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What Size Generator Do I Need To Run a Refrigerator and Freezer?

Last updated: February, 2024

So you are in need of an emergency home backup power supply.

One of the most important appliances in your household is probably your refrigerator.

It also happens to one of the most energy-consuming ones.

So the questions are: what Size Generator Do I Need To Run a Refrigerator and Freezer? Can a portable generator power a refrigerator?

The answer is: it depends.

The following article will tell you how big of a generator you need to run a refrigerator and freezer during a power outage.

We will also show you our recommendations for the best portable generators for refrigerators. If you are in a hurry and simply want to know which generator is reliable and powerful enough to run a refrigerator – we’d recommend you have a look at Champion 3400 Watt Dual Fuel Generator.

How Many Watts Does a Refrigerator Need?

Every refrigerator is different, and each of them has slightly different wattage requirements.

The best thing to do is to check your owner’s manual to look for this information.

You can also usually find this info on the manufacturer’s tag.

Note that there are two numbers you should pay attention to – starting watts and running watts.

Starting wattage (AKA surge wattage) refers to how much energy you need to start your refrigerator and freezer.

Running wattage (AKA rated wattage) is the power you need to run the appliance continuously after the initial startup.

On average, depending on their size, home refrigerators need around 1000-2000 starting watts.

The generator that can deliver at least 2000 starting watts will be sufficient to run both the refrigerator and the freezer without problems.

However, we advise you to get a slightly larger generator to be 100% on the safe side.

A larger unit would also give you some more spare power to run a few other things in your household such as lighting circuits or a TV.

Which is the best portable generator for a refrigerator and freezer?

A good generator that can produce at least 3000 starting watts would be an ideal choice for a refrigerator and a few more household items.

We particularly recommend getting a dual fuel generator. Since propane is cheaper than gasoline, it would save you quite some money on fuel.

Ideally, you should get an inverter generator, as these are much quieter, more portable and 100% safe to use with sensitive modern electronics such as home audio systems, laptops, and TVs.

The following 3 inverter generators are our recommended choices for refrigerators and freezers.

Champion 3400 Dual Fuel Inverter Generator

This generator produces 3400 starting and 3000 running watts of power.

That makes it perfect for running a refrigerator, freezer and several other things simultaneously.

The Champion generator is an inverter type.

It’s much quieter than conventional generators and perfectly runs your TV and other electronic equipment.

The great thing about this generator is that it is a dual fuel unit – you can run it either on gas or propane.

This would allow you to save quite a lot of money on fuel since running a generator on propane is much cheaper than relying solely on gasoline.

You would also get much longer total run time – more than 7 hours at 25% load on gas and 14 hours on propane.

That gives you a very solid 20 hour continuous running time.

Running this generator for so long will save you a lot of headaches during longer power blackouts.

We found the generator to be also pretty quiet for its power output.

At quarter load its noise level stays around 60 dB which is quite impressive result.

Basically it is as quiet as an idling car engine.

Overall it is a very good refrigerator to run a refrigerator and several other key household appliances.

If you need a reliable generator for emergencies – you should consider the Champion.

Pros
  • Dual Fuel – Gas & Propane

  • Very Quiet

  • Long runtime

  • Good Price to Quality Ratio

Cons
  • Wheels can get stuck on rougher surfaces

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WEN 56380i

WEN 56380i

WEN 56380i is an inexpensive yet very reliable 3000-watt generator providing enough power to run your refrigerator and freezer.

The generator is built to run as quietly and efficiently as possible. At the 25% load, its noise level is only around 57 decibels when measured from several feet away.

This is more or less the same noise level as two people having a conversation

This generator is very user-friendly and is super easy to run and maintain.

It is an inverter type so your sensitive electronic equipment is safe.

It actually comes with 2 USB ports for charging portable electronics.

Fuel economy is another strength of this generator.

At 50% load, you can expect its 2.2-gallon tank to last for around 8.5 hours.

It won’t be a problem to run your refrigerator for the whole night before having to refuel the generator.

Overall WEN 56380i is a very reliable and affordable generator, suitable for most homeowners and RV enthusiasts.

Pros
  • Long Continuous Runtime

  • Affordable Price Tag

  • Quiet Operation

  • Easy Electric Start

Cons
  • Plastic finishing

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Briggs and Stratton P3000

Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000The Briggs and Stratton P3000 3000 watt inverter generator is a good choice both as a home backup power supply and as a companion for RV and camping trips.

The generator provides enough power output to efficiently run your refrigerator and freezer.

What we like about this generator is its fuel economy.

The total run time at 25% load is around 10 hours which is a good result when compared to most of the competitors.

You should be able to run your refrigerator for a night without any difficulties.

In case you need more power in the future, you can parallel this generator with another 3000 watt inverter to double your total power output.

That would give you enough power at your disposal to run pretty much all important items in your household.

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Quiet

  • Enough power to run multiple appliances at once

Cons
  • Gets louder at higher loads

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Which Generator Type Should You Use for Running a Fridge

There are several things to consider when determining the generator type for running a fridge. The first is fuel type. Gasoline, propane, and standby gens are all common choices. Another type of generator gaining massive popularity these days is a battery-powered generator suitable for indoor use.

Gasoline

Gasoline generators are the most commonly used type. Larger gas generators tend to be bulky and noisy. However, the inverter generators are usually much quieter and more compact. They can also be used to run portable sensitive electronics such as laptops, TVs, and other gadgets. One downside of gas generators is that they cannot be used indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Dual Fuel

Dual fuel generators can run on either gasoline or propane, which may be more readily available in an emergency situation. They can also save you some money on gas and give more additional continuous runtime. This can be a real live-saver during emergency situations.

Standby

Standby generators are powered by natural gas or liquid propane and will automatically turn on in the event of a power outage. They are the most robust home backup power solution available in the market. However, they are expensive to install and require regular professional maintenance. On the other hand, installing a standby generator counts as a permanent addition to your property and can increase your house sale value.

Battery-powered

Battery-powered generators are a newer option that is silent and emissions-free. They are the only safe choice for indoor use. They can be recharged either via the wall socket or with the solar panels. Make sure you get the unit that has at least 2000 watt power output to ensure you can run your refrigerator smoothly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Generator Damage a Refrigerator?

You should be able to use most portable generators to run your refrigerator without any problems.

It’s true that sensitive electronics like laptop computers or home audio systems demand clean sine wave electricity to operate properly. That’s why inverter generators are the only bulletproof solutions to run these.

Refrigerators are a completely different bunch though. Neither a refrigerator or a freezer classifies as sensitive appliances. You can safely run them using a conventional open frame generator.

Having said that, we still recommend going with the inverter generators such as the Champion 3400 since they are much quieter and lighter than conventional open-frame generators.

They would also allow you to eg. run your TV or home audio system during a long and boring blackout.

Can a 5000 watt generator run a refrigerator and freezer?

The answer to this question depends on the type of refrigerator and freezer you have. If you have a standard fridge and freezer, then a 5000-watt generator should be able to run both appliances without any issues. However, if you have a larger fridge or freezer, or if you need to power a few more devices such as TV, window AC, and lighting circuits, then you may need a bigger generator. If in doubt, check out our calculator to get a more detailed quote.

What size generator do I need to run a refrigerator and TV?

Again, the answer to this question depends on the size and type of your refrigerator and TV. A standard fridge and TV can both be run on a 2000-watt generator. However, if you think you might need to run a couple of more electrical devices on top of these two, you may need a bigger generator. If you’re not sure, use our generator wattage calculator to get a better estimate.

Conclusion

In our research, we have come to the conclusion that the best generator for a refrigerator is the dual-fuel inverter type.

Running the generator on propane is not only cheaper than gasoline but also more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Inverter generators are also smaller, quieter, and suitable for powering sensitive electronics such as your computer and the LCD TV.

In order to ensure you can run both your refrigerator and freezer for several hours and still have some spare power at your disposal, we’d recommend going for an inverter generator with a total output of at least 3000 watts.

For these reasons, we believe that the Champion 3400 is the best generator to run a refrigerator and freezer.