If you are in the market for a portable generator, an important question that comes to mind is what things I can power with a portable generator?
To find the correct answer, we will have to dig a little deeper into the issue.
First of all, what is a portable generator?
In short, a portable generator is a device which generates electrical current by running a gas-powered engine. We have written an in-depth article here.
We use portable generators as an alternative source of power in homes in case of emergencies. In the event of a power outage, with portable generators, if not all, some of the electrical equipment can be kept operational. If someone in the household is on life-saving equipment, a portable generator is a must.
In this article, we will discuss what electrical equipment can be powered by portable generators.
Another frequent use of portable generators is for camping. They provide the required electricity to make the trip more enjoyable.
Portable generators are also commonly used on construction sites. While the electrical grid is being installed, or for safety reasons when there is no electrical power.
What things can I power with a portable generator?
To figure out what things or appliances we can power with a portable generator, we will first need to make a list. Common home appliances are electrical or mechanical machines which make our daily life more comfortable, e.g., cooking and cleaning, etc.
Let us classify these into three main categories:
Major appliances. E.g., refrigerator, cooking range, microwave oven, washer and dryer, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, electric water heater tank, air conditioner, etc.
Small appliances. E.g., toaster oven, waffle iron, food processor, blender, coffee maker, hot plate, portable fans, electric kettle, iced-tea maker, ice cream maker, etc.
Consumer electronics. E.g., television, DVD players, video games, cell phones, smartphones, computers, printers, paper shredders, etc.
List of Appliances and their average consumption
Which appliances will work with portable generators? The answer to this question has to be divided into two sections. One, it depends on the capacity of the portable generator, and, second, it depends on which appliances you would like to use when the generator is running.
Portable generators come in all shapes and sizes. The prices vary depending on their power output capacity.
Each appliance will require a certain amount of current to start and run. Appliances like air conditions and refrigerators will need a start-up current which is a little more than the running current.
Now, to determine which appliances will work, we have to make a list of devices that we would like to use when the portable generator is running, and assess their startup and running current.
Here is a short checklist to make the calculations easy:-
There are two major factors to keep in mind when considering the “size” of the portable generator.
- The running watts, or continuous power. That is the wattage which is required to run the appliance under normal load.
- Startup watts, or extra peak power. That is the extra wattage which is required to start the appliance, or when they are running at their highest levels of power consumption.
As a rule of thumb, an average size home requires anywhere between 5,000 to 7,000 watts of power for essential items.
Here is a list of common appliances used in a household with average power requirements. Please note that this list is for reference only. You can get the actual power requirement by reading the label on the appliance under consideration.
Short Listing of Critical Appliances (ones you cannot do without)
The next step will be to shortlist the appliances and gadgets that you feel you will absolutely need to run whenever you are using your portable generator.
The easiest way to do it is to walk around the house with a pencil and paper and write down the appliances and gadgets that you see which you will need.
Calculating the Required Wattage
Once you have the shortlist, refer to the chart above and write with running and startup wattages.
Now, use your handy calculator and add up the two columns. This number will be the total wattage you will require to run on the portable generator.
There you have it! Now you know what things you can run with your portable generator.
If you already have a portable generator, then you might have to modify the list according to the output of your existing generator.
If you are in the market for a generator, then you have an idea what size you will need to run your favorite appliances and gadgets.