How much can a 2000-12000 watt generator run?

Before buying a generator, it is very important to know what appliances a generator can run. There are different sizes of generators available on the market. Different sizes mean different power output capacity. A majority of the people find it very difficult to assess what size of generator they need and how much power different appliances consume. In this article, we will solve this problem for you by discussing how much appliances some of the common sized-generators can run. We will also list some of the appliances and the power they consume for starting up and running. The best estimate for your generator is based on the starting power and not on the running power. Starting power is the amount of electrical power an appliance needs to boost up.

Let’s get down to business now

What Appliances a 2000 watt generator runs?

Working with a 2000 watt generator is a bit of a technical thing to do. Since you have less total power, you need to manage your appliances with some calculations. On the whole, a 2000 watt generator can run a deep freezer, one element of the electric stove, some lights and your laptop charger or desktop computer.

Once you have started your generator, make sure you do not add the entire load at once. First of all, add heavy appliances. Your refrigerator takes up to 700 watts for starting and 200 watts for running; you can use the remaining wattage to power up your other devices. You can also use this power to start up your sump pump to remove water from your basement during times of blackout and rains. It takes around 1200 watts to start and 800 watts to run. In this case, you are still left with around 600 watts of power; you can utilize this power to juice up your lights, laptop or phone charger and other small appliances.

A 2000 watt generator can run water heaters that have starting wattage under 2000 watts, provided that the load is not being shared. You need to check the starting and running wattage of an appliance before adding it to your generator. Your 2000 watt generator can easily manage any appliance with a starting wattage of 1800-1900 watts.

What Appliances can a 3000 watt generator run?

With a 3000 watt generator, you have additional 1000 watts as compared to the above setting. You can add kitchen appliances like microwave oven (1000 watts), small coffee maker (1000 watts), food processor (400 watts).  Other appliances like DVD player, TV Security system can also be adjusted in a 3000 watts generator depending upon the available wattage and what appliances you are running on your generator.

1000 watts can make a huge difference, provided you add and remove the appliances in the right way.

What Appliances a 4000 Watts Generator Run?

If you want to run an air conditioning unit, 4000 watts is the minimum you need to power up a small window air conditioning unit of 10,000 BTU. It takes around 3600 watts for starting up and around 1200 to keep running. Once it is up and running, you will have enough wattage left to run your refrigerator, lights, TV and other appliances. The trick here is to again add devices one by one so that they can take starting wattage and then work at running wattage. In this way, you will get more out of your generator.

What Appliances can a 5000 watt generator run?

With a 5000 watt generator, you can run many industrial appliances as well. Generators with size 5000 watts or more can easily accommodate industrial, recreational and home appliances as well. With 5000 watts generator, you can manage all the recreational appliances like RV air conditioner of 15000 BTU. Your electric girls, cooker, coffee maker, heaters, laptop chargers, satellite receiver, fans and DVD player along with an LCD can all be run by a 5000 watts generator. Similarly, when it comes to industrial appliances, it has enough juice to run your medium-sized construction tools 1HP air compressor, grinder, hammers, and drills. For home users, you can manage air conditioners up to 15000 BTUs and other appliances with a starting power of fewer than 5000 watts.

What Appliances can a 7000-watt Generator run?

A 7000-watt generator is a perfect option to power up a small household unit of 3-4 people. You can even use it as a standby generator for a small home. It can easily manage appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, lights (a lot of them), heaters and security systems. It can also be used to run industrial motors with a maximum of 3 horsepower engines. Once they are started, such motors consume less running wattages, and then you can add more appliances on your generator to get more out of it.

What Appliances can a 9000 watt generator run?

Generators more than 7000 watts can be used as standby generators for average American households. Sizes more than 8000 and 9000 watts are perfect for medium and small-sized businesses and industries. A 9000-watt generator will run all the machines, motors with horsepower more than 3 and between 4. As the size increases, portability decreases. Generators more than 6000 watts are heavy and cannot be moved easily.

What Appliances can a 12000 watt generator run?

A 12000-watt generator can easily manage all the appliances listed in our list other than some heavy farm equipment. If you are considering buying such a generator for your home use, make sure you really need this much alternate power. 12000-watt generator is perfect to run industrial appliances that consume the same wattage for running and running. With this much power, you can 3-4 appliances at one time, without needing to turn off any single of them at one point of time.

How to get more out of your generator?

Getting more out of your generator is a technical thing to do. You must be aware of the starting and running wattages. We will guide you on how to have maximum benefit for a small generator like 3500 watts. Consider the following setup for your home:

AppliancesStarting WattageRunning Wattage
Furnace (1/4 hp fan)1600600
5 Lights300300

It is very clear from the table, that if you start all the devices at once, you will need a generator of 5500 or 6000 watts. It will be heavy on your pocket while purchasing, refueling, and maintenance. Instead, you get a 3500-watt generator for this setup, add the heavy equipment one by one and get more out of your generator.

Wattage Estimation Guide

Here is a complete guide regarding wattage estimation for a smaller generator.

Home AppliancesApproximate Starting WattageApproximate Running Wattage240V required?
Refrigerator or Freezer (Energy Star)1200132-192
Microwave Oven
650 Watts10001000
800 Watts13001300
1000 Watts15001500
Incandescent Lightsas indicated on bulb (i.e. 60W)as indicated on bulb (i.e 60W)
Furnace Fan, gas or fuel oil
1/8 Horsepower500300Yes
1/6 Horsepower750500Yes
1/4 Horsepower1000600Yes
1/3 Horsepower1400700Yes
1/2 Horsepower2350875Yes
Tube Type300300
Flat Screen 20″120120
Flat Screen 46″190190
Coffee Maker (4 Cup)600600
Dishwasher (Cool Dry)540216
Electric Fry Pan15001500
Electric Range (8-inch element)21002100Yes
Automatic Washer12001200
Clothes Dryer (Electric)67505400Yes
Radio50 to 20050  to 200
Sump Pump
1/3 Horsepower1300800Yes
1/2 Horsepower21501050Yes
Window Air Conditioner (10,000 BTU)22001500
Laptop200 to 250200 to 250
Desktop600 to 800600 to 800
Monitor (LCD)3030
Hot Water Heater45004500Yes
Garage Door Opener1420720

Note: If you want to manage a smaller generator for more power, see our section below and try to consider these facts.


AppliancesApproximate Starting WattageApproximate Running Wattage
Tube Type300300
Flat Screen120120
RV Air Conditioner
11000 BTU16001010
13500 BTU28001800
15000 BTU33002000
RV Refrigerator600180
Electric Grill (tabletop)16501650
Slow Cooker170-270170-270
Hair Dryer (1600 watts)19001800
Microwave Oven (650 watts)10001000
Coffee Maker600600
Radiant Heater13001300
Laptop computer250-200250-200
Satellite Receiver250250
Radio50 – 20050 – 200
Two-Way Radio
12 Amp360W360W
23 Amp840W840W
35 Amp960W960W
Fan (Portable)12040
DVD Player350350


For the constructional purpose, see our chart here to estimate power consumption and generation.

Contractor ApplicationsApproximate Starting WattageApproximate Running Wattage
Air Compressor
1/2 hp1600975
1 hp45001600
Bench Grinder (8 in.)25001400
Circular Saw (Heavy Duty, 7 1/4 in.)23001400
Concrete Vibrator
1/2 hp840 (avg)840 (avg)
1 hp1080 (avg)1080 (avg)
2 hp1560 (avg)1560 (avg)
3 hp2400 (avg)2400 (avg)
Demolition hammer1260 (avg.)1260 (avg.)
Drain cleaner250 (avg.)250 (avg.)
3/8 inch, 4 amps600440
1/2 inch, 5.4 amps900600
Electric Chain Saw (14 inches, 2 hp)11001100
Hand Drill (1/2 in.)900600
High-pressure Washer (1 hp)36001200
Rotary hammer1200 (avg.)1200 (avg.)
Table Saw (10 in.)45001800
Industrial Motors
Split Phase
1/8 Horsepower1200275
1/4 Horsepower1700400
1/3 Horsepower1950450
1/2 Horsepower2600600
Capacitor Start Induction Run
1/8 Horsepower850275
¼ Horsepower1050400
1/3 Horsepower1350450
½ Horsepower1800600
¾ Horsepower2600850
1 Horsepower30001000
1 ½ Horsepower42001600
2 Horsepower51002000
3 Horsepower68003000
4 Horsepower98004800
Capacitor Start Capacitor Run
1/8 Horsepower600275
¼ Horsepower850400
1/3 Horsepower975450
½ Horsepower1300600
¾ Horsepower1900850
1 Horsepower23001000
1-½ Horsepower32001600
2 Horsepower39002000
3 Horsepower52003000
4 Horsepower75004800
Fan Duty
1/4 Horsepower1200650

Farm Equipment

Check here the power management for farm equipment.

AppliancesApproximate Starting WattageApproximate Running Wattage
Electric Fence, 25 miles250250
Milk Cooler18001100
Milker (vacuum pump, 2hp)23001000
Portable Heater (kerosene, diesel fuel)
50,000 BTU600400
90,000 BTU725500
150,000 BTU1000625
Battery Charger
15 amp380380
60 amp with 250-amp boost1500/57501500/5750


You can keep in mind the following 3 things while buying a generator

  • What is the highest wattage a single device may need to startup? For example, you want to power an appliance with 3300 watts starting power; you will need a generator with higher power than 3300 watts.
  • What is the maximum running wattage you need at all times? For example, the maximum running wattage, you need in the above situation is 2900 watts, you can manage this in even a 3000-watt generator but it will be tough on your generator and machines as well. A 3500-watt generator will be able to cover up all your appliances in this case.
  • What appliances you are willing to sacrifice? If you are willing to let go of the TV or microwave oven during power outages, you can even manage with a smaller generator for basic things like lights, refrigerators, and fans. In this case, you will only need a 2000 watt generator. It is not only economical but also easy to maintain and store.
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2 thoughts on “How much can a 2000-12000 watt generator run?”

  1. What size generator do I need to power a 3.5 ton central air conditioner?
    I am going to install a 10 panel box connected to my existing panel box with A/C plug connected to generator. My plan is to power house just not sure size generator?
    Thanks for your help and recommendation.


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