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Running Watts vs. Starting Watts: What to Know

Every generator has two types of wattage values – starting watts and running watts. But what do these values mean, and why should you consider them while choosing a generator? This guide will help understand their differences and figure out the correct wattage that your generator should have.

Running Watts vs. Starting Watts

When choosing a generator to buy, you will come across its running watts and starting watts. Running watts means the wattage that the generator requires to keep it running. In short, it refers to the work over time that the machine needs to ensure that its momentum remains the same for as long as you run the generator. It’s the responsibility of the running watts to prevent the momentum from dropping.

On the other hand, starting watts means the wattage that the generator needs to start operating. In short, it refers to the work over time that your generator needs to create the momentum required for the device to run. It’s your generator’s responsibility to provide the starting watt within a short time to kick-start the machine. That is why starting watts also go by the name peak watts or surge watts.

It is possible to figure out the functions through their names. Remember, that the generator needs starting watts to start and running watts to run.

Determining Running Watts and Starting Watts

You can calculate the wattage of a generator by making an estimate. Here’s the equation that you need to keep in mind while calculating the starting watt of a generator:

Watts = Volts x Amps

It is usually considerably more than the generator’s running watts.

In addition to the starting watts, you can also calculate the running watts of your generator. In this case, you need to add up the watts of the devices that you want to power. The generator’s running watts should be 75% of the watts that you just calculated.

Choosing the Correct Wattage for Your Generator

It’s tricky to choose a generator based on the wattage information provided by the manufacturers. Generator manufacturers usually provide the starting watts because it has a higher value than running watts. This makes you feel that the generator has enough wattage to power multiple devices together or can even power an entire house. However, it’s only after you check the running watts that you come to know the true potential of the generator.

This is a trick implemented by generator manufacturers to sell their products but now that you know the difference, don’t forget to check the generator’s running watts first. If you are wondering about the differences between calculating the correct running watts and starting watts of your generator, use the formula below.

• First, you need to calculate the running watts of the generator. Add the running watts of the devices that you want to connect with the generator. The generator’s average running watts should be 75% of the total running watts of the devices that you want it to power. Match this figure with the running watts of the generator. It is wise to buy a generator that surpasses the wattage you calculated by a considerable amount to ensure room for growth should you need to add additional devices.
• Once you calculate the running watts, it becomes easy to calculate the starting watts. First, you need to note down the largest starting watts of the devices that you want your generator to power. Add the maximum starting watts of the devices. This figure should be less than the specified starting watts of the generator you want to buy.

It is possible to reduce the starting watts requirements of your generator. If you are looking to cut down your power requirements, you should start switching on the devices from a descending order of their starting watts. This means you should start the appliance that has the highest starting watts and gradually move down to the device that has the lowest starting watts.

Final Words

Although there are several differences between starting watts and running watts, you can’t ignore either of the two. It’s better to calculate the total wattage of the devices that you want to power with the generator before actually buying the generator. This should give you an idea of the average starting watts or the running watts it requires to power the respective devices.