If the power goes out for a few hours or a few days; how much emergency power do you need for an apartment? How do you keep the heat on, the freezer and fridge cold, and use your stove?
You need a minimum of 5000 watts of emergency power if you live in an apartment to keep your freezer cold and your electric heat on. Solar generators or portable power stations can supply all other appliances by necessity of importance in an electrical blackout.
Having a power outage in the winter or the summer is no joke, but some issues are worse than others depending on the time of year. We will go into detail about what you need to keep your apartment safe during a power outage and the emergency preparedness tools to do that.
Figuring Out How Much Emergency Power You Need For An Apartment?
Losing power to your apartment from rolling blackouts, extreme weather, or a terrorist attack seems to be on the rise these days. Figuring out how much emergency power you need should be a priority for emergency preparedness for you and your family.
Whatever the reason for the power outage, it can be scary and dangerous. So the first thing we want to look at is what absolutely has to work, what we want to work, and if it can and how.
The first thing to look at is refrigerator freezers for not only food but medicines that need to stay cold or frozen. Depending on the time of year, we then look at heat and cooling, cooktop stove, oven, microwave, and the water heater. Household electric heat is an issue if you don’t have gas or heating oil.
Please see our articles “Should You Be Worried About Weather-Caused Power Grid Outages?” and “How Vulnerable Is the U.S. Power Grid?”
Average Watts Per Hour for Electric Home Appliances in a Apartment or Home
So you can figure out how long these backup power supplies will keep your appliances running in a power outage. Here are some numbers. Refrigerators use the most energy after your air conditioning, washing machine, and dryer.
|Watts Per Hr.
|Watts Per Day
|21.6 Cu. Ft.
|Refrigerator- New Energy Efficient
|25 Cu. Ft.
|15 Cu. Ft.
|5.3 Cu. Ft.
|Portable Space Heater
|4.7 Cu. Ft.
|1.7 Cu. Ft.
|Electric Water Heater
|TV – OLED
Mobile Solar Generators – Portable Power Station’s Emergency Power
We are using mobile solar generators and portable power stations emergency power for our emergency preparedness tools as our calculator for a few reasons.
Although you cannot power your entire apartment or condominium with a mobile solar generator or portable power station, you can run some critical appliances so they do not cost you a bunch of money because of the power outage.
Here are some valid reasons to go solar if there is enough sun in your area with at least four hours of direct sunlight per day:
- Small Engine Exhaust Fumes-A Mobile Solar Generators or Portable Power Stations can be used in an apartment because there are no generator engine exhaust as from gas or propane generators.
- Small Engine Noise-A 3,000 watt Jackery Solar Generator Pro only has a 30 dB noise level when being used or charging and is extremely quiet compared to a gas small engine generator.
- Power-Mobile Solar Generators and Portable Power Stations can supply up to 5,000 watts of emergency power for your apartment in a rolling blackout or if the American power grid goes down in a big way.
- No Fuel-In citywide electrical blackouts, you cannot pump gas because the gas pumps don’t work. Because of the likelihood of no fuel availability for gas, propane, and hybrid portable generators in long-term blackouts and power outages.
- Mobility-A 3,000 watt Jackery Solar Generator Pro only weighs 63.9 pounds and has a suitcase design with towing handle. Even with a Bluetti EP500Pro 3,000 watt Solar Power Station at 182 lbs, it is doable with wheels attached.
Can a Rechargeable Solar Generator or Portable Power Station Power My Whole Apartment or House?
A single 3,000 watt rechargeable solar generator won’t be able to power all of your appliances, heater, and/or air conditioner in your apartment in a power outage.
You can power several appliances on an as needed basis and with planning. It is expensive to lose a whole freezer full of meat and food. You can keep your freezer and refrigerator up and running, use a microwave and oven/stove, lighting, tv, radio, or a computer intermittently.
Emergency power supply from a solar generator or portable power stations is a great option to run some necessary appliances for short periods of time for survival.
List of Wattages for Household Appliances and HVAC
We calculate emergency apartment appliance wattages and hours based on projected usage, which could, of course, be less or more. You may not be able to run your air conditioner in the heat of the summer or heaters constantly on extremely cold wintry days, but enough to survive.
Refrigerators and Freezers
Refrigerator-An average newer energy efficient 25 Cu. Ft. standard depth refrigerator has a maximum watt consumption of 264 Watts 2.3 amps. Watts divided by 3 equals the average running wattage per hour. Calculated the refrigerator would consume approximately 88 Watts per hour. 88 x 24 = 2,112 Watts per 24 hours. Remember, there are lots of different ages, efficiencies, and sized refrigerators when calculating wattages.
Chest Freezer-For a small 6.9 cu. ft. older chest freezer that is not that energy efficient and will fit in an apartment is rated at 100 Watts, 1.1 amps. 100 watts per hour. 100 x 24 = 2,400 Watts per 24 hours.
As a rule of thumb, heat is not only important for the inhabitants of an apartment but also because you don’t want the pipes to freeze in cold climates. There are many factors in calculating total heat use and wattage, including ambient temperature, building insulation, sq footage, and heat cycling.
Full Electrical use of of a furnace or baseboard heaters has a very high usage requirement, especially in relationship to mobile electric solar generators.
Space Heater-Besides the worry of plumbing freezing, which is out of your control in an apartment to some extent. A space heater may or may not be the most economical way to keep yourself warm in an emergency. Space heaters use approximately 1,500 watts per hour but can be turned down to low. With cycling and an estimate of using 1,500 x 8 hours out of 24 hours, that would give you 12,000 watts per day.
Electric Furnace-For an average 1,500 sq ft apartment, we are going to figure 55,000 BTU=16,119 watts. Because electric furnaces cycle, they use less electricity than stated. For this calculation we are using 16,119 x 8 hours out of 24 hours for a total of 128,592 watts per day.
Electric Baseboard Convection Heaters-A 6 foot long baseboard heater uses about 250 watts per foot or 1,500 watts per hour. 6 for one 1,500 sq ft apartment equals 9,000 per hour, but typically all rooms are not on constantly or simultaneously. 9,000 x 8 hours out of 24 hours equals 72,000 watts per day if necessary.
Air conditioners require a lot of wattage, so in power outage emergencies it’s tough to keep them running 24/7 even with gas generators. If you are in an apartment, the units are smaller and that is helpful in the wattage department.
Depending on where you live, i.e. the U.S. Desert Southwest, it is not uncommon to reach temperatures of 115 to 120 degrees in places like Phoenix, Arizona or Las Vegas, Nevada. We have seen rolling blackouts in the past three years all over California with ongoing drought conditions and the influx of Solar Cars and Vehicles on the power grids.
Air conditioning is a way of life in these areas and required to survive for many, including older adults the and sick. There are so many types, sizes, and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) efficiencies with Air Conditioners that we are using average size and measurements for these calculations.
Portable AC Unit-Portable AC units use EER ratings and wattage ranges from 750 watts to 1,500 watts. The average Portable AC Unit with enough power to cool a 400 sq ft room is approximately 12,000 BTUs and 1,200 watts. 1,200 x 8 hours out of 24 hours equals 9,600 watts per day.
Window AC Units-A Window Air Conditioner that uses 12,000 BTU’s is more efficient than a Portable AC Unit. So a good Window Energy Star rated AC unit can cool a 550 Sq. Ft. compared to 450 with a portable. What you are losing, of course, is the portability. The wattage is the same though and 1,200 watts equals 1,200 x 8 hours out of 24 hours equals 9,600 watts per day.
2 Ton Outdoor Air Conditioner-How many watts a 2 ton air conditioner condenser unit needs depends on its SEER rating. For this example, we are going to use a newer energy efficient unit with a SEER ratings of 20 and 700 watts. 24,000 BTU’s divided by 20 (SEER)=1,200 watts. 1,200 x 8 hours out of 24 hours equals 9,600 watts per day.
Cooking Appliance Wattages
Cooking your food in a power outage is a whole other issue, and it is recommended to have boxed and canned food available for just such emergencies. If you don’t have gas or propane, which may not be available anyway, we show the different wattages for stoves, ovens, microwaves and other cooking appliances like Portable 1000W Single Electric Burner.
Because most of us use one electric stove burner one at a time, that is how we are going to look at this. Electric stoves and ovens connect to a 240 volt outlet. The average large electric burner takes about 2,000 watts, medium is 1,500 watts, and a small burner is 1,200 watts. This also depends on time of use. If you use a small burner for one half hour then that is 600 watts.
Electric Stove-For this calculation, we are going to use an electric stove small burner for one-half hour at a time to heat a single or multiple cans of soup or chili, for example. 600 watts x 1.5 hours out of 24 hours equals 900 watts per day.
Electric Oven-Electric ovens use approximately 2,000 to 5,000 watts per hour of electricity on average. Most things you cook in the oven take one hour or more. Even though it is possible, it is unlikely that we would use an electric oven in emergency situations. If we take 2,000 watts x 1 hour out of 24 hours equals 2,000 watts per day.
Microwave Oven-On average, microwaves use about 600 to 1,500 watts of electricity. For this calculation, we use the middle ground for a typical average sized microwave and use 1,000 watts. We will also use smaller time frames as most people only warm things up in microwaves. 1,000 watts x.5 hours out of 24 hours equals 500 watts per day.
Portable Single Electric Burner (Hot Plate)-A portable single 1000 watt electric burner that can sit on your countertop is always an option in an emergency with a portable solar generator. It uses a 110 outlet and is simple and easy if your solar generator is sitting on your kitchen counter. 1,000 watts x.5 hours out of 24 hours equals 500 watts per day.
Portable Electric Induction Cooktop-An portable electric induction cooktop comes in different sizes so we will use a dual burner 12″ for this example. Although the portable induction cooktops are not as energy efficient as a typical single electric burner using 1,800 watts. They do come with more temperature controls and may be more efficient in some instances. 1,800 watts x.5 hours out of 24 hours equals 900 watts per day.
What is life like without a water heater? The answer is not good. Water heaters are essential to life today and are part of human cleanliness. We bathe our bodies and wash are dishes in hot water.
For this article, we are using three types of water heaters. Conventional, tankless, and solar water heaters which all have different benefits. Conventional electric water Heaters use a lot of electricity.
Conventional Electric Water Heaters-For home use, conventional water heaters can be powered by either natural gas, fuel oil, electricity and have water storage capacities of between 20 and 80 gallons. For our thought experiment, we are using a 50 gallon electric conventional water heater. The average 50 gallon electric water heater uses 4,500 watts.
Tankless Electric Water Heaters-Tankless Electric Water Heaters are also known as “On Demand” water heaters and come in two voltages, 120V which requires 1,125 watts and 240V units that use approximately 4,500 watts. If we use a 120V unit that requires 1,125 watts for three hours per day, then totals 3,375 watts, which is a lot but substantially less than the conventional electric water heater. 1,125 watts x 3 hours out of 24 hours equals 3,375 watts per day.
Types of Mobile Solar Generator Emergency Power
Almost all the Mobile Solar Generators or Portable Power Stations on the market are similar in design. They come with a base station and different configurations and then they either come with or you can add solar panels.
The Solar Generators and Portable Power Stations approximate base range in power is from 100 watts to 5000 watts for home or office use. Some Solar Generators can be expanded up to 21,600Wh or (Watt Hours) with additional batteries and solar panels.
Solar generators and portable power stations come equipped to be plugged into an apartment or home 110 outlet to be fully charged and on standby until needed.
The alternate critical power source is solar panels that can charge the solar generators and portable power stations if there is no electricity available. Please see our article “Best Expandable Solar Generator Starter Kits” for more information.
Mobile Solar Generators or Portable Power Station Examples
Mobile Solar Generators
Jackery Solar Generator 3000 PRO 3024 Watt hour power station with 2x200W Solar Panels.
Goal Zero Yeti 3000X Solar Generator & 2 Boulder 400 Briefcase Solar Panels
Portable Power Stations–Bluetti Solar Power Station AC500 and B300S Expansion Battery.
The AC500 Solar Power Station with a 5,000 watt inverter accepts up to six (6) B300S expansion batteries, boosting its capacity to a maximum of 18,432Wh watt hours of electricity storage.
BLUETTI 3000 Watt Solar Power Station EP500 Pro
BLUETTI 420 Watt Solar Panel for Portable Power Station
We discuss some of these solar generators and portable power stations extensively in our articles titled “What Makes a Good Portable Power Station In Emergencies?” and “5 Best Jackery Backup Power Solutions for the Home”.
You need a minimum of 3000 to 5000 watts of emergency power if you live in an apartment to keep your freezer cold and your electric heat on.
Solar generators or portable power stations do not require gasoline or propane to power your appliances and do not generate exhaust fumes, or very much noise.
Solar generators or portable power stations can supply all other appliances by necessity of importance in a electrical blackout.