Buyer’s Guide

Buyer’s Guide: Generator Considerations

Size: What size generator do you need?

Type: What are the different types of generators?

Brands: What are the most popular generator brands?

Price: What about the price?

Safety: What are the safety features of generators?

Noise: Why is my generator making noise?

What Size Generator do you need?

When deciding what size generator to buy, start by considering where you’ll use your generator. Will it be for home backup power? Recreation (like camping or tailgating)? Or for a work site? Then think about what you’ll need to power.

The most crucial measurement of a generator is its power output (maximum wattage). 

When considering what you’ll need to power, remember that your larger appliances—such as refrigerators, freezers, and ovens—require a lot of watts to operate. Light bulbs, fans, and radios require next to nothing to run. Commercial-grade equipment, heating, and air conditioning systems generally draw the most power from generators.

If choosing a generator for home use during a power outage, list all critical appliances you’d want to run. The amount of power required to run those appliances will help you determine the size of generator you need. You’ll need to know the starting and running wattage of each appliance. 

Appliances use more power when they’re starting up than they do while running. A good tip is to purchase a generator that offers more watts than you need. It’s better to have more power available than a generator that suddenly shuts off due to the overload. But also know that you do not need to run everything at once, and with some planning, you can keep from overloading your generator or get away with purchasing a smaller size.

Generator sizes:

Camping/ Recreational 1000 to 2,500 watts 

Midsized 3500 to 4,500 watts 

Large 5,500 to 7,000 watts 

Portable Home Backup 9,000 watts 

Home Standby up to 20,000 watts

What are the different types of generators?

Generators come in wide varieties and sizes, from small “portable” units to large “standby” units that can be semi or permanently installed outside the home. They use gasoline, natural gas, or solar energy to produce electricity. We’ll look at four different types of generators (Portable, Inverter, Standby and Solar) and how you might use them.

1. Portable Generators

Portable generators are small, easy to carry, and fueled by gasoline, propane, or solar energy.
Excellent choice for: camping, tailgating, or keeping in your car for emergencies
Reviewed & Tested options:  View On Youtube 

2. Inverter Generators

Inverter generators can be whole-home or portable; they produce what’s known as clean energy—energy that remains stable while in use. For that reason, they operate more quietly than other standard generators.
Excellent choice for: protecting electronics from power surge
Reviewed & Tested options:  View On Toutube 

3. Standby Generators

commercial-grade engine and often allow you to monitor their status via a mobile app.
The most significant drawbacks of standby generators are their cost and require regular maintenance.
Excellent choice for: an automatic whole-home backup system
Reviewed & Tested options:  View On Youtube 

4. Solar Generators

Standby generators supply your home’s entire electrical system with power in an emergency. These generators have a large fuel tank and a commercial-grade engine and often allow you to monitor their status via a mobile app.
The most significant drawbacks of standby generators are their cost and require regular maintenance.
Excellent choice for: an automatic whole-home backup system
Reviewed & Tested options:  View On Youtube 

What are the most popular generator brands?

We’re often asked to recommend or rate products. In an effort to be impartial, we’re making available a shortlist of the brands we’ve reviewed & tested so far. Also, to get a better sense of what buyers like you feel about these brands, Visit our YouTube channel

A-iPower Cummins Powerhouse
Aims Delta Predator
Alps Duromax Pulsar
Bluetti Firman RYOBI
Briggs & Stratton Generac Wen
Champion Honda Westinghouse
Craftsman Miller Bobcat Yamaha

What about the price?

When pricing out generators, remember that the more power a generator produces, the more it costs. If you’re not worried about saving money and are looking to buy a generator to power everything in your home, get one installed by a competent supplier.

But if you’re looking to get the most power for your budget, start with the wattage required to run your critical appliances and work backward until you find a generator in your price range.

Approximate price ranges:

Recreational Inverter priced from $400 to $1,000 

Midsized Inverter priced from $1,000 to $1,700 

Portable priced from $700 to $2,800

Large Inverter priced from $1,400 to $4,000

Home Standby priced from $2,000 to $6,000

What are the safety features of generators?

Generators should run outside, at least 20 feet from the house, away from windows and doors, with the exhaust blowing away from home. They produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas in the exhaust that can poison and kill people. Do not run a generator in an enclosed space or front of an open door or window.

If you plan to install a permanent standby generator, hire a professional. A professional will help you follow the code to ensure your generator is installed correctly.

Many manufacturers offer models that will shut down automatically if they detect carbon monoxide.

Other hazards associated with generators:

  • Shocks and electrocution from improper use of power or accidentally energizing other electrical systems
  • Fires from improperly refueling a generator or inappropriately storing the fuel for a generator
  • Noise and vibration could cause hearing loss (excessive noise and vibration)


Common safety features:

  • Automatic Carbon Monoxide Shutoff
  • Circuit-breaker-protected outlets to guard against generator overload
  • Larger fuel tanks for extra runtime
  • Integrated fuel gauges to help prevent power interruptions
  • Clean power that’s safe for computers and other sensitive electronic devices
  • Low-tone mufflers for quiet operation

What about the noise level?

There is no absolute silent generator. Vibrations from running generators can transfer into the ground and cause much noise, especially on hard surfaces. A standard generator can operate at noise levels of 100 decibels or more. Even the quietest generators produce a noise level of about 65 decibels or less, similar to the noise made by two people having a conversation.

When using generators on residential properties with homeowners’ associations, campgrounds, or construction sites, it’s important to be mindful of the laws, rules, and restrictions.

Approximate appliance wattage

This worksheet will help you determine what size generator is suitable based on the wattage required for each appliance. When calculating required wattage, you need to pay attention to both starting and running watts. The number of watts an appliance needs to run is typically less than the initial startup. 
Electronic Devices Starting Watts Running Watts
Can Opener 0 165
Coffee Maker  0 1000
Dishwasher (Hot Dry) 1500 1500
Electric Stove (8″ Element) 0 2100
Food Processor 0 400
Microwave Oven (625 watts) 0 625
Microwave Oven (1000 watts) 0 1000
Refrigerator/freezer  2200 1050
Toaster 0 850
Toaster Oven 0 1200
Clothes Dryer (Electric) 1350 5400
Iron 0 1200
Washing Machine 2250 1150
Heating and Cooling    
Air Conditioner (10,000 BTU)  3000 1,500
Air Conditioner (24,000 BTU)  4,950 3,800
Air Conditioner (40,000 BTU) 6700 6000
Furnace, Blower (1/2 HP)  2350 800
Furnace, Blower (1/3 HP)  1400 700
Heat Pump 4500 4700
Portable Space Heater  0 1800
Window AC (10,000 BTU) 1800 1200
Window AC (12,000 BTU) 3950 3250
Light Bulb (60 watt) 0 60
Light Bulb (75 watt) 0 75
Home Electronics    
AM/FM Radio 0 100
Desktop Computer (17″) 0 800
Printer (Inkjet) 0 80
Printer (Laser) 0 950
Stereo 0 450
Television (28”) 0 500
Garage Door Opener (1/2 HP) 2350 875
Humidifier (13 Gallon) 0 175
Security System 0 500
Sump Pump (1/2 HP) 2,200 1050
Water Heater  0 4000
Well Pump (1/3 HP) 2,000 1000
Air Compressor (1/4  hp) 1600 975
Air Compressor (1 hp) 4500 1600
Circular Saw (7-1/4″) 2300 1400
Hand Drill (½”) 900 600
Miter Saw (10″) 1800 1800
Reciprocating Saw 0 960
Table Saw 2000 2000