House Backup Generator

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The amount of power you think you’ll need for your house during an outage is critical to picking the right generator. If you’re comfortable with just keeping the most vital components of your home running, you could get by with a generator with less power. But if you want full power as usual, you’re looking at bigger generators.

Fuel Source
A typical home needs around a 20,000-watt generator to power everything while a 5,000- to 7,500-watt generator can power items like a refrigerator, furnace and water.
  • Pay special attention to a generator’s starting watts rating and its running watts rating. Starting watts skew higher because they account for the extra power needed to start appliances. The fuel you’ll use to power a generator will likely be the same type as you use for your home because standby generators tap into existing gas lines.
  • Propane gas runs more expensive than natural gas and has experienced shortages in years past, but propane is more efficient than natural gas. If you’re planning to tap into an existing gas line then the installation is pretty straightforward, however, it’s best to leave the work to a pro.
Power Needs
Installation can get complicated depending upon the levelness of the spot you want the generator installed, possible building permits and the need for an electrician.
  • AlltimePower suggests a rule of thumb for estimating installation costs for a generator to be about 75% of the cost of the generator. If you are feeling frustrated by unexpected power failures, then you might be thinking of getting a backup generator for your home.
  • How many watts does it take to run a whole house during a power outage? Do you need a 18kW, 25kW or a 35kW backup generator to provide power for everything in your house? Before taking out your credit card, first take stock of what appliances are in your home and then calculate how many watts are needed when the power is down.
When searching for a generator that can power your house, you need to be mindful of features and functionality.
  • You also need to find a unit that is large enough, yet still affordable. A generator is generally rated in terms of how much peak starting watts and continuous running watts it delivers. Certain certifications are important. Look for a generator that is CSA, EPA and CARB certified. It should meet or exceed the standards for air quality in North America.
  • A low-oil shutdown system is essential for preventing possible engine damage due to insufficient oil. It seems like most generators have a built-in low oil shut-off feature. It should be easy to find a home backup generator with this safety feature. Fuel economy is going to be an important thing if you need to power your house for a few days with a generator.
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A feature that might help with this is the fuel economy switch, or eco-throttle.
  • This allows the generator to lower or increase its engine speed according to the amount of load that is currently being used. The economy mode decreases both fuel consumption and overall noise level. Another important feature is an overload protection system that will protect the generator and appliances in case of an overload.
  • A portable generator that is large enough to power a house is going to be heavy to move around. In that case, a wheel kit will make it easier to move the generator around, especially if you are on your own. Inverter technology provides clean power for sensitive electronic appliances such as a flat screen television, gaming console, desktop personal computer or mobile notebook computer.
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If you want to power such electronic devices during a power failure, then an inverter generator is a good choice.
  • Certain appliances in your house are power-hungry while others are not. You need to carefully consider which equipment is essential and which are not.
  • Moreover, think about which appliances are going to be running at the same time. In addition, some household appliances use more power when they start compared to when they are in operation.
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Check each appliance and make notes of the wattage printed on the label or in the product manual.
  • If a device shows only the amount of amps required, then you can still calculate the wattage. Do this by multiplying the amps with the voltage, e.g. 10 amps multiplied by 120 volts equals 1200 watts. You should calculate how much wattage is needed so that you can choose a generator model that delivers enough watts.
  • This way you might avoid the frustration and disappointment that is the result of buying a generator that is just too small to power your house in an emergency. Here is a list of household appliances that you might use during a power outage:.
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Air Conditioner.
  • Electric Space Heater. Electric Toaster. Incandescent Light. LCD Computer Monitor. LCD Flat Screen TV. Washing Machine. There might be other items that are specific to your household that you can add to this list.
  • Remember that you need to take into account both the running wattage and the additional starting wattage of certain appliances. The key benefit of using a portable generator for powering your house during a power failure is the cost.
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It is cheaper to use a portable generator compared to installing a home standby generator.
  • The simplest way to use a portable generator for home backup power is to run it outside at a safe distance and then connect a few essential appliances by way of extension cords.
  • If you want a safer setup, then you can connect the portable generator to the electrical panel of your house with a transfer switch. The downside of using a portable generator for home backup power is that a lot of them use gasoline as a fuel source. However, there are a few dual fuel portable generators on the market that can also run on liquid propane fuel.
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Another disadvantage is that these generators are heavy to move around: because of that a wheel kit is an essential accessory.
  • Furthermore, even the largest portable generator might not produce enough surge watts to power a whole house. You will have to carefully manage appliance and power usage to avoid overloading a portable generator.
  • An inverter generator is generally used for outdoor activities such as camping, tailgating, hunting or powering a recreational vehicle. However, it is also useful for powering sensitive electronic equipment such as televisions and computers. However, the majority of these inverter generators fall into the 1000-watt to 3000-watt category, although there are a few models that produce more wattage.
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For example, the Honda EU7000iS is a portable inverter generator that produces 5500 continuous running watts and up to 7000 peak surge watts.
  • In light of that, a recreational inverter generator is probably too small to provide backup power for a whole house.
  • Nevertheless, it might work for running a few sensitive appliances if you do not use a well pump or a central air conditioner.
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The most important tip is that you should never try to start all the appliances at the same time.
  • If you do that, then you are going to need a big portable generator or an even larger whole house generator. Instead, start appliances that use additional surge watts at different times. For example, do not start the central air conditioner, washing machine and sump pump simultaneously.
  • Another tip for managing power requirements is to remember that some appliances do not need to be on all the time. Only use the devices that you need and turn it off when not in use. A more permanent and convenient solution to the problem of home backup power is to install a stationary home standby generator.
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Then you will not have to worry about moving a portable generator out of storage and struggling with extension cords.
  • However, buying and connecting a home standby generator to your household’s electrical system is a significant investment and should be done by a qualified electrician.
  • A home standby generator usually runs on either liquid propane (LPG) or natural gas, so you never have to carry around and refill gasoline cans and fuel tanks.
Such a generator has the ability to back up your entire home during a power outage.

How much wattage do you need to power a house?

It might even be able to turn on automatically after a power failure to provide backup power for your house until normal power is restored. A transfer switch is an essential component that makes it safe to switch between the utility power and the backup generator power.

These switches operate either manually or automatically. The person in charge of installing the home backup generator should consider a few things such as the required wattage of the generator, the best location, the fuel line, transfer switch and electrical connections.

  • This person will also test the generator so that it is ready to go when the power is low.
  • The calculation of the wattage and installation costs of a home standby generator should be done by a qualified electrical professional.
  • The costs will be modified by where you live, the size of your home and the estimated cost of installation.
  • Moreover, a home that uses natural gas appliances consumes less electricity compared to a home where there are only electrical appliances.
  • For example, say your home is about 2500 square feet, and you want to provide back up power for the entire house.

You might have to get an 18kW to a 24kW automatic home backup generator that is going to cost about $5000 or more. To this you have to add the cost of shipping, taxes, the transfer switch and installation.

The installation costs alone could be at least $2000 or more. For that reason you have to do your homework very well and get professional advice before you buy and install a home standby generator.

Tips For Managing Household Power Requirements

What size generator would you need if you had an even larger house of more than 5000 square feet? Then your house might require a whole house standby generator of between 25kW and 35kW. It is very important to know the exact starting surge wattage and rated running wattage of every appliance in the home.

Is it possible to use an inverter generator for home backup power?

You will need this information to calculate how much power your household consumes and what size standby generator is required. When it comes to home backup generators, size does matter. If the generator is too small for the house, then it might overload, overheat and burn out. Conversely, if the generator is too large, then you will spend too much on installation and operation costs. In light of that, how do you decide what size generator you should buy?


First, make a list of all the appliances in your house and yard that requires power. Second, collect the starting surge and rated running wattage of everything and add it to the list.

How To Decide What Size Whole House Generator To Buy

Third, use your brain or a calculator to add up all the numbers. Keep the surge and rated watts in different columns and add them up separately to get the total wattage amounts for each column. Fourth, look at the total surge wattage because this is the minimum size backup generator that your home will need. For example, the total starting surge wattage is 22000 compared to a total running wattage of 13000. This means that you will need at least a 24kW home standby generator or larger.

Home Standby Generator For Running a Whole House

You should always leave a little headroom to prevent an overload. Of course, this is a rough and ready way to calculate the size of a generator for powering your whole house during a power outage.

The Size And Cost Of Home Standby Generators

If you are serious about installing such a generator, then you should get a qualified electrician to do the calculation for you.

What features are important for a backup generator?

Photo by Spaylia on Unsplash.

Can I use a portable generator to power my house?

After you have determined your power requirements, two important factors to consider are its physical footprint and how loud it emits. You will want to have the generator close to your house, no matter how small or large the area.
You should consider how loud the generator will be outside your house. This is measured in decibels. Our generators average between 60 and 70 decibels. A vacuum cleaner, on the other hand, is around 70 to 80 decibels.

1. How Far Away From The House Does A Generator Need To Be?

National Fire Protection Association guidelines allow small generators to remain at least 18 inches away from exterior walls. However, local codes may require you to check for more strict requirements. Installers who are professionals should be familiar with the codes to help plan where your generator will go.

2. How Often Should I Perform Routine Maintenance?

For the maintenance recommendations, consult your owner's guide.

3. Are Home Generators Worth It?

Although they can be more expensive than portable generators, home generators will provide you with peace of mind and ensure that your family is safe during an outage.

4. What Is The Best Generator To Buy For Home Use?

There are many factors that go into choosing the best generator for your home. These include your power needs, your essential appliances, such as fridges, air conditioners and sump pumps.

5. Does The Portable Generator Need To Be Grounded?

Yes. Yes. You risk electrocution if the generator isn’t properly grounded. Follow all federal, state and local rules relating to grounding.

6. Can I Vent The Exhaust Out Of An Enclosed Area?

No. No. Generators that are portable can be used outdoors where ventilation is available. Like all gasoline engines' exhaust, generator exhaust contains toxic carbon monoxide. You can find more details in the Portable Generator Safety Tips.

7. How Long Can You Run A Whole House On A Generator?

The home generator could theoretically last indefinitely if it has unlimited fuel supply and is free from mechanical problems. The generator engine works in the same way as a car engine. It requires regular maintenance such as an oil change, replacement of belts and other similar tasks.

8. How Big Of A Generator Do I Need To Run A House?

A home requires a minimum of 5,500 to 7,500 watts in order to operate. Common home generator capacities start at 10,000 watts.

9. Can I Use A Portable Generator For Backup During A Power Outage?

Yes. Yes. You can connect household devices and appliances to a portable generator, but not all at once.
You should never plug the generator in to an electrical outlet at home or work. A certified electrician will install a manual power transfer switch that conforms to electrical codes if you want to attach a portable generator into your home or business's wiring.

The list of Backup power generator for house will be regularly updated to be included in additional data by our editor's team. Please keep an eye around for any amendments made to our website.

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