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Energy CostsIN CHARLOTTESeptember 1, 2022by AndrewWhat Size Generator Do I Need in an Emergency?

Your house is a place of comfort and safety. It’s where you can relax, be with friends and family, or escape the world for a while. However what would happen if your power goes out? What would you do without electricity in your house for a few days or longer? There are many causes – maybe an ice storm, tropical storm, tornado, or any other disaster. Having a generator to power your residence is a wise way to get ready for such emergencies. What type of generator and what size will do what you need it to do in an emergency? How do you know what dimension generator you require?

What Size Emergency Generator Do I Need for my Home?

If you are looking for a generator that is perfect for your house, you first need to know how much power will be required in an emergency situation. This can be done in three simple steps.

  1. Calculate the wattage for each appliance you would run all at once. After that total these power level numbers. This supplies you with the total of continual or running watts your generator must provide.
  2. Now take the largest number of starting watts for one of the appliances you expect to use.
  3. Figure the total amount of these two numbers and this will give you the size generator required to meet your needs.

How to Calculate Total Wattage

There is a formula you can follow. The math isn’t too hard. The equation to get the total wattage is:

Running wattage + Starting wattage of the largest appliance = Total wattage needed

As an example, let’s say in an emergency I need to power a refrigerator, sump pump and electric water heater. The total wattage required for these devices is 7,600 watts.

Now we can use this number to lead what size generator you require to ensure it can generate sufficient electricity for your home needs.

Next, what’s the difference between starting watts and running watts?

Home appliances with electric motors usually call for a starting wattage. This is since the electric motor needs to turn over and develop resistance, which calls for power in order for it work efficiently.

Here are the most typical home appliances that need a starting wattage:.

  • Refrigerator
  • Freezer
  • Furnace
  • Washing machine and dryer
  • Central air conditioning or window air conditioning unit

Do Gas Appliances Need Electric Power?

Yes. Appliances powered by gas also need power to run. Electronic ignition systems start the appliance. So keep in mind to include these in your wattage overall.

Powering the Basic Needs

In an emergency, the most vital appliances in your house need to be the top priority. You will need to think about that when it pertains to power usage. As an example, here is a list of important appliances you may need to power and their wattage requirements.

  • Refrigerator: 600 running watts, 2,200 starting watts
  • Washing machine: 750 running watts, 1,200 starting watts
  • Sump pump: 800 running watts, 1,400 starting watts
  • Microwave: 700 running watts, 800 starting watts
  • Mobile phone: 2 to 6 watts for each phone
  • Electric water heater: 4,000 watts

Complete power level for these basics = 9,056 watts. Since we do not want to use more than 90% of a generator’s capacity, a 9,500 watt generator would match our needs well.

Emergency Generator Wattage Levels

Now that we know how to figure the total electrical power needed in your home in an emergency, choosing the right size generator is easy. When shopping for a generator, normal wattage outputs you will see are the following:.

  • 999 watts and under
  • 1,000-1,999 watts
  • 2,000-3,999 watts
  • 4,000-5,999 watts
  • 8,000-9,999 watts
  • 10,000-15,999 watts

You Experience Regular Power Failures

You live in an area with frequent power outages, and some are lengthy outages. This may also be your situation if you live in a location prone to severe weather, such as snowstorms, ice, tornadoes or hurricanes.

What Size Generator Do I Need in an Emergency?
Having a generator to power your residence is a wise way to get ready for such emergencies.

Generator Types to Consider

  • Home standby
  • Large inverter
  • Large portable

These three kinds have sufficient capacity to power your entire home. They can attach directly to your residence’s breaker panel, allowing you to regulate and run appliances that are hardwired, such as central heating and cooling, well pumps, sump pumps and water heaters. If you have any of these and it’s crucial for them to work in a power blackout, make certain to have a transfer button set up at your breaker box. A certified electrician will be able to handle the job.

For Periodic Outages

Occasionally power outages are sustained, but not usually, and you do not want to spend thousands on a whole home standby generator.

Generator Types

  • Large inverter
  • Large portable

Unless you experience many power interruptions a year, you likely do not want to spring for the $10,000 or more it can cost to acquire a fixed system and have it installed. For the few times you need it, you do not mind bringing a large inverter or mobile generator out of a garage or shed and hooking it up during the outage. You’ll still want to have a transfer button installed.

Your Home Rarely Loses Power

However, you want a generator for the peace of mind, and maybe uses other than an outage or emergency.

Generator Types

  • Midsized inverter
  • Small recreational inverter

Midsized inverter generators have ample power to run a fridge and a home window AC or space heater. Small portable designs are compact enough to toss into the back of a pickup to power a television or cooktop at a tailgate.


Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.