What Size Generator Do I Need

One of the first questions that come to mind when considering buying an electric generator: what size should I get? When it comes to generators, size does matter - a lot.

Purchasing a generator that is too small will prove to be an annoying waste of money. That's why in this article we are going to discuss how big of a generator do I need to satisfy my power needs.

What Size Generator To Run Air Conditioner?

This is a very common question. It sure isn't a pleasant experience to lose power on a hot, smeltery day. I know from firsthand experience that I'd rather go without television than sit in a sauna.

The problem with this question lies in the thousands of answers you could end up with. Not only does each and every air conditioner have a different wattage, but how it's being used at the time can change how much power it needs. As I might be well informed about generators, this question needs some help from the professionals at Senica Air.

Since central air is the most prevalent type of air conditioning system people use in the United States, we should include this information in the article.

Central air units turn off and on during the course of their use thanks to a thermostat. Each time the unit powers on it takes a surge of power from the power source to get started. This makes it kind of difficult to measure its efficiency.

Running the central air without the compressor saves you a lot of power. But, really? Who is going to run the A/C without the compressor? You may as well just use a fan.

Here is a general wattage list for different types of AC:

  • Small window unit 500+ watts;
  • Medium window unit 900+ watts;
  • Large window unit 1,440+ watts;
  • Central A/C running only the fan (which means the compressor is off) 750+ watts;
  • Central A/C running the compressor 3,500+ watts.

A really good generator that should be able to satisfy your A/C and other power needs is the Harbor Freight 7000 watt. This is a 420cc, 7,000-watt inverter generator with an OHV air-cooled engine. What really makes it good for powering even a central air conditioning unit is its 8,750 watts of surge power, which is needed to get it started and keep it going. I would still advise not to run too many heavy duty appliances while you're running your A/C.

How Many Watts Generator To Run a House?

Again, this is not a question easily answered. It totally depends on how big your home is and what you consider as a "fully running home." There are some things you can live without and others you can't (speaking relatively objective, nonetheless).

Depending on what your intentions are behind owning a power generator will affect your choice as well. For those who are wanting to live off the grid, they will want to invest in something more serious. For those just wanting to be prepared for a power outage, you may only want something that can power a fridge, television and other household appliances, while forgoing others.

Since this topic is complicated, I have added a link to an article written by people who specialize in "green living." But in short, the average home uses nearly 11,000-kilowatt hours. This would start taking you into the "commercial" generator category.

The Honda EB10000AH1 inverter generator is up for this job. Nevertheless, in order not to work it beyond its capacity, you would have to forgo using some appliances.

The EB10000AH1 has more cc power than some sports bikes, which makes it easy to crank out 9,000 rated watts and 10,000 surge watts. On a full load, it can run for about four-and-a-half hours. At half load, the time jumps to seven hours on a full eight-gallon tank.

How Many Watts To Run a TV?

Television is important. I would hate to miss an episode of Game of Thrones during a power outage. Fortunately for us, televisions have become much more energy efficient over the years. Even the bigger flat screen TVs are far less power consuming than those old monstrous tube sets on wheels mom used to own.

Televisions can vary in wattage depending on how old it is, on whether it is a plasma, LCD or LED. LED televisions are generally more energy efficient than the other two types. On average, you will see 50-watts to 100-watts used. Most small generators will handle a television, DVD player and game station easily.

How Many Watts Does It Take To Run a Refrigerator?

Just like air conditioners, fridges come in a wide variety of sizes and types, not to mention ages. Therefore, we are going to discuss the general consumption of the average fridge to keep the topic simple and straightforward.

The average refrigerator combined with a freezer will draw about 600-800 watts of power. A refrigerator without a freezer will use less power.

Mini fridges can use between 90-200 watts depending on its size and model.

What must be understood about refrigerators is that they do not consume power continuously. It is only when the compressor comes on that electricity is used. A fridge actually runs only about six-and-a-half hours per day (25 percent of a 24-hour period). Of course, the more you open and close the doors of a fridge the more it will cycle on and off. If you are using a generator to power your house for a period of time, remember to limit the opening of your fridge in order to conserve power.

What Will a 1000 Watt Generator Run?

One thousand watt generators are not really meant to be used as a backup to power your home unless you only want to power lights and some small electronics. These type of generators are best used to power food trucks, power small electronics during outdoor activities such as camping, or used in other minor applications.

Here is a basic list of what you can run using a 1,000-watt generator.

  • Any plasma, LCD or LED television - wattage depends on size;
  • Electric Shaver - 15 watts;
  • Small fridge/freezer - 150 to 400 watts;
  • Desktop computer - 100 -450 watts;
  • Electric blanket - 200 watts;
  • Internet router - 5 watts;
  • Laptop - 50 to 150 watts;
  • Most lights - 7 to 100 watts;
  • Small microwave - 600 watts;
  • Medium size washing machine - 500 to 800 watts.

What Size Generator Do I Need For My Travel Trailer?

The answer to this question will depend greatly on whether or not you will be running an air conditioner or not. Other appliances that usually are used in a travel trailer can be handled by a 2,000-watt generator. Assuming most people would rather have their travel trailer cool, we will answer this question based on that.

This YouTuber has shown how well the HY2000SI inverter generator handled his 13,500 BTU camper air conditioner.

For most people, a 2,000-watt generator should be enough to run the average travel trailer. For those who plan on operating more appliances along with a heater or air conditioner, the Champion Power Equipment Gas Powered 46539 Portable Generator is equipped to power RVs, making it excellent for larger travel trailers.

Its four-stroke OHV engine cranks out 3,500 running watts and 4,000-watts surge power. This should allow you to power about anything you can fit in a travel trailer. The Champion Power Equipment 46539 is more than up to the job of handling any air conditioner 15,000 BTU or under.

When looking to buy a power generator, power output is definitely number one on the list. But there are a few other things to consider.

1. How many gallons of gasoline does the tank hold?

Don't be fooled by promises that a certain generator will run for 15-hours on a gallon of gas. This may be true if it only runs at 1/4-load. Most of us won't be running our generators on such small loads. It is best to invest in a generator that has a larger fuel capacity.

2. How portable do you really need it to be?

With more power comes more weight. A lot of "portable" generators over 2,000-watts are downright heavy and only portable to weightlifters. Those generators that are truly light and powerful are going to be more expensive for sure.

3. Is it easy for anyone to start?

Believe it or not, this is a very crucial question. Most cheaper generators only come with a pull start (also known as recoil start) mechanism. These starting mechanisms can be really annoying and difficult. It totally defeats the purpose of having a portable power generator if you can't get it started once you arrive at your site. Try investing the small extra amount of money into one that has an electric starter.

Infographic What Size Generator Do I Need