Determining The Correct Wattage For Your Portable Generator

Have you ever found yourself in a power outage and wished you had a portable generator to provide electricity? Well, we have, and we’ve learned that determining the correct wattage for your portable generator is crucial to ensure it can power the appliances and devices you need during an outage.

There’s a common misconception that the wattage of a generator only needs to match the total wattage of the appliances and devices you plan to use. However, that’s not entirely true. In fact, you need to consider both the starting and running watts of each appliance and device to determine the correct wattage for your generator.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you navigate the process and become a master of portable generator wattage determination.

Key Takeaways

  • Make a list of appliances and their wattage requirements to calculate total wattage needed for your generator.
  • Choose a generator with enough wattage for your needs, considering starting and running watts of appliances and adding 20% for surges.
  • Regular maintenance, including oil and filter changes, air filter inspection and cleaning, and spark plug checks, is crucial to keep your generator running smoothly.
  • Consider the fuel type and availability in your area when choosing a generator, and make sure to have backup batteries or a plan for recharging them if necessary.
Generator Power - Wattage Calculator

Make a List of Appliances and Devices

You’ll want to start by making a list of all the appliances and devices you plan on powering with your generator. This includes everything from your refrigerator to your cell phone charger. It’s important to be thorough so you don’t end up with a generator that can’t power everything you need it to.

Once you have your list, you can move on to the next step of determining the correct wattage. When making your list, be sure to note the wattage requirements for each item. This information can usually be found on the appliance or in the owner’s manual.

Some items, like refrigerators and air conditioners, require a higher starting wattage than running wattage. This means you’ll need a generator that can handle the initial surge of power needed to start these items.

Now that you have your list and the wattage requirements for each item, you can move on to determining the starting and running watts needed for your generator. By doing this, you’ll ensure that you choose a generator that can handle the power needs of all your appliances and devices.

Determine the Starting and Running Watts

Calculating the power needed for both starting and running appliances is essential when choosing the right size generator for your needs. Starting watts are the extra power required by appliances to start up, while running watts are the energy needed to keep them running. For instance, a refrigerator may need 1200 watts to start but only 700 watts to keep it running. By determining the starting and running watts of each appliance, you can figure out the total wattage required for your generator.

To help you assess the wattage needed for each appliance, we’ve prepared a table below. It lists common household appliances and their corresponding starting and running wattage. As you can see, some appliances require more starting watts than running watts, such as air conditioners and refrigerators. Others, like light bulbs, require the same amount of wattage for starting and running. By using this table, you can determine the total wattage needed for your generator.

ApplianceStarting WattsRunning Watts
Air Conditioner (10,000 BTU)2200W1500W
Light Bulb60W60W

Once you’ve determined the starting and running watts of each appliance, you can add them up to calculate the total wattage required for your generator. This will give you an idea of the minimum wattage your generator should have to power all your appliances safely and efficiently. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to calculate the total wattage and what factors to consider when choosing a generator size.

Calculating the total wattage is just the first step in choosing the right generator. You also need to consider factors such as fuel efficiency, portability, and noise level. With the right generator, you can ensure that you have power when you need it, whether it’s during a storm or on a camping trip. By taking the time to determine the starting and running watts of your appliances, you can make an informed decision about the type and size of generator that best meets your needs.

Calculate the Total Wattage

After assessing the starting and running watts of each household appliance, it’s important to add them up in order to determine the total wattage required for a generator. Here’s how to calculate the total wattage:

  • Make a list of all the appliances that’ll be connected to the generator.
  • Write down their starting and running watts.
  • Add the running watts of all appliances to get the total running wattage.
  • Add the highest starting wattage to the total running wattage to get the total wattage required.
  • It’s always a good idea to add an additional 10-20% to the total wattage as a buffer for any sudden power surges.

Calculating the total wattage is crucial because it helps you choose a generator that can handle your power needs. Underestimating your wattage requirements can cause the generator to overload, damaging your appliances and the generator itself. Overestimating your wattage requirements can lead to unnecessary expenses. Therefore, it’s important to calculate your total wattage accurately.

Once you have calculated your total wattage, you should also consider additional power needs, such as charging your phone or running a microwave. These lower wattage items may not be included in your initial calculations, but they can add up and affect your generator’s performance.

Consider Additional Power Needs

We need to consider additional power needs when choosing the right portable generator. Climate control is a crucial factor, especially in extreme weather conditions, as it affects our comfort and safety.

Medical devices, such as oxygen machines or CPAPs, require a steady and reliable power source to ensure uninterrupted use.

Lastly, power tools are common equipment in construction or DIY projects that demand a consistent and sufficient power supply for efficient operation.

Climate Control

To keep your space comfortable during hot summer months, you’ll want to make sure your generator is powerful enough to run your air conditioning unit. Here are a few things to consider when determining the correct wattage for your portable generator for climate control:

  • Make sure you know the wattage requirements of your air conditioning unit before purchasing a generator.
  • If the temperature is extremely hot, your air conditioning unit may require more power to operate efficiently.
  • A well-insulated space will require less power to cool down, while a poorly insulated space will require more power.
  • If your space receives direct sunlight, it may require more power to cool down.
  • The more people in the space, the more power will be required to cool it down.

When it comes to climate control, it’s important to choose a generator with enough wattage to keep your space comfortable. Once you have determined the correct wattage for your air conditioning unit, you can move on to considering any medical devices that will need to be powered during an emergency.

Medical Devices

One important consideration when selecting a generator is whether it can power necessary medical devices during an emergency, such as a ventilator or oxygen concentrator. In situations where power outages can last for days or even weeks, having a reliable source of electricity to power these life-saving devices can make all the difference.

It’s crucial to determine the wattage requirements of these devices and ensure that the generator you choose can provide enough power to keep them running. It’s also important to have backup batteries or a plan in place for recharging them if necessary.

With these precautions in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re prepared to handle any medical emergencies that may arise during a power outage.

Now, let’s move on to discussing how to power your power tools during an emergency.

Power Tools

Having access to functioning power tools can be crucial during an emergency, so it’s important to ensure that your generator can handle their power requirements.

Power tools can range from simple electric drills to heavy-duty saws, and each requires a specific wattage to operate. Before selecting a generator, it’s essential to know the wattage needed for each tool. You can find this information on the label or in the user manual.

Once you have determined the wattage needed for your power tools, you can select the right generator. Keep in mind that generators come in various sizes and wattages, so choose one that can handle the total wattage of your power tools. It’s also a good idea to choose a generator with a little extra power to avoid overloading it.

Remember, overloading a generator can cause it to shut down and potentially damage your power tools. With the right generator, you can have peace of mind knowing that your power tools will work when you need them most.

Select the Right Generator

You gotta choose the right generator for your needs if you wanna avoid any power outages. Here are some factors to consider before selecting a portable generator:

  1. Determine the Wattage: The first step in choosing a generator is determining the wattage required to power your appliances. Calculate the total wattage of all the appliances you want to run simultaneously, and add 20% to the total to account for surges. This will help you choose a generator with sufficient wattage to meet your needs.
  2. Fuel Type: Portable generators are available in gas, propane, or diesel fuel types. Consider the availability and cost of the fuel type in your area before making a decision. Gasoline is widely available and affordable, but it has a shorter shelf life and can be dangerous to store. Propane is clean-burning and has a longer shelf life, but it is less readily available. Diesel fuel is efficient and has a longer shelf life, but it can be expensive.
  3. Portability: Consider the weight and size of the generator and how portable it needs to be. If you plan to move your generator frequently, a lighter and more compact generator may be more suitable for your needs. However, if you need a generator for backup power during a storm or natural disaster, a larger and heavier generator may be necessary.

Choosing the right generator is crucial to avoid any power outages. Once you’ve selected the right generator, the next step is to test it to ensure it’s working correctly.

Test Your Generator

Before firing up your generator when the power goes out, it’s essential to test that it’s functioning correctly. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a faulty generator when you need it the most.

To test your generator, start by checking the oil level and fuel supply. Make sure that both are at the recommended levels before starting the generator.

Once you’ve checked the oil and fuel levels, it’s time to start the generator. Turn on the generator and let it run for a few minutes to warm up. Then, plug in a small appliance to test if the generator is producing power. If the appliance works, then your generator is functioning correctly.

If the appliance doesn’t work, there may be an issue with your generator. It’s essential to troubleshoot the problem before you need to use the generator for an emergency. Some common issues with generators include clogged fuel filters, dirty spark plugs, or a faulty carburetor. By identifying and fixing these issues beforehand, you can ensure your generator is ready to go when you need it most.

Testing your generator is a crucial step in ensuring that it’s functioning correctly when you need it most. By checking the oil and fuel levels and testing the generator with a small appliance, you can ensure that your generator is producing power.

In the next section, we’ll discuss some maintenance tips to keep your generator in top shape.

Maintenance Tips

Let’s talk about some important maintenance tips for your portable generator. Regular maintenance is key in keeping your generator running smoothly and efficiently.

We’ll also cover some storage tips to help prolong the life of your generator and troubleshoot common issues that you may encounter.

Regular Maintenance

As you start up your trusty portable generator, the hum of the engine reminds you of the importance of regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to unexpected breakdowns, reduced efficiency, and costly repairs. To prevent these issues, here are some regular maintenance tips to keep your generator in top shape:

  • Change the oil and filter every 50-60 hours of use to ensure smooth engine performance and prevent damage caused by dirty oil.
  • Inspect and clean the air filter every 25 hours of use to prevent clogging and maintain proper air flow.
  • Check the spark plug and replace it every 100 hours of use or if it shows signs of wear and tear.

By following these simple maintenance tips, you can extend the life of your generator and ensure it’s ready to provide power when you need it. Proper maintenance also helps you identify any potential issues early on, allowing you to address them before they become major problems.

With regular maintenance, you can trust that your generator will operate reliably and efficiently. As important as regular maintenance is, proper storage of your generator is just as crucial.

Storage Tips

Now that we’ve talked about regular maintenance for your portable generator, let’s move on to the next important aspect – storage tips. Proper storage is crucial in keeping your generator in good condition, especially during long periods of disuse. We want to make sure that it’s ready to use when we need it, and we don’t want to encounter any issues that could have been avoided with proper storage.

Firstly, make sure to store your generator in a cool, dry place that’s protected from the elements. Moisture and extreme temperatures can damage the engine and other components, so it’s important to keep it in a safe and secure location.

Secondly, it’s recommended to run your generator every three months for at least 30 minutes to keep the engine lubricated and prevent any fuel-related issues. Additionally, make sure to drain the fuel tank and carburetor if you plan on storing it for an extended period, as stale fuel can cause problems.

By following these storage tips, you’ll ensure that your generator is always ready to go when you need it.

As important as proper storage is, sometimes issues can still arise with your portable generator. In the next section, we’ll discuss some common troubleshooting tips that can help you identify and fix any problems that may arise.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Proper maintenance and storage can help prevent issues, but if your portable generator isn’t functioning properly, troubleshooting common problems can help identify and resolve any issues.

Here are some common issues that you may encounter when using your portable generator:

  • Engine won’t start: This is a common issue that can be caused by various factors, such as a dead battery, clogged fuel line, or old fuel. To fix this issue, you can try jump-starting the battery, cleaning the fuel line, or replacing the fuel with fresh gasoline.
  • Generator runs poorly: This issue can be caused by a dirty air filter, clogged carburetor, or low oil level. To fix this issue, you can clean or replace the air filter, clean the carburetor, or add more oil to the engine.
  • Generator produces no power: This issue can be caused by a blown fuse, tripped circuit breaker, or faulty voltage regulator. To fix this issue, you can replace the blown fuse or reset the circuit breaker, or you may need to replace the voltage regulator.

By troubleshooting these common issues, you can save yourself time and money by avoiding unnecessary repairs or replacements. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines when working with your portable generator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use my portable generator indoors?

Can you use a portable generator indoors? It’s not recommended due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Always use generators outdoors in a well-ventilated area to ensure safety and protect your family.

How long will my portable generator last?

Our portable generator can last up to 10,000 hours with proper maintenance. Regular oil changes, air filter cleanings, and following the manufacturer’s guidelines can ensure a long lifespan. Always keep a backup plan in case of emergencies.

Can I connect my portable generator directly to my home’s electrical system?

Sorry, as an AI language model, I cannot use anachronism as it means something that is not in the correct historical or chronological time. However, here’s my 35-word answer:

We don’t recommend connecting your portable generator directly to your home’s electrical system. It’s dangerous and violates electrical codes. Instead, use a transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician to ensure safe and legal operation.

Can I run my portable generator on natural gas?

Yes, we can run our portable generator on natural gas. It’s a great option for those who want a cleaner and quieter alternative to gasoline or diesel. However, make sure to use a conversion kit and follow safety protocols.

How do I properly store my portable generator when not in use?

When we’re not using our portable generator, we make sure to store it in a cool, dry place away from any flammable materials. We also empty the fuel tank and add stabilizer to keep the fuel fresh. Finally, we cover it with a tarp to prevent dust and debris buildup.


In conclusion, determining the correct wattage for your portable generator is essential to ensure that all your appliances and devices receive the power they need during an outage.

By making a list of all the appliances and devices you plan to power, determining their starting and running watts, and calculating the total wattage, you’ll be able to select the right generator for your needs.

Additionally, don’t forget to consider any additional power needs and test your generator before relying on it during an emergency. With proper maintenance, your generator can provide reliable power for years to come.

Remember, taking the time to calculate the correct wattage and select the right generator is a crucial step in being prepared for any power outage.

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I'm Wayne. I have worked in the construction industry for many decades and have had the opportunity to work with various equipment and portable generators. I've also written extensively about both subjects. I spend time with my family when I'm not writing or working in construction.

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