What’s Your Wattage? How to Determine What Size Generator You Need

NY Electric of Huntington helps you determine the right generator for your needs.

Not all generators are created equal! This also applies to the appliances and equipment you’re trying to power. Some tools and devices need an extra boost of power just to start up, while others have consistent power wattage requirements throughout. These are called Resistive and Reactive Loads, and whether your generator is for residential, commercial or recreational purposes, you need to know your generators capacity in relation to your intended uses. Resistive Loads require the same amount of power to start and run a device. Typically, resistive loads are related to heating. On the other hand, Reactive Loads contain an electric motor, which requires an additional burst of power to start, but much less power once it begins. Starting power is about 3 times the amount of power to actually run the device.

Below we will address the needs of residential, commercial and recreational power.


Residential Generator Needs

Assessing your home’s power needs is the first step in determining the type and size generator you’ll need. Residential buildings typically need between 7,500 and 10,000 watts to run the following standard household appliances

Resistive Loads:

Hot Water Heater 4,500 running/starting watts
Microwave Oven 1,500 running/starting watts
Coffee Maker 600 running/starting watts
Automatic Washer 1,200 running/starting watts
Television (46” flat screen) 190 running/starting watts


Reactive Loads:

Refrigerator 1,200 starting watts 132 running watts
Furnace Fan (1/2 HP) 2,350 starting watts 875 running watts
Dishwasher 540 starting watts 216 running watts
Clothes Dryer 6,750 starting watts 5,400 running watts
Garage Door Opener 1,420 starting watts 720 running watts


These numbers are general, and can fluctuate depending on household size and number of devices and appliances needing power. You may want to consider a portable or standby generator to sufficiently supply power to your home.

Furthermore, these wattage estimates do not include any assisted living or medical devices. If you or someone in your home requires respirators, ventilators, oxygen, suction, dialysis machines or power wheelchairs and scooters, you will need to provide for more running wattage. Speak with one of our customer service representatives today to ensure that your home and lifesaving appliances are all properly covered in case of an emergency power outage.


Commercial Generator Needs

Power needs for commercial and industrial properties have a huge range, and are particularly dependent on the types of tools and equipment that you are utilizing.

Resistive Loads:

Demolition Hammer 1,260 running/starting watts
Rotary Hammer 1,200 running/starting watts
Electric Chainsaw 1,100 running/starting watts
Concrete Vibrator (3 hp) 2,400 running/starting watts


Reactive Loads:

Air Compressor (1 HP) 4,500 starting watts 1,600 running watts
Split Phase (1/2 HP) 2,600 starting watts 600 running watts
Table Saw (10in) 4,500 starting watts 1,800 running watts


Depending on your line of work and the equipment needed, you will be able to decide what type of generator you is right for you. In some instances, a portable or mobile generator might be ideal for your workload.


Recreational Generator Needs

Don’t overlook your RV’s, boats and trailers. Small portable generators are ideal for recreational activities, whether you want the added luxury of power, or would just rather be prepared in case of an emergency. Like commercial equipment, some appliances in your recreational vehicle or boat can be resistive or reactive.

Resistive Loads:

TV (tube or flatscreen) 300 running/starting watts
Tabletop Electric Grill 1,650 running/starting watts
Coffee Maker 600 running/starting watts
Two-Way radio (35A) 960 running/starting watts
Satellite Receiver 250 running/starting watts


Reactive Loads:

RV Air conditioner (15,000 BTU) 3,300 starting watts 2,000 running watts
RV Refrigerator 600 starting watts 180 running watts
Blender 850 starting watts 400 running watts
Portable Fan 120 starting watts 40 running watts


The amount of time on your RV and the amount of people will also determine the best generator choice for you!



Not just any generator size will perform the way you need it to. Taking the time to catalogue your usage needs and consulting with a professional generator installer will guarantee longevity and results. The NY Electric Company team is on hand and ready to assist you in all of your generator inquiries and installs.