How To Choose a Generator

Keep your home running smoothly during power outages with a backup generator


There are 3 main types of generators available, with each type serving various functions:

table - generator types

This buying guide highlights the different types of generators available and the power requirements and wattages necessary to run specific types of appliances and power tools.

Generator Power Requirements

Before purchasing a generator, you must first determine the wattage necessary to power all of your appliances.

Tip: Remember that starting wattage requirements may be as high as three or four times the required continuous wattage. Portable generators offer a higher surge wattage to help accommodate start-up requirements.

How to find your desired generator wattage:

  • Find the wattages of all the equipment you'd like to power with a generator using the chart below.
  • For equipment with motors, double the wattage requirements - more power is necessary to start up these items. For these, you'll need a higher starting wattage but won't need the power to be that high 
  • Add up the wattage for everything to get your total wattage required.

Tip: This is approximate wattage only. Please refer to your appliances' owner's manuals for exact wattage.

table - home appliance wattages

Home Standby Generators

Standby generators provide 24/7 blackout protection to power vital home appliances.

  • Automatically supplies power within seconds of a power outage.
  • Permanently installed and operate on existing fuel supply, usually natural or liquid propane gas.
  • Can power entire house or only a few designated circuits.
  • Some models have advanced technology that runs the unit at reduced noise levels, and conducts weekly self-diagnostic tests.

Portable Generators

Most portable generators run on unleaded gas for limited power at home, job site or recreational activities.

Tip: 12-volt outlets enable portable charging for smart phones and other wireless devices.

Optional Features:

  • Generators will auto-idle control idle the engine down when not in use for greater efficiency and extended run times.
  • Some models offer electric starts, powering up with the touch of a button with a fully charged battery.

Tip: This is approximate wattage only. Please refer to your appliance's owner's manual for exact wattage.

table - outdoor power equipment/tools wattage

Inverter Generators

Inverter generators are perfect for tailgating, camping, boating or traveling in an RV.

  • Inverter generators are also good for small businesses and job sites because of its clean power, low noise levels, fuel efficiency and lightweight design.
  • If more power is needed, consider units that are parallel kit compatible, allowing a connection between two inverter generators for twice the power.

Tip: This is approximate wattage only. Please refer to your appliance's owner's manual for exact wattage.

table - tailgating/camping/boating/recreation gear wattage