You may be looking for a generator to power your home in an emergency, but how do you know what generator you need? Is a 2000 watt generator enough to take care of your family’s basic needs?
A 2000 watt generator can easily run most small household appliances such as laptops, coffee makers, cell phone chargers, lightbulbs, and even your household refrigerator. You might also be able to run your dishwasher and your washing machine. The starting watts and running watts of your specific generator will tell you what you can and cannot run.
In this article, we’ll talk about what appliances your 2,000-watt generator can run. We’ll explain the critical difference between starting watts and running watts and teach you how to use those numbers to calculate which appliances you can run together. First, we’ll take a look at the difference between starting watts and running watts.
Starting Watts and Running Watts of a 2,000 Watt Generator
A watt is a unit of power used to measure electrical output. Every appliance requiring electricity uses a certain number of watts to run. Smaller appliances require fewer watts to run, and larger appliances or appliances with motors require a lot more. You also need to look at the difference between starting watts and running watts.
Running watts, or continuous watts, are the total amount of watts a generator can supply continuously. A 75-watt lightbulb will require a constant 75 watts of electricity to stay lit. However, an appliance with a motor will need extra watts to start up and then a continuous amount of watts to keep running.
Starting watts, sometimes known as surge watts, are a small burst of watts that a generator can supply to power up a motor. Usually, this is only needed for a few seconds to get the motor started before it returns to running watts.
Most 2000 watt generators can supply at least 200 starting watts, but some can produce much more, even up to 3250 watts. It all depends on the particular generator you have. You can find this information on the outside of the box when you purchase a new generator. You also should be able to find the information in the owner’s manual and sometimes on the generator itself.
If you don’t have enough starting watts for the items you are running, you won’t power them up successfully. You might damage your equipment or the generator, so make sure you have your numbers right.
How Many Appliances Can a 2000 Watt Generator Run?
In a best-case scenario, you wouldn’t run your generator at more than 90% of its maximum continuous watts, or about 1800 watts. Running your generator at 90% of its capacity gives your generator a little room to work easily and leaves a margin for error if your appliances pull extra watts here and there. But if you are running a 2,000-watt generator, you can technically run up to 2000 watts worth of machines at a time.
For example, you could run several small appliances simultaneously provided their total electricity needs do not exceed 2000 watts. You might want to run a couple of lamps, a laptop, and a coffee maker, and your generator should be able to handle those.
On the other hand, if you are trying to run your clothes dryer, it will exceed the number of watts that your generator can provide, especially if you are trying to run other devices. Overloading your generator in this manner could damage both your generator and your appliances.
Starting and Running Watts of Typical Household Appliances
|Appliance||Starting Watts||Running Watts|
|75 Watt Light Bulb||N/A||75|
|Cell Phone Charger||N/A||25|
|50 Inch LCD TV||N/A||150|
|String of outdoor lights||N/A||40|
|Sump Pump (1/2 HP)||2150||1050|
|Hot Water Heater||N/A||3000|
|Powered Drill Cordless||N/A||100|
|Power Drill Corded||N/A||800-1200|
|Window Air Conditioner (10,000 BTUs)||3600||1200|
|Central Air Conditioner||Up to 11,400||3,800|
How Do You Know If Your 2000 Watt Generator Has Enough Watts?
As you can see from the chart above, different appliances have different starting and running watts. You should be able to find this information on the box of your appliance, in the owner’s manual, or on the appliance itself. You can easily run most of the appliances listed with a 2000 watt generator. But if you want to run several appliances simultaneously, you’ll have to do a little math.
First, you need to make sure you know the starting and running watts of your generator. In this case, we are talking about 2000 watt generators, so that part is easy. The starting watts of generators vary by model, but for the following examples, we’ll assume 2500.
Examples of Running Multiple Appliances on a 2000 Watt Generator
You wake up in the morning, and you need to run a light, coffee maker, and your cell phone charger at the same time. Simply add up the number of watts you need to run them all. In this case, none of these appliances require extra starting watts, so you’ll just need to add up the running watts. You’ll add 75 watts for the light, 1000 watts for the coffee maker, and 25 watts for the cell phone charger. The needs of these appliances add up to 1100 total running watts. You’ll be able to do this without a problem.
If you are also running your refrigerator, though, you might run into problems because a typical fridge requires 2200 startup watts and 700 running watts. In this case, you can only run the refrigerator.
If you need to do a little laundry, you could run your washer with 2500 starting watts from your generator and 1150 running watts as long as you are on city water and the water is working, and you don’t use your hot water heater. However, if you also have a well pump that requires 2100 starting watts and 700 running watts, you won’t be able to do laundry in the washing machine. Regardless, you would have to air dry your clothes because your clothes dryer can’t run on a 2000 watt generator.
What Can’t a 2000 Watt Generator Run?
A 2000 watt generator can run most small household appliances, and it most likely can run several simultaneously. However, there are a few appliances that it simply cannot run.
For example, a 2000 watt generator just can’t generate enough electricity to run your electric clothes dryer. It won’t be able to power up a central heating unit or a central air conditioning unit. Anything that requires more than 2000 running watts or more than your unit’s startup watts won’t be usable during a power outage. It isn’t safe to overload your generator.
What Happens If You Overload Your 2000 Watt Generator?
You’ll need to prioritize what appliances you want to use when you are relying on your generator to supply your electricity. If you try to run too many appliances at once, you will overload your generator. Overload your generator could cause your devices to malfunction because they aren’t receiving enough power, similar to a brownout. Low power could damage sensitive electronics. On the other hand, it could also cause your generator to overheat, break down, or even start a fire.
Can I use a 2000 watt generator for camping?
You can use a 2000 watt generator camping. It will easily power a few small appliances, such as your RV refrigerator and coffee maker. You may want to use it to power a battery bank and run your fridge off of batteries overnight to reduce noise at the campsite.
Can I use a 2000 watt generator on a worksite?
You can use a 2000 watt generator to run a worksite if your equipment’s starting and running watts do not require more than the generator can supply. These generators are heavy but still small enough to be portable.
Can I use a 2000 watt generator for entertaining?
A 2000 watt generator should be able to supply power to outdoor lights and a flat-screen tv, depending on size. However, the noise from the generator may be prohibitive for parties.