The modern world is more reliant on electricity than ever, and our growing societal and individual need for more and more power means that almost everything in our homes today requires a steady and stable supply of electricity in order to function.
Our entertainment systems and TV’s, computers, phones, laundry machines, refrigerators and even our showers and heating systems have become incredibly reliant on electricity.
However it's also true that as demand continues to rise, it becomes increasingly difficult for providers to keep up with demand, particularly at peak times, or during increasingly unstable and inclement climate and weather conditions.
The challenges presented by these unique and difficult problems can lead to brownouts and power outages, and although power instability is relatively rare it's something that can be unexpected and cause a whole host of issues for homeowners and businesses, and is more than a simple inconvenience.
If the power goes down for a considerable amount of time it could cost you money, from spoiled food to missed business and even emergencies, a power outage can have huge consequences on an individual level and beyond.
To combat this, proper preparation is key and one of the most popular and prudent ways to combat these issues is to use a generator as a form of emergency backup to prevent you from being totally cut off and being sent back to live in the dark ages.
However while this seems like a simple enough solution, there are actually many pitfalls and things to consider when buying a backup generator, and many people can get confused by what amount of power they use day to day, as well as what size generator would be required to give your house an emergency source of power to keep essentials running, as well as other appliances and electronics.
To help you find a generator that's right for you we’ve compiled a guide on how to work out how much power you use, as well as some tips on how to extend your power if you do end up needing to use your generator in an emergency.
How To Work Out What Size Generator You Need
To work out what size generator you need you will have to get some idea of the amount of wattage or surge your various electronics require in order to function.
This can vary quite widely between different appliances, and of course there are some that require a larger amount when switched on before stabilising at a lower amount of wattage, and others that require a more constant stream of power.
First, make a note of all the appliances in your home that are left plugged in and note down their wattage and surge wattage.
Once this is done, you will need to find a generator that is powerful enough and has more wattage than the total combined wattage of all the appliances you previously noted down.
What Size Do Generators Come In?
Generators actually come in a range of sizes and they can go down as low as 1000 watts for portability and quietness, or over 4000 watts for a truly generous amount of power.
Larger generators will naturally have larger gas tanks and will be able to run for longer, however if they are put under maximum strain all generators will eventually run out of fuel and require refuelling, or they won’t be able to continue to function.
Also it's important to note that if your generator doesn’t have enough power for the appliances you’re trying to power you will overheat or overload the generator and this will often cause it to stall or shutdown to prevent it becoming damaged and can even damage your electronics.
A generator that is too large will of course be costly and will be more difficult to store and move around easily.
Weigh up these factors and try to find a generator that meets all your needs and balances these different elements well.
How To Calculate Wattage
- List all your appliances you will need your generator to power
- Determine the wattage of each appliance on your list and also note down if any use surge wattage and include this with each appliance also. (If you can’t locate a wattage for your appliance its best to look up estimations ahead of time and note these down - then allow a little extra for contingency)
- Add the wattage totals (if you have surge wattages, use these instead of the wattage for the appliances that require surge power) and then use the total of this number to look for a generator that exceeds this amount to ensure you avoid stalling and damage.
How To Save Power, Money And Fuel
While powering the whole home may seem like something that's necessary, in an emergency or power outage it isn’t entirely practical or prudent to ignore events, and even less prudent to try to power your whole home as normal as this will quickly use up your fuel and put a lot of strain on your generator.
Instead, consider using essentials such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioning, water heater/showers and some lights/lamps in order to ensure you don’t run out of fuel.
Just powering a few essentials can require a generator with more than 10000W depending on the size of your individual appliances, so think carefully about what you need and plan accordingly.
Powering Your Whole Home
If you really do want to power your whole home, you will need a generator with a huge amount of power, somewhere around 25 or 30000 watts, a number that will cost a huge amount for the generator and the fuel.
While this is enormous, there are generators that can meet this requirement but it will be more difficult to find and use.