During a power outage that lasts several days, the one thing you can’t do without is food. You might be okay with limited lighting and hot water, but much of the food in your refrigerator and freezer is likely to be raw and without cooking facilities, it’s useless. While your neighbors are struggling to produce meals using their outdoor gas grills, your home standby generator will ensure you can continue as normal. Here’s an indication of the power needs of various cooking appliances:
Microwaves are great for warming up left-over food or doing something creative with frozen or canned items. The average microwave uses around 40% more than its advertised cooking power, however, so you need to take this into account before using it extensively. This means that a 1200 watt microwave needs around 1500 watts to operate, which is quite a heavy draw on your home standby generator. The advantage of microwaves is that they cook really fast, so if necessary you can turn off something else while you cook and then turn it back on afterwards.
Grills and Toaster Ovens
These smaller appliances offer really good ways to cook during a power outage:
- Toaster ovens are ideal for using up old bread when you can’t get to the store to buy fresh, and typically use between 1200 and 1700 watts.
- Indoor electric grills use between 1200 (sandwich grills) and 1400 (barbecue grills) and you have the added advantage of cooking without using fat.
- Waffle irons use only 1100 watts, so if nothing else you can keep the kids happy with some yummy snacks.
Slow Cookers and Fryers
A slow cooker is a great option for making hearty stews and soups, which are always welcome during the type of weather that causes a power outage. These also have exceptionally low energy requirements, with the average slow cooker using only 200 watts to operate. A deep fryer draws down a higher 1400 watts from your home standby generator because of the intense heat needed to fry foods, but you use it for a much shorter period.
If you live in hurricane country, having a hot plate stashed away somewhere is an excellent alternative to using your full range when you have a power outage. They’re cheap to buy and easy to store, and operate the same way as your stove top does. A single burner uses an average of around 650 watts, so if you have a double burner hot plate operating at full capacity the draw-down from your home standby generator is less than a typical toaster oven. Hot plates are perfect for reheating food, cooking a whole meal in a frying pan or boiling a pot full of water.
Right, we know coffee is the one thing you can’t live without, and here’s the good news: you don’t have to – not even during a power outage. You probably don’t want to leave your coffee maker on all day, because at around 900 watts it pulls almost the same energy as a toaster oven and will be an unnecessary drain on your generator power. Your best bet for getting your caffeine fix is to make a full pot of coffee, then turn the coffee maker off and reheat a cupful at a time in the microwave as you need it.