The reason we buy a generator is to power appliances and recharge various electronics. The next question comes up - what can you run on a 2000 watt generator? What can a generator of that size power at the same time?
Note that starting watts tends to be higher than continuous (running) watts for many appliances. Electric water heaters, hot plates, water pumps, deep freezers, clocks, light bulbs and electric stoves don’t experience a power surge at startup before dropping to a lower running load. Many power tools like circular saws and miter saws use the same power at startup as when they are running, though reciprocating saws have a 10% or so higher starting wattage and electric drills see a 50% spike at start up. The worst offender is the air compressor; while a 1 horsepower air compressor uses 1500 watts of continuous power, the average unit uses close to 3000 watts at startup.
Some Essential Home Appliances That Can Be Powered By a 2000 Watt Generator
Let’s look at what you could run in the average RV, cabin or home if you only look at appliances that don’t have an initial spike of starting watts. A 2000 watt generator could power a 500 watt deep freezer and one element of the electric stove. Or you could run the freezer, cook with a 650 watt microwave (using 1000 watts) and a few lights. The typical electric range with 8” elements will use all 2000 watts if you use it while connected to the generator. Even better is using a slow cooker (300 watts), whereas an electric grill will use 1700 watts of the generator’s power.
The challenges arise when the power goes out and you need to start up critical appliances using the generator.
Sump pumps have 1200 starting (surge) watts and draw 800 watts while running. A 2000 watt generator could start up the sump pump and then keep it running during a storm, and once running and drawing 800 watts, you could use the same generator to power the 1000 watt water well pump. A 2000 watt generator won’t be able to power your hot water heater.
A 2000 watt portable generator with a higher starting wattage capacity could let you run a 10,000 BTU window air conditioner during a summer blackout. The typical such unit has 2200 starting watts but only needs 1500 watts of continuous power. Once the AC is running, you could use the remaining capacity to run a few lights or charge a laptop or cell phone. A 2000watt generator can’t handle the load of a 15000 BTU RV air conditioner starting up, but it could carry the load once it was running.
A mid-sized energy star rated refrigerator uses about 1200 starting watts when the compressor kicks in before dropping down to 200 running watts. If there’s nothing else plugged into the 2000 watt generator, you could start up the refrigerator. Once it is running, you have roughly 1800 watts left to work with. You could start up a one third horsepower sump pump before its load drops down to 800 watts, then use the remaining power from the generator to run a desktop computer or run a laptop computer while charging your cell phone.
If the power goes out due to a snowstorm, a 2000 watt generator has the capacity to run the average 1300 watt radiant heater after you’ve let it handle the starting surge of refrigerator’s load. If you have an oil or natural gas furnace, the generator has enough power to run a third of a horsepower furnace fan. The surge wattage is 1400 watts while running load is 700 watts. However, a half horsepower furnace fan needs nearly 2400 watts to startup – more than the 2000 watt generator could provide unless it is one of the few inverter generators with a starting load that high. Conversely, a 2000 watt generator could run a radiant heater, multiple lights and a couple of fans to distribute the heat.
It can’t run your clothes dryer, but it could run an automatic washer assuming there is almost no other load barring lights and maybe a TV running.