Power Demands: Gas Powered Electric Generators

You'll soon realize that the even biggest portable generator can't run everything at once if you go around your house and make a quick inventory of electrical consumption.

An average home has power demands of 10,000 to 20,000 watts. Hard-wired by a professional if you want to run everything you need a permanent stand-by generator. It's the kind of thing that will cost you anywhere from $2,000 upwards.


A portable generator gives you back-up power until the normal supply is restored. Depending on the size it can run much more than just basic necessities.

Lamps need 60 to 120 watts.

A sump pump needs 750 to 1,500 watts.

A refrigerator needs 500 to 750 watts.

Computers need 60 to 300 watts.

Heaters need 500 to 1,500 watts.

A coffee machine needs 750 to 1,000 watts.

Halogen work lights need 300 to 600 watts.

An electric drill needs 500 to 900 watts.

Think about adding a gen-cord. This type of extension cord is specially designed for generators, with a single plug on the generator end and three or four standard 120v sockets on the other. You'll only need to run one cable from generator to house, rather than three or four separate extensions.


There's another important consideration when looking at power consumption. That's why you see portable generators rated at, for example, 3,300 running watts and 4,000 starting watts.

The important thing to note here is that surge lasts a few seconds at most, and you don't have to start all your electrical gadgets at once.

To manage surge, turn on your lights, wait a moment, turn on your refrigerator, and so forth. That way you don't get them all surging at once and causing an overload.