When experiencing a bout of bad weather, most of us have the same thought: I hope the power doesn’t go out. Not only are power outages inconvenient, but they can be expensive. According to the Galvin Electricity Initiative, blackouts cost approximately $150 billion a year due to spoiled food, damaged equipment and decreased productivity. That’s why more and more homeowners are turning to backup generators as a way to protect themselves and their homes during storms and electrical incidents.

Investing in a backup generator can save homeowners thousands of dollars just by keeping refrigerators and appliances running during power outages. Moreover, these machines help keep household members comfortable during extremely warm or cold months. When selecting a backup generator, it’s important to select one that’s the right size for your home. If it’s too large, you’ll wind up wasting fuel and money; if it’s too small, you wont be able to keep those critical items powered up and working . Here’s a closer look at how to choose the right type of generator for your home.

How Generators Work

Before determining which generator is most suitable for your residence, it’s important to review how generators work. Most homes receive energy through transmission lines, which are connected to power stations. During events such as thunderstorms or hurricanes, these transmission lines may be damaged, which results in a power outage. Generators don’t rely on any external transmission lines, which allows them to supply power during poor weather.

Although all generators are designed to provide electricity during blackouts, they differ in their sizes and capabilities. These machines are ranked by kilowatts (kWs), which is a measure of how much power is consumed by an electrical appliance. One kW is equal to 1,000 watts — the higher the kWs, the more appliances / loads your generator can handle. To figure out how much power you need, you should evaluate how much energy your critical appliances require to be operational.

Most appliances come with a compliance badge that shows the amount of power they use — for instance, the average toaster needs about 600 watts to function. .

It’s important that you don’t overload your generator  — if you connect more kWs than it can handle, it will trip its main circuit breaker and no longer provide power to your home or business. Calculating your required electrical power draw, or load, is critical in determining how many kWs you need.

Calculating Your Home’s Electrical Load

The electrical load of a home or busines is measured in Kilowatts, which is the amperage used multiplied by the voltage. Knowing how many Kilowatts are needed for your required critical loads will help you figure out how many kWs your backup generator needs to be able to produce.

You don’t need to be an expert in electricity to determine your home’s electrical load. Anybody can calculate this number using the following formula:

  •   Calculate lighting and receptacle needs
  •   Add your required kitchen appliance circuits
  •   Add wattage amounts for any other critical or desired appliances that use their own circuits (such as furnace, water heater, air conditioner, sump pumps, well or septic pumps, and so on)

Once you have your total wattage the number can be adjusted for equipment that is unlikely to run simultaneously, older less efficient equipment and the effect of magnetic loads vs resistive loads.   But all in all, that number you came to will be representative of a Kw rating that will supply your needs. If anything, you may be pleasantly surprised that you can get away with a smaller unit once some adjusting factors are applied

Evaluating Your Needs

If you feel you don’t need to use too many appliances during a power outage, you may want to choose a generator with a smaller KW rating. However, do not forget the unit will work in your absence and if you’re not home to disable something like your air conditioning, and you haven’t sized the generator for that, it will trip its breaker.  You will not have any power until you come home, remove the air conditioning from the load, and reset the breaker on the generator.

If you have a small home or experience infrequent power outages, you may be satisfied with a smaller generator. Conversely, if you have a large home or live in a storm-prone area, you might prefer a generator with more kWs. The stronger your generator is, the more comforts and luxuries you can enjoy.

Contact an Expert Today

If you’re considering purchasing a generator but unsure what size you need, consider contacting an expert for guidance. At Platinum Electrical Contractors, we offer a team of experts that are available 24/7 to help customers find the best-sized generator for their homes. We offer free, no-obligation consultations that can take place either in your home or virtually. Contact Platinum Electrical Contractors to get a free size assessment and installation quote today!