What Size Generator Do I Need for Powering a Refrigerator?

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Whether you’re trying to prepare for a possible power outage as you approach storm season, or otherwise, it is good to know how you can power up your refrigerator via a generator, in the event you need to power it up remotely.

The last thing you want is for your power to cut out and to lose all the food in your refrigerator due to a lack of power.  

If you are shopping around for a generator that will have the capacity and power to keep your refrigerator running, there are a few things you need to look at. First and foremost is the wattage that is required by your refrigerator.

Most of all the starting watts. When powering any device you must consider two types of wattage, starting watts, and running watts. Starting watts is the most important factor when you are looking at power requirements and a generator that meets your needs. 

The average person doesn’t automatically know the wattage requirements of their refrigerator off the top of their head, but this information is easily acquired and is often found either on the manufacturer’s tag or in the owner’s manual.

What Size Generator Do I Need for Powering a Refrigerator

How Much Power Goes A Refrigerator Need?

If you have a refrigerator that is both a fridge and a freezer, then you definitely want to be prepared when the power goes out.

This type of unit will often require around 800 Watts when both the fridge and the freezer are functioning. This depends fully on your own fridge though, not every fridge is the same, so do make sure to check yours and it’s own unique requirements. 

A standard average refrigerator will usually have a starting watt range of around 800-1200 watts, although remember this can differ depending on the needs of the individual unit.

If your refrigerator only requires 800 Watts for running watt usage then you can use a fairly low watt (1500Watt is not too bad), for this, even having certain items such as a solar battery generator as a stand-by option just for this appliance.

Of course, this is dependant on whether or not you want to only power this one appliance through a generator. 

It is important that your generator can meet the needs of your generator in both running and starting watts, otherwise, a power spike could damage your generator, refrigerator and the power connection used to connect the generator and your appliance.

Remember there is no definite answer to this, and you need to check your own appliance before making any decisions, a guess could lead to a costly mistake or dangerous consequences. 

How Much Power Goes a Refrigerator Use? 

Since every refrigerator is different and will have slightly different requirements, you need to check your appliance’s needs individually. You need to pay close attention to the difference between starting watts and running watts.

Running watts will always be lower than starting watts, and if you do not know the difference you may be tempted to only pay attention to this as it is the lower number. Don’t! 

Starting watts is the power required to start up the appliance, sometimes referred to as surge wattage. This is the number that you want to pay the most attention to.

The other number is running wattage, sometimes referred to as rated wattage, it is the power needed to continually run the appliance after startup. 

The wattage required usually depends on the size and power of your refrigerator, a startup requirement for a refrigerator can be up to 2000 Watts. 

Generally, a generator that can deliver a minimum of 2000 starting watts should be sufficient enough to run your fridge/ freezer unit without any complications. But nonetheless, it is recommended you go for something slightly bigger just to be safe, a few extra watts never hurt.

As a matter of fact, a larger unit will actually give you a bit more wiggle room, meaning you could power other appliances as well, such as lighting circuits, your tv, a fan if it is hot, and more. The larger you go the more you can power. 

Gas Generator Options For Powering A Refrigerator 

There are many options for powering up your appliances through a generator, and if you are not looking for something to power your house, perhaps something just for your refrigerator and your lighting then a 3000 Watt generator is plenty. 

We recommend two gas-powered generators in particular for refrigerator power, both are widely revered for their strengths and power output and have fantastic customer satisfaction. Let’s have a look at these. 

OUR TOP PICK

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Looking for a generator that will power your refrigerator, which will likely have a start watt of 2200 or less, depending on size, this one is a fantastic buy.

If you have a fairly large unit then you will want something capable of sustaining and starting it, 3000 watts should do just that, while still leaving room for you to power other, less powerful devices, such as a tv or LED lights.

We really like this generator as it has many very useful features. 

Best Features

  • Dual Fuel- This generator functions out the box on either gasoline or propane, meaning that you will always have plenty of back up if you run dry on either. It also holds 0.6 quarts of oil and has a low oil shut-off sensor, keeping you and your generator safe. 
  • Ultra- Quiet- This generator has ultra-quiet functioning, meaning that is perfect for RV’s, tailgating, and back-up power. Nothing is worse than a super noisy generator that you can’t hear over. It works at 59 decibels, which is similar to the noise level of a normal conversation. 
  • Start and Ignition- Has an electric start and a 3-position ignition switch, as well as a quick-touch panel that allows you to access all your controls easily. This generator has a 3400 Watt start and 3100 running watts. It can take over 7 hours of run time just on gasoline. 
  • If you have a refrigerator that runs at around 700 watts, which is fairly average, then you will be likely to get around 9 hours of run time out of it, this is a godsend during a black-out. The electric start is also a fantastic feature that is very useful for people who may have mobility issues.

Briggs and Stratton P3000 Generator

Another generator that provides fantastic power for both homes back up energy and as a useful feature for RV or camping trip. It also provides enough power to run your refrigerator and freezer unit.

Some of its best features…

  • Fuel economical- the run time at 25% load is about 10 hours which is very good when compared to some of its competitors. This means you could easily run your refrigerator overnight without any problems. 
  • It has four household outlets, a 12-volt locking outlets, and a USB port, it will supply 
  • 3000 starting watts and 2600 running watts, to multiple appliances simultaneously.
  • It is even quieter than the Champion model, at 58 decibels when used at a quarter load.  

Solar Battery Generator Options For Powering A Refrigerator

Solar battery-powered generators are also an option for those that want to be a little more environmentally friendly and use more economical methods for long term external power. An example of this is the EcoFlow Delta, which has fantastic reviews and recommendations.

Though these units are more expensive and a lot larger than the gasoline generator alternatives they do have upsides and are very suitable and capable of powering your refrigerator. 

Battery Powered Generators for Refridgerator Powering 

The Ecoflow Delta is the ultimate choice for a battery-powered generator. This may be able to power your fridge just on its battery, but it is very dependant on your wattage required.

This is, however, the best overall large battery-powered generator. It is an economical and environmentally friendly choice, providing plenty of power output. 

It is also accompanied by a lithium battery pack and can be charged b its solar panel, via a wall adapter, or even a car charger.

Do not use third-party solar panels to charge this though, if you do choose to DIY it then be sure to read the manual and description when you purchase this when you are doing so, as to achieve the correct method. 

It can be fully charged within 2 hours, so is very efficient, on par with many modern phones. It is a fantastic option if you want to go this way with your purchase. 

Can A Generator Damage A Refrigerator?

There should be little to no problems with using a portable generator to run your refrigerator. When you run more sensitive electronics such as computers or audio systems, these demand more clean wave electricity, so inverter generators are the best solutions for these.

Refrigerators are different, and neither a fridge nor freezer classifies as sensitive, so you can easily run these using a conventional generator without any issues. 

However, it is often still recommended that you go with an inverter generator since these are usually much quieter and lighter so are more portable and will not be so loud that you cannot hear yourself think.

How To Power A Refrigerator By A Generator

First of all, you need to check your refrigerator’s nameplate or manual for the wattage required to start it and run it. If it only states voltage and amperage, then multiply the voltage by the amperage to get the wattage.

Then to figure out how many watts are required to start it multiply this running wattage by 1.5 to get a safe number for the starting wattage. 

Now check your generator’s output rating to ensure that it is strong enough to power the refrigerator. If your generator is rated 2000 watts, then it will easily power a refrigerator with a start-up of around 1000 watts.

If it is rated at fewer watts, do not use it as it will likely trip your breaker, blow fo fuse, or worse. 

Move the portage generator to a flat spot in your yard- your generator should always be outside and no closer to your home than 10-15ft. It should also be this distance from canopies, awnings, or anything else that may overhang.

Plug in the extension cord into the power outlet of your generator and run the cord from the generator into your home, through a door or window. To break your refrigerator or your breaker box.   

Start up the generator and allow it to reach optimum operation speed, then unplug your refrigerator from the wall outlets and plug in the cords receptacle. Ensure your generator is starting and operating well. 

Be sure not to use skinny cords meant for anything else, and ensure that your cords are not damaged, also be sure that your generator is not damaged either.

If it is raining or if the weather is unpleasant, be sure to cover your generator, you can get specialized tents for this purpose. 

To Conclude 

Having a generator to help you in times of black-out or vacations can be very helpful. But you must always remember to be cautious of the wattage and try not to guess it. Working out if your generator can power your appliances is as simple as some basic math. 

A refrigerator is a definite priority when the power goes out, you do not want to lose all your food so a generator can make back the money that it is worth in this way.

While you can use candles or torches to see in these times, you can't use other means to save food in your fridge, so a good generator goes a long way. 

It doesn’t hurt to go a little above and beyond with the wattage capabilities of your generator so that you can power your fridge and some other components as well. Make sure you are safe when you set up and start up your generator, and consider starting watts above all.