CALCULATE ANY LOAD OR YOUR TOTAL LOAD
Instead of using this precise method of calculating loads you can use values "off of face plates" on equipment or the values shown on the Wattage Guide.
If you have no name plate data or the device is not listed on the Wattage Guide the follow the instructions here to determine the full load or device load.
For calculating full loads follow the procedures shown below. If you have an amp meter and you knsow how to use it, you can run the load and use a meter to determine the Running Load Requirements.
Picking the right size generator to meet your needs is not that complicated. There are several electrical parameters you need to be concerned with to make a proper selection.
In the United States most applicances operate on 120 volts alternating current commonly called VAC. The most common electrical service is 120/240 VAC. If you need to power 120 volt and 240 volt equipment make sure the generator you select is capable of both voltages. If you only need 120 VAC you can use a generator that only has 120 VAC. Portable generators often have half the generators power on one set of outlets and half on the other set of outlets. You cannot connect both sides together to increase the capacity.
Generators must have enough power to "start" the equipment that you want to power. In general motors require additional amperage to start. To determine the starting amps use a digital amp meter with a peak hold feature that will capture the highest amperage when you start the equipment. If you have a manual on the equipment look for LRA or "locked rotor amps" or "maximum amps" which is the amperage it takes to start the motor. You can also call the manufacturer or supplier of the motor and ask them what the LRA is for the model of equpment you have. A rule of thumb is a generators will start a motor up to 1/5th the horsepower of the engine. A 5000 watt generator driven by a 10 horsepower engine will start a 2 hoursepower motor.
The link shown here shows goes to a page that allows you to caluclate total amperage and typical wattages for various applicances. This is a general guideline and whenever possible use the actual name plate data of the equipment. Wattage Guide
For other educational information see our Index.
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