What Size Generator Do You Need for your Event?
Outdoor events are my favorite because you have the fresh air (as long as it isn’t the middle of summer in the South) and there are no limitations to how creative you can get with decor. Depending upon the venue, you may need electrical power to run everything. Determining how much power you need can be tricky.
How To Determine What Size Generator you Need:
- Compile a list of all of the items that require power during your event.
- Add the total watts needed for the items that will be running at the same time.
- Add the largest number of surge watts you will need. Surge watts are typically what is needed to start the product. For example, once a small bounce house is blown up, it only needs 800 watts to run. But, while it is blowing up, it needs 1955 watts. Note: you do NOT add the total of surge watts for all of your items. Just add the one highest surge watts number to the total of running watts (all of your items will not surge at once).
Below is a list of average watts needed for commonly rented items. Please note: these are averages only. To be safe, find out the watts needed for the specific item you are renting. Download Generator Worksheet.
|Powered Item||Average Running Watts Needed||Surge Watts|
|Small String Lights (50-string)||20||0|
|TV / Large Screen||500||0|
|AC /Heating (13,500 BTU)||1600||2300|
|Small Power Tools||440||600|
|Small Bounce House (1 HP Blower)||805||1955|
|Bounce House / Slide Combo (1.5 HP Blower)||1035||2000|
|Large Inflatable Slides or Obstacle Course (2 HP Blower)||1610||2000|
|Popcorn, Cotton Candy or Snow Cone Machine||2100||0|
Once you have the total number of running watts needed, add the highest number in the surge column to figure out what size generator you need to rent. For example, if you are renting a small bounce house and a cotton candy machine, you need a total of 1455 running watts. The bounce house is going to need a surge of power to blow up; so, add 1955. The total watts needed is 3410. I’d recommend the 3500 watt generator. Below are common generator sizes with the average cost to rent.
|Generator||Avg. Cost to Rent Generator Per Day|
Annoying Caveat: Most generators only have 2 – 20 amp breakers, which will limit the number of items you can plug into it. Bounce house vendors, for example, typically only allow one bounce house per breaker. Need help figuring it out? Email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pro tip: Generators can be VERY loud. If you are concerned about the noise level, it is definitely worth it to pay a little more for a generator designed to be quiet.
#1 Safety Rule: Generators should ONLY be used outdoors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and electric shock.
Other blogs you might find helpful while you are in party planning mode: