Generator Run Time Meter

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Do you own a generator or are you planning to purchase one? I am sure you are wondering how much power you need or what will it run?

Confusion always arises when we speak about the capacity of generators and this article will enlighten you about the basics of running a 3500-watt generator. Please continue reading as I explain…. A generator is a device that people use to supply electricity during power interruptions.

Generators enable people to continue their daily activities and business operations despite the power disruption.

This device features various electrical and mechanical configurations for different applications.

Generator and Installation Cost Factors

A generator does not create electrical energy instead it uses mechanical energy from the movement of the motor and converts it into electrical current. That is how we get the power! Knowing the ‘size’ of your generator will also help you determine how many appliances it can run.

Whole House Generator Cost
ItemAverage Cost
Whole House Generator$3,000 – $6,000
Installation$3,000 – $5,000
Total Cost To Install$6,000 – $11,000

*A complex installation costs $5,000 to $12,000+. Learn more

Power Source

Sizing the generator to the correct wattage is necessary to avoid generator overload (an overloaded condition is when you are trying to run more appliances than the generator can handle) this will cause the generator to need repair and can also damage the appliances you are trying to operate.

Generator Cost
SizePrice RangeTypical Coverage
2 – 5 kW$250 – $1,400One appliance and a few lights.
7 – 10 kW$2,000 – $3,00010 lights, refrigerator, sump pump, well pump, microwave, TV, laptop, coffee maker, and furnace fan.
13 – 16 kW$3,000 – $4,500Full home under 1,500 square feet.
17 – 20 kW$4,000 – $6,000Full 1,500 to 3,000 square foot home.
22 – 25 kW$4,500 – $12,000Full 3,000 to 5,000 square foot home.
30 – 48 kW$10,000 – $16,000Large luxury home or commercial applications.

*Not including installation.

  • A 3500-watt generator is one of the best options for emergency backup electricity as it is capable of supplying power to run several medium sized household appliances at the same time.
  • It will provide around 14 amps at 240 volts or 28 amps at standard 120 volt power. Here are some items that will run on a 3500-watt generator:.
  • In a household setting:. Energy saving LED or CFL lights which consume about 14 watts each.
  • A freezer, which on average consumes about 700 watts and needs 2100 to start. A refrigerator which needs 2100 to start and on average consumes 700 watts.
  1. A 1/3 hp sump pump which on average use 516 watts and needs 1550 to start.
  2. In a Recreational Vehicle setting:.
  3. Blender 850 Watts.
  4. Electric Grill 1650 Watts.
  5. Hair Dryer 1900 Watts.
  6. Coffee maker 600 Watts.
  7. Electric heater, 1500 Watts.

Ideal for running single or multiple appliances

Average Cost To Install a Generator
National Average Cost$8,500
Minimum Cost$3,000
Maximum Cost$22,000
Average Range$6,000to$11,000

*Prices for a 13 to 22 kW backup generator plus installation.

Why should you choose a 3500-watt generator?

Flat screen Television 120 Watts. Laptop PC 225 Watts. Portable Fan 120 Watts. DVD player 350 Watts. It is important to note that the above-mentioned items should not be plugged in at the same time and assumes that the generator has a starting surge capacity of 25%.

Backup Generator Prices
Fuel TypePortableStandby
Gasoline$250 – $4,500--
Natural Gas$900 – $4,300$2,000 – $6,000
Liquid Propane$250 – $4,000$2,000 – $6,000
Diesel$3,300 – $6,700$5,000 – $18,000
Solar$500 – $3,300--

*Prices for units with power capacity of 2 to 24 kW. Not including installation.

Type and Size

Running all the appliances at the same time may cause damage to the generator. Being aware of the capacity of the generator is necessary as you will be able to prepare and plan which appliances should you run without causing any damage or overload.

Always consider what type of essential appliances you will be running through the generator before purchasing one.

What appliances can a 3500-watt generator run?

There are a few things that should be looked into such as the voltage or capacity of the appliance and the amount of fuel that you will be needed while the engine is operating. Choose a 3500-watt generator if your main purpose is to power up the household lighting, small appliances, or items that are used in everyday life such as the refrigerator, freezer, well and sump pumps.

What is a Generator?

With the 3500-watt generator, your daily household activities and level of comfort will not be compromised. Most generators in the same range have a weight of 150 pounds which is relatively light and easy to move around. The 3500-watt generator is fuel efficient.

The Verdict

In fact, you can keep an inverter generator running for 8 or 10 hours using only 2 to 3 gallons of gas. In addition, most generators with a 3500-watt capacity are affordable and are widely available. A generator is a device that serves as an electric alternative during power outage.

Start Type

It comes with various configurations and features that are suited for different applications. There are also points to consider when choosing to buy a generator including the type of appliances that you will be running, fuel consumption and the right wattage for the device.

Affordable and has a low operational cost

A 3500-watt generator is recommended for running various small or medium devices at the same time. It is important to know the electrical requirements of every appliance that you will be running to ensure efficient use and overall safety.

Generac Generator Prices
Power CapacityAverage Price
7 kW$2,000
10 kW$3,000
16 kW$3,800
17 kW$4,000
20 kW$4,500
22 kW$5,000
30+ kW$12,000

*Prices not including installation.

The 3500-watt generator can conveniently power up a few lights, fridge, freezer, AC, etc.

Kohler Generator Cost

Learning how to prioritize which appliance or item needs power is helpful for your own convenience. A 3500-watt generator is also ideal if you need to power up lights and a few other items while you are camping. In fact, you will have the luxury to charge your gadgets while in the middle of a jungle camp.

Briggs & Stratton Generator Cost

These are just few items that will run in a 3500-watt generator. It still depends on you to work out the best way to ensure that all of your power needs are covered. Remember to study the basics of operating a generator to avoid damage and other accidents.

Cummins Generator Cost

Safety first before anything! But, the final verdict is… a 3500-watt generator is versatile as you can take it anywhere and can power up those essential appliance without any issues. It is also adaptable to all settings and can be moved easily as most of them are quite lightweight.

Generator Installation Costs

Lastly, you can save because it is fuel efficient! Various factors impact the cost of installing a generator for your home. The type of generator, size, power source, and start type can all affect the overall price. Consider your needs and how much power you’ll need during an outage as you look for the best generator for your home.

Cost To Install Whole House Generator
TypeAverage Cost
Typical Installation$3,000 – $5,000
Complex Installs (Longer Distances or > 20 kW)$5,000 – $12,000+

*Not including generator.

A pro can also recommend the best combination of options for your situation.

Standby Generator Installation Cost Factors

The two main types of generators are permanent and portable units. Permanent generators cost more, can power part of or an entire house, and are hooked up to your electrical system.

Standby Generator Installation Cost
FactorAverage Cost
Home Energy AssessmentFree With Installation
Labor Charges For Electrician$40 – $100 per hour
Transfer Switch Installation$400 – $2,000
Electrical Wiring$6 – $8 per foot
Gas Line Installation$12 – $25 per foot
Concrete Pad$150 – $400
Propane Tank Installation$400 – $1,800
Permits$80 – $450
  • Depending on the fuel source, they may connect to your natural gas line. A portable unit doesn’t have to be installed but can only power a few appliances during an emergency or temporary power outage.
  • You may opt for a permanent generator if you want to keep your HVAC, fridge, and water heater running during an outage, especially if you live in a climate that’s prone to storms and hurricanes.
  • Different generators sizes come with varying load capacities from 7 to 38 kW (also known as the kW rating). Small generators can power just a few circuits, while larger units can power an entire house.
  • For example, 2 to 5 kW can power one appliance and a few lights; 7 to 10 kW can power multiple lights, a couple of appliances, sump pump, and TV; and 22 to 25 kW can power a whole home up to 5,000 square feet.
  • When shopping for a home generator, consider the fuel source the generator will run on.

Generator Transfer Switch Installation Cost

For example, if you purchase a gasoline generator, you will have to budget for the cost of gasoline and store it properly. Other fuel types include liquid propane, diesel, and natural gas. You may also find solar power generators, but keep in mind that a solar generator may not function during a storm.

Cost To Install Generator Transfer Switch
TypeAverage Total Cost
Manual$400 – $1,300
Automatic$600 – $2,000

*Transfer switch plus installation.

  • You may have a preference for a start switch or a pull cord when it comes to turning on your generator.
  • Some portable generators have a pull cord, like a lawnmower.

Generator Transfer Switch Prices

A permanent generator that’s hooked up to your house will turn on by itself during an outage, but these units also have a manual start switch that functions as a backup.

Generator Transfer Switch Cost
30 Amp$150 – $500--
100 Amp$200 – $700$350 – $1,000
200 Amp$450 – $1,000$700 – $1,450
400 Amp--$1,650 – $2,700

*Transfer switch only. Installation labor adds $200 to $500.

The transfer switch amps must match the main breaker in the electrical panel. Otherwise, transfer switches that only power select circuits should be sized by an electrician according to the power requirements.

Generator Interlock Installation Cost

A generator interlock installation costs $400 to $850 on average for the interlock kit, power box, breaker, cords, and electricians labor. An interlock kit allows a portable generator to connect to the electrical panel without a transfer switch and eliminates a dangerous direct connection.

Generator Interlock Installation Cost
ItemAverage Cost
Interlock Kit$50 – $150
Breaker, Power Box, Cords, Misc.$200 – $400
Electricians Labor$150 – $300
Total Cost To Install$400 – $850

An interlock covers the panel's main cutoff switch so it can't switch on while the backup generator is running. Not all interlocks meet local building codes or work with every electrical system.

Potential Installation Drawbacks

  • For safety, a generator should be located outside at least five feet away from doors, windows, vents, and flammable material.
  • Most generators produce 60 to 70 decibels (dB) from 25 feet away, similar to a central air conditioner. Some city properties are tighter, increasing the noise level, which may be regulated by local noise ordinances.
  • Generators need regular maintenance to ensure reliability.

Portable Generator Costs

Portable generators cost $250 to $2,500, depending on the brand, power capacity, and fuel type. Portable generators under 2 kW cost $250 to $700 and can power one appliance and a few lights, while 5 to 10 kW generators cost $600 to $2,500 and can power multiple appliances and 10+ lights.

Portable Generator Sizes and Prices
WattsPrice Range
Less than 2,000$250 – $700
2,000 to 4,900$300 – $1,400
5,000 to 9,900$600 – $2,500
10,000+$1,500 – $5,000

Portable generators are a budget-friendly temporary solution for backup power.

Never plug a generator directly into an outlet in the home. This is illegal and can cause electrocution or set fire to the house.

Portable Generator Installation Cost

The average cost to install a portable generator is $400 to $1,300. A manual transfer switch costs $200 to $800, plus $200 to $500 for the electrical work. Heavy-duty extensions cords rated for 30 to 50 amps cost $30 to $200 for plugging appliances directly into the generator instead.

Portable Generator Installation Cost
FactorAverage Cost
Manual Transfer Switch$200 – $800
Electrical Work$200 – $500
Total Cost To Install$400 – $1,300

Consider these accessories when installing a portable generator:

Portable Generator Accessories
AccessoriesPrice RangeDescription
Heavy-Duty Extension Cord$30 – $200Plug major appliances directly into a portable generator.
Wheel Kit$30 – $300Make it easier to move a heavy generator.
Generator Cover$20 – $165Protect a portable generator from the elements when outdoors.

Portable vs. Standby Generators

Standby generators are permanently installed outside the home, start automatically when the power goes out, and run for several weeks. Portable generators are smaller and cheaper, but are less powerful, must be started and refueled manually, and shouldn’t run for more than two consecutive days.

Portable vs. Standby Generators
Generator Cost$500 – $2,500$2,000 – $6,000
Lifespan2,000 – 5,000 hours10,000 – 30,000 hours
Power Output2 – 10 kW7 – 22 kW
Fuel Cost$30 – $70 per day$50 – $150 per day
Fuel Needs12 – 20 gallons of gasoline or diesel per day20 – 75 gallons of liquid propane or 3,000 to 8,000 cubic feet of natural gas daily
  • Smaller and less expensive
  • Lower installation costs
  • Can power lights and essential appliances
  • Prevents food from spoiling during an outage
  • Easy to move around
  • Require minimal maintenance
  • Useful for camping, outdoor events, or construction site
  • Can power a whole house
  • Quieter than a portable generator
  • Can run for days or weeks continuously
  • Starts automatically
  • Can power sensitive electronics
  • Can power heating, air conditioning, and hot water heater
  • Noisy
  • Significantly less powerful
  • Require manual start and refueling
  • Produces hazardous fumes
  • Requires space for storage
  • Can’t power sensitive electronics
  • Can’t power heating or air conditioning
  • Can’t run for more than two consecutive days
  • More expensive
  • Requires professional installation
  • Permanently fixed in place
  • Requires regular maintenance
  • Requires propane or diesel fuel delivery or access to a natural gas pipeline

Generator Rental Cost

Renting a small portable generator costs $40 to $110 per day without fuel, depending on the power capacity and local rental rates. Renting an industrial towable generator costs $300 to $1,000 per week, depending on the size.

Cost To Rent Portable Generator
Power CapacityRental Price Per Day
1 – 2.5 kW$40 – $55
3 – 4 kW$50 – $65
5 – 7 kW$70 – $90
8 – 10 kW$80 – $110
100 – 300 kW Towable$300 – $500 per week
500+ kW Towable$700 – $1,100 per week

Can Portable Generators Run A House?

Portable generators connect to a home's electrical panel with a transfer switch or interlock kit. This allows the generator to power lights and essential appliances for outages lasting less than two days. However, portable generators can’t power heating and cooling systems or sensitive electronics.

Home Generator Cost Factors

Total installation costs depend on the generator's size (kW), whether it's standby vs. portable, fuel source, accessories, and the wiring and hook up complexity.

Professional installers offer free home energy assessments to determine the proper size backup generator depending on your power needs.

What Size Generator Do I Need?

Use the watt usage chart for generators below to calculate the size required for a house. In general:

  • Large 20 kW standby generators power a whole house.
  • Mid-range 10 to 16 kW generators power major appliances, including central air conditioning, or an entire home if paired with a smart load manager.
  • Portable 5 to 10 kW generators power multiple appliances and ten lights.
  • A 4 kW generator powers an RV.
Generator Size Calculator For House
Type of LoadWattageGenerator Size
7 kW20 kW48 kW
Two Lighting Circuits200 W
Four Lighting Circuits400 W
10 Lighting Circuits1000 W
Refrigerator / Freezer1200 W
Sump Pump1000 W
Well Pump1000 W
Furnace Fan500 W
Garage Door Opener850 W
Microwave Oven1000 W
Electric Oven2000 W
Radio150 W
Television300 W
Laptop50 W
Desktop Computer200 W
4-Ton Central Air Conditioner8500 W
Washing Machine1200 W
Electric Clothes Dryer3000 W
Coffee Maker900 W
Gaming Console100 W
Jacuzzi Bathtub1500 W
Hot Tub6000 W
EV Charging Station7200 W

*Running wattage is shown. Some appliances startup wattage can be double the running wattage.

Home Generator Accessories & Prices

Homes in the northern half of the U.S. need a cold-weather kit for $130 to $500 to ensure the generator turns on when temperatures drop below freezing. A smart load manager costs $130 to $250 and allows smaller generators to power a whole home by balancing the load across multiple appliances.

Generator Accessories
Generator Battery$70 – $300Starts the generator when the electricity goes out.
Cold-Weather Kit$130 – $500Ensures the generator starts in regions where temperatures drop below freezing.
Wireless Monitor$200 – $210Provides access to generator status from inside the home.
Smart Load Manager$130 – $250Allows smaller generators to power more appliances by balancing the electric load.
Fascia Kit$65 – $130Protects the generator’s base from rodents and insects.

Generator Maintenance Kits

Generators require regular maintenance with periodic oil and filter changes to ensure maximum performance and reliability. DIY preventative maintenance kits cost $20 to $110. Annual generator maintenance contracts cost $200 to $650 per year and include a full inspection and oil and filter changes.

How Much Do Generators Cost To Run?

A small 7 kW portable generator costs $30 to $70 per day to run, while a larger 15 to 20 kW whole-home generator costs $50 to $150 per day to run all day. Costs depend on the generator’s size, fuel type, and local gasoline, propane, diesel, or natural gas prices.

Daily Generator Running Cost Calculation
Fuel SourceGenerator Size
7 kW15 kW20 kW
Natural Gas$10 – $20$22 – $32$30 – $40
Liquid Propane$60 – $70$145 – $165$150 – $170
Diesel$32 – $40$90 – $110$100 – $120
Gasoline$55 – $70----

*Costs depend on current and local fuel prices.

How Long Can A Generator Run Continuously?

Manufacturers recommend running a standby generator for up to 500 hours continuously, or about three weeks. Most portable generators run for 8 to 14 hours with a ½ power load and one tank of fuel. Portable generators should not run for more than 24 hours continuously without a break.

Time A Generator Can Run
TypeContinuous Hours
Portable8 – 14
StandbyUp to 500

Generator Fuel Consumption

A standard 5-kilowatt portable generator consumes 0.75 gallons per hour or 18 gallons per day, which costs about $40 per day. Whole-house 15 to 20 kW standby generators consume 1.22 to 1.60 gallons of diesel per hour or 3.16 to 3.45 gallons of liquid propane per hour.

Generator Fuel Consumption
Fuel TypeGenerator Size
5 – 7 kW15 kW20 kW
Gasoline0.75 GPH----
Liquid Propane1.42 GPH3.16 GPH3.45 GPH
Natural Gas118 CfH133 CfH330 CfH
Diesel0.60 GPH1.22 GPH1.60 GPH
  • Gallons Per Hour (GPH)
  • Cubic Feet Per Hour (CfH)

How Long Do Generators Last?

A standby generator lasts 15 to 30 years and provides 10,000 to 30,000 hours of use with proper maintenance. Portable generators last up to 10 years and provide 2,000 to 5,000 hours of power. Reputable brands offer 5- to 10-year limited warranties on whole house generators.

How Long Do Generators Last?
TypeLifespan In YearsHours of Runtime
PortableUp to 102,000 – 5,000
Standby15 – 3010,000 – 30,000

DIY Home Generator Installation

Installing a permanent backup generator involves complex electrical work and gas plumbing that needs a licensed professional for safety. Improper wiring can damage the generator, fry appliances, and endanger utility workers by back-feeding the grid.

Portable generators don’t always require professional installation, and appliances can be plugged directly into the generator. To power more appliances, hire an electrician to install a manual transfer switch to connect the generator directly to the home’s electric panel.

Hiring A Generator Installer

A professional pulls permits, determines the power and size generator needed to run the house, pours a concrete pad, installs the wiring and plumbing, and safely connects it to the utility grid. Follow these steps to find the best pro for the job:

  • Get at least three in-person estimates to compare.
  • Look for electricians with experience installing home generators.
  • For natural gas and propane generators, select a pro who is certified for gas plumbing.
  • Read reviews and check out their previous work on HomeGuide, Google, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business for longer than five years.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Ask for a written contract and warranty.
  • Get a full breakdown of all costs involved.
  • Avoid making large payments upfront. Come up with a payment schedule for the work completed.

Questions To Ask A Generator Installer

  • How long have you been installing generators?
  • How many generators have you installed?
  • Will your company handle the gas plumbing, or do you use subcontractors?
  • Can you provide references of past work?
  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • What costs might be associated with the installation?
  • What permits do I need, and will you obtain them?
  • What is your payment schedule?

Get free estimates on HomeGuide from trusted generator installers:

  • Whole House Generators - The Home Depot. (2020).
  • Portable Generators - The Home Depot. (2020).
  • Generac Home Backup Generators. (2020).
  • Portable Generators at (2020).
  • Home Standby Generators at (2020).
  • Transfer Switches - The Home Depot. (2020).
  • Generator Transfer Switch Kits at (2020).
  • How Much Does A Standby Generator Cost To Install? (2016).
  • Jon Schlecht at Prairie Electric. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Lynn DeCort at DeCort Electric. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Tommy McNutt at Advantage Service Co. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Josh Hagerman at Palmer Electric. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Charles Wheeler at Wheeler Generators. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Angie Wittchow at Champion Power Equipment. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Travis Gooden at Greenwave Electric. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Eileen O'Hearne at Emergency Power Generators of NE. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Norh Robinson at Smalltyme Electric. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Tobi Hartlieb at Southwest Florida Electric. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Glen Koedding at Green Sun Energy Services. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Autumn Riggan at Midwest Generator Solutions. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Jordan Byers at Cox Electric. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Erich Maurer at Seth Energy. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Sarah Kellam at Kellam Mechanical. Personal Communication. (2020).
  • Home Standby Generators. (2020).
  • Home Generators. (2020).
  • Generac Generators (with installation). (2020).
  • Home Standby Generators. (2020).
  • What it Costs to Install a Whole House Generator. (2020).
  • The Cost to Install a Home Emergency Generator. (2018).
  • Buying a Generator. (2017).
  • Natural Gas Generators. (2020).
  • Is Running a Generator More Expensive. (n.d.).
  • Whole House Standby Generator Cost. (2020).
  • Home Generator Sales - How Much Will It Cost. (n.d.).
  • Generator Purchasing Guide. (2018).
  • What is the real cost of a whole house generator? (2020).
  • Generator installations. (n.d.).
  • Generator FAQ’s. (2019).
  • Generator Sizes and Types For Home Or Business. (n.d.).
  • Electrical Work Pricing Guide. (2020).
  • How Much Does a Typical Standby Generator Installation Cost? (2019).
  • DIY Whole-House Portable Generator Installation – Addenda. (2018).
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