You may have heard that generators can damage appliances such as refrigerators. Generators are used every day to power household appliances. Knowing how to properly use a generator while running home appliances will save you time and a lot of money.
A generator can damage a refrigerator when improperly used. A generator must be able to meet the power demands of the refrigerator. Most household refrigerators will draw up to 2,500 watts of electricity upon starting, a generator must be able to easily meet this to safely power it.
There are many reasons you may need to use a generator to power your refrigerator. In times of emergency due to power outages or if you are living off-grid a generator will be a necessary companion. So, how do you ensure the generator you get will be able to run your appliances?
Before plugging your refrigerator into your generator check the manufacturer’s recommendations for both appliances. Be sure to take into consideration the starting watts and running watts of the generator. A surge protector is also a good idea to protect your generator and your refrigerator.
You will need to find the watts your refrigerator uses and then do a little math. To find the wattage of your refrigerator,
- look at the specification sticker inside your refrigerator. This will tell you how many volts and amps your refrigerator requires.
- Once you find the amps and volts you will multiply these numbers together to get the watts. So if you have a 115-volt refrigerator that uses 6.5 AMPS your refrigerator will need 747.5 watts
Now, understand that these are the watts required for running the motor of your refrigerator. When your refrigerator is first plugged in and started it will require a surge of energy. To determine how much of a surge you will need to multiply the running watts by three.
For a refrigerator that requires 747.5 watts to run, multiplied by three and you have a starting watt of 2,242 watts. For your generator to run a 747.5-watt refrigerator it will need to reach and exceed the 2,242 watts required for the refrigerator to start.
To find the amps your generator will put out using the mathematical equation: Watts divided by Volts equals Amps. So, if your generator is listed as a 3500-watt generator and runs 120 volts you will divide 3500/120. This will tell you that your generator is capable of delivering approximately 29.2 amps of power.
The same is done if your generator is a 240 Volt. For dual output, that is a generator capable of both 120v and 240v, you should check the generators manufacturers’ specifications as not all dual systems are capable of delivering 120v and 240v at the same time.
Generators come in 800 to 500,000-watt sizes. Knowing how many watts your generator is capable of putting out will help you determine if it is adequate for running your refrigerator. This is fairly simple, as most generators have the wattage posted directly on the generator.
Now that you know what wattage you need to run your refrigerator you need to decide if you will be running other appliances on the generator at the same time. It is important not to overload your generator. Doing so can:
- Ruin your generator
- Damage appliances
- Cause fires
Will your generator be able to support the power needed for your refrigerator and your other appliances? You will need to take each appliance you plan on running at the same time as your refrigerator and use the math learned to find the wattage needed to determine the necessary starting watts and running amps.
- Multiply: Amps X Volts of your other appliances to find out how many watts of power they need to run.
- For all appliances with a motor multiply the wattage number by three to learn the necessary wattage needed to start them.
- Add the start-up watts together. Remember to include the refrigerators starting wattage.
- Add all of the running watts together.
The end results will tell you how much power your generator will need at start-up and on continuous run time.
Here are some helpful tips when using a generator to run your refrigerator and other motorized appliances:
- Check the oil in your generator often and use the appropriate oil for the generator and climate that you are in.
- Unplug all appliances from the generator when it is turned off for refueling.
- Once you have re-started the generator, plug one appliance in at a time so your generator does not get overloaded immediately.
- Use extension cords with proper voltage requirements for your needs
- Never run a generator inside your home or garage. Always ensure proper ventilation.
You can avoid damaging your refrigerator and other appliances by ensuring the generator you use is designed to deliver the necessary watts needed.