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Home Generators 101

Home Generators 101

Once the weather turns nasty, many homeowners debate whether or not to get a generator in case of power failure. Since owning a generator isn’t as common as owning a lawn mower or dishwasher, Repair Clinic is going to walk you through determining what kind of generator you need and how to maintain it. Consider this your very own generator buying/repair guide.

What Kind of Generator Do I Need?

Generators go by wattage, so the first step is to figure out just how much wattage your home really needs. Here’s the average wattage usage by device:

Must Have


875 watts

Well Pump

2,000 watts

Sump Pump

2,200 watts

Window AC

3,250 watts


700 watts

Nice to Have


1,000 watts

Coffee Maker

1,500 watts

27” TV

500 watts


800 watts

Cell Phone

80 watts


100 watts

Space Heater

1,800 watts

Make a list of what’s most important to keep your house minimally running and add up the wattage. If you’re unsure how much wattage an item needs, use an energy usage meter to measure its consumption. Two things to keep in mind when doing the math: allow for three times the running wattage for starting up the devices; you should only run your generator at half of the rated wattage to get maximum run time.

Since the average homeowner probably doesn’t want to pay $5,000-$10,000 for a stationary generator, we recommend getting a portable generator. They can provide anywhere from 3,000 to 8,500 watts and cost an average of $400-$1,000.

Are Generators Hard to Maintain?

Taking care of a generator is like taking care of any other outdoor engine. Here are some basic generator maintenance tips:

  1. Operate Outdoors Only
    To keep you and your family safe, only operate a generator outdoors and far away from any of your home’s doors, windows or vents. Generators produce carbon monoxide, an odorless and deadly gas, so be sure the area is well ventilated.
  2. Use Clean Air Filters
    Plan on cleaning your generator’s air filter for every 25 hours of use and replacing it after 100 hours of use.
  3. Check the Oil
    Check the generator’s oil level every eight hours of use and change it every 50 hours of use – or once per season.
  4. Clean/Replace the Spark Arrestor
    Located inside of the muffler, the spark arrestor traps or destroys hot exhaust particles expelled from the engine. You’ll need to replace it for every 25 hours of use or once a season.
  5. Add Fuel When Generator is Off and Cool
    If fuel splashes on a hot engine part like the muffler, it could start a fire. So be sure the engine is turned off and has had a chance to cool down.
  6. Drain the Fuel When Stored
    If you’re not planning on using your generator for a while, you’ll want to drain the fuel or add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank. Fuel stabilizer helps to prevent buildup in the carburetor.

Repair Clinic has a Generator Repair Help page and generator replacement parts to keep you up and running in an emergency. Repair Clinic has millions of parts available for same-day shipping and we offer a 365 return policy guarantee. Call 800-269-2609 if you need help placing an order today.

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