What size generator do I need?

Research Tools

Here is a handy wattage chart to estimate how many WATTS you will need in a portable generator. It is important that you calculate your power usage before purchasing a portable generator to make sure you get one that can handle your power needs. The chart below contains estimated WATTS usage for common items. You will want to refer to the product manuals for your devices to make the best decision.

What size generator do i need


    Continuous Power (running watts) is the wattage that is required to operate your appliances or devices under normal load.

    Peak Power (starting watts) is the extra wattage that is required to start the appliances or devices. This can also be the power required to run the appliances at their highest point of power usage.

Step 1

Total the watts for the appliances or devices that you are going to be running at the same time. This number will be the running watts needed.

Step 2

Use the highest number of starting watts that is associated with any of the appliances or devices that you are going to be using.

Step 3

Total the two numbers to determine the WATTS needed for your generator.

RV Considerations

If you plan on using your generator for more than your AC, refridgerator, and lights, then you will probably need a generator with higher WATTS. Look for generators rated for running WATTS over 3500-4000 WATTS.

You will want to consider the size of the generator if your RV has a storage space. If you are planning on keeping the generator in the back of your truck, you will also want to consider the weight and portability in case you ever need to remove it from your vehicle.

Home Generator Considerations

Maintenance is a big factor if you are planning on using your portable generator as a home emergency backup. Make sure you read the suggested maintenance schedules to ensure that you don’t pull your generator out in an emergency and it won’t start! Many generators require relatively little maintenance, with the occasional start and run every 6 months or so. You will also want to consider the fuel needed to power the generator. If you have easy access to natural gas, you may consider a natural gas powered generator. You will also need to know how to properly store gasoline if you plan on storing gasoline for your gasoline powered generator.

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