Portable Generator Buying Guide Part 2

If you are planning to buy or own a generator it is important to understand that a lot of factors play a crucial role in the buying decision. However, the most important and critical factor is to exactly know your total power requirements. Overusing the generator or exceeding it’s suggested limits has adverse effects on fuel efficient and causes irreparable damage to the generator. In certain cases, it also damages equipment feeding directly off the generator.

My advice is to first tabulate the total power consumption that you will require and then add about 15 percent extra just to be safe and factor in peak wattage.

A good way to start and know the exact requirements for any generator is to find the user or owner manual of all appliances add the suggested wattage for each unit to reach a conclusive, yet not exclusive number. If you can’t find the manual or are short of time, refer to the table given below and identify an average wattage for any appliance. This is more of a broad outline rather than an accurate calculation. I have tabulated the wattage based on my home appliance’s user manuals.

In the first part of the portable generator buying guide, you learnt five basic and a few additional features to search for in an ideal portable generator. As I mentioned earlier, wattage is a crucial consideration. Let’s see how wattage affects your buying decision….

If you missed it, read part 1 of the buying guide.

Average Wattage Guide:

Appliance Wattage Appliance Wattage
Personal Computer 500-2,000 Broiler 1,400
Planer 300-900 Central Air Conditioning 2,000-4,000
Refrigerator/Freezer 600-800 Chain Saw 1,000-1,800
Router 100-1,300 Circular Saw 1,200-1,600
Sanders (belt, disc, orbital) 250-1,500 Coffeemaker 400-800
Shop Vacuum 700-1,400 Drills (depends on size) 250-1,200
Space Heater 1,250 Electric Furnace 5,000-25,000
String Trimmer 600-1,100 Electric Range (oven only) 5,000
Sump Pump 1,500 Electric Range (one element) 2,500
Table Lamp (tri-lite) 150 Hair Dryer 1,200-1,500
Television 100-350 Heater (radiant) 1,300
3/4 HP Paint Sprayer 1,800 Hedge Clippers 300-1,000
Toaster 1,100-1,700 Hot Plate 1,250
Water Heater 3,000-4,500 Leaf Blower 1,000-1,400
Water Pump 1,000-2,000 Microwave 1,200
Window Air Conditioner 600-1,500 Miter Saw 500-1,000

Once you have the approximate wattage value, multiple the resultant number with two and then decide on a generator wattage. Once you know the wattage, it fairly narrows down your search criteria and will let you easily compare and buy a power generator.

Three Types Of Portable Generators Based On Power:

Now that you have concluded the total power your home requires, it’s time to select the right class of portable generator. Based on the total wattage, I have classified all portable generators into three categories.

Compact Portable Generators

Power – 3,000 to 4,000 Watts
Price – $400 to $800
What It Powers
This sized portable generator powers just the basics such as a refrigerator (600 watts), TV (200 watts), Sump Pump (600 watts), Microwave (1,500 watts) and several lights limited to a total of 400 watts.

Compact generators with inverter capability is a good standby emergency generator. It even works well as a camp site generator. Small in size, lightweight, ultra-portable nature are its biggest advantage. But, don’t get your hopes up of having this unit power everything in your house. You will have to be picky about the most important appliances.

Midsize Portable Generators

Power – 5,000 to 8,000 Watts
Price – $550 to $1200
What It Powers
Can run a portable heater (1,300 watt), computer (400 watt), heating system (500 watt), secondary pump(600 watt), more lights along with a microwave, refrigerator and television.

Mid-sized generators are an excellent backup generator. Usually no larger than a pressure washer, these generators can be kept in the storage shed and used immediately during emergency situations. They function well as hurricane or storm generators and are portable enough to power RVs and camp sites too.

Large Portable Generators

Power – 10,000 Watts or more
Price – $2,000 to $3,000
What It Powers Along with everything that a midsize portable unit can power, Large generators can also power central air conditioners, large electric ranges, small water heats and more.

Large portables are actually harder to move around. So, while you get the ability to power pumps, air conditioners and large electric ranges, you may just find yourself stuck with a heavy and bulky generator in the shed, unable to take it anywhere. They make a lot of ruckus and definitely will get you kicked out of any camp site. Don’t buy if you plan on going camping with it.

It is important to understand that there are other aspects of power requirements to be kept in mind. If you are looking forward to increasing the appliances in your house, reserve a bit extra for the changes you can foresee

Top Rated Portable Generators:

If you missed it, check out part 1 of the buying guide.

Portable Generator Reviews
Portable Generator Reviews
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