How Big of a Portable Generator do I Need? Find out Now!

How Big of a Portable Generator do I Need? (Learn More)

Big or small, a portable generator is becoming a necessary appliance in the homes of millions of people. Even with a constant electricity supply in most cities, uncertainties can cause a blackout in your home or your town. Hence, the increasing relevance of obtaining a portable generator for a secondary source of power.

smaller models can be carried, but as they become bigger, they lose their feature of being easily ‘portable’. A popular feature that has arisen to combat this disadvantage is the connected wheels and handles to make transportation more convenient. However, because some of them weigh more than 90 pounds, it may take two people to load or move them.

As thousands of portable generators flood the market, they present a wide range of sizes. It begs the question, is it safe to choose based on size? If so, how big (or small) of a portable generator would I need to do the job efficiently? Well, you have come to the right place! Dive in to learn all about the right size for you.

Things you need to know before deciding on the size of a portable generator

1. Both sizes of Portable Generator come with their advantages and disadvantages

How Big of a Portable Generator do I Need? Find out Now!

‘The bigger the better is a phrase that doesn’t necessarily fit portable generators well. To simply explain it, The alternator and the engine are the two main parts of a generator. AC (Alternating Current) power is generated by the engine and passed through a voltage regulator to deliver 120 volts (and above). 

The larger and more complex these parts are, the more capacity they can comfortably handle. This idea may not accommodate all portable generators, but it does cover most of them in the market.

In short, the larger the portable generator, the more ‘load’ it would be able to efficiently handle in the long run. Though this might provide an advantage over smaller generators, it isn’t without its concerns.

 A bigger-sized generator will weigh a lot more, have a larger fuel tank capacity, with some reaching above 30 gallons. This inevitably leads to more fuel costs and higher service charges when needed.


Smaller capacity generators DO NOT always use less fuel to generate power at near or full load. While generating equal power, the smaller generator consumes less fuel at full capacity than the larger generator when half capacity.

Never choose a generator that is identical in size to the amount of power you require. This is especially true for smaller and air-cooled engines. 

Comparison of standby power and prime power capacity ratings on a generator reveals that prime power capacity is always lower. According to the manufacturer, engines and alternators will not last as long if they are operated at their maximum capacity, rather than their rated capacity.

2. What do you need it for?

How Big of a Portable Generator do I Need? Find out Now!

The main purpose for opting to purchase a portable generator can vary extensively. While most people want a secondary power source for their own, others can range for construction sites work, outdoor activities, and powering a specific power-consuming appliance (like heaters and air conditioners). 

Decide how many running (continuous) watts and starting (peak) watts each appliance requires in your home. In some cases, the starting and running wattage of an appliance will be the same. However, appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves, electric deep fryers, coffee machines, hairdryers, pumps, drills, grinders, saws, etc. will require 4 times more running/continuous wattage.

Calculating the power your home appliances comsume

It is entirely possible to calculate just how much the appliances you intend to power will need from your portable generator. To calculate the watts, multiply the voltage (which is usually 120 volts) by the amps needed to run the appliance (this amp requirement is usually found on a tag attached to the appliance package or embedded behind). 

Each item that will be powered by the portable generator should be calculated, added up, and compared to the maximum watts the generator supplies. A variety of devices, such as some home appliances, power tools, and heavy machinery can be inserted into standard outlets on the generator’s front panel. The twist-lock plug on several models can provide up to 240-volts. This can be used to power circuits in a home via a manual transfer switch.

If you wish to power just minor appliances and recharge your phones and laptops, then a smaller generator with a low capacity will do the job. But if you are going all in, then a bigger one with a higher watt output should be your next stop! If you want to learn more intensively about how you can accurately calculate the power your home consumes, then Check out this publication.

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3. How much portability do you need?

How Big of a Portable Generator do I Need? Find out Now!

While there is a general assumption that all portable generators are easily portable, it isn’t entirely true. Some generators will require more than 2 people to lift and move them. Some even have to be conveyed with a truck!

If you need one that will rest in your basement or opened-garage indefinitely as a backup for your home’s power supply, then you can opt for a generator of large size. However, if you intend on moving it around, or taking it on camping trips, worksites, picnics, bus vacations, then a smaller one that wouldn’t be a hassle to carry should be more convenient for you.

In general, portable generators are any generators that are not permanently installed, and their true portability can range from “un-wheeled” and difficult to move to lightweight with easy rollers. For some of the larger portable models, wheels and handles are either added or can be bought separately. Figuring out how much you will eventually have to move the machine is one of the determining factors that you should consider when opting for size.

4. How much money you can spare

How Big of a Portable Generator do I Need? Find out Now!
Gasoline portable generator for electric power supplies

This is probably one of the most obvious aspects most people overlook when buying a portable generator, especially in terms of size. The larger the generator, the higher the chances that it will cost more. A larger generator usually presents more power, more standard outlets, stronger parts, and has higher durability. The average pricing for these large generators ranges from one thousand ($1000) above, with some reaching up to four thousand ($4000).

Smaller generators tend to cost less (though this may not always be the case). Their pricing range can go as low as $150.

On average, if you intend to go for the larger size, then be prepared to spend more on purchasing.


Without a doubt, the decision to purchase a small or large portable generator falls entirely on certain factors. These factors may vary for different households and users. The points listed above will steer you in the right direction to purchasing the right-sized generator.


Designed for short-term power, portable generators can be a lifesaver in an emergency. Here, short-term is the keyword. Portable generators will work fine for a few hours or even a day if they are properly maintained. It’s important to note that they’re not designed to run non-stop, all day, every day.

A portable generator is more cost-effective than an expensive standby unit. This is relevant if you only need power for a few hours at a time.

If there is a power outage for a long time, a portable generator is not the best option. You could damage your electronics or the portable generator itself if you overwork or overrun it.

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