A 6,000 watt generator can power enough appliances for survival if the normal electricity supply is interrupted. It would handle a 120 volt load up to 50 amps, which should provide heat and light and keep food fresh.

Power Surge

An electrical appliance, especially if it incorporates an electric motor, will draw a spike or surge of power when initially powered up. This needs to be considered when calculating the load the generator will have to deal with. A home computer with a small monitor typically draws 400 watts in use but will spike up to 600 watts on startup. A medium sized freezer or refrigerator which typically draws 1,200 watts can spike at 2,000 watts, while a 750-watt microwave oven will surge up to 1,000 watts.

Stagger Startup

Medium-sized generators will power enough appliances for survival: refrigerator, freezer, furnace fan and lights. But avoid knocking out the generator's circuit breaker by starting appliances one at a time to keep the surge low.

Switch On and Off

Not all appliances need to be powered continuously. Motorized appliances can be run in turn: Run the freezer for an hour, then run the refrigerator and then run the well pump.