What Size Generator Is Required To Run A Refrigerator?

When a power outage strikes, you’re likely to worry about the food stored in your refrigerator and freezer. But here’s the good news, you can keep them running using the right size generator. But the question is, what size generator is required to run a Refrigerator and Freezer?

The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. You see, various factors come into play – the age and size of your refrigerator, its design, additional features, usage frequency, and power requirements, to name a few. Then, there’s also the duration of the power outages you typically face, your budget, concurrent usage of other appliances, and even your location’s elevation to consider.

This article aims to help you unravel the complexities associated with choosing the appropriate generator size. To do this, we’ll touch on some essential electrical concepts, provide detailed explanations, and align our information with recognized electrical standards and regulations. We’ll also provide a handy fridge wattage chart and discuss the types of generators available in the market.

Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner or a first-time renter, this guide is designed to make you feel at ease and part of a community that values well-informed decisions. So, let’s dive in and discover what it takes to keep your refrigerator and freezer running during power outages.

Before we get into specifics, it’s crucial to understand what you’re looking at in terms of power requirements.

Understanding Power Requirements

  • Starting Watts: This is the initial surge of power required to start up an appliance. This surge is typically higher than the ongoing power needed to keep the appliance running.
  • Running Watts: This is the constant power that an appliance uses during normal operation after starting up.
What Size Generator Is Required To Run A Refrigerator Or Freezer?

Power Requirements of Refrigerators and Freezers

Here are some typical power requirements of refrigerators and freezers, which might vary based on their size and model:

  1. Small Refrigerator: These refrigerators, typically used in dorm rooms or small apartments, require around 100-200 running watts, with starting watts around 300-400.
  2. Medium Refrigerator: These standard home refrigerators require about 150-200 running watts, but their starting watts can be between 800-1200 due to the initial surge when the compressor kicks in.
  3. Large Refrigerator: These larger units, often featuring water dispensers and ice makers, require about 200-700 running watts. The starting watts can range between 1200-2400.
  4. Chest Freezer: The running wattage for these units varies between 100-200 watts, with starting watts ranging from 500-1000.
  5. Upright Freezer: These freezers need around 150-300 running watts, and the starting watts are usually between 500-1500.

It’s crucial to understand these figures as they directly impact the size of the generator you’ll need to keep your fridge running during a power outage.

Wattage Requirement With An Example

Let’s illustrate this with an example. Assume that you have a medium-sized refrigerator with 200 running watts and 1200 starting watts and a chest freezer with 150 running watts and 800 starting watts.

The total running wattage you’d need is the sum of the running watts of both appliances, i.e., 200W (refrigerator) + 150W (freezer) = 350W.

However, considering the higher starting watts, you’d need a generator that can accommodate the higher of the two starting watts values, i.e., 1200W in this case, to handle the initial power surge. Therefore, you’d need a generator with at least 1200 starting watts and 350 running watts.

However, it’s recommended to add an extra 20-30% margin to your running wattage calculation for a safety buffer and the potential power needs of other small appliances. Therefore, a generator with at least 1200 starting watts and about 450-500 running watts should be ideal.

Suggested Generators for Running a Refrigerator and Freezer

Choosing the right generator involves balancing cost, power, fuel efficiency, and the generator’s intended use. Here are three generators well-suited for powering a refrigerator and a freezer:

  1. WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator: This generator provides 2000 surge watts and 1700 rated watts. It’s extremely quiet and portable, making it great for residential use.
  2. Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator: Honda generators are known for their durability and reliability. This model provides 2200 starting watts and 1800 running watts, enough for most refrigerators and freezers. It’s also super quiet and fuel-efficient.
  3. Westinghouse iGen2200 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator: Providing 2200 peak watts and 1800 running watts, this generator is great for your power needs. It’s fuel-efficient, quiet, and has two 120V 20 Amp outlets and two USB ports.

Factors to consider while selecting the Generator Required To Run A Refrigerator And Freezer

While selecting a generator to power your refrigerator and freezer, it’s important to consider several factors to ensure you make the right choice.

  1. Wattage: The first and foremost consideration is the total wattage requirement. Make sure the generator can handle the combined starting (surge) and running (rated) wattages of your refrigerator and freezer, with a 20-30% safety margin for running watts.
  2. Type of Generator: There are different types of generators – standby, portable, inverter, etc. Standby generators offer higher power and automatically turn on during power outages but are more expensive. Portable and inverter generators are more affordable and offer mobility. Inverter generators are also quieter and produce cleaner power, which is safer for sensitive electronics.
  3. Fuel Type: Generators can run on different types of fuels, such as gasoline, propane, diesel, or natural gas. Each has its pros and cons in terms of availability, cost, storage, runtime, and environmental impact. Choose the one that best fits your needs and circumstances.
  4. Noise Level: Generators can be noisy. If you live in a residential area with noise restrictions or if you value peace and quiet, consider a generator with a low decibel rating, like many inverter generators.
  5. Runtime: Check the generator’s runtime at half-load. This tells you how long the generator can run without refueling. Longer runtimes are typically more convenient.
  6. Number and Type of Outlets: Ensure the generator has enough outlets for your needs and they are the right type. Some generators come with USB ports, which can be handy for charging phones and other devices.
  7. Portability: If you plan to use the generator for camping or other outdoor activities or need to store it away when not in use, a generator with easy portability (wheels, handles) is desirable.
  8. Ease of Use: Features like electric start, low-oil shutoff, and easy-access control panels can make generators much more user-friendly.
  9. Reliability and Warranty: Choose a reputable brand with good customer reviews and a strong warranty. This helps ensure you’re covered if anything goes wrong.
  10. Price: Of course, price is always a factor. It’s about finding a balance between affordability and the features you need.

Selecting the right generator is not just about power requirements but also about convenience, usability, and personal preferences. It’s always advisable to do thorough research and consider all factors before making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the potential risks of using a too-small generator for my refrigerator and freezer?

Using an undersized generator risks damaging your refrigerator and freezer. It may cause frequent power interruptions, damage the appliances’ compressors, and spoil food due to inconsistent temperatures. It’s crucial to get the right generator size.

How does the age of my refrigerator and freezer impact the size of the generator I need?

Older refrigerators use more energy, requiring a larger generator. Modern models are energy-efficient, needing less power. So, understanding your fridge’s age helps in choosing the right generator, ensuring optimal performance and cost-effectiveness.

Can the type of freezer, whether it’s built-in or on top, affect the power consumption and, therefore, the generator size?

Yes, the type of freezer significantly impacts power consumption. Built-in or top-mounted freezers require less energy, thus, a smaller generator. Carefully consider your freezer type when choosing a generator for optimal performance.

How does the use of additional features like an ice maker influence the size of the generator I should consider?

“Well, my dear ice-obsessed friend, an ice maker elevates your fridge’s power consumption. So, for your ice-cold desires, a bigger generator is the ticket. Remember, more features equal more power, hence a larger generator.”

How does the frequency of my refrigerator use affect the generator size I need?

The more frequently you use your refrigerator, the larger generator you’ll need. Consider a model with a sizable fuel tank for longer run times if your fridge is on for over 12 hours daily.


Choosing the right generator to keep your refrigerator and freezer running during power outages is like assembling a puzzle with various pieces. Each factor, such as your refrigerator’s size, design, age, power requirements, and usage frequency, plays a significant role in the decision-making process.

Ensuring you consider these factors will lead to making an informed choice, avoiding any potential hiccups. Remember, it’s all about maintaining that delicate balance between power requirement and generator capacity, ensuring your appliances run smoothly and efficiently.

Always remember to consider the initial power surge (starting watts) when choosing a generator, and account for an extra safety margin on top of the running watts. Choose a reputable brand, keeping in mind your power needs and budget.

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