How to Choose the Right Size Generator for Your Home

How to Choose the Right Size Generator for Your Home - Lee Company

Generators aren’t just for preppers anymore! An increasing number of homeowners recognize the benefits of having a backup power source in case of an emergency. 

Power outages can happen anytime and last for days or weeks. With a generator, you can keep your lights on, your fridge running, and your family safe and comfortable until the power is back.

But with so many different sizes and types of generators on the market, how do you know which one is right for your home?

We’ve put together this guide to help you choose the right generator for your home based on your specific needs.

What kind of generator is best for home use?

Not all generators are created equal, and there are several factors you’ll need to consider before purchasing one. Three main types of generators are suitable for home use: portable, inverter, and standby.

Portable generators

Portable generators are the most affordable option and can be used for various purposes, including powering tools, camping, and tailgating. These small, gas-powered generators typically run 6-10 hours and can power one or two small appliances at a time.

Inverter generators

Inverter generators are more expensive than portable generators, but they’re also quieter, more fuel efficient, and can be used to power sensitive electronics like laptops and TVs. These generators are also ideal for people who plan to use them for camping and travel.

Standby generators

Standby generators are the most expensive option but also the most powerful and reliable. These generator systems are permanently installed outside your home and typically run on natural gas or propane. Standby generators kick on automatically in the event of a power outage. Whole-house generator systems like this can keep your entire home up and running for days or even weeks.

Fuel source options for home generators

The fuel source is the first thing you need to consider when choosing a generator. The most common fuel sources for home generators are propane, natural gas, and gasoline.

Propane and natural gas are the most efficient options since they can be hooked up directly to your home’s existing gas lines. This allows them to run for long periods of time without needing to be refilled. If you don’t have a home that’s plumbed for natural gas, you can purchase a large tank that remains on your property and is refilled throughout the years.

Gasoline is another fuel option, but as we already mentioned, these are for portable generators and are meant to be used in a pinch. These require regular refueling and can be difficult to store.

How big of a generator do I need to run a house?

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a generator is how much power you’ll need. Your lifestyle, the appliances you want to power, and the number of people in your household all play a role in determining generator size.

To determine your power goals based on your lifestyle needs, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you work from home and need to power a computer or have consistent access to the internet?
  • Are there young children or elderly family members in the home who might need extra medical assistance during a power outage?
  • If the power goes out during a winter storm, will you have access to heat (like a wood-burning stove), or will your HVAC system need to be running to keep your family warm?
  • Do you have a well pump that needs electricity to operate and provide fresh water?
  • Do you already have gas lines installed that will make adding a standby generator easy?
  • What is your budget for installation and for actually running the generator?

These are all important questions to answer before choosing a generator size.

Now, make a list of the essential appliances and electronics you need to power. Once you have a list of the items, add up the wattage of each one.

You may also need to calculate the starting wattage of any appliances with electric motors like your fridge, sump pump, or air conditioner. Most appliances with a motor have a surge wattage that’s 2-3 times their running wattage.

Use this formula to calculate the wattage amount:

Running wattage (R) + Starting wattage (R x 3) = Total wattage needed

This will give you a rough estimate of how much power you’ll need to keep your home running during an outage.

What size generator will run what?

There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a power outage and realizing that your generator can’t handle the load. To avoid this, it’s important to choose an appropriately sized generator for your home.

If you only plan to power one large piece of equipment, like your heating or cooling system, a small 20kW generator should be plenty big enough.

A 24kW generator will give you a little more flexibility to power additional appliances, but the typical American home consumes somewhere between 30 and 50 kilowatts of power per day…so this probably won’t be enough to meet all your needs.

A whole-home generator between 38kW and 50kW will be enough to keep all your favorite devices and appliances running during an outage. A generator of this size is perfect for homes around 3,500 square feet.

Safety Precautions

Generators can be a life-saver during a power outage, but they can also be dangerous if used or installed improperly.

Gas-powered generators can produce carbon monoxide, an odorless and deadly gas. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, never use a generator indoors or in an enclosed space. Be sure to keep it at least 20 feet away from your home’s windows and doors and make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector nearby.

There are also electrical risks associated with generator use. Wiring a generator incorrectly can cause generator feedback, which can lead to fire or electrocution.

Finding the right generator for your home

Now that you know how to choose the right generator for your home, it’s time to start shopping! Lee Company has a wide selection of generators to choose from, and our expert technicians can help you install the perfect one for your needs. And next time you experience a power outage, you’ll be prepared! 

Contact our team today for generator installation, maintenance, and repairs.

Need a home generator?