricity.

Washing machine and dryer

Washing machines and dryers each have their own wattage requirements. A washing machine typically requires around 500-2000 watts, while a dryer can range from 1800-5000 watts, depending on its size and heating method.


Microwaves usually require around 600-1500 watts, depending on their size and power output.


The wattage requirements for televisions can vary but generally range from 50-250 watts for LED or LCD models, and higher for larger or older models.

Desktop computer

A desktop computer typically requires around 400-800 watts, depending on its configuration and any additional peripherals.

Home networking equipment

Items like routers, modems, and switches usually have low wattage requirements, typically ranging from 5-50 watts.

Calculating total wattage for multiple appliances

To calculate the total wattage needed for multiple appliances, follow these steps:

Identifying essential and non-essential appliances

Start by identifying which appliances are essential and must be powered during an outage. These typically include items like refrigerators, freezers, heating, and cooling systems. Non-essential appliances can include items like televisions, washing machines, and microwaves.

Determining the starting and running wattage for each appliance

Refer to the wattage requirements for each appliance you identified as essential. Determine if the wattage listed is the starting wattage or running wattage and note it down for each appliance. If the wattage is not specified, you can estimate using the ranges provided earlier.

Summing up the total wattage

Add up the starting wattage or running wattage of all the essential appliances to get the total wattage needed. This will give you a clear idea of the minimum wattage your generator should have to meet your power needs.

Choosing the right wattage generator

After calculating the total wattage required for your appliances, it’s time to choose the right generator. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

Portable generator options

If you’re opting for a portable generator, consider factors such as the generator’s power output, fuel efficiency, and runtime. Choose a generator that has enough wattage to meet your calculated requirements. Additionally, check the fuel consumption rate to ensure it can run for a sufficient amount of time before needing refueling.

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Standby generator options

For standby generators, it’s important to select the right size based on your expected power load. Consult with a professional to determine the appropriate wattage capacity for your home. Consider factors such as the generator’s fuel source, noise level, and automatic transfer switch functionality.

Considerations for future power needs

When choosing a generator, it’s wise to consider any potential future power needs. If you anticipate adding more appliances or equipment in the future, it may be best to select a generator with a higher wattage capacity to ensure it can handle the additional load.

Budget and price considerations

Lastly, consider your budget and the price range of generators that meet your wattage requirements. Balance the features and capabilities of different generator models with your budget to find the best option for you.

Additional considerations and tips

Aside from the wattage requirements and generator selection, there are several additional considerations and tips to keep in mind:

Accounting for power surges

Certain appliances, such as refrigerators and air conditioners, can experience power surges when they start up. It’s important to choose a generator that can handle not only the starting wattage but also any surges that may occur. Look for generators with built-in surge protection or consider using surge protectors for sensitive appliances.

Considering the generator’s fuel type and efficiency

Different generators use different fuel types, such as gasoline, propane, or diesel. Consider the availability and convenience of the fuel source in your area. Additionally, pay attention to the generator’s fuel efficiency rating to ensure it provides optimal runtime without excessive fuel consumption.

Connectivity options for portable generators

Some portable generators offer additional connectivity options, such as USB ports or RV outlets, which can be useful for charging electronic devices or powering RVs. Consider these extra features if they align with your needs.

Noise level and environmental impact

Generators can be noisy, so if noise is a concern for you, look for models that offer quieter operation. Additionally, consider the environmental impact of the generator and opt for models that are designed to be more fuel-efficient and produce fewer emissions.

Safety considerations

Always prioritize safety when using a generator. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper installation, operation, and maintenance. Ensure proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide buildup and never operate a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces.

By considering all these factors and taking into account your individual power needs, you can confidently choose the right wattage generator that will provide reliable backup power for your specific requirements. Stay prepared for power outages and ensure the uninterrupted operation of your essential appliances and equipment.

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Albert Stein

Starting this site about today's portable power options was an easy choice as it's one of my passions. Tech changes constantly so you need to make an informed decision before purchasing the wrong products. -Thank you.-

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