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Can a Generator Damage a Refrigerator? Yes, Only “If”…

Written by Jamie Masterson

In short, yes but that’s a rare case scenario. A regular home refrigerator requires about 1000 to 2000 watts of electricity to operate, so a 30-amp generator with a minimum delivering capacity of at least 2000 watts should effortlessly run it. The same applies to portable generators.

Note: The generator needs to deliver 1.5 to 2x the rated extant load wattage for a start. For instance, a refrigerator’s running load is 800 watts, so the generator should have a 1500-watt capacity.

How Can a Generator Damage Your Refrigerator?

How can a generator damage your refrigerator


An overloaded generator is often the cause of damage to your refrigerator. And that’s not all, the generator will also fail if you unknowingly connect your refrigerator while it was already previously heavily loaded.

Power disruption to the compressor

The thermostat in a refrigerator commands the runtime of the compressor to maintain temperature accuracy. In case your generator is not delivering enough power to switch the compressor on and off for a considerable time period, there could be issues.

Other than that, you’ll be fine as long as you take good precautionary measures.

What Size Generator Do You Need to Run a Refrigerator?

Even though it is reasonably hard to state the exact size of a generator required to operate your particular model, generally you’ll need 1000 to 2000 watts to run a residential refrigerator.

The bigger the size of the refrigerator, the higher electricity it will consume.

Note: You may go through the user manual of your fridge to learn precisely how many watts you will need.

5 Ways to Protect Your Appliances From a Surge or a Faulty Generator

1. Surge arrester

Surge arrester

A surge arrester protects the entire house and your electronics as much as 90% during large power surges occurring from lightning, generator, or main power source. Smaller surge protectors in your devices should cover the rest of the surge.

2. Surge protector

Surge protector

The thing about surge protectors is that if the grounding wire is not plugged in as it should be, the surge protector will fail to defend your sensitive electronics.

Always remember to get the top-notch surge protectors with the highest number of joules because each time a surge protector absorbs some joules and directs them to the grounding wire, it also loses some of its protective power.

3. Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

A UPS reserves electricity in a battery and uses it for electronics as a power outage takes place. You can get a large UPS to back up the whole house or a small one for a few gadgets.

You may find yours with “generator mode” so it can store some power for small devices in case the generator suddenly dies down.

4. Power line conditioner

Power line conditioner

Power line conditioners increase the quality of power distributed to electrical load equipment and work to reach the right voltage and correct waveform distortions.

They also take away peripheral electromagnetic interferences instigated from radios, motors, and such noisy devices. Line conditioners also protect equipment from lightning and other similar disruptions.

5. Auto voltage regulators (AVR)

Auto voltage regulators

The purpose of the AVR is to smooth out the electrical load and RPM fluctuations to achieve maximum reliable power that a regular generator alternator cannot reach increasing your chance to make a generator safer for gentle electronics.

9 Ways to Best Use Your Generator

1. Place it afar

Place it afar

Avoid placing your generator in a closed area like a garage or the hall room. Be sure it’s a minimum of 15-feet away from your house to stop the toxic carbon monoxide invasion in your home.

2. Read manual

The manufacturer’s manual contains essential info regarding the correct operating approaches by which you can get the most out of your generator for years.

3. Use the right engine oil

Try to use the engine oil as per the manufacturer’s recommendation in the manual. In other cases, get the oil suggested for general-purpose and all-temperature features.

4. Use right connection

Use right connection

Stay away from putting the generator’s power cord straight into an electrical outlet in your home as the power will start backfeeding through the utility lines running across your house.

This could be dangerous for your technician friend who’s going to come to bring back the electricity into the neighborhood.

5. Get proper power cord

A generator’s strength is calculated in watts and power cords are evaluated in amps. Use a power cord well-matched with the generator’s outlet; for instance, get a 50-amp power cord for a 50-amp outlet.

As for cables, they should be at least 10-meter in length, below 100-feet, and heavy-duty.

6. Run the appliances the right way

It might surprise you that your appliances could harm your generator if you don’t plug them in the right way. Let the generator run for a short bit after a start and before you plug the devices in.

Make sure that you don’t power them all at the same time and allow each device to get powered up and stable a little; before another device is plugged in.

Choose to be wise and unplug the machines you’re not using to avoid any unwanted state of affairs.

7. Avoid overload

Do not overload your generator with the needless running of devices for you might damage both; the appliances and the generator.

You can multiply the number of volts by amps to get the measure for wattage in case your appliance didn’t provide it.

8. Don’t refuel the running generator

Stop the generator and wait for 10-15 minutes before you put oil into it. If you don’t let it cool down first and pour oil into a hot running engine, you might cause a dangerous gasoline ignition right away.

9. Change oil during prolonged outages

You may consider checking the owner’s manual for the factual intervals for changing oil. Keep track manually if your unit does not include a way to indicate how many hours it’s been running.

Plugging in only necessary appliances and turning them off overnight preserves your fuel.

Best Portable Generator for a Refrigerator

Dual fuel

Dual fuel Generator

A portable generator that produces 3000 watts of electricity is an impeccable choice. Our recommendation for you is to get a dual fuel generator as you can use propane; a cheaper alternative for gasoline.


Inverter generator

Another great option would be an inverter generator because they’re noiseless, extra portable, and completely safe for modern sensitive appliances such as ovens, fridges, and washing machines.

Our Top 3 Reliable Yet Affordable Recommendations

The following models are reliable and tested portable generators for satisfactorily running refrigerators and freezers.

1. Champion 3400 Dual Fuel Inverter

Champion 3400 Dual Fuel Inverter

If you are looking for convenience and versatility, Champion can be your best choice. These units are compact but pack a powerful punch. You can safely power your sensitive electronics wherever you go. Additionally, the generator runs on both propane and gasoline.

This quiet machine can power your equipment for up to 14.5 hours at a 25% load (20lbs propane tank). The Champion 3400 Dual Fuel Inverter generator comes with a 3-year limited warranty. It also covers free lifetime technical support.

The only pitfall for this particular model is that they are a bit heavy. However, if you want good power output, a quiet engine, and an easy-to-operate inverter generator, Champion is one of the best options.

2. WEN 56380i

If power output is your primary concern, we can vouch for the WEN 56380i inverter generators. This powerful beast can produce 3800W surge power and 3400W rated power at ½ load for up to 8.5 hours.

Aside from being one of the most powerful of its class, the WEN 3,800 Watt Inverter Generator is also low-maintenance. The fuel shutoff system also comes in handy when you want to store the machine.

This powerful generator can produce power in the form of a pure sine wave that is subtle enough not to harm any of your sensitive equipment.

3. Briggs and Stratton P3000 (The most Affordable)

If you are looking for something a bit more budget-friendly, the Briggs and Stratton P3000 inverter generator can be a good choice. The machine is quiet, portable, and provides smooth performance.

The advanced monitoring system is definitely worth having as it protects the machine from being overloaded. You’ll also have the option to combine another unit with your one using the Powersmart parallel kit that comes with the machine.

It also has dedicated USB ports for your emergency needs. The P3000 inverter generator also provides a 120-volt RV outlet and a 12-volt DC charger in case you need power outdoors.


1. Will a generator damage electronics?

Ans: The primary answer is “no, but you can get rid of your fear by going with an inverter generator because it will deliver safer and cleaner energy. Since not everyone has the same electrical needs, perhaps do some research based on your electronic usage.

2. What happens if you overload a generator?

Ans: In the most general scenario, a generator will automatically shut down when it is overloaded. But there are cases where the whole system including the generator and appliances were spoiled.

About the author

Jamie Masterson

With decade-long experience as a generator technician, Jamie has worked with USA’s top generator manufacturers and suppliers as an independent contractor.

The long years of service to the industry has taught Jamie the ins and outs of troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining all kinds of generators in home, industrial and outdoor settings.

Jamie thinks this platform is a great opportunity to share his tips and tricks with you so you can make the most of such power equipment for better living.

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