There’s no denying how life-changing the right backup generator can be during a long storm, especially for homes in vulnerable areas. From keeping home security up and running to providing homeowners with heat, power, and access to basic home comforts, a backup generator is a must-have for families looking to weather a severe, possibly weeks-long storm. Finding the right size generator, however, isn’t always simple. It requires a fair amount of know-how as well a sense of what a family is willing to compromise during periods of bad weather. While any home generator can provide a safe, consistent flow of electricity to a house or office by using the proper interlock kits for connecting generators, it helps to know exactly how much you’re powering up and for how long. Having a generator is all about being prepared for the worst: Here are some ways you can plan better by figuring out what generator size will work best for your home.
Add Up Your Electronics
The best way to find the perfect generator is to figure out how much wattage you’re using in your home per day. From there, you can factor out larger appliances you might not need in a crisis (such as an A/C unit) versus appliances you absolutely can’t do without (like a refrigerator and freezer.) You’ll also want to consider starting time and running time. Starting time refers to the amount of power required to actually fire up your appliances, while running time is the per-hour factor that your appliance uses over time. A fridge, for instance, requires around 1,200 watts just to start up, with a 300-watt running value. Smaller appliances, like light bulbs and hair dryers, will probably stay in the double digits when it comes to running wattage. Still, it’s important to add everything up by the hour in order to get a fair estimate of what you need. Figure out the baseline minimum you need to power your home for a few hours, a few days, and a week. From there, you can start to compare models within that watt range.
What Can You Do Without?
The best way to find the right generator is to be practical about what you need on a daily basis. While it might be nice to have a few extra appliances on hand, like a microwave, hair dryer, and television, it might not be totally necessary. For instance: Using power for a washer and dryer unit will run you almost 7,000 watts in starting wattage alone. That means that if you’re budget conscious and opting for a smaller portable generator, you could end up using all your energy on just one wash and dry cycle. Even if you have a larger standby model, you don’t want to use all your energy in one place, especially if you’re looking at hours or days without power. Certain things are a must-have, like running water, light, heat, refrigeration, and home security. Everything else can fall into the “extra” category.
How Long Will You Be Without Power?
While it’s difficult to tell just how long you’ll be without power after a storm hits, you can use your knowledge of past storms or random outages to figure out what you actually need. If you live in an area where storms are uncommon but tripped breakers and hour-to-hour outages happen all the time, a smaller portable generator could be the perfect answer to tide you through a few hours of lost power. However, for homes that see the worst of the rainy and stormy season, a larger machine will help keep families above board for a much longer time. If security is a concern, getting a larger generator will help ensure that there’s no gap in your home security system.
How Much Can You Spend?
Spending is always a concern for thrifty homeowners. As generators increase in wattage, they also increase in price. Portable generators tend to be more budget-friendly, falling within the $2,000 to $4,000 range, plus a few hundred for the interlock kit. Standby generators are larger and usually start at around 10,000 watts. The machine could cost anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 with installation and consultation included. The bottom line is, if powering as many appliances as possible is important to you, getting a large generator could be the right move, especially if you’re looking at days without power. However, if you’re considering a future move and want to take your investment with you, a smaller generator might do the trick.