3 Important Tips When Choosing Your Standby Generator Size

Posted on March 13, 2017

March 2017 Blog Post Image

If you don’t have a degree in electrical engineering, it can be downright difficult to perform all of the calculations necessary to figure out which size standby generator is the right fit for your home. It doesn’t help that electrical loads can be measures in amps, volts or tons.

The bottom line when choosing a properly sized generator is knowing how much power you normally consume during an average day. Armed with this knowledge, you must decide which of your systems, appliances, and devices you want available and working as normal during an extended power outage. There are several ways to determine your energy consumption to guide your decision.

Peak Rating Is More Important Than Continuous Rating

When calculating your energy requirements, you must determine the energy usage of all of your systems, devices, and appliances. This information is included with all new major appliances and HVAC systems. Additionally, it’s easy to estimate the general amount of electricity required to run common household
devices like alarm clocks and lamps by consulting online sources or an electrician.

When your home is humming along on a usual day, your continuous rating is the amount of electricity required to run your home. This amount varies slightly during the day, as people do things like use the microwave and play video games intermittently. Ghost power, also called standby power, is required by many
items, including security systems and appliances with digital clocks, so you must factor these items’ burden on your grid into a continuous-usage sum.

The peak usage measurement of your electrical system is the demand placed on it by larger household systems like air conditioners. As the large motor in your AC unit gets ramped up to deliver cool air to your home, it needs a lot of power. Medical devices, large freezers, and other items with compressors have similar
peak demands. If your generator is too small, these items will not have enough power to kick on during a power outage.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All-Generator

If you plan to install a propane-fueled or other standby generator, the size definitely matters. But there’s no way to say that a home of a certain square footage requires a certain corresponding generator. You need a standby generator that provides you personally with the comfort you expect during an emergency. The size of generator recommended will vary from household to household, depending on lifestyle and the needs of family members.

Some people can’t do without their TVs during a power outage. Others want baby formula or medications to stay cold in the fridge. You definitely want vital home systems like water pumps and HVAC systems to keep chugging along.

Make a list of the most essential systems, devices, and appliances you want to work no matter what. Your licensed electrician will help you determine how much energy these things require. They’ll add some wiggle room to the measurements to give you surge protection and peak-usage capabilities before suggesting the correct size of standby generator.

There Are Several Methods to Measure Your Off-Grid Needs

Many homeowners try to calculate the generator size they need on their own. After all, there are numerous standby calculator programs found online, and many can be used without knowing the precise energy needs of each and every device. However, these calculators offer only a general estimate of your generator requirements, and the results of the calculations should not be used to make a final decision on a generator size.

The only accurate way to measure your peak and continuous usage of power is to have a licensed electrician take measurements. The electrician may measure your home’s high voltage wires using an amp meter at your breaker box. Or, the electrician will use some other method to calculate your home’s ratings and do some math. Then, he or she is confidently able to advise you on the appropriate size of standby generator to have installed.

Trust Oak Electric to guide you through the process of selecting and installing a standby generator. We have the training and equipment to measure your home’s energy rating, install your generator, and continue servicing and maintaining your backup power source into the future.