How To Choose a Generator

 
Generators

To choose a generator that is right for your needs, consider if you need backup power for: home, business, camping, recreation or job site. Solutions for these electricity needs include automatic standby, portable and inverter generators.
 

 
Generator Type: Home Standby Generators Portable Generators Inverter Generators
Location Considerations: Standby power for your home Portable power for outdoor power equipment & tools at job site Quiet power for tailgating, camping & boating
Power Usage Considerations: Power vital appliances and HVAC systems Power air compressors, nailers, saws, hammer drills and more Power lights, heaters, fans, radios & smart phones

 

Portable Generators

Home Standby Generators 

Home standby generators provide 24/7 blackout protection whether you’re home or away. It automatically supplies power within seconds of a utility outage. After power returns, the generator shuts itself off and awaits the next outage. Home standby generators are permanently installed and operate on an existing fuel supply, usually either natural gas or liquid propane gas.

 

 

 


  •  Decide whether you want to back up a few essential circuits or your whole house or business. The number o
     circuits you back up and the power requirements of the items on those circuits will determine which generator
     you need.
  •  An automatic weekly self-diagnostic test will validate that the unit is working properly
  •  Select models feature Quiet Test™ technology or operate at lower RPMs for reduced noise levels
  •  Galvanized steel or aluminum construction for superior corrosion resistance
  •  Pre-wired and pre-packaged transfer switches allow for easy and cost-effective installation (models 8KW – 17KW; 20KW comes pre-packaged with 200 Amp load shedding transfer switch).

Power Requirements: Overtaxing a generator reduces fuel efficiency and in some cases can damage the generator and connected equipment. It's very important to calculate the power output you need and to give yourself some wattage cushioning for running a few smaller items if need be. If you have the owner's manuals for the appliances and equipment that you want to run, find and add up the start-up wattages for each item. Otherwise, use the chart and formula below to estimate your power requirements:
 

Home Appliance

Wattage*

Home Appliance

Wattage*

Broiler

1,400

Central Air Conditioning

2,000-4,000

Refrigerator / Freezer

600-800

Coffeemaker

400-800

Electric Furnace

5,000-25,000

Electric Range (oven only)

5,000

Electric Range (one element)

2,500

Hair Dryer

1,200-1,500

Table Lamp (tri-lite)

150

Sump Pump

1,500

Television

100-350

Vacuum

700-1,400

Heater (radiant)

1,300

Space Heater

1,250

Toaster

1,100-1,700

Water Heater

3,000-4,500

Microwave

1,200

Water Pump

1,000-2,000

Hot Plate

1,250

Window Air Conditioner

600-1,500

Outdoor Lighting

500-1,000

Personal Computer

500-2,000


* This is approximate wattage only. Please refer to your appliance's owner's manual for exact wattage.
 
Total Your Power Requirements

1. Total your equipment's wattage requirements from the chart above
 
2. Multiply the total wattage requirements by two** to determine the wattage necessary to start equipment
    with motors.
 
3. Select the generator that fits your needs
 
** Start-up requirements may be as high as three or four times the running requirements, so it's best to check 
    owner's manuals for exact wattages; portable generators offer a higher surge wattage to help accommodate
    start-up requirements.
 
 
Portable Generators 
Most portable generators run on unleaded gas and can be used for limited home standby power, portable job site power or recreational power. If you plan to transport your generator regularly, you should consider weight, dimensions, wheel type and handle style to determine ease of mobility.
 
If you need your generator to run for extended periods without refueling, such as overnight or through full work days, look for a model with extended run time in addition to a fuel or hour gauge. A few models are available at your nearest Home Depot that has at Tool Rental Center; contact your store for additional information.
 
  •  Electric-start generators power up with just the touch of a button or switch; this feature requires the battery to
     be fully charged.
  •  Automatic idle control idles the engine down when not in use for greater fuel efficiency and extended run time
  •  12V outlets allow you to charge a wide range of batteries, from vehicle to cell phone batteries
  •  Features like a spark-arrest muffler, roll-bar construction and covered outlets may be desirable for
     added safety and durability.
  •  Generators with built-in welders combine welding capabilities with auxiliary power for lights and other tools

 

Outdoor Power Equipment/Tools

Wattage*

Outdoor Power Equipment/Tools

Wattage*

Chain Saw 1,000-1,800 Planer 300-900
Circular Saw 1,200-1,600 Sanders (belt, disc, orbital) 250-1,500
Drill (depends on size) 250-1,200 Router 100-1,300
String Trimmer 600-1,100 Shop Vacuum 700-1,400
Hedge Clippers 300-1,000 ¾ HP Paint Sprayer 1,800
Leaf Blower 1,000-1,400 Miter Saw 500-1,000

* This is approximate wattage only. Please refer to your appliance's owner's manual for exact wattage.
 
Total Your Power Requirements

1. Total your equipment's wattage requirements from the chart above
 
2. Multiply the total wattage requirements by two** to determine the wattage necessary to start equipment
    with motors.
 
3. Select the generator that fits your needs
 
** Start-up requirements may be as high as three or four times the running requirements, so it's best to check 
    owner's manuals for exact wattages; portable generators offer a higher surge wattage to help accommodate
    start-up requirements.
 
Inverter Generators
 
If you are camping, tailgating, boating or RV'ing, an inverter generator is the perfect choice. They are also great for small businesses and job sites because of its clean power, low noise levels, fuel efficiency and lightweight, compact design.
 
If you need more power, consider units that are parallel kit capable, allowing a connection between two inverter generators to get up to twice the power.
 

Tailgating/Camping/Boating/Recreation Gear

Wattage*

Tailgating/Camping/Boating/Recreation Gear

Wattage*

Lights   Radio  
Fan   Smart Phone  
Heater   Crock Pot  
Hot Plate   Television  

 
* This is approximate wattage only. Please refer to your appliance's owner's manual for exact wattage.
 
Total Your Power Requirements

1. Total your equipment's wattage requirements from the chart above
 
2. Multiply the total wattage requirements by two** to determine the wattage necessary to start equipment
    with motors.
 
3. Select the generator that fits your needs
 
** Start-up requirements may be as high as three or four times the running requirements, so it's best to check 
    owner's manuals for exact wattages; portable generators offer a higher surge wattage to help accommodate
    start-up requirements.

Generator Features
 
Automatic Transfer Switch: An automatic transfer switch will sense when your power goes out and turn your generator on for virtually uninterrupted power. When power is restored, the automatic transfer switch turns the generator off. This prevents back feed into the power grid which could cause fatalities.
 
Automatic Voltage Regulation: If you may be powering a computer, home theater components or other sensitive electronics, you should consider a unit with automatic voltage regulation. This feature stops voltage fluctuations that may harm electronics and is available on portable and stationary models.
 
Automatic Safety Shutdown: Some generators automatically shut down in event of low oil pressure, low oil level, low coolant level, high temperature and other unsafe operating conditions.
 
Circuit Breakers: Circuit breakers help prevent damage to connected equipment by shutting down the flow of power if there is too much current passing through.
 
Liquid Cooling: Liquid cooling allows generators with very high wattages to run more quietly and reliably.
 
Wheel Kit: Add mobility to your portable generator with a wheel kit that allows for easier maneuvering and transport to and from the jobsite.
 

Frequently Asked Questions


How many watts does it take to power basic items in an average size house?

In a typical home, essential items will average 5,000 to 7,000 watts of power to run.
 
What is the difference between running watts and starting watts?

Running or rated watts are the continuous watts needed to keep items running.