Storms can be frightening, but the prospect of power outages can turn them into a real hazard. When the lights flicker and go out, the silence that follows is often filled with concern. How will you keep the food in your fridge fresh, or stay warm or cool without your HVAC system? This is where a whole-house generator comes into play, providing a sense of security and continuity during those unexpected blackouts.

Choosing the right size generator for your home is important. It’s not just about keeping the lights on; it’s about maintaining your lifestyle without interruption during power outages. Are you currently wondering: what size generator do I need for my house? We’re here to help. In this blog, we’ll walk you through selecting the right size generator to keep the lights on and your family safe during the next blackout.

What Is a Whole-House Generator?

A whole-house generator, also known as a standby generator, is a permanent fixture installed outside your home, much like an AC unit. It’s connected directly to your home’s electrical system and fuel supply, allowing it to provide power seamlessly during an outage. These generators typically run on natural gas, liquid propane, or diesel.

How Does It Work?

When a power outage occurs, an automatic transfer switch detects the disruption and signals the generator to start. Within seconds, the generator begins supplying electricity to the circuits in your home you’ve chosen to back up. This quick response can be critical for maintaining safety and comfort.

Understanding Generator Size and Your Home’s Needs

The first step in selecting a whole-house generator is understanding the size and capacity you need. If you choose a generator that’s too small, you risk overloading it, which can cause a shutdown or, worse, damage your appliances and the generator itself. On the other hand, a unit that’s too large will be more expensive to purchase and operate, wasting fuel and money.

Calculating Your Power Requirements

To figure out what size generator will run a house effectively, start by listing the appliances and systems you need to keep running during an outage. Common essentials include:

Next, you’ll need to calculate the total wattage these appliances require. Most home appliances have a label that shows their power usage in watts. Add these up to get a baseline. Remember, some appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators need more power to start than they do to run, so factor in their starting (or surge) watts as well.

Surge vs. Running Watts

To determine the right size generator, add up the running watts of all your essential appliances and the highest surge watts among them. This sum will give you the minimum surge wattage your generator should handle.

Calculate Your Power Needs

As you can see, to decide what size generator will run a house, you first need to calculate the total wattage of the appliances and systems you want to operate during an outage. Here’s a simple step-by-step process:

  1. List Essential Appliances: Include your refrigerator, air conditioner, heating system, water heater, microwave oven, and lights. Don’t forget about less obvious items like power tools, medical equipment, or a sump pump.
  2. Add Their Wattages: Check each appliance for a label stating its wattage. If it lists amps and volts instead, multiply them to get the wattage (Amps x Volts = Watts).
  3. Consider Starting vs. Running Watts: Many appliances need more power to start (starting watts) than to run (running watts). Be sure to account for these higher requirements.
  4. Add Some Buffer: To prevent overloading, add a 10-20% buffer to the total wattage you calculated. This extra cushion helps manage unforeseen power spikes.

Use an Online Calculator

For a more straightforward approach to how to size a whole house generator, use an online generator size calculator. These tools ask for information about your home and appliances and then recommend what size generator you need based on your inputs.

Examples to Illustrate Sizing

For a typical home:

Total running watts = 7,800 watts, plus the highest starting wattage (HVAC system = 3,000 watts).

Minimum generator size needed = 7,800 + 3,000 = 10,800 watts (10.8 kW).

Consult With a Professional

Although it’s helpful to learn how to size a whole house generator, you should still consult a professional electrician. A skilled electrician will evaluate your home’s energy needs and make sure your whole house generator meets all your requirements.

Installation Considerations

When installing a whole-house generator, it’s critical to work with professional Houston electricians to guarantee compliance with local codes. Incorrect installation of home standby generators can lead to inefficient operation or even safety hazards.

Don’t Be Left in the Dark

So, what size generator do you need for your house? As you can see, the answer to this question can differ depending on your needs. By understanding how to size a whole house generator, you can make informed decisions that keep your home safe and comfortable, no matter the weather.

With the right whole-house generator, you won’t have to worry about the inconveniences of a power outage. Whether it’s a storm, a grid failure, or any other unexpected situation, having a generator means your home stays comfortable, your food stays fresh, and your life goes on without interruption.

Ready to schedule your whole house generator installation in Houston, TX, or one of the surrounding areas? Contact Universal Home Experts for expert advice and installation services. Don’t wait until the lights go out — schedule your appointment today and be prepared for whatever comes your way!

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