May 12, 2020

Why should you have a Survival Generator?

By Cameron

One of the most important items in your survival storage will be your survival generator.  The reason a survival generator is so important is that it is so versatile.  Although TEOTWAWKI may never come in our lifetime, there are many other practical reasons to have a generator.

First of all, what is a survival generator? It is a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.  A generator normally  has three parts: the engine, the electric motor and an electrical inverter or converter.  The motor actually produces the electrical power.  We normally think of motors as consuming electricity to spin, but they also produce electricity when spun by an outside force.  The engine (also could be water or wind to turn the motor) is the force that spins the motor to produce the electricity.  As long as the engine has fuel (and is on) and the motor is working correctly we will be generating power from our survival generator.  The electricity that is being produced is normally not compatible with the appliances and tools we need to use.  This is where the inverter/converter comes in; by using electrical components, it regulates the amount of electricity, which makes it useable for common electronics.


The types of generators are usually broken into portable and household.  Portable generators are easily moved as they normally have wheels and/or are light enough to carry.  A household generator normally is too heavy to carry and can be set on a pad.  The household generator usually produces much more electricity and may be permanently wired to the home.  A survival generator can be powered by different types of fuels such as gasoline, diesel and propane (though propane generators can be quite expensive).

A survival generator is quite versatile because it can be used when power has been knocked out from a storm, for camping, for worksite usage and if grid power is permanently destroyed.  There are also many travel trailers and motor homes that come with generators built in, if not, they can be purchased for a reasonable price.  Like most things, there are varying price levels.  The price normally depends on the electric output, the noise level, the weight, and the reliability.  When buying a survival generator, you get what you pay for.  You may be able to get a cheap survival generator, but many times they will be noisy and have more problems than a better, more expensive one.  If I were to buy a portable generator, I would probably look into a Honda, Briggs and Stratton, or a Honeywell. If looking for a household generator, I would probably look for a Briggs and Stratton, Generac, or a Kohler.

Picking the correct size generator can be tough.  You want to figure out the wattage of all the most necessary appliances and electronics you need.  Each appliance should have a sticker that tells you how much continuous wattage is needed to power it.  You have to be careful as some machinery, tools and pumps have a startup wattage that can be 2 to 3 times the continuous wattage.  Make sure to be safe and increase that number by 100-300 watts to have a little room to power other small electronics.  A generator will be rated with a running and surge/peak wattage.  Make sure to use the running wattage as a survival generator should not be running at peak wattage long because it will quickly burn out and will not run as efficiently. Additionally, the higher the wattage output of the generator, the more fuel it will consume.  If you get a 4500 watt generator and normally only use 2000 watts, you will be using a significantly higher amount of fuel than if you just got a 2300 watt generator.  When the time comes that you actually need to use your survival generator, fuel will most likely be in short supply.  Any unneeded wasted fuel is not intelligent.

There are a few appliances and electronics I would want to still be able to use during a TEOTWAWKI situation.  The ones that could be important are freezers, refrigerators, heaters (unless you have a fireplace), electric water heaters, hot plates or a stove, a battery charger and probably a well pump (if your home is equipped with a well).  Just to give you an idea of how much wattage these appliances use, I have compared the running and startup wattages:

Appliance Running Wattage Startup Wattage
Freezer 700 2000
Refrigerator 700 2000
Hot plate 1200
BatteryCharger 380
Total 2980 4000

Even though this shows 4000 startup wattage, if you plug in the freezer then the refrigerator later you would actually only need 2700 watts. This is because you would start the freezer at 2000, it would go down to 700 while it’s running, and then when you plug in the refrigerator, it uses 2000 watts, then goes down to 700.  In reality, what you could be comfortable with is a 3300-3500 watt continuous generator.  This would probably be the most efficient and useful survival generator.  Keep in mind that if you’re using a portable generator, you will need extension cords to use the electronics.  If you had a household generator, it would be wired into the home, therefore not requiring extension cords as you would still be able to use the electrical outlets in your home.  This is a great idea but can get quite expensive once you buy the large survival generator and all the components needed to work with your existing wiring.

Having electricity on demand is fantastic.  Having a survival generator when there is a power outage or a TEOTWAWKI situation will help keep your food from spoiling, keep you warm and allow you to cook food. If you do have a budget for survival gear and storage, a survival generator should be one of your first priorities immediately after food and water.