What Appliances Can Be Connected to a Portable Generator?

Portable generators, which are most often fueled by gasoline, vary in the wattage they can produce.

Refrigerator

A portable generator can keep your refrigerator running through a power outage.A portable generator can keep your refrigerator running through a power outage.
Purchase a generator with enough wattage to power all of the appliances you plan to have plugged in at once in the event of a power outage. While large electrical systems like a central air-conditioning unit will overwhelm most portable generators, you can run almost any appliance in your home on a portable generator. But if you find yourself suddenly without power, you’ll want to prioritize which appliances you connect to your generator.

Unless you want to end up with hundreds of dollars in spoiled groceries, your fridge is the most important appliance to plug into a generator in the event of a power outage. But when hooking a refrigerator to a portable generator, be aware that this large appliance requires more power at start-up than it does once it's up and running. Make sure your generator has the wattage for starting the refrigerator, not just running it.

Microwave

Unless you don’t mind eating cold canned foods, cereals and other items that don’t need to be cooked, you’ll want to connect your microwave to your portable generator. A microwave will use less wattage than an electric stove yet allow you to enjoy warm meals during a power outage. Plus, if you have a wall-mounted microwave, you can turn on the counter light to give your kitchen some illumination.

Lights

Nobody likes to sit in the dark. It’s not only frustrating, but also potentially dangerous. Fortunately, even a small portable generator can power lights with minimum effort and wattage expenditure. Run as few lights as possible to ensure that you have enough wattage for any other appliances you need to run simultaneously.

Electronics

In a situation like a hurricane or earthquake, when power outages are common, people usually crave information. Thus, you might want to plug in a television, radio or even a computer. But sensitive electronics can be damaged by even minor wattage fluctuations that commonly occur with portable generators. Thus, you’ll want to get the best quality portable generator available if you plan to use it to run sensitive electronics.

About the Author

Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.