Can A Portable Generator Power A Fridge? – What You Need To Know

Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by Scott

generator for refrigerator

You may be wondering:

Can a portable generator power a refrigerator?

If you are trying to decide whether your current generator can meet your power needs or are shopping around for a new generator, the most important thing to look for is starting watts.

Starting watts refers to the wattage demand needed to initially start your fridge.

This demand is usually much higher than the actual wattage needing to keep it running, known as running watts.

The average consumer has no idea about the wattage demands of their fridge, but the information is easy to find.

You can check the manufacturer’s tag or owner’s manual to find this information.

Average refrigerator wattage?

With the many refrigerators available on the market, wattage demands differ depending on features and sizes.

Average household refrigerators usually need in the range of 800-1,200 starting watts. My fridge / freezer is a 6.5 AMP fridge from Amana that is 18 cu ft. in total capacity and I’ve seen it spike to 1200 watts starting, but usually just in the 700-800 range. When both the fridge and freezer are in high gear, it pulls about 800 watts. This allows me to use one of the larger solar battery generators as a backup, since they have models rated over 1000W sustained now!

It is very important your generator can support this need as a powerful power spike could seriously damage your generator.

While there is no industry standard or one-size-fits-all answer, you can easily find out how many watts your refrigerator needs by checking the manual or manufacturer’s tag.

Spend a little extra time researching; an incorrect guess could be a costly mistake.

Which portable gas generators can power a fridge?

To power a decent-sized fridge, you are going to need a generator that is in the mid-level ranges. This will all depend on your exact fridge and whether or not you want to power any additional appliances.

Nearly all 2,000-Watt gas generators will handle most household fridges. If you look at smaller 1,000 Watt range generators, you might not have enough power for larger refrigerators.

Here are three good gas options that will power nearly any household refrigerator:

1. Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator

Since most refrigerators need around 2,200 starting watts and 700 running watts, having a generator that produces more is always a safe bet in case you need to power anything else.

This generator features dual-fuel capability, allowing it to run on gasoline or liquid propane gas.

This is a great feature to have during a natural disaster where gasoline may be scarce.

Sale
Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator with Electric Start
  • Dual Fuel – Operate your 3400-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or propane, plus the unit holds 0.6-quarts of oil (recommended 10W-30) and has a low oil shut-off sensor
  • Convenient Electric Start with 3-Position Ignition Switch – Battery included, plus Quick Touch Panel allows you to access all your controls in one spot.Noise Level :59 dBA at 23 feet. Frequency 60 Hz
  • Ultra-Quiet Operation – 59 dBA is perfect for RVs, tailgating, your next project or backup power for your home, featuring 3400 starting watts and 3100 running watts with up to 7.5 hours run time on gasoline

At 500w, it will run for approximately 11 ½ hours on a single tank of gas.

If you refrigerator needs 700w, you can expect to get around 9 hours of run time.

My favorite part (and likely why it’s a consumer favorite) is the integrated electric start. Most portable generators utilize a pull cable recoil start, which can be hard for those with mobility issues.

At only 59 dBa, this generator is one of the quietest we have seen, making it great for residential and overnight use. Click here to read my full review of the Champion 3400W Dual Fuel

Check Price on Amazon

2. Generac GP3300 Portable Generator

Producing only 100 watts less than the Champion, the Generac GP330 portable generator actually comes in at half the price, a great selling point for those looking for a budget friendly generator.

With 3,750 starting watts and 3,300 running watts, you can easily power a refrigerator while still supplying power to smaller appliances.

A fuel gauge and low oil shut down feature will help you keep your generator running properly for years to come.

At half-load, you can expect to get just a little over 10 hours from a single tank of fuel, which can be especially helpful for blackouts that last all day.

This generator is full of safety features that allow even the inexperienced to work with them safely, plus a series of breakers are built into the mainboard and are designed to trip in the event of an overload.

Check Price on Amazon

3. Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 PowerSmart Series

If you are looking for more options to plug in multiple appliances at once, look no further than this Briggs & Stratton 3545 P3000 generator.

Featuring 4 household outlets, a 12-volt locking outlet, and a USB port, this generator supplies 3,000 starting watts and 2,600 watts to many different appliances at the same time.

The integrated LCD screen allows you to easily read the important performance metrics on the go.

Ten hours of run time at 25% load will allow you to get things done without worrying constantly about refueling your generator.

This amount of power would be useful to power up an outdoor refrigerator.

This generator is extremely quiet as well, producing 58 decibels at 25% load, making it a great generator for residential use.
Check Price on Amazon

Which solar battery generators can power a fridge?

I have tested two larger solar battery generators that can power my household fridge / freezer without an issue: The Jackery 1000 and the EcoFlow Delta 1300. The Ego Power would likely work as well, but I have not tested that specific generator yet.

Battery Powered Generator Options for powering a refridgerator

In my review of battery-powered generators, the top 2 wattage picks might be able to power your fridge on just batteries. It will depend on your wattage of course, but these two battery banks output the most watts for the longest amount of time: The EcoFlow Delta 1300 is the best overall large battery-powered generator. It can output 1,800W continuously. Watch the EcoFlow Delta 1300 handle the startup surge of my fridge / freezer with no problem:

Fridge Test: EcoFlow Delta 1300. Will it power a household refrigerator & freezer?

EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station EFDELTA, UPS Power Supply 1260Wh Battery Pack with 6 1800W (3300W Surge) AC Outlets, Solar Battery Generator for Outdoor Camping RV
  • 【6x 1800W AC OUTLETS & 1260Wh CAPACITY】Equipped with large invertor load, which can power most home appliances and heavy duty DIY tools under 1800W (3300W Surge, PURE SINE WAVE) : like TV, Fridge, Coffee Machine, Microwave Oven, CPAP, Drill and Saw. With 1260Wh capacity, EFDELTA can be truly a backup generator that keeps the lights, fridges running for hours.
  • 【RECHARGE FROM 0% TO 80% WITHIN 1 HOUR】EFDELTA can be recharged from 0% to 80% in 1 hour and to 100% in 1.6 hours. X-STREAM TECHNOLOGY: ECOFLOW patented X-Stream Technology empowers EFDELTA recharged at 10 times the speed of most portable power stations in the market with just a standard AC cable. (NO HEAVY, BULKY ADAPTOR or BRICK).
  • 【FASTEST RECHARGE BY SOLAR AND CAR】EFDELTA MPPT Controller guarantees faster recharge rate of solar and the wider compatibility with any solar panel: Open Circuit voltage(OCV): 10-65V/ 10A max, 400W Max Input. (MC4 to XT60 Solar Cable Included). SOLAR RECHARGE TIME: EFDELTA can be fully recharged by solar panel in about 4 Hours . CAR RECHARGE TIME: it can be fully charged through a 12/24V car port in 10-12 HOURS.

The Jackery 1000 can also handle most fridges, as it has a surge Watt rating of 2000W and a sustained of 1000W. Check out my Fridge test on the Jackery 1000:

Fridge Test: Jackery Explorer 1000. Will it power my household fridge & freezer?

The Ego Power can output 2,000W but has a much lower capacity (depends on the number and capacity of batteries you plug into it). Both of these could power most fridges on battery power alone.

Ego POWER+ Nexus Portable Power Station (3000W) (CARB Compliant)
  • 3000-Watt peak 2000-Watt continuous
  • Three 120-Volt A/C outlets, 4 USB ports
  • Quiet clean power for indoor and outdoor use; Battery powered alternative to gas generators.

Check out all the Solar Generators that can power a fridge here.

Conclusion

Overloading your generator can put you at risk of damaging it and could cause a fire or bodily injury in extreme cases. We highly suggest you never guess the wattage and take the time to research your specific model number for the correct wattage.

Protecting your food during a blackout is usually priority number one, and with a portable generator, you can easily keep your food safe.

Having a portable generator that adequately supports your refrigerator running watts and starting watts is going to be the biggest factor when choosing which generator to use.

Find a generator that can support your refrigerator’s power needs plus a little extra--just in case you need to power anything else in the meantime.

Before plugging in your refrigerator, ensure that your generator can handle the starting and running watts of your fridge.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about powering a refrigerator with a portable generator!

Last update on 2020-08-03 Affiliate links & images from Amazon Product Advertising API

33 comments

  1. I’ve been using a 2000 watt generator to power a refrigerator and a small freezer during power outages in Puerto Rico for about ten years now. No problems ever. After Hurricane Maria I used a pair of 2000 watt generators (one at a time) to power my house, and never had a problem. Typically, I would have the fridge, freezer, a few lights, computer an a television going at once, all on one 2000 watt generator. And I would get 9 – 10 hours of run time on one gallon of gas.

    1. Nevin Leder, if you have to run fridge long term, consider using a chest freezer and change the thermostat out to a fridge thermostat or just add one in-line on the plug and get a small inverter like a 300 watt morning star pure sine wave, 2 -100 Amp hour lead acid batteries and a 100 watt solar panel, you can run like this for 10 years at 1 deg above freezing for 10 years and zero gallons of gas and with all the fuel savings you’ll also be able to fill it with ice cold beers.

  2. Very well written, easy to understand language. I highly recommend this article to anyone who has purchased or is thinking about purchasing a generator for running household appliances in the event of a power outage.

      1. I just had a power outage for a week due to a snow storm in Redding CA. I was able to borrow a barley used 20 yr old Honda eu 2000. It powered my fridge, 2 TVs, cable modem, and a lamp with no problem. (the coffee pot stalled it).

    1. You do not need a 10kW generator, 8.5 amps is what is know as lock rotor amps or LRA which is the current required to start the fridge compressor and that is only 1000 watts and it’s only for the first two or three cycles, even a little 2 cycle $100 generator with nothing else running while it starts up will output this without an issue the flywheel / stator will have enough inertia to supply the startup, and the running watts of a fridge this size are closer to 150 watts, this is not a -80°C Sanyo Biomedical ultra low freezer they are trying to power, and those have liquid nitrogen / dryice backups just incase the large polyphase diesel / natural gas genertors in the hundreds or kilowatts if not megawatt range should fail. On a side note the freezer I used as an example by Sanyo which is a MDFU72VC will run on a 10,000 watt unit with both cascade compressers running at the same time.

    2. a 1 kW if it’s the only thing you are running but anything in 2 kW to 5 kW range would be ideal so you can also power a few lights, charge your cell phone, make a cup of coffee.

  3. I’m currently looking at my freezer to search for watts and I can’t find a figure. But can try to give description of freezers. I want to buy generator that can pull 5 double doors SAB Freezers 1200Liters

    1. Hi Tjothopa, that seems like a lot, you should get to know the running and starting watts for these refrigerating units. If you have the exact model name you can google it and try to find the manual.

    2. I’m with generatorgrid on this one, five doors, if they are glass fronted they will also have heaters to keep them frost free, and those can use a huge amount of power but a quick email to SAB-foodtec with the model or a photo and they will more then likely be able to tell you, they do lots of commercial fridges and freezers and lots of commercial places will have generators as backups because if those fridges go down even for a few hours can cause thousands of dollars in product losses to a business so they may even likely suggest a model to use so you don’t have a problem, and you might also want to look at automatic switchover gear and if your able to do load sheading by shuting down non-essential items like heated glass doors you might be able to use a smaller generator and less fuel.

  4. Can modern fridge, freezers and back up UPS units be used with generators that provide current to them with or without inverter technology? Or it must be only from a generator with inverter technology?
    Thank you

    1. You can, the APC smart ups’s work nicely, but here is the thing, the first thing an inverter in the fridge does is convert the incoming AC to DC via a diode bridge and then everything on the DC power is smoothed out by filtering capacitors and the the inverter switches the DC into AC again at much higher frequency and this allows the power supply to speed up and slow down the compressor as required. So if the inverter is a high quality unit it should have no problem on just about any generator that is able to supply the required current. But there are lots of low quality units even in large name brands line ups.

  5. So if I’m using a generator as a back up energy supply for power outages, does it have to be able to support the mini-fridge’s starting watts or would that not count as having to turn the fridge on since it’s just carrying on from the normal power supply?

    1. If you don’t run the generator at the maximum wattage not only will they last longer and burn less fuel, you won’t have a problem, the lights might dim slightly when the small compressor on the fridge starts for a few cycles but if you switch to LED lights you more then likely won’t notice it, and burn even less fuel.

  6. I want to run two refrigerators, a 60 nah Tv, a heater, a water boiler oven and a computer and two lights. Approx how much wattage do I need?

    1. Hi Donald, wattage requirements for a heater, water boiler, and lights can vary greatly. I suggest you check your individual appliances and use my calculator (link in the top right of my website menu above)

  7. What size portable generator would I need for my refrigerator
    15.5 cubic feet
    115 volt AC
    60 hertz
    15 to 20 amplified grounded electrical supply
    Charge 4.37 oz

    1. a small one, 2 kW if your not using anything else, but if it’s for short term useage like emergancies you might want to get a slightly larger unit like a 5 kW because when the power goes out, it does get very dark at night, kids get boarded, cell phones need to be recharged so a few extra watts never hurt, and something most people overlook is there cords, get a good quality cord to plug the fridge into the generator with 14 AWG minimum but 12 or 10 AWG is better if you have to run it like 100 feet. If your looking at running a fridge long term, just convert a chest freezer into a fridge and you can go solar with a 300 watt morningstar pure sine wave inverter, a 100 watt solar panel, and 2-100 Amp hr bateries and a charge controller, a smaller well build chest freezer will run for the next decade like this at 1 deg c if you maintain the battery every couple of months ( add distilled water ) and clean the crud off the panels twice a year or as needed if your in an area with snow / leaves falling.

  8. I can run an older refrigerator off my generator but not a newer LG model
    I’m told the current from a generator might be “dirty” and the newer fridges won’t run because of the computerized systems. I was also told a plug of some kind can be bought that would buffer and clean up this problem. Is that true and where can I buy it

    1. There is no magic cure for this, but some people have had luck using there generator and an APC smart series UPS for a computer with a pure sine wave output, and you can get Liebert fully active UPS or other double conversion inverters which will work, the Lieberts output power is cleaner then the utilities power, but you should also be able to use a ferroresonant transformer but they do have a few drawbacks, they are heavy, they are made from Copper which is expensive, they are not very effiecent so they run warm and waste power which when running a generator is fuel but on the plus side of things they will clean up most power issues and they pretty much last forever look for a used one, Sola’s pop up on used sites all the time for a few bucks, if you want to go that route, even if they 30 years old, I have yet to see one that doesn’t work.

  9. Hello. I have the same question as you. I tried 2 different generators and both would not power up my fridge. Like you I suspected that since it was new and somewhat computerized, that it would not accept the generators power.

  10. I can only guess that if you want to power all these appliances and lights you may have to get the generac 22000 having the most powerful generator available is the option, yes? I also thought that generators were supposed to work on old and new appliances alike if they dont work on the older appliances are there still older generators available for those of us who dont have the newest stuff? We simply like the older more reliable things that were made to last decades not a couple of years.

    1. newer generators will run older appliance and older generators for the most part will also run newer appliances, it’s just that some low quailty inverter appliances are some what picky on the incoming power supply, normally those are the more expensive models, do you really need a Wifi connected fridge ? And I like you, do like older things when the power goes out I don’t need a generator to have a hot cup of coffee the old coleman M-1950 stove and an all glass pyrex perculator it does make an execellent cup of joe, so you can go with an older unit if you like. Some of the older natural gas Onan’s will run for thousands of hours trouble free, if you want to use a liquid fuel the Kubota diesel generators will do like 20,000 hours before even needing an old change ( Oh the joy of dual large spin on oil filters ) and most older units are 4 pole generator heads so they run at an RPM of 1800 half the speed of newer units so this also helps them last longer, they also have copper windings which regardless of what anyone says is way better then Aluminum windings used in some newer generators and if you want a generator that lasts the test of time you can always get a lister hit and miss slow speed engine which will sip fuel and with a good inverter your output power will be better then utility quality power ( but since these are huge cast iron units they are not portable but if you put them in a garden shed with a bit of insultation you won’t even hear them running, but on the plus side they won’t grow legs and walk away in the middle of the night which when there is an emergancy does happen more then you would like to think, but be warned lister engines are worth a few bucks but they have been know to run for decades non stop, well ok basically non-stop you do have to change the oil every once and a while, and they only use about a 1/3 of gallon / hour of diesel and can output about 8000 watts of power, try doing that with a modern generator, they did design and build things back in the 1920 to last the test of time.

  11. Thanks for the informative article!
    A question: What about folks who live in high-rise buildings and are generally not permitted to have fuel-driven generators? Are there any battery-type portable generators that are powerful enough to operate refrigerators? Or must one look at a hard-wired “standby generator” to serve this demand? Thanks.

    1. The problem with battery driven generators is power storage, you will need a fairly large unit to store the amount of energy needed to run a fridge for any length of time, but something like a Tesla powerwall will power a fridge alone for a good few days, but they need to be hardwired, and they cost way more then a high quality small inverter genset, if your only looking at a few hours the simplest thing to do is just not open the fridge, also adding bottles of water in your freezer will give you more time by just moving them to the fridge and allowing them to melt in the fridge, but if you need to go several days and you can’t use a gas generator in your location either eat the food neighbour BBQ’s are always fun, or toss it, and yes hardwired if it’s an option wouldn’t have an issue running a fridge, but in a power outage situation odds the managment noticing an quite little generator like a Honda EU1000 or Generac IQ2000 running on your deck is pretty small, and somtimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness then permission, but if you have a 5000 watt coleman screaming for hours expect them to say something. On a side note if your going to use a small genset on a concrete deck consider placing it on a few anti-fatigue foam type mats this will make it even quiter by absorbing any vibrations from the unit transmitting sound though the concrete.

      If your using your fridge for storing say prescription meds you might also want to look at a small 3 way cooler like a Mobicool or Dometic 3-way absorbtion cooler, they use those little 1 lb propane tanks and they will run over a day on a single tank, almost a month on a 20lb bbq tank ( place it on your deck when using it on propane so you don’t bring CO in your house ) they are totally silent, really they make less noise then a top of the line fridge.

  12. I just purchased a new NON-INVERTER emergency generator (4375 starting watts/3500 running watts) for my mobile home in case of a power outage this winter. What kind of electricity conditioning device(s) do I need to put between the generator and a refrigerator, LED flat-screen TV, a modem/router and a few LED lights that would “clean up” the power and produce a constant 60hertz so that I don’t damage anything? Many thanks.

  13. I am preparing for years of PSPS and would like a suggestion of what generator is best for my needs. We had 6 PSPS in a month and resources in my town dwindled. I’m going to buy a chest freezer specific for ice storage for putting in refrigerator, freezer and ice chest. I feel like propane is a safer transportation and storage option because I live in an appointment with small shed. I have a power bank for phone and tablet recharge that recharged in my car overnight. I’m not interested in running everything ( I’m looking at it as camping with a comfortable bed) but I would like to run a radiant heater, small cooking appliances and maybe a light. Bonus for lightweight because I have to move it upstairs by myself

    1. Check out the reviews on this site but basically your look at a small 3.5 kW inverter would be the best solution if you are basically glamping and ideally look at getting a dual fuel (propane/gas) type unit, which is ideal because if you run out of propane you can generally find gas, sure it might involve work but it can be found. The only issue you might have is the heating, running electric heaters consume lots of power, a small space heater will suck down 1.5 kW easy, you might want to look at going with a small kerosene or propane heater, just make sure you open a window as required for ventilation, unless a single small electric heater is enough to warm your living space. Coleman lanterns also output a good bit of heat as well, The other thing you can do is turn the heater off overnight and consider using an electric blanket they only use about 200 watts so you will save fuel and wear and tear on the generator.

      If there is anything like meds that require refridgeration you can also get small portable propane or 3-way powered coolers that will keep them cool and only consume just under 1 pound of propane a day, you can find them in most good camping stores and they do show up used for about $100 every now and then they not super light but if they are empty, they are fairly easy to handle. For cooking you might want to look into a small cassette stove or propane stove.

      Don’t run propane fridges or generators indoor, the only thing you should be carrying up stairs is a good quality power cord, and if you get a larger sealed lead acid battery you can store them indoors and charge them indoors which will let you power small items like phone chargers LED lights and a 100 amp hour battery will keep your phone running all month long without needing to be recharged and if you add a solar panel you can keep it going for years.

      Another thing to consider if you have non stop power issues is converting a chest frezzer into a fridge, if you do this all you need is 2 larger car batteries a small pure sine wave inverter, like a morningstar 300 watt unit, 100 to 200 watts in panels depending on where you are located, a charge controller, and a small thermostat, and it will run 24-7 365 without needing to be connected to the grid and it will keep several hundered soda/beer cans at 1 Deg C without an issue. A chest frezzer conversion will consume about 100 watt hours per day they are very efficent, a standard upright fridge will consume about 2000 watt hours per day.

  14. Hi, I haven’t been able to find the starting wattage for my fridge anywhere,
    GE® ENERGY STAR® 27.0 Cu. Ft. French-Door Refrigerator. Any idea what it would be and which generator I should be looking at? Thanks!

  15. Hello, are there any portable freezer chests that can be run by a generator? Thank you for your help.

  16. Located in So Cal scheduled outages the new norm I don’t mind so much but our Adult son with autism has full meltdowns. We have finished off basement with a renter so we have 3 refrigerators 5 ton central heat/air unit. Desk top computer 3 TVs and overhead room lights. Plus water heater when needed. I would be fine to unplug a refrigerator for an hour to run washer or toaster oven. I’m looking at the XP duromax 13000eh I’m reading about transfer switch so no long cords. Can you wire a portable with a transfer switch so automatically goes to generator if power lost?

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