What Size Generator Do I Need?

A couple is looking online to figure out what size generator they need.

In the past few years, we’ve seen wild, unseasonable, and extreme weather all across the country, and right here in Ohio. Whether those events bring strong winds, rains, tornadoes, ice, fire, or other dangerous conditions with them, any one of these could lead to downed trees and power lines. The potential for power outages is rising, and these outages can last for days or even weeks if severe infrastructure damage is sustained.

One of the best ways to be sure that you and your family are safe is to install a backup or standby generator. At Wenger Electric we encourage our customers to take this vital step, and we stand behind Kohler generators. Portable vs. standby is a discussion for another day, but here we’ll get into what you need to know as you begin shopping for a backup power source for your home.

What To Know About Generator Size

The right size of Kohler generator for your home will depend on several factors, including which appliances you need to run, and how many watts those appliances require to operate. Kohler offers a handy online calculator that can help you to settle on a round number for your ideal backup power source. Remember that the initial jolt of power needed to start motors on appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, and well pumps can be far greater than the power needed to keep them running. 

Starting vs Running Watts

As mentioned above, there are two key numbers to know when selecting the best generator for your specific electricity demands: starting watts and running watts. Starting watts are determined by the power that a given appliance needs to start up. Running watts refers to the amount of energy that an appliance needs to sustain operation. If a motor and/or compressor is involved, then starting watts could be pretty high, up to roughly twice the amount of needed running watts. 

The definitions are simple, but knowing these numbers is central to choosing a backup power source that is robust enough to cope with your energy needs. You can generally find specific wattage for your appliances listed on labels or in owner's manuals. If you only see amperage listed, there is a basic formula you can use to calculate the watts: wattage = amps x 120.

How to Select the Right Size of Generator

Since each family’s or business’s unique electricity requirements will vary, we can’t make a blanket recommendation––a one-size-fits-all approach is not advised. Generally you’ll find that an 8-11kW standby generator will be enough backup power for an average family’s needs, but using Cummin’s generator calculator is your best way to pinpoint what’s best for your home. Once you determine the appropriate wattage, a general rule of thumb is to opt for a generator with slightly higher capacity, to accommodate any unforeseen power needs. Here are three more reasons why that’s true:

  • Avoid dealing with a generator that suddenly shuts off due to overload
  • Improve lifespan by not running your generator at full load
  • Reduce operational noise by running at less than 100% load

Remember, too, while calculating your overall power needs, that an outage can happen at any time of year. So factor in any relevant appliances you’ll need to be comfortable along with risks posed by torrential rains or rapid ice and snow melt. If your basement or garage tends to flood, and a sump pump is something you often use during bad weather, be sure to factor that wattage into your calculations.

Wenger Electric is proud to offer high-quality Kohler generators with a power capacity of anywhere from 8,000 to 150,000 watts and greater. This wide range offers options for homeowners and business owners alike. And Kohler’s unmatched motor-starting capacity means that even heavy draws of power from multiple appliances won’t overwhelm your generator.

Your Electrical Contractors in Youngstown, Ohio

At Wenger Electric, we want the very best for our clients. That’s why we’ll always recommend having a whole-house generator. It’s a key way to avoid the inconveniences and unforeseen expenses that can accompany major weather events. But installing a Kohler generator can also help to keep your family safe, your business operating, and improve your peace of mind. If you’re considering generator installation but you need help choosing the best model for your needs, feel free to contact us for professional assistance and experience-informed advice.

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We maintain constant communication with our customers until the job is done. To get a free quote, or if you have any questions or special requests, drop us a line. We look forward to serving you!

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