How Many Watts of Power Do You Need for Emergency Preparedness?

Color daytime photo of powerful storm damaged electric transformer on a pole laying in the street and a wet rain soaked trees damaged.

Understanding how many watts of power you need is crucial for emergency preparedness. Predicting the exact moment of the next power outage is challenging, making it essential to always be prepared. However, to choose the most suitable power backup, it’s imperative to know and understand your daily power requirements.

You need about 5,000 Watts for emergency preparedness to run essentials like freezers and stoves. With proper planning, 39,500 watts daily is optimal. Solar or fuel generators are reliable backup options for apartments, ensuring key appliances operate effectively during crises.

The rest of this article delves into household power consumption to analyze the minimum power you could survive on during an emergency. Continue reading for valuable tips to prepare for upcoming emergencies.

Essential Devices and Their Immediate Power Requirements

Color daytime photo of a white man in beanie and large tan down jacket pull starting power generator during electricity shutdown
A man in a beanie and large tan down jacket pull starting a power generator during an electricity power outage shutdown.

Certain essential appliances and devices must remain operational to ensure safety and comfort, even during a power outage. For a detailed breakdown of the calculations below, refer to the related article on wattage power requirements for homes and apartments How Much Emergency Power Do You Need For An Apartment?

Freezers/ Fridges

Refrigerators play a pivotal role in preserving food and medication. Given the unpredictable nature of emergencies, it’s recommended to have backup power tailored for these devices. A typical 25 Cu. Ft refrigerator, ideal for emergency cooling, uses about 88 Watts hourly, totaling 2100 Watts daily. If operational the entire day, it consumes 2100 Watts.

Freezers, essential for food storage during crises, are among the more energy-intensive appliances in the household. A 6.9 cu. ft. chest freezer uses approximately 100 Watts hourly, or 2,400 Watts daily. If it runs continuously, it consumes the full 2,400 Watts.

In emergencies, with power being a constraint, you’d likely choose between the two. Opting for
the more energy-consuming freezer would require 2400 Watts daily for cooling.

Cooking Stoves/Ovens

While it’s advisable to stock up on boxed or canned foods for emergencies, stoves remain essential for warming food or medical products. There may be instances when you’ll need to prepare meals, making cooking appliances indispensable.

While a full cooking oven might not be necessary, a small electric stove is crucial. The estimated power consumption for such a stove is about 900 Watts when used for 1.5 hours daily to warm food.

Electric Heating/ Air Conditioning

For many, heating and air conditioning are essential for survival, especially during emergencies.
Depending on the location and season, you’ll either need heating or air conditioning.

On average, air conditioning consumes about 1,200 watts per hour, totaling 9,600 watts if run for 8 hours daily. A commonly used space heater consumes around 1,500 watts per hour, amounting to 12,000 Watts when operated for the same duration.

Some critical appliances and devices need to be operational for a safe and comfortable environment, regardless of a power outage. 

This article links back to our articles “5 Best Dual Fuel Generators for Emergency Preparedness” and “Best Expandable Solar Generator Starter Kits” for more information about this subject.

Medical equipment

This category encompasses devices such as cardiac pacemakers, defibrillators, electric wheelchairs, cochlear implants, IV pumps, patient monitors, and home dialysis units. It’s crucial to ensure ample power for these devices when used at home.

Fortunately, most of these portable medical appliances are relatively low power, averaging around 50 watts per hour for many devices.

Communication Devices and Lighting

Radios, phones, and lighting systems also come in handy during emergencies. These communication devices enable you to stay up to date with the latest news updates. This can mean the difference between staying safe or putting oneself in danger. 

Communication devices and lighting systems used during emergencies do not consume a lot of power, with an average consumption of 10-20 watts per hour. The fact that most of these communication devices are rechargeable also makes their use during power outages more convenient. 

On average, these devices will consume about 200 watts daily, considering that they are operated on demand, which can translate to only a few hours of use daily. 

Hint:  For lighting, consider modern LED lighting bulbs that are up to 70% brighter than traditional incandescent bulbs of the same power rating. 

Entertainment Systems

Entertainment can be a valuable distraction during emergencies, and certain systems also serve as communication tools. TVs and radios provide crucial information to navigate such situations.

A 32-inch OLED TV consumes about 89 Watts hourly, amounting to 2136 Watts over 24 hours.
Yet, in emergencies, you might use the TV for around 5 hours, leading to a consumption of 445
Watts. Similarly, a stereo system or radio receiver uses about 50 Watts hourly or 1200 Watts daily.

However, if utilized for just 5 hours, the consumption is approximately 250 Watts. Altogether,
emergency entertainment-related power needs amount to 695 Watts.

For those looking to stay connected during unexpected events, here’s an article detailing essential devices for emergency communication preparedness.

ProductSizeWatts Per Hr.Use (Hrs.)Watts Per Day
Refrigerator- New Energy Efficient25 Cu. Ft.88242,112
Chest Freezer15 Cu. Ft.45241,080
Oven-Range5.3 Cu. Ft.1,20011,200
Portable Space Heater1500W1,500812,000
Washing Machine4.7 Cu. Ft.2481248
Microwave1.7 Cu. Ft.950.10158
Electric Water Heater50 Gallon4,500418,000
TV – OLED50-Inch895445
Total Watts Per Day35,243
From the article How Much Emergency Power Do You Need For An Apartment?

Understanding Wattage and Electrical Consumption

Vector image of a EF ECOFLOW Portable 3600Wh Power Station and solar panels powering a house that shows all the wattages of the appliances in the house.
EF ECOFLOW Portable 3600Wh Power Station and solar panel powering a house that shows all the wattages of the appliances in the house. Available on

There are three crucial power units to be familiar with:

  • Voltage (V)
  • Current (I)
  • Watts (W)

Voltage describes the difference in charge between two points and is the force driving the flow of electrons, measured in volts. Current, meanwhile, represents the rate of electron or charge flow and is measured in amperes. 

current flows through a potential difference of one volt.

To calculate the total watts in an electrical circuit, you multiply the Current (I) by the Voltage (V). The Watt is the internationally recognized standard unit for electrical power. 

Most electrical appliances feature a power rating to guide their use, often denoted as running watts. Examining most home appliances, you’ll discover a nameplate, label, or stamp indicating this running wattage.

Running or rated watts refers to the continuous power needed to keep a device operating, representing the maximum power the appliance might consume. Conversely, starting watts account for the additional power required during the first 2-3 seconds to start motor-driven electrical appliances.

It’s worth noting that the starting wattage is seldom indicated on an appliance since it’s only relevant for a few seconds.

Estimating Electrical Power Wattage Requirements for Secondary Devices 

Color daytime outdoor picture of the Gas or Propane Powered DuroMax XP13000EH Dual Fuel 13000 Watt Portable Generator.
Gas or Propane Powered DuroMax XP13000EH Dual Fuel 13000 Watt Portable Generator being fueled by propane in a front of a house and available on

Watts measure electrical power. Specifically, a watt equals the electrical power flow rate of one joule per second. In simpler terms, a watt quantifies the work done when one Ampere of 

Secondary devices, though not primary, can be crucial during emergencies. Examples include lighting systems, heaters, and entertainment systems. The table below provides estimated average power requirements for these devices:

DeviceHourly Power Consumption (W)
Incandescent bulb100 (for a couple of bulbs)
LED bulb100 (for several bulbs, though LEDs are up to 70% brighter)
Electrical Grill1650
Box fan200
Water well pump1000
Inflator pump100
Window AC1800
Central AC3000
Heat Pump4000
Washing machine1150
Iron box1200
Coffee maker1000
Cell Phone battery charger20
Hair dryer1250
AM/FM receiver250
Audio system1000
Security system500

During emergencies, conserving power becomes paramount. Typically, only essential appliances are used and for limited durations. While some devices from the list might operate for over an hour, others may remain unused during crises.

Taking these factors into account, the average daily consumption from this list would be roughly 30,000 Watts. It’s important to note that these figures are approximations; actual consumption can vary significantly based on the appliance’s size and model.

Portable Dual Fuel Generators, Solar Generators, Panels, and Battery Banks

Color photo of a Bluetti AC 500 Mobile Solar Generator and the B300S battery.
Bluetti AC 500 Mobile Solar Generator and the B300S battery and are available on Amazon.

The right power backup system can make emergency situations far less daunting. While no system is perfect, it’s advisable to choose one that offers ample power for your home without breaking the bank. Portable generators, solar panels, and battery banks stand out as top choices.

Portable Generators

Portable fuel generators boast benefits, such as robust power output, reliability, and convenience. They can adeptly power multiple home appliances, making them a preferred choice during grid failures.

For those seeking to maintain regular home operations during outages, generators with surge power ratings above 5,000 Watts are ideal. Dual fuel generators, operating on both propane and gasoline, add an extra layer of convenience.

However, fuel storage is a concern since many generators come with small tanks, typically around 3 gallons. Safe storage solutions for gasoline are essential, especially in anticipation of extended outages. Most fuel generators emit pollutants, making them less suitable for densely populated areas.

Solar Panels

Solar panels serve as cost-effective and eco-friendly backup power options. They capture and use solar energy, either directly or by storing it in batteries for later use.

However, their efficiency is weather-dependent; they may not be as effective at night or during cloudy conditions.

Battery Banks

Battery banks are rechargeable systems designed to store energy for emergencies. They can be charged via the electricity grid or solar panels. Though their initial costs might be steep, they offer considerable peace of mind.

A notable limitation is their storage capacity, often requiring a recharge after a day or two. Charging can take hours, and if both solar and grid power are unavailable, these battery banks become ineffective. 

For optimal preparedness, you might consider integrating all three options at home. This ensures uninterrupted power availability, even during extended outages that span several days.

Key Factors to Consider When Calculating Overall Wattage Needs 

Type of Emergency

The primary factor to account for when determining your overall wattage needs is the nature of the potential emergency. Is it a power outage due to natural disasters, severe weather, human error, or cyber terrorism? 

Taking these into account helps in selecting the most suitable solar backup. While dual generators might be suitable for various emergencies, solar generators may not perform optimally in extreme weather conditions. 

Anticipated Duration of Emergency

The expected length of an emergency will help you estimate the total power you’ll need. The amount of fuel for dual fuel generators and the number of backup batteries for solar generators are determined by this anticipated duration. 

The Energy Efficiency of Devices and Appliances

The quantity and energy efficiency of devices and appliances you plan to use will influence the amount of power capacity you need to generate.

Key Takeaways

Color photo of a disabled black man at home, in a wheelchair and talking on a cell phone in his kitchen.
Disabled man at home, in a wheelchair and talking on a cell phone in his kitchen.

A reliable and sufficient power supply can alleviate stress and enhance safety during emergencies. Preservation of vital supplies, efficient communication, and even some entertainment are high on everyone’s priority list in such situations.

Selecting an effective power backup solution requires careful consideration of the energy needs of various appliances. Furthermore, it’s crucial to prioritize power conservation during emergencies. 

Combining a fuel generator, solar panels, and battery packs can offer an ideal solution, with these systems working together to ensure uninterrupted energy during critical times.


Fremontii, LLC. is compensated for referring traffic and business and as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. By using the affiliate links, you are helping support our Website, and we genuinely appreciate your support.

John Mortensen

As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, geologist, or scientist. I became a project manager which is involved with many of those things. I am a project manager and tech writer who researches the latest alternative and green technologies. We write helpful articles about green electronics and green technology products. AI, extreme weather, electric vehicles, are all in our future and we want to know the best way to deal with the effects of these on the power grid and emergency preparedness.

Recent Posts