As the last two decades has taught us – being prepared for major power outages caused by hurricanes and tropical storms is an important aspect of planning and preparation. Choosing the best generator for your needs isn’t complicated, but it does require some planning to ensure you have adequate power for your needs.
There are essentially two kinds of generators – standard gas generators and then what is called inverted generators where the unit produces DC power and then converts it to AC household power. Invertor generators provide a much smoother power output and are in most cases much quieter than their basic gasoline cousins. If you are wanting a quiet generator that can safely power sensitive electronics, then you will want to go with an invertor model.
Calculating Your Needs.
The more power you need the bigger the generator you will need to buy. In the case of a major power outage where the electricity is going to be down for several days – you will need to make a list of the appliances you will want to keep running. Typically this includes things such as refrigeration, heating and lighting as the primary considerations, followed by less important usages such as electronics and small appliances.
In the chart below, you can get an idea of how many watts various appliances and devices use. It’s important to also note that some devices, typically those with heating elements or appliances like microwaves, require more power to get started than they do to run once they are going ( called surge power ). A 750 microwave requires in many cases 1300 watts just to get started.
Keep in mind that you won’t be running all your devices / appliances at the same time, but you still need to plan for the total power consumption you might need for general household operations. For example, if you have a chest freezer, it will use about 700 watts of continuous power – and if you have a fridge running, that’s another 700 watts. If you turn on two burners on your stove, that’s another 4200 watts of power. With 8, 60 watt light bulbs on in the house, your total power use would be 6000 watts. Turn off the stove though and your power drops to under 2000 watts. If you only consciously use one burner, then you are only going to need approximately 4000 watts. Or you could unplug your freezer and fridge to run your stove etc…