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Small Or Big: What Size Generator Should You Get?

If you haven’t dealt with generators before, finding the right size machine for your home can be an intimidating task. What’s the difference between a larger generator or a smaller, 50 amp one? Does physical size equal more electrical power and how much power does your home need? These are all questions you need to know the answer to before you commit to buying a generator, no matter the size. How to easily decide on the best size of generator that you need to buy. Tips on how to buy an electric Generator.

Join us for a quick rundown of what generator you should get for your home. We’ll be keeping it brief while going through which generator size you need, in terms of both raw dimensions and electrical power.

best size of generator

Generator Size

Before you make any moves, you’ll need to know how much power you want and how much space you have to accommodate a generator. Home generators for example are larger and would supply more power, whereas Back Up Generators are smaller and are meant to only power essential appliances during a power outage. You need to pay attention to the dimensions of any generator you buy regardless. If the generator is going into a mobile home or a boat, then you obviously won’t have as much room to work with compared to your full backyard or garage. The same applies if you have any portability planned for the generator. You don’t want to haul around a massive generator with you if you’re going camping, after all. 

While you’re thinking about the more practical concerns with buying a generator, it also might be a good idea to spare a thought for the ideal sound and vibration level that you want. Larger generators, often being more powerful, will produce a lot more noise and even vibrations when it’s on. If you’re trapped in a boat with a noisy generator that vibrates the entire hull, you’re not going to have such a relaxing time. Likewise, you don’t want to go to a shared camping area with a noisy generator where you’ll disturb people and possibly break the park’s rules.

Another concern is that larger generators will be more complicated, making them even harder to perform maintenance yourself if there are more moving parts involved behind that branded casing.

This all means you’ll want to balance your generator between a size that’ll fit comfortably with your planned use without being too big to cause a ruckus, all while still having enough power for your needs. That sounds like a lot to balance, so let’s move on to how you should find the ideal power level you’re looking for.

Generator Power

If you’re not buying the right power level then well done, you’ve just bought the most expensive paperweight of your life. Getting your power requirements correct is crucial to finding the right generator size for your home. You do this by adding up the wattage of all the electronics and appliances you plan on running with the generator and buying a model that has a higher running wattage.

That’s running wattage, starting wattage is important when running larger appliances that have motors inside of them, but you should always compare the lowest wattage potential to your needs since that’s how the generator will run most of the time. That’ll be the running wattage. Some smaller appliances may have amps and volts measurements visible over wattage, in which case you’ll have to convert them into a wattage figure. Just remember that Amps X Volts = Watts and that you can find calculators online to help. This can work with any essential household appliance.

With that said, time for some generalities. If you’re buying a generator that’s capable of putting out 5,000 to 7,500 watts, you should be able to run most essential home appliances such as your refrigerator and the lighting of your home. This is because the average usage of the American home is 7,000 watts, but America is a pretty big place with a lot of variations, so we’re trusting you to know whether you fall above or below this consumption level. If you’ve got an RV or a boat, a humbler 3,000 to 4,000-watt generator should be the perfect power range to get the job done.

We should add that you’ll need to consider when your generator will be running. So far, we’ve assumed you want a generator that can power most of your home on a semi-regular basis but, if you just want an emergency generator, you can get away with getting a smaller and budget-friendly model for occasional use. Power outages are a problem in many parts of the US, so there’s a large customer base who are looking for generators as a contingency plan.

If you need more assistance, check out this convenient calculator from the US Department of Energy.

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