Can You Run a Fridge on a Generator?

If you live in a state like Florida, or somewhere else where natural disasters tend to happen, then you should have a back-up generator in your home for your refrigerator. It’s never fun to find yourself without power for days, causing you to lose everything you have in your refrigerator.

Many people have asked us if they could run a fridge on a generator, and the answer to that is yes. However, you can’t just go out there and buy any generator and expect it to run your fridge – it’s important to make sure the generator you choose can power your refrigerator.

How Long Can a Fridge Keep Cold without Power?

During a power outage, your fridge will keep the food and liquid cold for a total of 4 hours. When your power is out, it is important that you keep the refrigerator shut as much as you can. Unfortunately, after four hours have passed and you have not hooked a generator to it, you will need to toss the perishable food such as meat, eggs, fish, and leftovers.

In order to prevent this from happening, you should look into getting a generator that is capable of powering your refrigerator.

What Kind of Generator do I Need to Run a Refrigerator?

Refrigerators vary and have different wattage requirements, so before you go out and get a generator, you need to know what the wattage on your fridge is. You can check the owner’s manual to find this information, or if the manufacturer’s tag is still on it, you can get this info off of that.

There are two numbers that you should be focused on – the running watts and the starting watts.

Running Wattage – This is also referred to as rated wattage. This is the power you need in order to run the fridge after the setup.

Starting Wattage – This is also referred to as surge wattage. This number tells you how much energy you need in order to get your refrigerator started.

The number of starting watts required will depend on the size of the refrigerator you’re trying to power. Typically, a home refrigerator will need between 1000 to 2000 starting watts. Therefore, choosing a generator capable of delivering at least 2000 starting watts would be suitable to run both a refrigerator and the freezer without any complications. However, in order to be 100% on the safe side, you may want to get a generator that is slightly larger than what you require.

On the plus side, if you were to get a larger unit, you would have room to run a couple of other things like a fan and maybe even a television.

Can an Inverter Generator Run a Refrigerator?

First of all, an inverter is an electrical device that you can use in order to convert DC battery power into AC household power (120-volts) so that you can run refrigerators and other appliances. You can find inverters available in a variety of power capacities. Can an inverter generator run a refrigerator? Yes, but you need to find one that is powerful enough to operate a fridge.

Before you go out and grab the nearest inverter, you need to make sure you get one that is big enough. With that in mind, you need to know how much battery capacity you’re going to need.

What’s your power draw? Find out what the power draw of your fridge is – you can find this information on the nameplate – it’s listed as watts or amps. If the nameplate lists the watts, then you’re in luck. However, if the amps are listed, you need to convert those amps to watts. You can do this by taking the amps and multiplying it by the voltage. For example, let’s say you’re dealing with the normal 16 cu. Fridge, and it draws a total of 6 amps. Take 6 and times it by 120 volts, and you will get 600 watts – that is the running wattage. The motor will need a jolt of around three times the running watts (this is the starting watts), but this is only needed for a second. In order to run this fridge, you will need to get an inverter that is capable of handling 600 watts for a long period of time and has a surge of 1,800 watts for a second.

Like we previously said, you will also need to know how much DC battery capacity your fridge will require. To find this, take the running watts of your AC and convert it to DC amps. To find DC amps, take the AC running watts and divide that number by 12 – from there, times it by the result by 11. For example, let’s say a fridge needs 600 AC running watts – this will draw a total of 55 DC amps.

Word of Advice

Take this as a warning – when you’re trying to connect the fridge and generator together, you cannot use those small extension cords that are meant to be used for lamps. We knew someone that did this, and it caused a fire, so by all means, please don’t do this. You will need to use a heavy-duty extension cord that is meant for large appliances.


In our modern lifestyle, a power outage for an extended period of time is a major disadvantage. During hurricanes, for example, people have gone without power for weeks on end – this is when a generator could save your life. One of the biggest reasons why generators are needed is because of refrigerators. Generators will prevent your food from spoiling and will keep you from going hungry.