Emergency Preparedness – How to Choose a Portable Generator for Your Household Appliances

You never know when a big storm will hit and leave you and your family without power. Emergencies happen, and extreme weather patterns are leaving American homes without electric more often. When there is no electricity, your refrigerator, cooking appliances, electronics, and even medical devices won’t be accessible.

In certain circumstances when there is no known date of power returning, being prepared is important. There is nothing wrong with thinking about emergency preparedness. Let’s discuss how to choose a portable generator for your household appliances and medical devices.

What Are Your Requirements?

Choosing the right size generator depends on what you want to power. You will need to figure out what the running and starting watts are that you need to keep the appliances and/or devices running. Running watts is the total number of watts an item needs to run. The starting watts, also known as peak-wattage, is what motor-run appliances need to start up. Some of these items are refrigerators, circular saws, and air conditioners.

How to Choose a Portable Generator

Once you have figured out how many running watts and starting watts you need from a generator, you’re ready to start shopping around for a generator. You’ll want to look for a generator that has a decent run time, enough outlets for the items that need power, portability, and finally cord set.

Determine Your Wattage Needs

Here’s a quick four-step guide to help you determine what your wattage needs and requirements are:

  • Choose which devices or appliances you want to power at the same time.
  • Write down the running watts and starting watts for each appliance or device. This information is found in the owner’s manual.
  • Add up the running watts of the appliances you have chosen. The generator you will need is one that produces the total running watts.
  • Finally, locate the appliance with the highest starting watts. Add this number to the total running watts. You will need a generator that produces the total starting watts.

If you’re still confused on how you can tally up your wattage, there are worksheets online for you to use and help you understand. It’s a good idea to print it off and save it so that you can access for when you’re generator shopping.

Find the Generator’s Run Time

Most generators can run for up to 16 hours. A longer-running generator means less refueling as the day goes on. Search for a generator that will run up to 10 hours on with a half tank of gas is your best option. Be sure to check its owner’s manual for runtime tips.

Figure out the Number of Outlets Needed

Be sure to choose a generator with the number of outlets you will need. Also, make sure that they are the right kind for your appliance’s cords. You may want a generator with 30 amps if you are powering appliances such as a furnace or cooling system.

Assess the Portability of the Generator

Purchase a portable generator with wheels or folding handles. Because generators are typically heavy, these features will make portability and storage a lot easier.

Choose the Cord Set Type

Some generators you may come across have a heavy duty cord set. This gives you outlets for up to four additional appliances on the generator’s cord. This also means it will eliminate the need for extension cords.

Adhere to Generator Safety Tips

It goes without saying that practicing safe operating standards is important for your home and family. The American Red Cross offers a series of generator safety tips some of which are:

Don’t run the portable generator indoors. Even in well-ventilated areas, Carbon Monoxide can still seep into your home.

  • Handle the fuel with care. Whether your generator runs on diesel or regular gas, be sure it doesn’t spill onto your clothes. Wash your hands afterward.
  • Keep the generator dry and off the ground. Set a sturdy platform underneath it to keep stable and away from wet areas.
  • Whatever you do, do not plug the generator into a regular wall outlet. This can cause an electrical short or even a fire.

Choosing the right generator for your household’s need is a matter of understanding how many watts and amps are needed. You don’t have to be an expert but basic appliance knowledge helps. You will notice that there are a lot of generators available. Each comes with different features, amps, cords, and running time.

Once you have your total running and starting watts, you’ll be able to select the generator that is best suited to your family’s needs. Once you’ve chosen your generator, be sure to follow proper usage instructions. Finally, understand that generators shouldn’t be used in lieu of regular electricity. They are best used in case of an emergency.

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