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Size Matters

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Size Matters When Selecting Your Generator.

Most generator equipment lists two capacity ratings. The first is continuous use rating. The second, surge, is the amount of power the generator can sustain for periods of twenty minutes or less (usually 10% above the continuous rating).  There's a third, unpublished number, momentary surge capacity.  Momentary surge capacity is almost three times the rated capacity of the generator and can be sustained for approximately three seconds.   

The chart Household loads will assist you in calculating the appropriate size generator.  This is only a partial listing of equipment you may consider as essential during a power failure.    Contractors and Farmers, we have there are special pages of equipment loads for you.

First, identify the wattage requirements for the tools and appliances that you want to power. You can find the power requirement for the tool or appliance on its identification plate or within the Owner's Manual. If the power requirement is given in amps, multiply the amps times volts to derive the required watts.

Remember that under most circumstances all of these devices may not be on at the same time. Plan carefully and manage your power use to get the most of your generator.

Use the following formulae to convert to watts if necessary:

Amps x Volts = Watts  (Single Phase - 90% you'll need this calc.)
Amps x Volts x 1.73 = Watts (Three Phase)
Running Watts** = Horsepower x 932 (for many motors)

** for motors, remember that initial start-up will take from 3X to 6X as much power

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Last modified: April 17, 2010