What Can You Run On A 3,500-watt Generator?

A 3,500-watt generator is a commonly sought after portable generator appliance. While it may not offer the power of a larger generator, a generator with this wattage can supply power to a range of appliances.

Often, the title of a portable generator appears off-putting with the suggestion that a generator of this kind doesn't possess the capabilities of one with a bigger wattage.

While this is the case, it still offers an impressive output providing a viable backup option should you find yourself experiencing a power outage. As such, you can use your 3,500-watt generator as a backup electric source.

Portable generators are equipped with a gas powered engine and an onboard alternator which generate electric power. On the body of the generator, you will find multiple outlets that allow you to plug in and charge a range of appliances.

Whether you're experiencing a power outage at home, you're traveling in an RV or camping, or your worksite requires a power source to charge tools and equipment, etc, a generator comes in handy.

Utilizing a generator means that you never have to be without your essential gadgets and appliances or tools. 

It is important to understand the capabilities and size of your generator to ensure that it is used correctly without being overloaded.

Overloading a generator can lead to potential damage along with the appliances that you have been attempting to power and this is because the generator has been tasked with trying to power more appliances that it is capable of doing. 

In this guide, we have detailed what you can run on a 3,500-watt generator accounting for the appliances that are likely to be used in different settings. 

Running Watts vs Starting Watts

First, it is important to ensure that you understand how a generator works. There are two different kinds of watts to identify; running watts and starting watts.

Starting watts refer to the wattage that is required to get the device running. This tends to be a measure of temporary watts as they are provided in a surge.

For this reason, you will often see starting watts referred to as surge watts. As expected, running watts refers to the watts that are required to keep the device running continuously. 

Sometimes it can be unclear whether the watt rating refers to the starting watts or running watts. While the product specifications will often state both the starting watt rating or the running watt rating you may need to conduct further research to assess this factor. 

The Type of Generator

While most 3500 watt generators are identified as portable models, they are also categorized as inverter or conventional generators. A conventional generator only produces AC electricity, unlike an inverter generator which creates electricity in three stages.

Because of this, inverter generators are thought to produce ''clean electricity''. Due to their efficiency, not only do they produce lower emissions but they also tend to be much quieter when they are functioning.

Developments in such technology now mean that there are many 3,500-watt inverter generators available.  

What appliances/devices can be run by a 3,500-watt generator?

Now that we have delved into the functioning of a generator you will of course want to know what you can power using a 3,500-watt generator. Simply put, you should expect a generator with this wattage to be able to power several medium sized household appliances at once. 

Below we have listed the appliances that you will likely use in particular settings that can be run on by a 3,500-watt generator. 

In the home, should you find yourself in a situation where you are without power, it is likely that you will want to power several essential appliances at once such as a refrigerator, freezer, and of course lights.

When totaled together, the total output of these appliances combined is going to amount to approximately 1,000 watts. 

As such, this leaves you with a generous amount of watts leftover to power any additional appliances. If you use energy saving LEDs in your home, they are likely to consume around 14 watts of power.

Appliances such as refrigerators and freezers require around 2100 watts of starting power and when functioning they are likely to use around 700 watts each depending on the model. It is also likely that you will require the use of a water pump which is likely to use around 516 watts of power in total. 

You may wish to use the remaining power for air conditioning units, however, it is necessary to expect them to use more running watts. Of course, the need for an air conditioning system is going to depend on the season and the weather.

Depending on these factors you may not require its use and so it isn't necessary for accounting for this wattage unless you intend on using it. 

If you have watts leftover you may then wish to use this power to run additional appliances that you may consider less essential such as a television, coffee machine or dishwasher, etc.

While a television consumes as little as 200 watts of power, appliances such as coffee machines and microwaves consume an estimated 800 watts of power each. 

It is important to note that these appliances may not be powered all at once. For example, you may use the generator to power your TV and microwaves as and when you require.

Also, remember that the estimated wattage that your appliances consume can be dependent on a range of factors. For example, the wattage can increase along with the size of the appliance and also the energy efficiency of the appliance. As expected those with an energy star rating are likely to use less power than those that aren't. 

Often, people require the use of a generator when they are on the go. This may be in an RV or at a campsite. Appliances used are likely to include an electric heater or a fan of course depending on the season and climate that you find yourself in.

The estimated wattage can differ rather significantly between each with the assumption that a heater is going to use around 1500 watts and a portable fan using significantly less at an estimated 120 watts. The majority of appliances that you are likely to be powering inside an RV are going to be similar to the appliances that you would use inside your home.

The main difference being that those used inside an RV are going to be smaller and more portable models. Air conditioning systems inside RV's also tend to use significantly less power than a home air conditioning system.

For this reason, depending on the other appliances that are going to be running, you can power the air conditioning system alongside a few other devices. Other items that you may wish to power inside your RV include hair dryers, grills, or laptops. 

Just like appliances that you would find inside your home, the wattage of appliances that you will find inside an RV may also differ slightly depending on the model and size.

However, on the whole, they tend to consume fewer watts and because of this, a 3,500-watt generator is likely to provide you with the ample amount of power that you require. 

Based upon the assumption that the generator has a 25% starting surge capacity, it is important to ensure that the appliances mentioned above aren't all plugged into the generator at the same time, regardless of the setting where the generator is being used.

It is important to ensure that you are aware of the starting capacity of your generator as this will allow you to plan the devices that can be powered accordingly. Failing to abide by the capacity of the generator is going to affect the performance with the possibility of potential damage occurring. 

You will often find that generators are used on worksites to run the power tools that are used for the completion of particular tasks. It is important to assess the number of tools that need to be powered and how many are going to be used at once.

If you work on a construction site where a lot of tools are used at the same time, you are likely going to require the use of a larger generator. If there are only going to be around two to three people using power tools at once it is likely that a 3,500-watt generator will provide you with a sufficient amount of power.

Common tools that are used on worksites include the following; a table saw, electric drill, chainsaw and furnace fan, etc. Although drills consume a minimal estimated 600 watts of power, tools such as a chainsaw consume a significant amount more at roughly 1,500 watts of power.

Also, remember to account for additional appliances such as refrigerators which are often found on worksites and are also going to require power to run.

If you need a generator that is going to power more tools at once, you may not find a 3,500-watt generator to be suitable for your needs. Because of this, generators with this wattage are often used as a backup emergency power source. 

Is a 3,500-watt generator suitable for your needs?

A 3,500-watt generator offers a decent amount of power to run a couple of appliances at once. As mentioned, it is important to assess what you are going to be powering using the generator. Inside the home, they are likely going to be used as a backup power source.

Similarly, while they can run a few tools at once, it is likely that their use is going to be more beneficial as an emergency back up when used at a worksite.

However, if you intend on using the generator for an RV, you are likely to find this wattage sufficient in catering to your needs.

As mentioned previously, this is because the appliances that are found inside an RV typically tend to be smaller than the appliances that you would find inside the home. Because of this, they have a lower wattage output and require less power to run. 

If you do decide to use a 3,500-watt generator on a work site or at home, ensure that you pay attention to the wattage of each device or appliance that you intend to run. This will allow you to plan the use of the generator so that any potential damage is avoided. 

What are the benefits of choosing a 3500-watt generator?

There are many benefits associated with opting for a 3500-watt generator. Using such a device will allow you to power single or multiple appliances at once depending on the setting.

You may wish to run one appliance with a larger wattage or multiple appliances with a smaller wattage.

When used to run smaller appliances or those with a minimal wattage consumption a generator of this kind is likely going to be adequate. You will also find that they allow you to continue with your daily activities without compromising on the power that you have available.

Most 3,500 watt generators tend to be portable models and because of this, they are often more lightweight than larger generators. For this reason, they are much easier to move around and are a great option for those who require the use of their generator on the go. 

3,500-watt inverter generators tend to be much quieter when they are functioning too. This is a particularly important factor to consider if you are going to be using the generator in an RV or campsite as a large amount of noise is likely to cause disruption to your surrounding neighbors. 

Another good thing about 3,500-watt generators is that they are more energy and fuel efficient. Even when left to run for several hours, they of course consume less fuel than a generator with a larger capacity would. Because of this, you can enjoy low operational costs too. 

Why should you avoid overloading a generator?

An overload typically occurs when you are attempting to run too many appliances at once. Because of this, the demands of these appliances exceed the wattage of the generator.

There are particular signs that will indicate when this issue is likely to occur. The first being a generator that has begun to overheat. You may also experience a power reduction. 

If you have multiple appliances plugged into the generator which exceeds the total running watt capabilities, this is going to cause an overload and this can even occur when the wattage is still below the starting watts. 

Some generators will be equipped with a circuit breaker which can protect them against damage caused by this issue. However, if the generator does not have a circuit breaker, this will likely lead to overheating which can then cause fires, etc.

Simply put, overloading a generator can be a leading cause of many issues that require repairing, not only can it cause damage to the generator but also the appliances that are being powered. 

To avoid this issue occurring, it is important to abide by the capabilities of your 3,500-watt generator ensuring that it is only used to power designated appliances without exceeding the maximum wattage capacity. 

Final Thoughts

A generator can come in handy in many different settings. Although a 3,500-watt generator doesn't have the capacity of its larger counterparts, it can come in handy for powering small and medium-sized appliances in particular. 

In our guide above, we have identified the different appliances that can be run via a 3,500-watt generator, some of which will be found inside the home and an RV and others that you will find on worksites, etc.

While you will find that appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, and lights can be powered at the same time, it is important to ensure that you don't power all of the listed appliances at once.

To ensure that your generator is used in the correct capacity, it is important to gain an understanding of the wattage and electrical requirements of the appliances that you are intending to power.

As mentioned, the wattage of appliances can differ depending on the size, etc and as those mentioned above are estimates, these exact figures don't categorize the exact wattage of every freezer, hairdryer and coffee machine, etc.

Doing so will then allow you to plan what you can power. If the appliances combined have a wattage that exceeds the capacity of your generator, you will need to prioritize the ones that you consider the most essential.

It is also worth noting that appliances with an energy efficient rating are going to consume less power. For example, LEDs that are energy efficient have a wattage that is significantly lower than those that aren't. 

It is crucial to ensure that you don't overload the generator as doing so can lead to several issues causing potential damage to the generator and also the appliances that are plugged into it.

If you don't feel as though a 3500-watt generator is going to cater to your needs, you are likely going to benefit from investing in a larger model. 

There are many benefits associated with using a generator with this wattage. Not only are they much more energy efficient but they are super versatile too and allow you to run your essential appliances in many settings. 

It is likely that a 3,500-watt generator is going to be sufficient in catering to the needs of most users who want to run a few essential appliances and devices. It is also important to note the starting watts and running watt requirements of your appliances too.