What Size Generator Do I Need?

What Size Generator Do I Need?

Recent stories in the press claim one result of Covid-19 restrictions is that the UK is more at risk of electricity blackouts over the coming winter. This is prompting many to look at buying emergency backup generators

International travel restrictions, concern about getting stranded, or about the cleanliness of accommodation means that more people are choosing camping as a holiday. According to industry experts, the boom in caravan and campervan sales is set to continue. Even those who opt for tents often prefer ‘glamping’ to rustic camping. That is, people still want all the mod cons. For both these options generators are essential to make staycations easier, and more fun.  

Plenty of our customers also purchase generators for work. From mobile catering to bouncy castles and from a couple of power tools to a whole construction site, a safe and reliable generator is essential to many livelihoods. 

Whether it is for your work, your home, or your home away from home or, for all three it is important to ask the question ‘what size generator do I need?’. By size, of course, we don’t mean whether it will fit neatly into the van, shed, or garage – although that size is important too. Instead, we mean what capacity a generator has, how much power it will provide, and what it will be capable of. 

To help you to decide on the best size generator to suit its purpose there are several factors that you should consider. There are also easy ways to calculate the size of a generator that will fit your needs. 

What Capacity Generator Do I Need?

The capacity of the generator you need will depend on what you intend to use it for. The more appliances you want to run from it, and the larger the power requirements of those appliances, the larger capacity generator you will need. 

Generator capacity or power output is measured in watts (W). The power used by individual appliances can be found on the label and is also usually measured in watts. Sometimes the power requirement for appliances is measured in amps (A). To convert from amps to watts there is a simple equation:

A x 230  (the standard voltage of most appliances). 

Two figures in watts are given on appliances and generators, one is the startup wattage and the other is the running wattage. Both are important and both need to be amply covered by the wattage of the generator, also given in start-up and running.

Generally speaking, a small size generator that you might use for camping would be between 1000 and 3000 watts. For a household emergency backup generator to power only essential appliances, a 7500-watt generator would probably be suitable.  A generator to power a whole house or a large construction site could have over 10,000 watts. 

When considering a backup generator for your home in case of a power outage it’s worth considering only running essential appliances. Essential appliances could include heating, water, fridge/freezer, phone charger, cooker, and lighting. This will help to keep costs lower. 

We would recommend going slightly bigger than the minimum that you need. This is because of the following:

  • A generator that is often running at full capacity is likely to have a shorter service life.
  • It is better to have a generator that has a slightly bigger capacity than one which is unreliable/shuts down due to overload.
  • Generators working at full capacity, or close to, can be very noisy (not the way to win friends on the campsite!).

How To Calculate The Size Of A Generator That Fits Your Needs

First of all, make a list of all the appliances that you would like or need to run from your generator. Then, next to each item, note down the power required to start each appliance and to run it. Once you have added up all the start-up watts and the running watts, you will have a good idea of the size generator that you need. 

To give you a rough idea, you can use this generator power calculator. However, it is important to note that the figures used in the calculator are estimates and that each home and each appliance is different. 
For more information and advice on choosing the right size generator for your needs whether that is for leisure, work, or for the home contact us at Generator Pro.

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