Can a Generator Damage a Refrigerator? – Detailed Analysis

You are planning to run your refrigerator/freezer on a generator, but you aren’t sure if it is safe? Are there any size requirements? What is the operating time? This guide will help you decide.

The process of running a refrigerator/freezer on a generator is completely safe as long as your generator has sufficient wattages to operate your desired refrigerator. A refrigerator with 700 – 900 running and 1500 – 2000 starting watts could be run smoothly with a 2000-watt generator. 

Can a Generator Damage a Refrigerator?

If you are overloading the generator with multiple appliances, you will find a voltage drop which will drastically affect the electrical assemblies of the refrigerator in the worst case you will lose the compressor. In addition to that, the generator will also affect you can check out our guide about overloading the generator.

PRO TIP: Get a larger generator of 3000 watts or 5000 watts if you are going to use multiple appliances simultaneously.

How Many Watts Does It Take To Run a Refrigerator?

The wattage needs of a refrigerator are dependent on the size and technology you are going to use, some old school refrigerator needs 1000 – 1200 of running and 2000 – 3000 starting watts which is insane, however, the modern refrigerator with the latest inverter technologies with energy star certifications consumes between 100 – 600 running and 700 – 2000 starting watts depending on the size you are going to use.

Refrigerator SizeStarting WattsRunning Watts
Mini Fridge200 – 40050 – 100
Small500 – 800130 – 200
Big/Jumbo1000 – 25003000 – 5000
RV Refrigerators40 – 6080 – 180

You can also use the formula below to get the actual figure of what wattages or power you will need to operate a particular refrigerator.

Check out our guide about the best solar generator for refrigerators

Power (Watts) = Volts x Amps

In addition to that, you will find an EnergyGuide sticker on the back of the refrigerator which will tell you how much wattage a certain refrigerator will consume. In the U.S. the energy guide sticker comes in a yellow color however in Canada and other regions you may find it in white color.

What Size Generator Do I Need for Powering a Refrigerator?

can a generator damage a refrigerator?

Typically a 2000-watt inverter generator could perform well if you have a normal-sized modern refrigerator, however, if you have a large/jumbo-sized refrigerator and also you have to operate other accessories as well, it is best to go for a 3000 – 5000 watt generator.

I am using DuroMax XP5500EH because I need to run an 800 watts jumbo refrigerator and some more appliances and tools like a sump pump, vacuum, drills, grinders, etc. simultaneously.

Below is the table to get better ideas about refrigerator wattages.

Refrigerator SizeRequired Generator Size
Mini1000 watts
Small2000 watts
Big3000 watts
Jumbo4000 – 5000 watts

How Long Can a Refrigerator Run on a Generator?

A generator is capable to run a refrigerator for about 4 – 6 hours; however, I always follow the 1:4 rule, like one hour running of a refrigerator, could provide sufficient cooling to my food for about 3 – 4 hours unless I am in a harsh region or I opened the refrigerator’s door multiple times.

For the safe side, if you are in a warmer region keep operating the refrigerator right after 3 hours to maintain the temperature below 40° F (4° C), you can find further precautionary measures for temperatures from FDA.

Why I Don’t Need to Run a Refrigerator for a Long Time on a Generator?

The generator needs rest; a portable generator is not built to run 24/7, you have to switch it off after a few hours.

You need to burn fuel which is not only good for the environment but also consumes your money.

You need to change the engine oil, filter, etc. of the gen-set which will also cost you.

Why Is My Refrigerator Not Producing Sufficient Cooling Even After Running a Generator for an Hour?

The following thing may affect the cooling of your refrigerator.

Old Model: old refrigerators are not that efficient and need more wattage as well, make sure to replace them with a newer inverter model.

Leaked Seals: Make sure to check out the seals, if they are leaked, replace them.

Inappropriate Placement: If you have placed your fridge in a warmer area you may not get optimum performance.

Full Refrigerator: If your refrigerator is full of food, they also absorb some cooling and you need to run your generator a bit more on a generator to keep balance.

Opening The Door Rapidly: If you are opening the door of your refrigerator rapidly, you may lose the cooling drastically.

Can I Run Multiple Appliances and a Refrigerator on a Generator

For that, you have to do work on starting and running watts of your generator, refrigerator, and other appliances.

Below are some real-life examples:

  1. You have a generator of 3000 watts that can produce about 2800 – 3000 starting and 3200 – 3500 starting watts, You can easily operate a refrigerator/freezer of 1000 running and 1500 starting watts with multiple other appliances since you have more 1800 – 2000 running and 1700 – 2000 watts.
  2. If you have a generator that can only produce 1000 running and 1500 starting watts and you are going to operate a refrigerator with 1200 starting and 900 running watts, you don’t have a window to operate other appliances. You have to purchase a bigger one.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Can A Portable Generator Power A Freezer?

Yes, a portable generator is not only the best option for a small-sized refrigerator but also can run an RV or house refrigerator, you only have to care about the starting and running watts of the refrigerator and generator, if they are compatible you are good to go.

Will a 2000-watt generator run a refrigerator?

A regular 2000-watt generator can produce 1800 – 2000 running watts and 2000 – 2500 starting watts, which is sufficient to run a larger refrigerator. However, if you need to run other appliances, you’ll have to get a bigger generator.

Can I use other appliances simultaneously with a refrigerator on a generator?

It depends, if you have a larger generator with 4000 starting and 5500 running watts you can easily run a small to large refrigerator/freezer with other appliances, however, a 1000-watt generator may not be able to fulfill your wish.

Can an inverter generator run a refrigerator?

Yes, if an inverter generator has sufficient running and starting watts.

josh Milan


Josh is a highly skilled electrician with specialized expertise in the field of generators. With years of experience under his belt, he has established himself as an expert in all aspects of generators, ranging from installation and maintenance to troubleshooting and repairs. Josh’s in-depth knowledge of electrical systems and his commitment to staying updated with the latest industry advancements make him a reliable and sought-after professional.

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