What’s The Smallest Generator I Can Use in A Major Power Outage?

Small Auto Start  Generator

This is the most frequent questions about auto start home generators. It is a fair question as generators are a substantial investment. Here are 7 items to consider.

  1. Food. You have to be able to keep it from spoiling and you have to be able to cook it. You need power capacity to keep your fridge(s) and freezer(s) running. A microwave and a barbeque will keep you cooking. Allow 3000 watts
  2. Heat. You must keep your pipes from freezing and bursting. Gas or oil boilers or forced air systems allow 1500 watts.
  3. Water. If you are on municipal system no worries. If you have to pump water in and sewage out allow 3000 watts
  4. Hot water. Electrical water heaters allow 3800 watts. Gas or oil hot water heaters can be wired to the same circuit that powers the heating system by a qualified electrical contractor.
  5. Communications. A long outage will leave you relying on battery operated radio to know what is going on in the world around you. Allow 1500 watts to keep your cell phones charged and your television and computer powered up.
  6. Safety. A power outage increases the need for smoke/CO detection. Allow 1500 watts for the circuit that these units are on and you get the added bonus of having whatever lights and outlets are on the same circuit.
  7. Comfort. It’s no fun using the bathroom by flashlight, or worse, candlelight. Allow 1500 watts to power one bathroom.

An electric hot water tank brings the minimum reliable size from 12 kilowatts to 16 kilowatts. It may be worth changing the tank to gas or oil to match the heating system to lower the generator cost.