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Introduction to Home Generator Sizes

Imagine it’s a stormy night, and you’re having a great time with your family when suddenly, your living room goes completely dark. This is a familiar scenario that happens to many, and these are the moments when a generator can make a difference for your home. But it’s not just about finding a generator; it’s about how to choose the right size generator for your home. We at SPS Electric have created this list to make your choice easy!

Generator Sizes

Generators come in all shapes and sizes and are measured in watts. Watts refers to the power output, which is essential in determining which systems and appliances your generator can comfortably support. Generators can fall into three categories: portable, inverter, and standby. Each of these has its pros and cons of what they are capable of.

Figuring out what size generator to choose can be a balancing act. If a generator is too small, it may not meet your needs during an outage, and if a generator is too big, it could be an unnecessary expense.

Assessing Power Needs

The first step to choosing a generator is understanding your power needs. Start by listing essential systems and appliances you need during an outage. This list might include kitchen appliances, heating systems, lights, or medical equipment. 

Once you have your list ready, check the power requirements of each item. These can be listed in the manual or labeled on the appliance itself. You’ll need both the starting watts as well as the running watts.

Types of Homes and Corresponding Generator Sizes

Small Apartment

If you live in a small apartment, your power needs will likely be less. A portable generator of around 3000 to 5000 watts will allow you to cover basics such as lights, a fridge, and a small heating system.

Average Home

For the typical family home, a generator with a 5000-8000 watt range is often suitable. This size generator can simultaneously handle multiple systems and appliances, including larger heating systems, kitchen appliances, and even a small air conditioning unit.

Large Home

Larger homes or those with more demanding power needs (like central air conditioning or large well pumps) might require a standby generator with a capacity of 10,000 watts or more. These are permanently installed and can handle a high power load.

Each home’s needs are unique, so consider your specific appliances and lifestyle—also, factor in the type of fuel you prefer. Generators run on gasoline, diesel, propane, or natural gas, each with its benefits and limitations.

Additional Considerations

Noise Levels: Significant in residential areas. Inverter generators are typically quieter.

Fuel Efficiency and Availability: How long will the generator run on a tank of fuel? Also, consider the availability of the fuel type you choose.

Safety Features: Look for features like carbon monoxide detectors and automatic shut-off mechanisms.

Local Regulations: Be aware of any noise ordinances, emission regulations, or installation codes that might apply in your area.

Maintenance and Upkeep

All generators require regular maintenance to ensure peak performance regardless of size and type. This includes checking oil levels, replacing filters, and ensuring that the unit is stored correctly when not in use.


Knowing the needs of you and your home can make looking for a generator substantially easier. Remember, it’s about finding the right fit for your specific situation.

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