Generator Buying Guide

How to determine generator size you need

Defined below are some common terms to get familiar with and an appliance chart to better understand what size generator you will need for your power requirements.

Rated / Continuous Output – is the power that a gen ator can produce for long periods of time. This corresponds to an appliances Running Load Requirement as defined below.

Maximum Output - is the maximum output that a generator can produce. Maximum power is usually available for a very brief period to cater for start-up wattage of appliances. This corresponds to an appliances Starting Load Requirement as defined below.

What is a Running Load Requirement?

Running load requirements are simply a total of all the eletrical loads to be operated simultaneously. This is stated on the appliance specifications or can be based on actual measurements if a clamp-on probe type AC Current Meter is available. Any electrician should be able to assist you with this exercise.Some appliances may not list the wattage on the nameplate, but may show the rated current in amps and voltage. The wattage can estimated by multiplying these together to get the watts. So the formula is Watts = volts x amps

What is a Starting Load Requirement?

This is the power your appliance will take on start-up and needs to be calculated and researched. Determining the starting load requirements can be a bit more complicat- ed. Certain electrical devices require additional power and current when initially turned on. An example of this is an electric motor because the rotor of the motor and the shaft driven load (fan, pump,compressor, saw, etc.) is initially at a standstill. It requires more energy to accelerate these rotating parts to operating speed than it does to keep them rotating. Therefore, during the period of acceleration, the demand on the power supply is greater. To precisely evaluate the motor starting capability the detailed motor characteristics need to be known.

In the following appliance chart we have aimed at simplifying this for easier under- standing. The values on this list are given as an average, and can change from case to case.

Appliance Running Wattage Starting Wattage
Garage Door Opener (1/2HP) 550 1375
Air Conditioner (10,000 BTU's) 1500 3000
Air Conditioner (40,000 BTU's) 3800 4950
Air Conditioner (24,000 BTU's) 3800 4950
Air Compressor (1 HP) 1440 3600
Airless Sprayer (1/3" HP) 600 1200
AM/FM Clock Radio 10 10
Belt Sander 950 2400
Box Fan (20") 113 113
CD/DVD Player 100 100
Cell Phone Battery Charger 25 25
Circular Saw - 7-1/4" 2100 5250
Clothes Dryer (Electric) 3600 9000
Clothes Dryer (Gas) 1800 4500
Coffee Maker 3750 3750
Color TV - 13" 50 50
Copy Machine 1300 1300
Crock Pot 240 240
Curling Iron 1500 1500
Desktop Computer w/ 18" LCD Monitor 300 300
Dishwasher - Hot Dry 1200 3000
DVD Player 20 20
Electric Can Opener 70 70
Electric Drill - 1/2" 1100 1250
Electric Drill - 3/8" 4 Amps 480 1200
Electric Griddle 1500 1500
Electric Stove - 8" Element 2100 2100
Fax Machine 150 150
Food Processor 500 500
Furnace Fan Blower- 1/3 700 1400
Furnace Fan Blower (1/3 HP) 700 1400
Hair Dryer- 1250 Watt 1250 1250
Hammer Drill 1600 1400
Heat Pump 4700 4500
Humidifier - 13 gal. 175 175
Inflator Pump 175 175
Inkjet Printer 10 10
Iron 1200 1200
Laser Printer 400 400
LCD TV -32" 75 75
Light Bulb - 60 Watt 60 60
Light Bulb - 75 Watt 75 75
Microwave- 1000 Watts 1000 1000
Microwave- 625 Watts 625 625
Miter Saw - 10" 1800 4500
Outdoor Light String 250 250
Planer/Jointer - 6" 1800 4500
Quartz Halogen Work Light (1,000w) 1000 1000
Quartz Halogen Work Light (300w) 300 300
Quartz Halogen Work Light (500w) 500 500
Reciprocating Saw 1080 2700
Refrigerator/Freezer 550 1350
Security System 500 500
Space Heater 1500 1500
Stereo Receiver 450 450
Sump Pump (1/2 HP) 1200 3000
Sump Pump (1/3 HP) 1140 2850
Table Saw/ Radial Arm Saw - 10" 1800 4500
Toaster 850 850
Toaster Oven 1500 1500
Washing Machine 950 2400
Water Heater (Electric) 3800 3800
Water Well Pump (1/4 HP) 575 1440
Window A/C (10,000 BTU's) 1000 2100
Window A/C (12,000 BTU's) 3250 3950
X-Box, Game Cube, Playstation 40 40
1/8 horsepower electric motor 300 500
1/6 horsepower electric motor 500 750
1/4 horsepower electric motor 600 1000
2/5 horsepower electric motor 700 1400
3/5 horsepower electric motor 875 2350
Refrigerator, Average 600 2200
Dish Washer - Cool Dry 700 1400
Dish Washer - Hot Dry 1450 1400
Clothes Dryer - Gas 700 1800
Clothes Dryer - Electric 5750 1800
Microwave Oven, 750W 750 800
Washing Machine 750 2300
Coffee Maker 850 850
Toaster 2-slice 1100 1100
Toaster 4-slice 1650 1650
Electric Skillet 1500 1500
Electric Range 6-in. element 1500 1500
Electric Range 8-in. element 2100 2100
Freezer 2500 2200

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