What Size Generator Do I Need To Run a Refrigerator And Freezer

Having a generator that can run your refrigerator and freezer is critical if you want to keep food from spoiling during a power outage. However, generators can be difficult to find even with today’s modern conveniences.

That said, knowing how many watts your fridge or freezer uses in a given time is part of what you should consider when buying a generator. It may seem simple, but sizing your generator is critical. If it’s too small, your appliances won’t get enough juice; if it’s too big, it’ll constantly run without any electricity savings. Therefore, one needs to know what size generator do I need to run a refrigerator and freezer?

This post covers those topics while also helping you choose the correct size generator that will work best for your refrigerator/freezer, especially during an outage that leaves you without power for hours at a time.

How Many Watts Are Needed to Run a Refrigerator And Freezer?

If you’re going to run your refrigerator or freezer using a generator, you need to know how many watts your refrigerator or freezer draws. When calculating energy costs, it’s essential to compare them against your actual energy usage. Additionally, it ensures that you have an extensive, efficient system for your needs.

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But before you calculate the watts, it’s worth noting a refrigerator/freezer features two values: starting watts and running watts. Let’s explore further to understand what each value stands for.

1. Starting Watts

Starting Watts refers to how much power a refrigeration unit pulls while starting up or coming out of idle. While most of these appliances pull between 100 – 150% of their rated current draw, others may take more or less depending on specific environmental conditions.

2. Running Watts

Running watts refer to how much power a Refrigerator consumes when running normally. Typically the higher the running watts, the more electricity it consumes. However, this number is different for each unit, with some models using more energy than others.

Calculating the Total Watts Needed To Run A Refrigerator/Freezer

What Size Generator Do I Need To Run a Refrigerator And FreezerRefrigerators/freezers have different power requirements, as we’ve seen earlier. When calculating the total watts needed, you must account for your starting watt usage and running watt usage.

First, you need to get the model number from your appliance. On most refrigerators/freezers, it’s either on a sticker on one of the front doors or in the documentation that came along with it. Once you have your model number, check its EnergyGuide label for running wattage consumption.

However, if your generator start-up wattage values are missing from the label, do not panic. In that case, use the simple formula below to calculate your start-up wattage by multiplying the running wattage by 4.

4 × Running Watts = Start-up Watts

An example: a refrigerator/freezer that consumes 1250 running watts will require 6,000 start-up to get it started (1250 × 4 = 5,000). In total, that means you’ll need 5,000 watts of power to run your refrigerator/freezer.

Note that some manufacturers list their products’ power usage in amps instead of watts. However, one can quickly find a conversion rate by simply doing a google search such as convert amp rating to watt rating (or vice versa).

Considerations when Choosing the Size Generator to Run a Refrigerator and Freezer

1. Power Capacity

When choosing a generator, the first thing to look at is its power capacity. The total power load of your refrigerator/freezer needs to be matched by your generator’s load in kilowatts.

If you have too small of a generator, it will not have enough power output to handle your cooling units’ requirements, leading to dangerous situations. Infrequent outages, a too-large unit will leave no extra power for other vital applications.

2. Run Time

All generators have different running times depending on their wattage. One of the most significant factors in deciding how big a generator you need is how long it needs to run.

If you’re using a refrigeration unit that runs for 20 hours straight every day, look for generators with a 1,200-hour run time or higher. For most residential homes with only occasional use, smaller generators should suffice.

3. Running Additional Appliances Simultaneously

The energy consumed by your fridge/freezer can significantly increase if other appliances are running simultaneously. If you’re going to be running things like a microwave, blender, or coffee maker alongside your refrigerator, plan on upgrading to an appropriately sized generator. Consult your owner’s manual for specifics.

4. Compatibility

If you have an auto-defrost refrigerator, make sure your generator is compatible with both types of systems (called parallel). As a result, it will ensure safe operation without causing damage to any electrical components or frost accumulation inside your appliance.

Before making a purchase, ensure to consult your owner’s manual or call a service professional. Based on their experience servicing refrigerators/freezers from various manufacturers, they should provide you with suggestions.

Generator Recommendations for Your Refrigerator/Freezer

Now that we have established the suitable generator size, here are a few generator recommendations to run your various fridges/freezers efficiently.

Mini Fridge/Freezers Generator Recommendations

What Size Generator Do I Need To Run a Refrigerator And FreezerMini fridges are low-wattage appliances, meaning they don’t require a lot of energy to run. A generator from 1,000 watts will power small refrigerators for about 2 hours at a time.

But to ensure you’re well prepared for any situation, look for one that can produce 1kW or more. That way, you know it has enough juice on tap to supply your fridge and freezer with power even when things go south. You can power a mini-fridge with anything from a Generac 76711 GP1200i generator.

Standard Fridge/ Freezers Generator Recommendations

A standard refrigerator is typically 20% of a home’s energy consumption. It is rated to run on about 3,000 watts which means it will require at least a 3,000-watt generator for continuous operation.

To ensure your home’s fridge and freezer stay cool, opt for a stand-alone unit with its power sources, such as one with an extension cord or battery-operated option. One such generator in the market is PowerSmart Generator PS5020.


Large Fridge/ Freezers Generator Recommendations

What Size Generator Do I Need To Run a Refrigerator And FreezerLarge Fridge/ Freezers need at least 3,000 watts of continuous power. A 5,000-watt generator will provide you with 2,000 watts of surge power for appliances that draw more than 3,000 watts.

For this size of refrigerator/freezer, we recommend selecting one with a smart meter to ensure it’s compatible with your generator’s voltage output. When using multiple appliances simultaneously, such as running both a fridge/freezer and several lights, ensure to add up all their Wattage consumption figures before choosing a generator.

Then, purchase a unit with enough reserve power to handle peak loads. You can even bank some energy by charging batteries or running other appliances during off-peak hours when demand is low. Later in the day, you can use the charged batteries when there’s an increased load on your system.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How big of a generator do I need to run a refrigerator?

The size of the generator you need depends on the total starting wattage of your refrigerator. For instance, if your refrigerator has an electric motor rated at 3,000 watts when you turn it on, then you’ll need at least a 3,000-watt generator to run it safely.

You need a large-sized generator that can provide backup power if your refrigerator fails.

2. Will a 2000-watt generator run a full-size refrigerator?

What Size Generator Do I Need To Run a Refrigerator And FreezerYes, but it depends on your power needs. If you run an old refrigerator that requires 2000 watts or less, then your 2000-watt generator will work just fine. If you run more power than necessary, your refrigerator won’t properly cool down.


3. What appliances will a 3500-watt generator run?

A 3500-watt generator can run several small appliances, including a space heater, mini-fridge, coffee maker, television, and light fixtures. However, more than three or four small appliances could overload it.

4. How long should I run my generator to keep my refrigerator cold?

To ensure cold temperatures for 4 hours in your refrigerator, run your generator for 1 hour. Once you reach that time frame, please turn off your generator to recharge.

Add ice cubes to prolong the cooling period and while it’s running, keep the doors closed. The reason is that the opening allows warm air in, causing warmer temperatures that can damage foods.

5. Will a 3000-watt generator run my house?

 If the total wattage of your small-sized house appliances does not exceed 3000 watts, your 3000-watt generator will run them. Larger appliances, such as refrigerators and central air conditioners, can also use a 3000-watt generator if they are not all used at once.

6. Can a generator damage a refrigerator?

A generator can damage a refrigerator if it is overloaded. That is why you should only plug one appliance into each receptacle. Damage could occur even with small appliances, so it’s best to use surge protectors whenever possible.

7. Can a 1.8kVa generator carry a fridge?

Yes, it will. A 1.8kVa generator has enough power for running an average-sized fridge/freezer. This type of fridge requires 350-780 watts of electricity, and most refrigerators in general use about 700-to-1100-watt hours per day if set at 5 degrees C (41 F).

8. How many watts do I need to power a house with a generator?

The number of watts required to power a house with a generator depends on how many appliances you will have running at one time and what type they are.

For example, if you need to power your refrigerator or freezer with a generator, you don’t need much wattage because these devices do not use that much energy. Some refrigerators and freezers require fewer than 500 watts.

9. How many watts is the average refrigerator?

The average home refrigerator is about 350-780 watts. An efficient model will be closer to 500 watts. As long as you have at least that much wattage in your generator, your refrigerator should run just fine during an outage.

10. Will a Honda 2000 W generator run a refrigerator?

A refrigerator of any size, small, average, or large, can be powered by a Honda 2000W generator. Small refrigerators use 350–780 watts of power, while full-sized refrigerators need 800-1200 watts.

11. Can a 2000W inverter run a refrigerator?

A 2000W inverter can run a refrigerator. As long as it’s just a single refrigerator, like in an RV or boat, with no other power demands connected to it, then a 2000W inverter is more than enough for a small fridge.

12. What can you run on a 2kva generator?

You can run anything on a 2kva generator, providing it isn’t a large air conditioner or another high-energy-usage device. You may use a 2kva generator to power your refrigerator, freezer, and even television but not all at once.

13. What happens if you overload a generator?

Overloading a generator refers to putting too much wattage on an individual phase wire. This puts too much pressure on the wire, generating resistance from other wires carrying current in different directions, causing your generator to overheat. Over time, this can result in irreparable harm.

14. How many watts does a large refrigerator use?

A full-size refrigerator uses around 800-1200 watts of electricity when running. Some refrigerators have separate lights, compartments with doors that open automatically, ice makers, etc., all of which consume extra power even if you’re not using them.

Bottom Line

The right size generator can eliminate worries over losing your frozen goods. Considering the factors we’ve mentioned in this article, such as power capacity, run time, compatibility, etc., will help you find one that’s just right for you.

Most fridge-sized generators are between 1-5 kW, so you need to figure out how much wattage your refrigerator needs. If it’s an older model or in poor condition, use an appliance calculator to get its actual power draw rather than guessing with more recent models.

Furthermore, remember to account for your appliances’ electrical demands before shopping for a generator. If in doubt, go bigger: It’s always better to have too much capacity instead of not enough.

About Steve Stuart

Steve Stuart is an electrical engineer who developed interest on generators during his school years. After school, he became a generator enthusiast. This is after encountering power supply problems at the area of residence where he lived. Power would be on and off and so food would go bad and the room heater would go off especially during winter. After trying the different generator brands for several years, Steve now provides information on the available brands and products in the market today. Based on his experience, he gives the do’s and the don’ts when it comes to generator use.

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