There are times when you really want to have a working television and your generator is the best or the only option to power it.
You wouldn’t want to be in that position only to find that your generator was overloaded!
This post will help you understand generators and televisions and how they work (or don’t work) together.
How Much Watts Does a TV Consume?
The reason it can be hard to say whether or not a particular television and a particular generator will work together is because there is a lot of variety.
To answer whether a portable generator can power your TV, you need to know how many watts it consumes.
There is a huge variety here, depending on the size of the screen, the type of television (LCD, Plasma, etc.), and whether or not it is energy-efficient.
Those are some basic guidelines but the only way to know how many watts your television consumes is to look it up.
This information is easy to find in the TV’s manual or you can easily find it online or from a retailer.
Starting Watts versus Running Watts
When buying a portable generator, you’ll always see them discussed in terms of both starting or surge watts and running or rated watts.
Many things require an extra boost of power when starting up and less continuous power when in use.
This mostly applies to tools and appliances with motors.
Your dishwasher would use that extra surge of wattage but your television does not.
You only need to pay attention to the wattage listed for your particular model of television.
As long as this number comes in lower than the running watts the generator is rated for, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Is the TV Sharing the Load?
Since most TVs have a small enough wattage, they will typically be easily powered by even a lower-power portable generator.
However, it’s unlikely that the television is the only thing you’ll be powering.
You always have to add up the total wattage of everything you have connected to the generator (Click here to check out our total wattage calculator to estimate your needs).
If you don’t do this and you try to power more than the generator can handle, it will overload.
Why you need an "inverter" for your tv screen
With electronics, it’s pretty vital that you have an inverter generator.
Inverter technology protects your sensitive electronics by keeping the energy clean and steady.
When the voltage is stable without big fluctuations, your electronics aren’t at risk for serious and permanent damage.
If your generator is not an inverter, the answer to whether or not it can power your TV is no.
It might be able to power the television, but it would be putting the TV at great risk.
The Noise Factor
Another thing to consider is the noise factor.
Some generators get quite loud, especially when running a heavy load.
You don’t want to have to compete for the television volume with the generator volume.
If you’re running a generator and blasting a television, there’s a good chance you’re going to start to annoy your neighbors or anyone nearby.
This is something to think about when you’re buying a generator.
The good news is that portable generators continue to get quieter.
Many great models are on the market that are only about as loud as normal conversation (Click here to see our top 10 quietest generators list).
Portable Generators to Power a TV - My recommendations
Even the smallest portable inverter generators should be able to handle powering a TV.
Since you more than likely will want to power other things with the generator at the same time, though, it’s a good idea to choose a generator with a bit more power, at least 1600 watts.
The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is one good option (Click here to check the latest price on Amazon). It’s rated for 1600 watts, it uses inverter technology, and it’s known for consistent performance and durability. It’s also extremely quiet.
If your total wattage needs are quite a bit higher, the Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 is worth looking at.
It has four AC outlets and is rated for 2600 watts.
The noise level is a bit higher on this generator but it will only reach that “too loud to hear the TV” level if you’re operating a max-capacity load with a lot of additional things plugged in as well as the television.
If you want to settle in and watch some movies without having to stop to refuel too often, you might want to look at the Champion Dual Fuel Inverter.
At a 500-watt load (more than enough to cover a television and a DVD player), it will last for nearly 12 hours.
It’s also rated for 3400 watts and you can use either gasoline or propane for fuel.
Like the Briggs & Stratton model, this generator has the potential to be fairly loud but the noise level should still be within the realm of reason.
Wrapping it up
It’s usually possible to power a TV with a portable generator but it’s important to understand the wattage needs to know if your generator can handle it.
In addition to finding out how much wattage your TV requires, you need to take into account the total wattage of everything you are powering.
To safely power your TV with a portable generator, it’s important that the generator is an inverter.
Have you ever powered a TV with a generator? How was the noise factor?
Do you have any questions about generators and TVs that we didn’t cover?
Let us know in the comments.