According to the most recent reports of the U.S Energy Information Administration, the average American household’s power cuts out for at least 3 hours once or twice a year. Some outages can be nationwide due to uncontrollable weather conditions, and those outages can sometimes last for days or weeks, depending on the severity of the conditions.
We all take electricity and power for granted, but once they’re out for a long time, we start to panic. There is no shortage of troubles and inconveniences that can be caused by the sudden loss of electricity. It hits even harder because we rarely expect it, so being prepared is the only way to face such a problematic event.
A generator is your first line of defense against power outages. Unfortunately, choosing a generator can become an overwhelming experience if it’s your first time. You’ll first have to decide whether you want the generator to power your whole house or just a room or two. Naturally, choosing a low-powered generator isn’t much of a problem because they shouldn’t cost much, and they’re standardized to some extent.
However, choosing a generator strong enough to power your whole home is a different story. In this guide, we’ll help you land the most suitable generator needed to power your whole home.
Units Of Power And Size References
When the term “size” is used in reference to generators, it’s not meant to describe physical dimensions. A generator’s size is the maximum power it can generate and transfer to appliances. Since these generators produce electricity, they use the same units, Watts (W) or Kilowatts (KW) to measure power. It’s very important to understand what those units of power mean. If you want your generator to power a lot of appliances, that means that you need to take their required units of power into account when you’re choosing it.
A generator that’s too small or provides a low output will not be able to handle the power needed by these appliances, causing it to overload. The last thing you want a generator to do is overload because even those small generators are powerful enough to be quite destructive. This power overload can completely fry your generator, a complete loss. Your appliances also have a high chance of being ruined. If you ignore calculations and get a generator that’s too big for your use, you’ll be wasting too much money and effort to purchase and maintain it.
If you are living in an area with reliable power, you might still experience some power outages, even if they are rare. If you have an underground power cable and you never witness any major hurricanes, wildfires, or any other disasters that interrupt your power supply, then portable generators are the best option for you. These generators are the perfect fit for houses that experience short and rare outages each year. After settling on the right generator type and size, you will need to choose a fuel source between diesel, gas, solar, dual-fuel, tri-fuel, and propane.
While most generators of the right size and brand can get the job done, some preferences can make a difference in the long run. If you’re looking for a cost-effective and efficient generator, a diesel generator uses less fuel than any other type. The number of recommended routine maintenance sessions of diesel generators is less frequent than gasoline and other generator types.
Calculating Your Home Devices’ Power
There is no standard way of choosing a generator that works in every home. Since every house uses a specific amount of energy that’s dependent on the number of the devices operating in the house. To start on the right foot, list all the appliances you’re planning to use during an outage. Some appliance wattages are quite easy to determine because it’s written on the back of the appliance.
But your main problem would be finding out the wattage of appliances that have no wattage listed on them. Fortunately, most appliances and devices’ wattages estimations can be found online or in the manual.
Keep an eye on the different wattages that one device can use. A starting or surge wattage is the wattage required for an appliance to start properly; it’s usually 2 to 3 times higher than the normal wattage required for operation. Take into account the surge wattage then adds it to the running wattage to get a safe and accurate number.
Use Extra Power
While buying an overly powerful generator is a bad financial idea, getting a generator that’s only a bit more powerful than you need is a good idea. Very small generators are always worse than bigger generators because they run the risk of overloading. A slightly bigger generator shouldn’t cost you much in terms of operation and initial costs.
Having some extra watts around in case of a sudden, unexpected surge or miscalculated wattage will keep you on the safe side. It’s a known fact that generators that run on maximum load capacity have shorter lives than those that don’t. A bigger generator will live longer and make less noise than generators that generate the exact wattage required by appliances.
Even though you’ll be running the generator to power your whole home, that doesn’t mean that you don’t get to choose the appliances you want to run. You can choose a smaller generator if you only plan on running certain equipment in the house.
Disaster-prone areas that experience constant blackouts require bigger generators because they’ll be used more often. If you want to plan for the worst, even though you live in a stable area, then you should invest in a smaller generator that has enough power to run the most essential appliances, such as the freezer, water pumps, refrigerators, and TV.
Determining the size of the generator your home needs can save you a lot of hardships and inconvenience. There is no doubt that power outages can get under anyone’s skin, but the real problem is the danger they pose to millions of people who may not be prepared for it. It happens when you least expect it, so it’s favorable having extra power on the side.
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