In the past year, there has been an increase in the demand for a consistent electricity supply at home. Since several companies and businesses have shifted to a work from home setup, most employees of these companies need to have interrupted power to meet their deliverables on time. Some people working from home cannot afford to miss that important virtual meeting with the client, pushing them to look for backup power options.
With the increasing number of brands that manufacture and sell electric generators, it has become more accessible and affordable. Several years ago, owning one cost so much that it does not make sense to most consumers. Today, brands that sell electric generators have a great lineup that caters to different needs of customers. Some people in the market for a generator might only need 2,200 watts of capacity, so getting one that is way more than their needs may not make sense and could be expensive long term.
In this article, we will be discussing electric generators from various capacity ranges. We have classified them in four main categories: 1,000 – 1,500 watts, 2,00 – 2,500 watts, 8,000 – 8,500 watts, and 9,000 – 9,500 watts.
How does an electric generator work?
Most people know that electric generators provide electricity. What most people do not know is how it does the work. These machines do not create electricity. They convert energy, usually chemical or mechanical, into electrical energy.
Electric generators observe the electromagnetic induction principle, wherein a copper coil rapidly rotates in the poles of a horseshoe type magnet. The armature connects to a shaft, which is the source of mechanical energy. Finally, the mechanical energy it requires comes from engines on petrol, natural gas, diesel, etc., or via renewable energy sources such as solar-powered turbine, wind turbine, water turbine, etc.
The magnetic field gets interrupted when the coil rotates, resulting in an electric current flowing inside it. We understand that this could be a lot to take in for most people, so you may want to take a look at some of the best mini metal lathes available in the market.
Industrial Class and Residential Class Generators
The two main generator classes are industrial and residential. By now, you may already have an idea of which class you need. For users who intend to use their generator at home, you need a residential-class generator. They come as either a stationary standby generator or a portable generator. Units belonging to this class typically have a capacity of 2,000 watts or less for recreational units or up to 50,000 watts for standby generator units.
On the other hand, industrial-class generators have a capacity that ranges from 20,000 watts to 3,000,000 watts. Businesses typically require higher wattage capacities because of the number of devices it needs to supply power. Most of these units use a three-phase motor to deliver higher results. The following are some offices/businesses that may require an industrial-class generator: shopping malls, living centers, manufacturing sites, office buildings, and educational centers.
What capacity do you need?
The wattage capacity that you will be needing depends on a few factors. First, you will have to consider how many appliances will be needing power from the generator. If you plan to run basic appliances such as a few ceiling lights and your refrigerator, you might be able to work with a small generator. However, if you will be powering appliances that consume a bit more power, such as air conditioners and heaters, you will need a generator with a larger capacity. Second, you should look into the maximum wattage of all the devices you plan to use with your generator. Once you have this value, look for a generator that can handle the maximum surge watts and running watts of these appliances and devices. You will know more about running watts and surge watts in the following sections. Lastly, find out the length of time you will be using the generator. How long a generator can run will depend on a few factors, such as fuel consumption, power, and tank size. Check with the manufacturer and model for these specifications.
These are only some of the factors to consider when picking a generator. Consult with a licensed electrician for better knowledge and understanding of which capacity you will be needing.
Surge Watts and Running Watts on Generators
As mentioned in the previous section, there are two important things to consider in terms of the watts of appliances: surge watts and running watts.
When a device or appliance initially starts or runs, it requires a surge of energy to kickstart the motor. The wattage it requires is called the surge watts, which are typically higher than the running watts for a device or appliance. On the other hand, the running watts is the value required for a device when running. For example, a 60 watts light bulb will consume 60 watts when running and powered by a generator.
Below is a table of the most common appliances you can find at home and their corresponding surge watts and running watts. Take note it may vary depending on the manufacturer and model. It is still best practice to check the specifications sheet before purchasing.
|Device Type||Surge/Starting Watts||Running Watts|
|Electric Stove Burner||0||1500-2500|
|12,000 BTU window aircon||1800||1200|
|Garage door opener||600||480|
|60-watt light bulb||0||60|
When looking at the table above, some devices do not require surge watts because there are no motors that require electricity to start. If you refer to the table above, the devices that do not require surge watts are the water heater, light bulb, and electric stove burner element.
In most cases, the running watt is around 90% of the generator’s surge watt capacity, which means a 1,200-watt generator can provide about 1,080 watts of running watts capacity and about 1,200 watts of surge watts capacity.
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How to determine the capacity you need?
Without any guide, determining the wattage capacity you need can seem overwhelming. With these five easy steps, you can get an estimate on how much wattage capacity you need.
List the devices to power with an electric generator
Let’s assume that you want to power one stove burner, air conditioner, a few light bulbs, and refrigerator with a generator. Being able to use these devices in case of power interruption ensures your comfort and safety.
Specify the surge watts and running watts for each device
One stove burner requires about 0 surge watts and 2,500 running watts. A refrigerator typically needs 1,200 surge watts and 800 running watts. A 35-watt light bulb requires 0 surge watts and 35 running watts. Lastly, an air conditioner needs 1,800 surge watts and 1,200 running watts.
Sum the running watts
The sum of the running watts is 4,535 in this example.
Determine the device with the highest starting watts
With the devices listed in step one, the air conditioner requires the highest starting watt at 1,800 watts.
Add the highest starting watt with the running watts total
Let us add the total running watts, which is 4,535 watts, to the highest starting watt of 1,800 watts. The sum of these two is 6,335 watts, which is the total wattage requirement. With that said, you need a generator with a surge watts capacity of at least 6,335 watts.
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What are the available capacities?
There are several available electric generator capacities in the market today, so picking the right one for your needs can be tricky. Keep in mind that this is only a guide and that you should consult a licensed electrician before purchasing a unit.
Below are some of the most common capacities available in the market. You can go through each one or use your browser’s search functionality to skip to the part that interests you. Before proceeding, you need to keep in mind that the cables you will be using with the generator come in different sizes. You can refer to 20 – 60 amp wires and 70 – 600 amp wires here.
1,000 – 1,500 watt
Some brands that offer generators in the 1,000 – 1,500 watts range are Sportsman, Powerpro, Yamaha, and Honda.
The first generator worth mentioning is the Sportsman Gen1000I gas-powered generator. This generator offers 1,000 surge watts and 800 running watts. It has a 1.3 HP 4-Stroke gasoline engine, which can power through your devices. The engine is rated to run for 6.3 hours at 50% load. In terms of fuel capacity, it comes with a 1.7-gallon fuel tank. When planning to use it at a high altitude, we do not recommend using it 3,000 ft. above sea level. The Sportsman Gen1000I may not work correctly at this height. For best performance and output results, use this generator below 3,000 ft. For any warranty claims, the unit comes with a one-year limited warranty.
The Honda EU1000I 120V inverter generator is ideal for small power tools, electric fans, lights, televisions, and other small appliances at home. Honda claims this generator is super quiet with a noise level of only 50 dB at the rated load and only 42 dB at 1/4 load. The Honda GXH50, which is the engine that powers the EU1000I, can run up to 6.8 hours on a 0.55-gallon of fuel. Weighing at only 29 lbs, it is portable and lightweight.
The next Honda generator is the Honda EX1000. This specific model works great for powering fans, small power tools, laptops, mobile phones, and lights. Using a three-prong AC outlet, you can plug two power wires into the side of the generator. The 0.82-gallon gas fuel tank allows for up to 8 hours of use. The EX1000 does not get loud with only a 64 dB noise level. In case of voltage overload, the AC circuit breaker automatically stops the engine from running to prevent damage from happening. This generator can handle up to 2,000 watts. It can safely handle lower than 1,000 watts, such as 900 watts.
2,000 – 2,500 watt
Some notable brands in the 2,000 watts to 2,500 watts range are Champion, Predator, Westinghouse, Pulsar, Workzone, Honda, Wen, and Ryobi. But in this section, we will take a closer look at the Honda EU2000I and the Wen 56200I.
The Honda EU2000I 2200-watt 120V inverter generator is ideal for televisions, DVD players, satellites, coffee pots, refrigerators, and other small household appliances. To provide stable, consistent power to the connected devices, the EU2000I uses inverter technology. At only 48 to 57 dB, this generator is super quiet. It is ideal for supplemental RV power, camping, and other activities that require minimal noise. Its weight of only about 47 lbs. makes it very portable and lightweight.
On the other hand, the Wen 56200I 2000-watt inverter generator is a close competitor of the Honda EU2000I. It is great for use in construction sites and campgrounds. It generates a running power of 1,600 watts and a surge power of 2,000 watts. One of the notable selling points of the Wen 56200I is its low harmonic distortion. At under 0.3% at no load and 1.2% at full load, it is safe to use tablets, cellphones, laptops, and other electronic gadgets with it. Should you need more than 2,000 watts of power in the future, you can link two Wen inverter generators using the Wen Parallel Kit.
8,000 – 8,500 watt
The 8,000 watts to 8,500 watts range belongs to the higher end of portable electric generators. Generators rated at this wattage capacity often support more than one appliance of the same type running together. Depending on the size of the house, a generator in this range may work well for you. Some notable brands to consider are Briggs and Stratton, Ridgid, Honda, Generac, Troybilt, Gentron, and Champion. If you think 8,500 watts is not enough, then you may want to consider a generator in the 9,000 watts – 9,500 watts range.
9,000 – 9,500 watt
Generators that belong under this range are probably the most expensive than the rest of the generators mentioned in this article. 9,000-watt to 9,500-watt generators are typically ideal backup power sources for large homes. Unless it is a need or you have the extra money to spend, we do not recommend getting a generator in this range. Some brands to consider when looking to purchase are Honda, Generac, Champion, and Predator.