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Portable Generators After the Storm

The Philly area received 60 inches of snow during the 2013-2014 winter - well over its 20-inch average. Many Philadelphians used their portable generators for energy when the electricity went out. If you were one, Ideal Tool & Equipment encourages you to perform any necessary maintenance tasks on it now, before the next storm hits. If you discover problems with your generator, bring it to us for portable generator repair.

Power Outage Statistics

It seems like every 3 or 4 months, some parts of Pennsylvania experience power outages. As recently as May 2014, 20,000 people in Delaware county lost electricity due to windstorms. On a national scale, these occurrences are frequent and costly. The Berkeley National Laboratory recently released the following statistics regarding power outages in the United States:

  • $80 billion - Total annual cost of electric power outages and blackouts in the U.S..
  • $57 billion  - Annual commercial sector losses, which is 73% all financial losses.
  • $20 billion - Annual industrial sector losses from power outages, amounting to 25% of total losses.
  • $1.5 billion - Annual residential losses, about 2% of the total.
  • Momentary power interruptions correspond to two-thirds of the cost, at $52 billion, while sustained interruptions of five minutes or cost $26 billion.

Storms are costly when they disrupt electrical service to citizens and businesses. There’s little we can do except be prepared, which means owning a portable power generator.  Not surprisingly, portable power generator ownership is increasing.

  • In October of 2013, one U.S. manufacturer estimated that 12% of households nationwide owned a portable home generator.

Typical Wattage Loads for Home Appliances

If you are considering purchasing a power generator, whether this will be your first or an upgrade, spend a little time figuring out which household appliances you want it to power. Overloading your portable generator can cause it to breakdown, and we know you’d rather avoid having to deal with portable generator repair.

Below are the estimated required wattage amounts for some of the more critical home appliances you might need during the next winter storm:

  • 425 watts - Washer
  • 3400 watts - Dryer
  • 600 watts - Stand alone freezer
  • 4500 watts - Electric range
  • 725 watts - Refrigerator
  • 925 watts - Microwave
  • 1100 watts - Toaster
  • 125 watts - Personal desktop computer
  • 250 watts - 42” Plasma TV


This is a big list. In fact, if you really wanted to power all of these appliances at once, you’d need a pretty powerful portable home generator. Twelve thousand watts (approximate total) is beyond many generators’ capacity.

Many portable models produce between 5,000 to 6,000 watts, so think about which appliances from the list above you can live without. Take out the electric range and dryer, for example. Most of us could live without these for at least a few days. Without those appliances, the wattage load drops to around 4,000 watts.

Portable Power Generator Features

Power requirements aren’t the only criteria you will use when you purchase a new portable home generator.  There are a number of other features to look at before making a decision:

  • Noise level
  • Wheeled frame
  • Fuel type
  • Fuel tank size
  • Transfer switch
  • Price
  • Safety features

Some of these features may be more important to you than others. For example, since the portable generator must be outside, noise level may not be a big consideration for you. Deciding on a preferred fuel type may determine the size of fuel tank you buy too. Portable generators that run on gasoline will need a larger tank size than those that use propane. According to Consumer Reports, “Most portables use roughly 8 to 22 gallons of gasoline a day, compared with four to eight 20-pound tanks of propane for portable models.”

Prepare For the Next Storm

We can all always hope for the best weather, but the smart thing to do is prepare for the worst. Make sure your portable generator is in good working condition. Check your owners manual for instructions. If you notice anything wrong, or have questions bring it into Ideal Tool & Equipment Service. We are happy to help you with portable generator repair.

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