Running an Appliance on a Generator

In general, appliances can be used on an auxiliary power generator such as a gas, diesel or propane powered generator. A power inverter generator is an electronic method of producing alternating current (AC) from direct current (DC). It draws power from a power source such as a car battery or solar panel and uses an electronic circuit to “invert” the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). A generator can generally be used as long as it can provide the proper voltage (120V or 240V), frequency (hertz), and can supply enough power to the appliance. Generators are usually rated in watts, so “sizing” a generator means that you'll need one with enough watts to power what you plug into it.


We do not make recommendations on the brand, type or size of generator you will need. We do not specifically test our appliances for use on generators such as gas or inverter powered generators. However, we can provide the rated power consumption of our appliances so that you can determine if the generator size is adequate. You will find this information in the specifications for your model or on the appliance rating plate.


Appliance Power Consumption:

The rated power for an appliance is on the rating plating that also has your appliance’s model and serial number.

  • The rating plate often lists the power in amps instead of watts. Find the watts by using the AMPS x VOLTS = WATTS equation.

  • If you cannot determine the rated and/or surge amps from the online product specifications or rating plate, then make sure you have enough power to cover the minimum breaker size. For example, refrigerators need to be on a 15 amp breaker.


Refrigerators, Freezers, and Air Conditioners:

These place a high demand on the power source when the compressor cycles on. This is commonly known as the “surge power.” When sizing a generator, make sure it can cover the surge power (approximately 2X the running power, and lasts only a second or two); UNLESS...

  • You have a frost-free (automatic defrost) refrigerator. No-frost/frost-free refrigerators have a defrost cycle. The rated power usually takes in account the defrost heater (runs about twice a day), which is typically higher than the surge power. In these cases, you usually don't need to figure out the surge watts (2x running watts); just use the rated watts.

    • In general, if your full size refrigerator's rated amps are 2 or 3 amps (for example), this is probably just the running amps; you should make sure you have enough power to cover at least 2X this amount for the surge amps. If you refrigerator is rated at 6 or 7 amps (for example), then you shouldn't need to account for surge amps. Use this information as a general guideline.


Buying A Generator:

  • Your local home improvement store or retailer that sells generators should have good online resources for choosing a generator. They also provide safety and usage tips.

  • Generator manufacturers can also assist you with proper sizing and are a good resource to use when determining the appropriate generator for your needs.