For homeowners and families that experience a lot of upheaval during storm season, getting the best generator for home use can make a big difference. Whether you’re weathering a longer storm or just need something to tide you over until the power starts back up, having access to instant, unbroken electricity can keep your home warmer, more functional, and safer for longer. Getting a generator is a great idea for homeowners who deal with a lot of bad weather and don’t want to be without power for hours or possibly even days at a time. With the right interlock kit, restoring home power can be as easy as 1-2-3. However, size requirements are important to think about when it comes to the generator you end up buying. Figuring out what kind of an electrical workload your home is carrying each day will help point you in the right direction. If you’re thinking about buying a home backup generator, here are some factors to use when looking for the right size model for your home size and wattage count.


Before purchasing a generator, you’ll need to estimate how much it “costs” your home to power a few key appliances. For instance, the wattage on your home refrigerator could be anywhere from 800 to 1200 watts, with a running wattage of around 200 per hour. A smaller appliance like a microwave or television will cost significantly less. If you’re looking at a long-term storm that’s going to cut your home power for a few days or even a week, you’ll need to start looking at the math a bit more seriously. You might not need power for your television or hair dryer, but you’ll definitely want the basics like running water, heat, and power for your security system. Adding all of this up for a few days will bring you up to around 10,000 watts, which means you might want to consider a standby generator rather than a portable model. However, if you’re just looking at a day or two without power, a basic portable generator is a great budget option.

Starting Wattage

Each utility you use comes with a “starting wattage” in addition to the running wattage. This refers to the amount of power needed to actually get your machine up and running after it’s turned on. Don’t make the mistake of assuming any of your units run on a constant value. If you’re looking at a long blackout period, you always want to count on more watt usage rather than less. Most homes run on a daily average of about 7,000 to 10,000 watts per day all appliances included. If you want to power your entire home, including high energy appliances like an air conditioning unit and garage door opener, for longer than a few hours, you’ll want a standby generator. However, if you’re just looking to bridge the gap for an hour or two and keep your security system running, a smaller portable generator might work perfectly.

Minimum Size

The smallest portable model you can buy will be able to generate around 4,000 watts. This includes your fridge, lights, and television, along with a few small appliances. A medium generator, ranging from 5,000 to around 8,000 watts, will allow you a bit more elbow room. If you need more than 10,000 watts to power your home, stationary or “standby” models will be the best choice. Starting at around 10,000 watts and capping out at around 15,000, larger generators will be able to power a home’s lighting, heat, and power for longer without forcing homeowners to go without other high-wattage basics like refrigeration and TV.

Electric Heat and Light Needs

Everything your house uses to function on a daily basis, from your water source to your fuel source, will be a factor in choosing your generator. For instance, if you rely on the city for your water, you’ll need less power from day to day, but if you live further out in the country and use water from a well source, you’ll need a more powerful generator. Anything that uses a pump system requires a large amount of energy that your standard portable generator might not be able to handle. If you use oil or natural gas to heat your home, this will also make it harder to use a smaller portable generator to carry a house for a number of hours or days. Most portable generators cap out at around 10,000 watts, which might not be enough to get you through the worst days of the storm at full capacity.

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