A 5000 watt generator will give you plenty of power, but what appliances can a 5000 watt generator run? It can be a huge inconvenience when the electricity goes out. And if you live in an area that has frequent power outages, you may want to invest in a pretty hefty generator for the comfort and safety of your family.
A 5000 watt generator can handle all of your basic home appliances. It can run essentials such as laptops, lights, television, space heater, window air conditioner, coffee maker, microwave oven, and refrigerator. Your 5000 watt generator can even run most of these devices simultaneously.
To get the most out of your generator, it is crucial to understand the difference between starting and running watts, so we’ll talk about that in this article. We’ll go over some of the devices that your 5000 watt generator can run and help you figure out how many appliances you can run together.
Starting Watts and Running Watts of a 5000 Watt Generator
Five thousand watts sounds like a lot of power, and for a home generator, it is! All of your home appliances that use electricity will require a certain number of watts to run, depending on the size of the appliance and whether or not it has a motor. Something like a light bulb will only require 75 watts, while something larger, like your oven range, may require more like 5000 watts.
The first thing you need to know about your 5000 watt generator is the difference between its starting watts and its running watts. (We talked about this in some of our other backup generator articles.)
Running Watts of a 5000 Watt Generator
The amount of watts that a generator can provide for an extended period is its running or continuous watts. Generally speaking, a 5000 watt generator can supply 5000 continuous watts of power. You can find this information on the box, in the manual, and usually even on the generator itself.
A cell phone charger needs about 25 watts of power to charge up your phone. So for the duration of time it takes your phone to charge, you would need 25 watts of continuous or running watts.
Starting Watts of a 5000 Watt Generator
Appliances with a motor will typically require an extra boost of power at start-up to get the motor running. This is known as starting or surge watts. Standard generators can usually supply some extra watts for a short time to start up the motors of appliances. The actual amount of surge watts and their duration will vary depending on the generator you have.
If your generator does not have enough surge watts for the equipment you want to run, you might not be able to get those appliances powered up. Overtaxing the generator may damage it, or it may damage the equipment you are trying to run. Either way, this can be dangerous. Always make sure you know the starting watts and running watts that you need.
Here are some examples of average starting and running watts of typical household appliances. Keep in mind that this is a general guide and your specific appliance might need a little more or less. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for specific details.
Starting and Running Watts of Typical Household Appliances
|Appliance||Starting Watts||Running Watts|
|Cell Phone Charger||N/A||25|
|String of Outdoor Lights||N/A||40|
|75 Watt Light Bulb||N/A||75|
|Powered Cordless Drill||N/A||100|
|50 Inch LCD TV||N/A||150|
|Sump Pump ½ Horse Power||2150||1050|
|Window Air Conditioner (10,000 BTUs)||3600||1200|
|Hot Water Heater||N/A||3000|
|Central Air Conditioner||Up to 11,400||3,800|
What Can a 5000 Watt Generator Run?
As you can see from the chart above, your 5000 watt generator can run your most essential household appliances. It can even run some comfort appliances, such as smaller window air conditioners and hair dryers.
It’s good practice to try not to run your generator at more than 90 percent of its maximum capacity. For a 5000 watt generator, that means running at about 4500 watts. This does two things – it helps your generator last longer, and it protects your generator if you make an error calculating how many watts you need.
How Many Appliances Can You Run Simultaneously with a 5000 Watt Generator?
Since every brand of generator is a little bit different, you’ll have to do a little math to figure out precisely what appliances you can run simultaneously with your 5000 watt generator. The chart above gives you a general idea of what typical household appliances need, but you’ll need to check your specific appliances to be sure.
Here’s how to figure out if your generator can run everything you need it to simultaneously.
- Find the starting and running watts of your specific generator.
- Write down the starting watts and the running watts of every appliance you want to run together.
- Add up the starting watts of each appliance.
- Add up the running watts of each appliance.
- Make sure the starting watts are less than the starting watts your generator can provide.
- Make sure the running watts are less than the running watts your generator can provide.
If the numbers of starting or running watts are higher than what your generator can supply, you’ll need to run fewer appliances simultaneously.
How to Run Multiple Appliances on a 5000 Watt Generator
You’ll run your generator outside your home to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You can use extension cords to plug your home appliances into the generator. Just make sure you use extension cords rated for outdoor use and don’t overload them.
First, figure out which appliances you want to run and how much power they need before you start plugging them in. Here’s an example.
The power goes out, and you want to run two lamps, an air conditioner, and a coffee maker so you can read a book and stay comfortable. Can your generator manage all of that?
First, add up all of the starting and running watts:
- Coffeemaker 1000
- Window Air Conditioner 3600 start-up watts and 1200 running watts
- 2 75 watt lights
First we add up all the running watts of each item: 1000 + 1200 + 75 + 75 = 2350 watts.
Second, we look at the surge watts, which is 3600 for the air conditioner.
Then we have to figure out the most amount of watts that will be running at any given time. The smaller appliances don’t have surge watts, but they do have running watts needed the entire time. So the maximum amount of watts needed at any given time is 1000+3600+75 +75 =4750.
At 4750, the total number of watts does not exceed the generators running watts, so you should have no problem running all of these items simultaneously. However, if you also want to run your refrigerator, you’ll need an additional 2200 surge watts and 700 running watts. This is more watts than your generator can handle, so you won’t be able to manage that. You’ll have to choose between the refrigerator and the air conditioner or, at the very least, alternate them.
What Can’t a 5000 Watt Generator Run?
Your 5000 watt generator can run many household appliances, but there are a few that it simply cannot run.
A clothes dryer requires over 5000 continuous watts, so you won’t be able to use that with a 5000 watt generator. And while a central air unit only uses 3800 continuous watts, it requires a considerable amount of starting watts. It is unlikely that a 5000 watt generator could handle that.
Remember that if you try to run appliances that need more watts than your generator can supply, you could damage your appliances and the generator. You could also create a hazardous situation and even start a fire.
Can I use a 5000 watt generator for an apartment-size dryer?
Your 5000 watt generator can supply 5000 continuous watts. If you have a clothes dryer that requires less than 5000 watts, you will be able to use it with your generator.
Can I use a 5000 watt to wash clothes?
You can use your 5000 watt generator to run your washing machine. You can most likely use your generator to run both your washing machine and your hot water heater. But if you have a well pump, you won’t be able to run your well pump, hot water heater, and washing machine altogether. You’ll have to wash your clothes with cold water, instead.