About Diesel Generator Information
When the power goes out, a generator can keep your house warm (or cool), your kitchen cooking, and your computers and phones charging. Sales spike around major storms—just before and a few weeks after—which means that too many buyers shop when the power’s out, randomly choosing a generator that looks up to the task, and then have no idea what to do with it when they get it home. (And, often, all this is done by flashlight, no less.) Buying in haste may also mean bypassing recommended installation procedures and relying on extension cords, which we don't recommend. Read our expert tips on how to power up. Know Your Power Priorities Generators are typically sold by wattage. How much they put out determines not only how many lights and appliances you can run at once, but also how well. Our wattage calculator provides an average wattage rating for most appliances and devices to help you to assess your needs, but figure on about 5,000 watts to cover the basics. • List what matters to you. Some common essentials are the refrigerator (about 600 watts), sump pump (750 to 1,500 watts), portable heaters (1,500 watts), window air conditioner (1,000 watts), lights (60 to 600 watts), and computers (60 to 300 watts). Reliability matters, too. We checked which models faltered when demand was high and which ones overheated appliances. • Map the outlets and switches in your house to know which circuit on the service panel powers what. The easiest way: two people with cell phones flipping switches. An electrician can do this for a fee.
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