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I Want to look for a Back-up Power Generator, How Many Watts do I need to run a Refrigerator Freezer

Updated on September 4, 2011

What size power generator do you need?

For many of us, the idea of owning our own backup generator simply makes perfect since. Where we find ourselves a bit overwhelmed however, is making that all-important, and I might add seemingly easy choice. After all, there are so many sizes, ranging from the small standby 600-watt generators we can carry in one hand. All the way up to, huge diesel powered generators, mounted on large trailers that will easily power a small business, county fair, or remote village. Neither extreme is exactly what most of us want, or most importantly need, but how do we make the right choice? As you continue reading this article, I believe you will begin to see, I want to look for a back-up power generator, how many watts do I need will make buying the best power generator for your families needs easier.

The deadly Evansville, IN area tornado of November 6, 2005 taken by a webcam at Deaconess Womens Hospital
The deadly Evansville, IN area tornado of November 6, 2005 taken by a webcam at Deaconess Womens Hospital

What will you do while your electric power is out

Imagine for a moment, how you felt the last time, your electricity went out. For my family and me, with the memories of the 2005 Tornado still fresh in our minds, the ice storm of 2008 played havoc on our huge Maple trees that surrounded our home, and area power lines. No lights, no heat or air-conditioning, the refrigerator freezer quit working and to make matters that much worse, no TV, the internet or microwave for several days, and a few of the local neighborhoods were without power for weeks.

Although not as bad as the November 2005 killer tornado that ravaged our community leaving us without electricity for eleven days, we were the lucky ones. You see, the F3 tornado that ripped through our neighborhood claimed 22 lives, and left families in the middle of the night, crawling out from under the rubble that just a few moments earlier was the family home.

What will you do when the power is out for weeks

Were you like my neighbors and me, suddenly reminded of the fact, our home phone does not work when the power is out? Leaving us with the only option of calling the power company using our cell phones, before the battery died and we did not have a way to recharge them, where we were treated to the lovely automated message, all circuits are busy please try again later. Do you like me, still feel the frustration to this day?

Now, let me guess, you remember the promise you made to your loving spouse the kids and yourself. Never again will we go through all that heartache, because we procrastinated and were unprepared for the power going out. We will absolutely be ready for the next time, and have our own backup generator, before the next power outage leaves us cold and in the dark.

What size backup generator do we really need? After a bit of head scratching and your best attempt at prioritizing all those must have items the wife, kids and you need. You are able to come up with a list of items you must have for the short-term such as, emergency lighting, which uses energy efficient light bulbs for both inside, and security lighting outside around your home. Along with the quality of life improving appliances, refrigerator freezer, the got to have my coffee pot, weather radio with rechargeable batteries, and last but not least, energy efficient computer so you can keep up with the important stuff.

In addition, you were able to compile a list of items with the long-term power outage in mind that include the furnace for those cold days and nights. The water heater, clothes washer and hairdryer, after all we do look and feel much better, when our bodies, clothes and teeth are clean and our bellies are full.

How long will your freezer keep food when the power goes out

According to the USDA, food will only last four hours in a refrigerator that is not running, as long as the door is kept closed, and 24 hours in a freezer, as long as the doors seals are in good condition, and are kept tightly closed. Think of your refrigerator as a big picnic cooler, the more time the door is open, the faster your food will spoil. Perishable foods must stay at or below 37 degrees F to avoid spoiling.

How much electric power is needed to run a refrigerator freezer

The average household Refrigerator freezer requires 700 watts to run, however there is another important bit of information we must keep in mind when determining the size of the generator we need. The start up wattage of a refrigerator freezer is three times the running wattage. This means our refrigerator freezer requires a minimum 2100 watts of electricity to enable it to start, then as it continues to run the power it uses lowers to the 700 watts required to sustain it. It is that whole; matter at rest tends to stay at rest, and once in motion tends to stay in motion thing.

Wow, start up wattage, for our appliances is as much as three times the wattage needed to run them. The minimum recommended size portable standby generators are in the 3000 – 5000 watt range.

When we run a refrigerator and coffee pot at the same time, it will cause a problem for the minimum sized generators. 2100 watts of power to start our fridge, plus 1750 watts to start and run our coffee pot equals 3850 watts.

We will need a few lights, adding a couple of 60 watt, energy efficient light bulbs adds 120 watts, and we are over the available wattage supplied by a 3000-watt standby generator by 970 watts.

Add a toaster or electric skillet and the additional 1800 watts they require, pushes the total to 5770 watts just to toast a bagel or fry an egg to go with our coffee, which is more electrical power than a 5000-watt generator will provide.

Ok, you are probably thinking, before you mess with all that, you will just run out and pick something up. Here is a little news flash for you, the golden arches were also without electricity, and closed along with all the other fast food restaurants and stores in our community.

The point here, unless you want to, and can afford a standby or backup generator that can easily provide all the electricity your home uses every day. You will need to make a few real world decisions as to what you really need electricity for, when faced with a power outage / emergency.

Here is another tad-bit of information you may not know, or have had reason to think about. The central air-conditioner used in a 2200 square foot home uses 10000 watts of electricity to run and takes 12000 watts to get it started, a sump pump uses 800-1100 watts, a gas furnace uses 875 watts to run and 2350 watts to start up.

Portable, Backup, and Standby Generators are available, in models that run on several different fuel sources; the most common in the US is gasoline or petrol, followed by diesel which are usually larger wattage generators, and natural or LP gas generators make since where a natural gas connection is already present. There are portable generators that are set up to run, using the same LP tank used on gas bbq grills as well.

Large backup and standby generators are available that run on diesel and natural or LP gas, that will easily provide you with all the electricity your home, or small business, will need during the next power outage.


I believe you can see knowing what to look for Before You Buy a Backup Generator, will make it easy to get the backup generator you need. Easier for you to sleep at night, all the while, secure in the knowledge you are as prepared as you can be, for the next time the power goes out.

Save energy, and save money on your electric bill. Mike

The author of this publication, Mike Teddleton owns the copyright to I want to look for a back-up power generator, how many watts do I need to run a refrigerator freezer. The rights to publish this article in print or online can only be granted by contacting me the author in writing. You may use the intro and link back to the article directing the reader back to my post here at HubPages where they may find the story in its entirety

Installing a power standby generator

Using a back up power portable generator

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