By: Norwall Power Systems, an authorized KOHLER Generators dealer
The number of appliances a Kohler standby generator can power at one time depends on the generator’s output capacity and the amount of power each appliance uses. During a power outage, your first priorities are most likely personal safety and protecting your home. It may be less important for your electric stove to work than it is for your sump pump to keep the basement from flooding. As time passes and the outage continues, you may want to choose different appliances to supply with power. Knowing how much power your generator can produce will help you determine which appliances can run at the same time and which ones can wait.
Understanding Electrical Power
Electricity is measured in amps (A) and volts (V). Amperage, also known as a current, measures the amount of electrons moving within an electric circuit. Voltage measures the amount of potential energy or force those electrons are under, which creates a current. Electrical power, which expresses the amount of electricity being used by appliances, is measured in watts. Wattage equals your volts x the amperage. For example, an appliance plugged into a 120-volt outlet and drawing 10 amperes of current is using 1200 watts (120V x 10A). Sometimes watt is converted to kilowatt (1kW = 1,000W).
Appliances that are powered by motors are measured in volt-amps (volts x amps) instead of watts. Sometimes volt-amps is converted to kVA (1kVA = 1,000volt-amps). When calculating power for appliances that have motors, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, you have to consider the motor’s running and startup current. An appliance with a motor will typically use more power for a few seconds to turn on before dropping to a lower, steady running current. To estimate a startup current, simply multiply the running watts by three for most motors or by six for heavy duty motors.
Standby generators are rated in kilowatts to disclose the amount of power the unit is capable of producing. Kohler standby generators can produce their rated power continuously and also supply additional power to support starting motors for a short period of time. Kohler’s 14kW generators can supply 35kVA, and the 20 kW models can provide 40.5kVA to support startup currents of motors as mentioned above.
Power Requirements of Appliances
The amount of power required by an appliance varies by manufacturer. Most appliances have their electrical needs posted on product tags or in an owner’s manual.
The list below estimates the running watts and starting watts of some typical home appliances. This list is intended to service as a basic guide; however, we recommend you consult with a professional electrician to measure the electrical requirements of your appliances.
Appliance Run Watts Start Watts
Refrigerator 700 2100
Freezer 700 2100
Coffee Maker 1200 n/a
Crockpot 200 n/a
Toaster Oven 1550 n/a
Electric Lights 13 – 300 n/a
1000 Watt Microwave 1200 n/a
1 Ton Central AC 2000 4000
3 Ton Central AC 4500 9000
12,000 BTU Window AC 1700 5100
Furnace Blower 875 2625
Sump Pump 800 2400
Well Pump 2000 6000
Standby Generator Power Management
Work with your local Kohler Generator authorized dealer to choose a transfer switch and load control module for your system. During a power outage, your Kohler transfer switch will automatically transfer power from the utility grid to your generator. However, once the power is transferred some systems require load control. Load management is very important to prevent overloading your generator. By equipping your home with a load control module, you can have a smaller generator and still have access to every appliance in the house, but not all at the same time.
The load control module will manage and turn on your appliances based on how you prioritized them at time of installation and how much power is available. Good choices include the sump pump that keeps your basement dry, the refrigerator and freezer to prevent food spoilage, and the heating or cooling system. Add up the power for each appliance and remember to include the starting watts for motors.
However, you may still want to do some of your own power management to keep power flowing efficiently throughout your home. For example, if your AC unit does not start and the temperature in your home is climbing, take a look at the appliances you are running and shut some off. As you consume less power, more becomes available and the load control module will allow the AC unit to turn on.
Kohler’s generator sizing calculator is a great tool to help suggest a generator for your home, based on the amount of electricity your appliances need. Use the calculator and work with your local Kohler Generator authorized dealer to determine which generator best suits your needs.
Norwall Power Systems was established in 1997. The company specializes in selling emergency backup power generators and associated equipment.
Norwall Power Systems sells and supports many different types of power systems. They have thousands of standby generators, portable generators, marine generators, automatic transfer switches and replacement parts in stock in multiple warehouses throughout the US.