Five Tips for Buying Backup Power – Part 2

portable generator | diesel generator | electric generator

How Much Power Do I Need?
There are two basic power measurements for generators: peak power (also known as startup power) and continuous power. Both are measured in wattage.

  • Peak power is the wattage required for appliances at startup or when they are running at their highest levels of power consumption.

  • Continuous power is the wattage required for operation of those appliances under normal load.

We've provided a worksheet to help you determine your specific needs based on the peak and continuous wattage requirements of the appliances you want to power. What's below is a general guide.

Standby Generators: Standby generators create from 5,000 to 25,000 watts or more of power. You'll have to choose a generator that supplies sufficient peak and continuous wattage for the appliances on the circuits you need to power.

You can choose between an air-cooled and a liquid-cooled model standby generator. Generally, liquid-cooled models are bigger and create more power.

Portable Generators: A small 1,000-watt portable generator may be all you need for recreational purposes. And you may use up to 8,000 watts if using a generator to power tools on the jobsite.

Because you plug appliances directly into a portable generator, you'll also want to make sure that your model has the number and type of outlets you need. The size of the fuel tank also is crucial. The bigger the tank, the longer your generator can run without refilling and produce power.

If you want to use a portable generator to power specific circuits in your house--or the whole house--follow the guidelines for choosing a standby generator.