When selecting a generator, there are several important features to consider:
Wattage: The size of the generator you need depends on your power requirements. Generally, a higher-wattage generator lets you power more items at once.
Engine: All of our portable generators are gas-powered engines but inverter engines run quieter.
Run Time: Most people do not run their generator at full load all of the time so run time is often quoted at an average fraction of load - keep this in mind when determining your required run time.
Starting: Our generators are available with either pull cord start or electric start - some even have remote electric starters.
Mobility: Flat-free wheels, pneumatic wheels or simply a carry handle.
Outlets: the number of outlets available on the generator affects the number of items that you can power at the same time.
Total Running Watts:
Total Starting Watts:
If the running watts are not on a tool or appliance that you want included: You can estimate using the following equation: WATTS = VOLTS x AMPS.
Only motor-driven items will require additional starting watts. The additional starting watts can be estimated at 1-2x the running/rated watts.
|Item||Running (Rated) Watts||Additional Starting Watts|
In a typical home, essential items will average 5000 - 7000 watts of power to run.
Running, or rated watts, are the continuous watts needed to keep items running. Starting watts are extra watts needed for two to three seconds to start motor-driven products like a refrigerator or circular saw, this is the maximum wattage the item will draw.
Unlike running watts, starting watts are only needed during the first few seconds of operation. In most cases, only one item will start or cycle at the same time, therefore this is the most accurate estimate.
If the running watts are not on the tool or appliance, you can estimate using the following equation: WATTS = VOLTS x AMPS.
Consider a standby generator from Generac - a standby generator is permanently installed outside of your home to provide 24/7 backup power. It runs on your home's natural gas service - propane models are also available. Visit your Lowe's store for product and installation details.Learn More
Power outages are more than just inconveniences for homeowners and businesses. We rely on electricity for refrigeration, heating and cooling, communications and much more. A generator can help to keep your equipment and devices running during an outage.
Power outages often last for hours, days or even weeks and can be difficult and costly if you are not prepared. Hurricanes, tornadoes and ice storms can cause disruption to our vulnerable power supply system, but, it's not just inclement weather that has the potential to turn the lights out on homes and businesses. Curious animals, automobile accidents, human error and utility failures can also trigger a blackout. Standby generators and portable generators are available to help make power outages more manageable.
The most important steps in finding the type of generator you need is to identify how you will use it most often. Consider these uses:
In addition to these uses, consider any other power needs you might have.
A permanently installed automatic standby generator provides 24 / 7 backup power protection and peace of mind for your family or business during a power outage. A standby generator runs on liquid propane or natural gas and, just like your central air conditioner, that works automatically when you need it and shuts off when you don't. There's no need to manually fuel or start a standby generator. It also eliminates the need for extension cords that portable generators require. Sizes are available to back up just essential circuits or provide complete coverage for large homes and businesses. Around the home, a standby generator can create enough power for nearly all of your needs — heating or cooling, lighting and cooking, all at the same time.
For more information on standby generators, see our Standby Generator Buying Guide.
A portable generator is a great, mobile option for temporary power. It's essential to remember that portable generators are intended only as a backup solution to provide power for some basic household needs on an emergency basis, or to provide power for recreation, camping and power tools where electricity isn't available. Portable generators operate on gasoline or propane. They produce carbon monoxide gas and should never be run indoors, or near windows or doors.
See our Portable Generator Buying Guide for safety tips and more information.
Your store associate can help you determine the total wattage of power needed for your backup power needs.
Power outages are difficult to deal with. Outages that last even a couple of hours are disruptive and those that stretch on for days or weeks can be uncomfortable and even costly. If you're looking for a long-term backup power solution that gives you dependable power whenever you need it, a standby generator is a good choice.View Standby Generators (in-store only)
Standby generators are intended for permanent power protection — producing computer-friendly electricity of a higher quality than the power portable generators deliver. Standby generators operate automatically and run a weekly self-test to ensure proper response to an outage.
Standby generators are designed to run for extended periods using the permanent natural gas or liquid propane fuel supply that many homes or businesses already have. In the event of a power outage, a permanently installed standby generator returns your home or business to power within seconds, 24/7, even when you're away.
There are no extension cords to run or gasoline to refuel — a fully automatic standby generator senses an outage and begins producing power immediately. When power returns, it shuts itself off automatically and returns to standby mode. Because the generator is hard-wired into the electrical system of your home or business, appliances like furnaces, well pumps and lights will operate in addition to plug-in items.
Always follow the generator manufacturer's operating, maintenance and safety instructions.
An automatic standby generator works by monitoring utility voltage 24 / 7 and runs off of your home's existing liquid propane or natural gas supply. When your electricity is interrupted, the generator detects the problem and goes to work.
If you have chosen an automatic standby generator, you will also need a separate device called an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) to connect the generator to your existing electrical system. Most automatic standby generators are pre-packaged with a transfer switch.
Although the generator creates the power, the transfer switch is really the core of your generator system. It is an electrical panel that allows you to safely connect a generator to your home's electrical circuits and is permanently installed near your main circuit breaker panel. As described above, it constantly monitors incoming utility power and determines when a true power outage is occurring, switching from utility power to emergency generator power and back again when utility power returns. Options include transfer switches that provide power to only essential circuits or to every circuit for whole-house coverage. Some allow for prioritization of optional circuits or load shedding, such as heating and cooling.
Do not attempt to install a transfer switch yourself. Installation of transfer switches may require local permits - but it always requires a professional electrician. The model of transfer switch will depend mainly on the size of your generator.
Often, generators are pre-packaged with a transfer switch containing a predetermined number of circuits based on the generator's kilowatt (kW) power rating. Each circuit is directly connected to a matched circuit on the home's main circuit breaker panel, providing electricity to that specific appliance or area of the home. For example, with an 8kW generator packed with a ten circuit transfer switch, you can connect (1) lights and TV in the family room, (2) microwave and lights in the kitchen, (3) refrigerator, (4) power to the bathroom, (5) computer and home office, (6) garage door opener, (7) air conditioner, and (8) furnace.
Essential Circuit Coverage: Many homeowners choose to cover only their essential circuits during an outage. Choose from options that create a simple, economical solution that keeps basics covered during an emergency.
Managed Whole-House Coverage: If it is unlikely you will turn on every appliance at the same time (most people don't), a smaller generator paired with a power management switch provides whole-house coverage by managing the power requirements of individual appliances.
Complete Whole-House Coverage: When the power goes out, everything comes on and stays on — no matter how many circuits need to be backed up. Choose a backup power solution capable of covering every circuit in any size home for complete whole-house protection.
The most accurate way to select the right option is to have a Lowe's Installation Specialist conduct a load measurement of the circuits and items you intend to back up with your standby generator. An amp meter measures the power required as each appliance starts up, when it requires the greatest amount of power. The result of this load measurement gives you the total power requirement for backup power.
An air-cooled generator uses a fan to force air across the engine for cooling. For most typical homes, air-cooled models provide exceptional value to homeowners interested in backing up critical circuits. Depending on the model, 8, 10, 12, or 16 key circuits in your main distribution panel can be powered by the generator during a power outage. A 20kW air-cooled standby generator offers up to whole-house protection for many homes.
A liquid-cooled generator uses an enclosed radiator system for cooling, similar to that in an automobile. Larger kW generators require larger engines for higher power output. Generally these generators will be liquid-cooled.
You can simplify the job of sizing a standby generator by matching the circuits between your home's main electrical panel and the generator system's load center. On the other hand, figuring out the specific wattage requirements of appliances and other items in your home can be difficult since they are plugged into outlets all over the house. By identifying the circuits to back up, you can easily decide how large a generator is needed and what model will best fit those needs. All the identified circuits will have backup power available. A licensed electrician should determine the electrical load and identify the circuits to back up.
Aluminum and composite enclosures are naturally rust and corrosion resistant. For salt air or high humidity conditions, aluminum or composite is highly recommended to ensure decades of worry free service.
No — the generator fuel costs would be much more expensive than buying power from the utility Company since their cost to produce electricity is divided among thousands of customers.
As an option, manufacturers offer systems pre-packaged and pre-wired with comprehensive installation instructions. You could perform the simpler site preparation steps and have a professional make the electrical panel and fuel connections, or you could complete the entire installation yourself. However, for safety reasons and to ensure adherence to all local, state and national electrical codes, particularly for non-pre-wired or larger systems, manufacturers recommend you use an authorized dealer or licensed contractor.
Yes, simple maintenance is required. All generators require periodic oil and filter changes to ensure maximum performance for years of reliable service. Preventative maintenance kits are available. Refer to the owner's manual for routine maintenance procedures and schedules.
Yes, service / maintenance contracts may be offered by your local installer / dealer for a worry-free ownership experience. You can inquire with them to determine availability and cost, which will be based on the level of service you require. Cost will also vary based on hourly labor rates in your local area.
Run time will vary with the size of the generator and the appliance load being placed on it. The chart below shows hours of operation for a typical example: a 16kW generator running at half load.
|16kW generator at 1/2 load|
|LP tank size (gallons)||10
|hours of generator operation||5
Consider a standby generator from Generac - a standby generator is permanently installed outside of your home to provide 24/7 backup power. It runs on your home's natural gas service - propane models are also available. Visit your Lowe's store for product and installation details.
Electrical power is a requirement around the home. If you want protection from power outages but don't want to invest in a permanent backup generator, or if you need power for activities outside the home, a portable generator might be the solution. Portable generators can keep vital appliances running during an outage and offer mobile power for the camp site or job site.
Portable generators provide power for everything from home use to camping, construction and outdoor events. They can be used to supply electrical power to areas where there is no accessibility or during blackouts and power outages when no electrical power is available.
Outside the home, a small portable generator can provide power for TVs, small appliances, power tools and lights while camping. Medium to larger portable generators can be put to work at construction sites that are in need of electrical power to operate power tools such as drills, saws, paint sprayers and air compressors.
Always follow the generator manufacturer's operating, maintenance and safety instructions.
Fuelled by gasoline or liquid propane liquid propane fuel, portable generators can back up your most important appliances during an outage, such as lights, your refrigerator, and your sump pump. Add a manual transfer switch and you can deliver the full output of your portable generator to your home's electrical system, letting you backup hardwired appliances.
Portable generators intended for backup use should be regularly maintained and tested for readiness. Make sure that you have a safe outdoor location to operate the generator, and that you are familiar with the manufacturer's operation recommendations.
Portable generators are available in a wide range of sizes and with
a number of different features.
Before reading these tips, always read the Owner's Manual and instructions for your portable generator, which also reference portable generator safety tips. Carefully follow all instructions and warnings in order to safely start and operate the generator. Do NOT cut corners when it comes to safety.
These tips are merely supplemental and are not intended to substitute reading the Owner's Manual.
Rated watts describe the amount of power the portable generator can produce continuously. Maximum wattage is the power that the generator can produce for short periods of time. Motor starting is a good example of maximum wattage requirements.
Yes. You can plug household appliances and devices into a portable generator, but not all simultaneously.
Never plug your generator into an outlet in your home or business. If you would like to connect a portable generator to your home's wiring system, have a certified electrician install an approved manual power transfer switch in compliance with electrical codes.
A transfer switch allows you to connect a portable generator to your home's electrical system, while safely disconnecting you from the utility grid. This will eliminate any chance of a dangerous back-feed.
A back-feed occurs when a generator is plugged into an electrical outlet, feeding power back onto utility lines. This creates a life-threatening hazard for any utility employees working to restore power to these lines.
Yes. For safety, the generator must be properly grounded. If the generator is not grounded, you run the risk of electrocution. Check and adhere to all applicable federal, state and local regulations relating to grounding.
No. Never run the generator in the home or an enclosed area. Portable generators are designed to run outside where there is plenty of ventilation. Generator exhaust, like that of all gasoline engines, contains poisonous carbon monoxide. For more information, refer to Portable Generator Safety Tips above.
Generators can be used during a wide variety of weather temperatures, but should be protected from the elements when not in use to prevent shorting and rusting. NEVER run a generator indoors.
Check your owner's manual for the recommended maintenance schedule.
You can purchase parts through any authorized dealer. Refer to the dealer locator section on the manufacturer's web site to find a dealer near you.