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What's a Watt?

What's a Watt?

How to Measure an Appliance's Wattage

By  | Generator Product Expert

A watt basically measures the amount of energy an appliance uses during start-up and running.

For example, a 60-watt light bulb consumes 60 watts.

Generators are rated by two types of wattages:

1. Rated Watts

Rated (or run) watts are the amount of watts your appliance needs to keep it running. For example, a refrigerator typically needs 500 watts to run.

2. Surge Watts

Rated and Surge Watts

Surge (or start-up) watts are the amount of watts your appliance needs to start its motor. For example, it can take up to 2,000 watts (or 2 Kilowatts) just to get the same refrigerator's motor and compressor started.

Electric Generators Direct displays the rated and surge wattages for all generators.

However, we recommend comparing rated watts when shopping for a generator, since it is usually a more accurate number.

Watts = Amps x Volts

So, how many watts do you need to weather a power outage? The answer is actually pretty easy as long as you don't get too bogged down into "wattage overload."

Yes, you can find various wattage calculators online. However, we stopped using them several years ago because they are rarely accurate.

Since every home and every appliance is unique, it's highly unlikely that some online estimate can quickly guess your exact personal needs.

Instead, our Buyer's Guide's will help you pick the perfect generator without measuring a single watt.


Do You Really Want to Know?

Reliance AmWatt Load TesterIf you have unlimited time and a hot passion for electricity, you're welcome to calculate your exact wattage by measuring every appliance in your home.

There are two simple ways to determine the wattage of your appliances:

1. Data Plate
The easiest way is to just look at the data plate on the back of your appliance. It will tell you how many watts, amps and volts are required to power the appliance.

2. Wattage Meter
You can also use a wattage meter to measure the EXACT amount of power. Simply plug the appliance into the wattage meter. Then plug the wattage meter into the wall to get an accurate measurement.