Nobody gets excited to lose power in their home—except maybe neighborhood kids who get to play flashlight tag for an hour or two. As for the rest of us? A power outage is a massive inconvenience, at best. No heat or air conditioning, no light, spoiled food, no wi-fi for how long?!
One way to combat losing power is to purchase a generator. Generators come in all shapes, sizes, and price points. It’s important to know what kind you need, which mostly comes down to the size measured in watts (W).
Why is it important to buy the right size generator?
Having the right size generator means having sufficient wattage to power all your desired devices and appliances in the event of a power outage. But choosing the right size generator can also help you:
- Hit the sweet spot between big enough for your needs and small enough to avoid overpaying for the unit and operating costs.
- Avoid random system failures and downtime caused by overloading the system.
- Decrease wear-and-tear and get the longest lifespan out of your generator.
- Obtain excellent performance at all times.
- Ensure everyone’s safety by preventing overloads, overheating, or short circuits.
Unfortunately, like most things, choosing a generator depends on a number of factors. To pick the right generator for your home, consider the following:
Factor #1: Frequency of Power Outages
The first way to choose the right size generator is to figure out how often you’ll use it.
- For frequent outages, consider a heavy-duty or automatic model so you can power more appliances. Larger models are also more likely to keep up with the demand of frequent outages over time.
- For only occasional outages, you may want a moderately-sized generator to power plenty of critical appliances but not your entire home for days at a time.
- For infrequent outages, consider a small model to power specific appliances for short periods of time. Small generators are also great if you want one on hand “just in case.”
Factor #2: Needed Appliances
When you say, “How big of a generator do I need to run my house?” Do you mean your whole house? In other words, the most common and effective way to choose your generator size is to decide what you need to power.
- Make a list of everything you’d want to be operational during an outage, including built-in appliances like your HVAC system.
- Add up the start-up and running wattage of each of the appliances you listed. You can find stickers with these numbers on each appliance, or you may need to do a bit of internet sleuthing. There are several helpful wattage calculators out there!
- Find a generator that can handle slightly more than your total power needs in the event of an outage. This will prevent overloading, improve efficiency, and extend the life of your generator.
Factor #3: Budget
Most of us don’t have unlimited cash to spend on a generator, right? So, consider your budget and wattage needs together to find the best middle-ground.
Generators that can power your whole home, like a standby generator, can cost up to $10,000 with installation. But that price tag comes with a lot of benefits: automatic start when your regular power source fails, 24/7 protection, and the ability to power your entire home and then some!
For most people, a mid-sized or large inverter typically does the trick. These range from handling 3,500W to 7,500W, which is enough to power the most common appliances in your home like the refrigerator, HVAC, TV, and some lights.
For the occasional to rare outage folks, plan to spend around $1,500 with installation.
When to Call a Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith & Southwest Missouri Electrician About Your Generator Needs
Any generator that requires a transfer switch needs to be installed by a licensed Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith & Southwest Missouri electrician. A transfer switch is a small unit that attaches your generator to your circuit breaker with a single cable. It’s safer, more convenient, and more reliable than using extension cords.
But no matter what kind of generator you’re looking for, we can help! Let us handle your recommendation, installation, and maintenance needs. Call us today.