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A Quick Guide to Generators

Updated: May 18, 2022

With proper use and maintenance, generators provide great convenience during a power outage. Before you purchase a generator, determine your backup power needs to select the right size. Make a list of essential appliances and devices you’ll want to power during an outage, then total the required wattage.


... rarely lose power.

Recreational Inverter

Up to 2,000 watts

Lightweight, about 60 pounds

Quiet, easy to store

Power: fridge and a few smaller items (i.e. lamp, phone charger and home security system)

Midsized Inverter

Up to 3,500 watts

Weighs up to 150 pounds

Power: fridge, laptop, five to 10 lights, phone charger, home security system and 10K BTU air conditioner

... occasionally lose power. Transfer switch required.

Portable Generators and Large Inverters

Up to 7,500 watts

Weighs about 300 pounds

Power: fridge, gas furnace, 10K BTU air conditioner, dishwasher, multiple lights, TV, laptop and more

Ability to connect to home’s breaker panel

... frequently lose power. Transfer switch required.

Home Standby

Up to 20,000 watts

Must be permanently installed; starts automatically during outage

Power: nearly all home appliances and electronics (simultaneously)

Can run indefinitely on natural gas or propane

Recommended if you frequently lose power.

  • Let us know if you purchase a generator that you plan to connect to an electric panel.

  • Improperly installed generators can create back feed, which is dangerous to our crews and the community. Before using the generator, disconnect the normal source of power coming into your home/business.

  • Never operate a generator indoors or in an enclosed space.

Disclaimer: Please note safety requirements may differ based on the type of generator you purchase. Thoroughly read the operator’s manual and know how to shut off the generator quickly.

Source: Consumer Reports

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