What Type of Generator is Best for Your Home?


A sudden power outage at your home can interrupt your day but in many cases power is restored within a few minutes. Aside from resetting all the clocks, a temporary power failure is just a nuisance. There are many scenarios where a prolonged loss of power can become dangerous, though. Thunderstorms with high winds and lightning can disable your entire house for hours. Ice storms, blizzards, and frigid temperatures during the winter can also threaten to leave your home without power.

Some of the risks associated with power loss include food spoilage within refrigerators and freezers. Water damage is a major concern for homes that rely on sump pumps. Of course, without power major appliances including your furnace and air conditioning system cannot operate. Loss of your HVAC system quickly threatens the comfort and safety of your family. While smartphones and tablets may provide access to communication temporarily, when the battery losses charge, you will be cut off from news updates. Another concern regarding charging includes electric vehicles and outdoor power equipment like snowblowers and chainsaws to clean up weather-related issues.

Installing home generators can supply power to your home during power outages. With the right type of portable generator or standby generator, you can guard your home against these threats and keep your family safe until power is restored from the primary power grid. The team at N.E.W. Plumbing and Heating is proud to be your standby generator experts in Warsaw, IN. We’ll explain what type of generator is best for home backup power and how much power output your home might need. We’ll explain the difference between portable generators and standby generators, help you to define the appliances you need to provide continuous power and consider how you want to connect your generator to your home.

What Size Backup Generator Do I Need For My Home?

There are two main kinds of generators and understanding the difference between them is the first step in choosing the best generator for your needs.

Portable Generators

The category of “portable generators” is extremely broad. Some portable generators are designed for mobility and ease of transport. Lightweight portable generators weigh less than 30 pounds and fit inside a car trunk. In many cases, homeowners choose to use a portable generator with 1000-3000 watts to ensure the sump pump is functioning during storms. These smaller generators may provide adequate power for a few lights and appliances beyond the sump pump but have very limited capacity and you will need enough gasoline or other fuel source to keep the engine running.

Larger portable generators have a greater capacity to power more of your home. High-quality gas generators may feature EFI engines and inverter technology to produce clean and stable electrical signatures. Low-quality portable generators may have high power capacity but inconsistent performance. For midsize and large-frame portable generators, built-in handlebars and wheels are common features. This is a convenient feature if you need power at off-the-grid events, construction sites, camping, or tailgating.

Generally, though, portable generators are limited in their capability as home backup generators. It is not merely finding the right size generator but also the most secure and consistent system to protect your entire house. Portable generators typically run on gasoline. You will need to add a fuel stabilizer to the tank to prevent issues within the fuel system. You also need to predict how much fuel to store in case you lose power. While these generators can connect to your home through a manual transfer switch, gas-powered portable generators must operate in a well-ventilated area. Often this means you will need to run the unit outside exposed to the weather that has already caused the power outage. This can create a frustrating if not dangerous situation every time you set up the generator and each time you need to refuel the portable generator.

Standby Generators

A home standby generator is a more secure and dependable source of on-demand power. This type of generator refers to dedicated systems installed by professionals. A home generator mounts in a fixed location outside of your home. Typically, these systems blend into your landscaping like an air conditioner or heat pump.

Unlike a small inverter generator, home generator units are designed as emergency power solutions. Instead of running extension cords across your driveway during rain or snowstorms, a whole-house generator connects to your main circuit breaker through a transfer switch. A transfer switch can be a manual switch that you control or an automatic switch that activates when a power outage occurs from the street. Most home backup generators feature an electric start function. When power is lost you can start your generator with a turn of a key or a push of a button. Some models feature a remote start so you do not need to leave the security of your home. In the most complete home generator designs, you do not even need to be home for the standby generator to start.

Home standby generators use natural gas or propane to run. Like a portable generator, the power output of a standby generator varies depending on your needs. When a transfer switch is installed, you can select the circuits you want to receive power. For example, you may only need to power your primary appliances like HVAC equipment, sump pumps, kitchen appliances, and the lighting within your safe areas. During extended power outages larger capacity home standby generators afford your family greater comfort and protection.

One of the best ways to install whole house generators is by contacting a local professional in backup power. N.EW. Plumbing and Heating are experts in heating, cooling, plumbing, and home standby generators. This means our technicians can help you determine the best capacity for a whole-house generator, install the transfer switch and plumb the natural gas line to fuel your new standby generator. Homeowners considering backup power can quickly become confused and even abandon the project. Your local experts can simplify the decision-making process and help design a solution.

Wattage Requirements of Household Appliances

Finding the right size of generator is simply a matter of adding up the requirements of your appliances. Most appliances feature a rating on labels, decals, and within owners’ manuals. Contractors can calculate the total load when consulting with you. However, a general guide to common appliances may help you plan:

  • Refrigerator: 500 – 1500 watts
  • Freezer: 500 – 1200 watts
  • Sump Pump: 700-1500 watts
  • Central Air Conditioner: 3,000 – 5,000 watts
  • Gas furnace: 5,000-10,000 watts
  • Water Heater: 3,000 – 5,500 watts
  • Microwave: 800 – 1,200 watts
  • Television: 80 – 400 watts
  • Computer: 60 – 300 watts
  • LED Light Bulb: 6 – 12 watts
  • Incandescent Light Bulb: 40 – 100 watts

How Big of a Generator Do I Need to Run My House and AC?

It is important to know that many appliances require far more energy upon startup than during operation. An air conditioner and furnace will surge at the beginning of a cycle and then run steadily. Depending on the design of the whole house generator, the wattage rating may allow for greater energy spikes to accommodate your HVAC equipment. Working with a professional helps you make an informed decision.

Which is Better: a Standard Generator or an Inverter Generator?

A transfer switch and other safeguards installed by professionals allow for standard generators to safely back up your home. Harmonic distortion can damage sensitive equipment. Unstable electrical signatures can also create performance issues for your appliances. During a power outage, the last thing you want is more issues caused by standby generators.

For this reason, you should always consult with a professional when considering a generator. If you are planning to purchase a portable generator, or you opt to forego a transfer switch, then you will need to buy an inverter generator. These generators produce a cleaner signal that is less likely to damage your appliances and electronic devices. However, inverter generators usually require gasoline. This means you will need to monitor the fuel gauge overnight so you do not lose power while sleeping. As with other gas-powered generators, you will need to have enough fuel supply to last throughout the power outage. During extended power outages, this can present a problem.

Talk to N.E.W. Plumbing and Heating To Find The Best Generator For Your Warsaw, IN Home

Choosing the best home backup generator is a personal choice. Purchasing a portable or standby generator can help mitigate risk to your home and family. Most generators will run a sump pump and a space heater. This may be enough to rough it for a night. For families with young children, elderly family members, and anyone with medical needs, a complete home backup generator may be the best choice. It’s a smart idea to employ the help of an experienced generator installer like N.E.W. Plumbing and Heating to make sure that you’ve correctly accounted for all of the power output needs.

If you are considering the next steps in home backup generators, contact the team at N.E.W. Plumbing and Heating for a complete consultation. As a local Warsaw, IN HVAC and plumbing company, we help homeowners make the best choices to secure their property.