Back-up generators come in many types and sizes. There are many that are perfectly capable of powering a heating system during a power outage, but you’ll need to know how much energy your heating system needs, as well as how much energy you’ll be using for other appliances like your refrigerator, television, lights and microwave.
Calculating Your Wattage Use
You’ll have to check your heating system and other appliances to find out exactly how much energy they each use. But just to get a general idea of what this total will be like, we can use some common numbers from current energy star models. On average, a furnace fan takes 400-600 watts to keep running, a refrigerator uses about 200 watts and a microwave consumes about 1,200 watts when in operation.
These numbers don’t tell the whole story, though, because they don’t take into account the fact that most of these appliances take much more energy to start than they do to keep running. For instance, that same furnace fan requires about 1,600 watts to start and the refrigerator likely needs another 1,600. Of course, you don’t need to turn all of these appliances on at once, so if you’re careful and creative with when and in what order you use them, you can get by with much less available wattage.
Both portable and stationary generators are available in a wide variety of sizes, although stationary systems are generally much more powerful than their portable counterparts. If you plan on powering your home for a long period of time or you have a lot of powerful appliances you want to keep on, a stationary generator may be necessary.