What Appliances Can Be Connected to your Portable Generator?

If your appliance has a plug, then it is possible to connect it to a portable generator, so long as the generator supplies enough power to power it. You can even plug in several appliances simultaneously, but collectively, they shouldn’t pull more power than the generator can supply. If they do, the appliances will likely do poorly, and you may damage the generator. In addition, the power cords can overheat and start a fire.

Generator Operation

A generator works much like the alternator in your car. A motor that burns a fuel like gasoline or propane spins a rotor wound with a running coil, along with the movement of the coil inside a magnetic field provided by permanent magnets induces an electric current in the coil. Manufacturers design the number of turns in the coil and its period of rotation to supply either 120- or 240-volt power with a frequency of 60 Hz, that is the same power available from conventional receptacles in almost any commercial or residential construction. This electricity is available at one or more receptacles attached to the generator casing. Some generators supply both 120 and 240 volts in distinct outlets.

Generator Rating

The size and efficiency of the engine determines the amount of electricity, measured in watts, so a given generator supplies, and the generator will run any appliance that has a power pull less than its own score. You’ll locate the power pull of an appliance clearly marked on a tag on its casing, usually near the point at which the power cord connects. Adding the power ratings of the appliances that you would like to work with should produce a number smaller than the generator rating. If the number is greater, you can still plug them in as long as you don’t use them in precisely the same time.

Plan for Power Surges

Some appliances, like refrigerators, air conditioners and pumps, draw more power when they start up, and also this power surge can overload a generator. To avoid this, you should double the typical wattage rating for large appliances with motors when deciding the sized generator you want to run them. As an instance, you will need a 5,000-watt generator to run an 800-watt refrigerator along with a 1,500-watt well pump in precisely the same time, despite the fact that they use less than 3,000 watts when running. If the generator is undersized, start-up surges can overload and damage it, and the appliances won’t operate correctly.

Safe Practices

It is better to plug appliances directly to your generator than it is to use extension cords. Cords can overheat and get in the way, and the voltage at the end of a very long cord is less than the voltage at the generator plug. That voltage drop can affect the operation of the appliance you are using. Additionally, because generators have fuel-powered engines and emit toxic fumes, they require proper ventilation; you should never work one at an enclosed area. Finally, remember to ground your generator, then following the instructions in the manual that comes with it. Failure to do so can result in injury.

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