Can A Generator Damage A Refrigerator?

Last Updated on January 31, 2021 by

A generator can damage a refrigerator if it does not have the correct wattage. For a generator to be sufficient to run your refrigerator, its watt allowance must be higher than the refrigerator’s starting watt consumption. A refrigerator requires starting watts of 800-1200 on average, and for a generator to work well with it, it must have a 2000-watt capacity. 

For your refrigerator to be safe from damage, the generator you purchase must have adequate wattage to start and run it. A modern refrigerator consumes power that ranges from 100 to 200 watts.  If the fridge has a freezer, this consumption may increase to around 150w to 400w. A modern refrigerator’s starting watt ranges between 900w and 1200w.

To maintain the right temperature, a refrigerator switches itself on and off automatically. It is advisable to use the starting watt as the base when buying a generator to use with your appliance, but it is also necessary to consider the running consumption. Make sure that you check the specifications of your fridge model before plugging into the generator.

Why Can A Generator Damage Your Refrigerator?

If your generator is overloaded and you connect the refrigerator, it will damage both devices. A refrigerator has a thermostat that makes the compressor switch on and off to retain the correct temperature. If the power is not enough to switch on and off the fridge over a long period, it will damage it. 

Even if you switch on the fridge before other gadgets, the power consumption goes up anytime the thermostat starts the compressor. You need to consider the starting watts and use this as the running watts. 

The Number Of Watts That A Refrigerator Needs

Each refrigerator is different and has unique wattage requirements. When you buy a fridge, it is necessary to check the manufacturer’s manual and get the correct information. You need to get the information on the refrigerator’s starting and running watts. 

Starting (or surge) wattage refers to the amount of energy needed to power a freezer and refrigerator. Running (rated) wattage is the energy that is necessary to run your device continuously after the initial startup. Depending on the size, a home refrigerator requires between 1000-2000 starting watts. 

A generator that delivers a minimum of 2000w as starting power is ideal for running both the fridge and freezer without any issues. It is, however, essential to purchase a generator that is slightly larger to be safe. A larger device can also be sufficient to run other appliances such as a TV and lighting circuits in your home. 

Best Portable Generator For A Refrigerator

An ideal generator needs to accommodate both your fridge and other household items. You can get a dual fuel generator that uses both gasoline and propane since propane is cheaper. An inverter generator is also perfect since it is more portable, quieter, safer to use. You can use it to power sensitive modern appliances such as laptops, TVs, and home audio systems. 

Tips For Caring For Your Generator

You need to take proper care of your generator to prevent damaging your refrigerator and other household appliances. The following tips are helpful;

Avoid The Garage 

Never operate your generator inside or close to an open garage. You should also not start a portable generator inside the house as this may cause the risk of the poisonous carbon monoxide invading your home. Make sure that the device is at least 15-feet away from your house. 

Do not place the device near open windows, including your neighbour’s. 

Read The Manual

Your generator’s manufacturer’s manual provides the necessary information that you need to maintain it in good condition. It will also help you know how to use this machine for many years correctly and keep it in proper working condition.

Using The Right Type Of Engine Oil

Make sure that you use the appropriate engine oil and change it as per the manufacturer’s specifications. You can look for oil that is recommended for all-temperature and general-purpose. 

Right Connection

Never connect a generator directly to an electric outlet in your home using a power cord. Doing this will cause the power to back feed into the utility lines that run into the house. The back feed can be dangerous to an electrician who may come to restore power in the neighbourhood. 

Use Of Proper Power Cord

A portable generator’s power is measured in watts while a power cord is measured in amps. You need to select a power cord that is compatible with the most powerful outlet on the generator. If the outlet has 50-amp, you need to buy a power cord that is also 50-amp. A heavy-duty cable that is less than 100-feet and at least 12-gauge is ideal.

Powering The Appliances

Your appliances can damage the generator if not correctly plugged in. Make sure that you start the generator and allow it to run shortly before you can plug in the devices. When plugging in, please switch off the appliances and plug them at different times. Allow each machine to power up and become stable before you can plug in another device.

Do Not Overload

A refrigerator that runs on 800 watts may require 1600watts for the startup. If you overload your generator, it could damage your appliances. Avoid unnecessary running of devices and other electronic equipment. If your appliance’s wattage is not provided, you can get it by multiplying its volts by amps. 

Refuelling The Generator

Do not refuel a generator that is still running or whose engine is still hot. Doing this may cause the heat from the exhaust or engine parts to ignite the gasoline. You need to put it off and allow it to cool for about 10-minutes before refuelling. 

Change The Oil During Prolonged Outages.

It is advisable to change your generator’s oil during prolonged power outages. You need to check the owner’s manual for the right intervals for changing. If your equipment has no hour meter that shows how long it has been running, try keeping track. Try to preserve the fuel by plugging in essential appliances and turn off the machine overnight.

How Often Should You Run The Generator To Keep The Refrigerator Cold?

If your refrigerator is not opened, it keeps food cold for at least four hours. Your freezer, on the other hand, keeps foodstuff safely cold for about forty-eight hours when full and closed. The food will remain cold inside the freezer for at least twenty-four hours if it is half-full and unopened.

Your refrigerator can remain unplugged as long as the temperature is 40-degrees or less. If the temperatures rise above this range, then you can run the generator.


A generator can damage your refrigerator if it does not have the right wattage. Before powering your refrigerator using the generator, make sure that it can accommodate the appliance’s startup watt as this is what matters most. Avoid overloading the machine also since doing this will not only spoil your refrigerator, but it can also damage the generator itself. 

Always look at the owner’s manual of your refrigerator before plugging into the equipment to ensure that the wattage is right. Practice safety measures to care for your generator as this will help to prevent damaging your appliances. 

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