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What Size Generator Do I Need for my house?

Crossfire Welders |

Question: What size generator do I need for my house?

In determining the appropriate generator size for your house, consider the wattage requirements of essential appliances. For a small house (1-2 bedrooms), a generator with approximately 5,500-8,000 watts may suffice. Meanwhile, a medium house (3-4 bedrooms) might need a generator with around 9,000-14,000 watts. For larger homes (5+ bedrooms), a generator ranging from 13,000-20,000 watts could be necessary. These estimates ensure you have ample power to keep essential appliances running during outages. Always check appliance wattage and factor in starting wattage for accurate generator sizing.

Selecting the right generator - Why it is important to understand the size of your portable generator.

Power outages are unpredictable and can strike at any time. Whether you're camping, facing a natural disaster, or just want a reliable backup for your home, having the right size generator is crucial. In this guide, we'll explore the factors to consider when choosing a generator size, along with a list of typical appliance wattage to help you make an informed decision.

Factors to Consider:

1. What is my wattage requirement?

Start by determining the total wattage your generator needs to produce. Consider the essential appliances you want to power during an outage. Keep in mind that some devices have a startup surge, requiring additional power initially. Make a list of these appliances and their wattage. Portable generators come in various sizes and types. Consider your specific needs, whether it's for outdoor activities, camping, or as a home backup power source. Portable generators are typically categorized by their wattage output, with options ranging from 2,000 to 20,000 watts or more.

2. What Types of portable generators are available? Gas Powered, Dual Fuel, Natural Gas

Each type of portable generator has its own set of benefits. Here's an outline of the advantages of gas-powered generators, dual-fuel generators, and natural gas generators:

Gas-Powered Generators:

  1. Versatility:

    • Gas-powered generators are versatile and can be used in various settings, including outdoor events, construction sites, and emergency backup power at home.
  2. Widespread Availability:

    • Gasoline is readily available at gas stations, making it easy to refuel the generator during emergencies or when on the go.
  3. Cost-Effective:

    • Gasoline tends to be more affordable than other fuel options, making gas-powered generators a cost-effective choice.
  4. Compact and Portable:

    • Gasoline generators are generally more compact and lighter than some alternative options, enhancing their portability and ease of transportation.

Dual-Fuel Generators:

  1. Fuel Flexibility:

    • Dual-fuel generators can run on both gasoline and propane, offering flexibility in choosing the fuel source based on availability and cost.
  2. Extended Run Time:

    • Propane often has a longer shelf life than gasoline, providing an extended run time and better storage options for emergencies.
  3. Eco-Friendly:

    • Propane is considered a cleaner-burning fuel compared to gasoline, producing fewer emissions and reducing the environmental impact.
  4. Backup Option:

    • Having the ability to switch between two fuel sources provides a backup option in case one fuel type becomes unavailable.

Natural Gas Generators:

  1. Continuous Power Supply:

    • Natural gas generators can provide a continuous power supply as long as there is a steady natural gas source. This makes them suitable for prolonged use during power outages.
  2. Lower Emissions:

    • Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel compared to gasoline, resulting in lower emissions and a smaller environmental footprint.
  3. Convenient Fuel Source:

    • Natural gas is supplied through pipelines, eliminating the need for fuel storage and manual refueling. This can be particularly convenient for standby power applications.
  4. Cost-Effective in Some Areas:

    • In regions where natural gas prices are relatively low, operating a natural gas generator can be cost-effective in the long run.

Westinghouse 9500TFc - Tri-fuel Portable Generator, Gas, Propane, Natural Gas. 

3. What is Running wattage vs. Starting Wattage?

Appliances have both running and starting wattage. Running wattage is the continuous power needed to keep an appliance running, while starting wattage is the extra power required during the initial startup. Ensure your generator can handle the starting wattage to avoid overloading.

 Westinghouse 20000 Gas Powered Generator - 20,000 running watts, 28,000 peak watts.

4. How long can my generator run?

   Evaluate the fuel efficiency of the generator. Fuel consumption can vary significantly among different models and sizes. A more fuel-efficient generator will save you money in the long run, especially during extended power outages.

Westinghouse 9500DF portable generator can operate for 12 hours @ 25% load.

5. How loud is are generator? Decibels matter!

   If you plan to use the generator at home, noise level is a critical factor. Check the decibel rating of the generator, and opt for one with a noise level that won't disturb your neighbors or your household.

Typical Appliance Watt Usage:

Here's a list of common household appliances and their approximate wattages:

- Refrigerator: 600-800 watts
- Air Conditioner: 1,000-3,000 watts
- Microwave: 700-1,200 watts
- Coffee Maker: 800-1,200 watts
- TV: 100-400 watts
- Laptop: 50-200 watts
- Lights (per bulb): 10-100 watts
- Sump Pump: 600-1,200 watts
- Water Heater: 1,500-4,500 watts
- Electric Range: 1,500-3,000 watts


Choosing the right size generator is crucial for meeting your power needs during emergencies or outdoor activities. Consider your specific requirements, evaluate the wattages of essential appliances, and factor in additional considerations like fuel efficiency and noise level. By doing so, you'll ensure that you have a reliable and appropriately sized generator to keep your lights on and essential appliances running when you need them most.

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