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Everything You Need to Know About Generators (And Why You Should Have One)

Batteries Plus Blog - Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 9/11/2020

generator in the driveway powering a house

In the U.S., an average of 500,000 people are affected daily by power outages. A loss of power can be triggered by a variety of different sources ranging from natural disasters and serious storms, to utility failures, car accidents and more. Fortunately, you can be prepared by investing in a generator. Generators provide a valuable backup in the case of an emergency, as well as a convenient power source for a variety of additional needs. Don’t be reactive, be proactive by setting up a generator before you need it.

Generators For Emergencies and Beyond

There are plenty of reasons to invest in a home generator. A backup generator allows you the safety of remaining in your home during a natural disaster or sudden storm by providing you with lights and the use of appliances. It powers the use of radios and TVs, which are important for staying informed during an emergency. Generators also keep refrigerators and freezers running, protecting food during times where it might be unsafe to leave your home.

While generators are most often thought of in terms of emergencies, they also serve a number of additional uses, including a wide range of business and leisure applications. Are you working on a construction site or on a DIY project at home? A portable generator is the perfect way to keep your power tools at optimum performance, while powering lights and larger equipment. Generators are also the perfect way to backup your business' valuable equipment and computers.

Heading out on a trip in your RV? Bring an extra generator along to help power your appliances. They're also perfectly suited for camping and tailgating at outdoor events like baseball games and music festivals.

Power Requirements

So, how much power do you really need? A generator that meets or exceeds 2200 starting watts and 700 running watts has the power to run a refrigerator. A 1000 watt generator will run tools or appliances such as blenders, drills, TVs, lamps, laptops, fans, game consoles, microwaves, slow cookers, modems and more.

If you’re looking to power the appliances in your home during an emergency, you’ll need significantly more power. A 5000 watt generator can handle most of the appliances in an average home, but not all at the same time, meaning you’ll have to make some choices about what applications you use. A 7000 watt generator will allow you to power a great number of appliances, however, you'll still want to limit your usage to the most necessary appliances.

In order to determine the correct generator wattage for your needs, you will need to calculate both your ideal number of Running Watts and Starting Watts. This is easy to do. To calculate the number of total Running Watts you’ll need, simply add up the total Running Watts of all the individual items that will be powered by your generator. For example:

Calculate Running Watts:

Furnace

600 watts

Lamp

100 watts

Microwave

1000 watts

Refrigerator

700 watts


Total Running Watts

2400 watts

To calculate your Total Starting Watts, identify the single application that requires the highest number Starting Watts. For example, let’s say that this is the refrigerator, with a requirement of 2200 Starting Watts. Take that number and add it to the Total Running Watts you just calculated above.

Calculate Starting Watts:

Total Running Watts

2400 watts

Refrigerator Starting

2200 watts


Total Starting Watts

4600 watts

Portable Generators vs. Inverter Generators

Batteries Plus Bulbs offers a number of generators in two separate categories: portable generators and inverter generators.

Portable Generators

Portable generators run at full capacity the entire time they are in use. This makes them louder than inverter generators. On the plus side, they are more affordable than inverter generators, allowing you to back up important functions at a lower price point. Here are the models we currently offer:

Champion 3500-Watt Portable Generator – Provides 12 hours of running time at a 50% load with a loudness of 68 dBA (68 A-weighted decibels, or decibels above the threshold of hearing). It features a Volt Guard built-in surge protector and Cold Start Technology to ensure a quick start in cold weather. Its convenient size makes it a perfect match for your next camping trip or weekend project.

Champion 5000-Watt Portable Generator – This convenient 5000-watt generator provides 9 hours of running time at a 50% load with a loudness of 74 dBA. It also features a Volt Guard built-in surge protector and Cold Start Technology..

Champion 7500-Watt Portable Generator – This 7500-watt generator provides 8 hours of running time at 50% at 74 dBA. The 420cc engine features electric start and an included battery. Makes a perfect backup generator for your home, or your next outdoor project.

Inverter Generators

Inverter generators are constructed with sophisticated exhaust systems, which enable them to throttle up and down to match the wattage of their application. This helps them run more efficiently, producing fewer emissions and creating less noise than their portable counterparts. We currently feature the following two models.

Champion 2500-Watt Inverter Generator – This inverter model features 2500 starting watts, 1850 running watts and up to 11.5 hours of run time. At only 39 pounds, it is one of the lightest generators of its power capacity. It operates at 58 dBA and is perfect for camping, tailgating and backing up a few home essentials. It also creates Clean Electricity free of spikes and drops, making it safe to use with sensitive electronics. Plus, it can also connect with a second Champion 2500-watt inverter using an optional 50 Amp ParaLINK Parallel Kit (sold separately) to double the wattage output.

Champion 3500-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator – Features versatile Dual Fuel capabilities, allowing it to run on either gasoline or propane. It runs at a quiet 59 dBA for up to 7.5 hours at 25% load on gasoline or 14.5 hours at 25% load on propane. Plus, it can be combined with another 3500-watt inverter generator using the optional ParaLINK Parallel Kit. A perfect choice for your home, RV or outdoor project.

Champion 2800-4700 Watt Generator Wheel Kit – This easy to install kit lets you to add two 8-inch tires and a folding handle to any 2800-4700 watt Champion generator for easy mobility.

Important Safety Tips

As with all equipment, it's important to read the owner's manual and follow all manufacturer instructions when operating your generator. It's also important to obey the following safety tips. Always provide a portable generator with plenty of ventilation. That means leaving 20 feet of space between the generator and your home, garage or any enclosed area, with the exhaust directed away from populated areas. Also, be sure to inspect your generator regularly, checking for visible cracks and leaks, and replacing any damaged materials immediately. Keep the generator dry at all times. In the event of rain, be sure that the generator is covered and only touch the generator with dry hands.

Also be sure that the correct fuel is being used and remember to only add fuel to a generator once it has cooled. It's extremely important that you never plug a generator into a wall outlet. If you want to use a generator to power hardwired electronics through your home's circuit panel, have a licensed electrician install a transfer switch or interlock device beforehand. This will allow the home's wiring to disconnect from the utility system before using the generator.

As you can see, generators offer convenient backup power for emergencies, home projects and other applications. Shop online for a selection of additional generators, generator covers and extension cords. Or, stop by your local Batteries Plus Bulbs store. Our associates will be happy to answer all of your questions and help you find the best generator for your needs.

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