Tips On Running Your A/C From Your Generator

Running Your A/C

To survive a hot day during a power outage, you need a reliable generator to run your air conditioner at home.

Since there is a vast option of generators, you need to find the one that works best for your air conditioning unit.

To help out, I have listed what you should be seeking in a generator to make sure that it can power your A/C during power failures.

Can you run your A/C off a generator? Yes, with the right generator, you can run even the central air conditioning system in your home.

Check out the factors that should affect your decision when buying a generator for your home.

It is especially if you can’t live without your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system running in the background.

I have listed the best options, along with the tips on selecting the right generator to run your A/C.

Generator To Run An Air Conditioner

Big storms during summer in New England often cause power outages. Having no access to HVAC systems during summer might not let your pipes freeze, but it also means discomfort.

Out of desperation, you might take the chance to have a generator run it.

However, the problem is that a few things will determine whether or not it will work. Check out the following:

The Wattage Of Your Generator

The size of your generator is the first thing that you should consider. Its size determines how much its capacity is or what appliances it can power at a specific time.

Watts is the measurement of electric power, and the capacity of standby generators is rated in kilowatts (kW).

Today, small generators support about 3,000 to 4,000 watts, while large generators can support 10kW to 15kW, which is a huge difference.

Knowing your standby generator’s capacity will allow you to decide whether to run off your air conditioning unit with it or not.

The Needs Of Your Air Conditioner

Depending on its capacity, your air conditioning unit consumes a specific number of watts every minute of use.

It means that every A/C requires a generator that can provide enough power to run it.

Aside from that, the type and number of the air conditioning unit you want to run also make a difference.

For instance, you need a much larger generator to run two window air conditioning units or a 3-ton central air system compared to a small window type air conditioner.

Also, consider that your air conditioner requires more energy to start than it does to keep it running.

You will need a generator that can sustain the electric power it requires throughout its run time.

Otherwise, you won’t be able to utilize your A/C during a power outage.

According to Kohler, one air conditioner is different from the other, but a typical window unit requires about 5100 watts to start and 1700 watts to keep running.

On the other hand, Central air conditioners run at around 3500 watts, and their startup wattage can range up to thousands of watts or higher.

To reduce the impact of your A/C’s startup, purchase a hard start kit. But, consult a professional before buying one.

To know how much power you need to run your A/C, check your air conditioning unit.

Most A/C lists its startup and running wattage on its surface or in its user manual.

Other Appliances You Want To Run

Before running your generator, you should also consider if your air conditioning unit is the only one plugged in.

If you are planning to power other appliances like lights, or TV, your generator might not be able to supply enough energy for them all at the same time.

Check the wattage of the appliances you want to power at once, then compute the sum. It is also vital that you include those high startup wattages.

Now, you need to find out if your generator can provide energy for all the appliances you want to run according to your computation.

If so, go ahead and plug them on your generator. Otherwise, you have to sacrifice the least important to plug in the necessary appliances.

The Right Generator

The needs of your home will be the number one criteria to find the right generator.

Suppose you want to have a generator that can supply enough energy for multiple appliances during outages, of course, including your air conditioning unit.

In that case, you will need one with a considerable capacity.

Check out the following advantages of getting the right generator size for your home:

  • No blackouts due to size overload
  • No sudden system-failure
  • Guaranteed personal safety
  • Lower likelihood of asset destruction
  • Assured performance
  • Improved power systems life duration
  • Better durability of your generator
  • Smooth and hassle-free repairs

Things To Consider When Choosing The Best Generator For A/C

Aside from factoring in your power requirements, there are many other things that you need to consider when looking for the best generator for your air conditioning unit.

To make things easier for you, I have listed below some of the essential things that you must take into account before buying a generator:

Fuel Source

Among the essential factors that you should consider when buying a generator is the unit’s fuel source.

Different generator models run on various fuel sources such as gasoline, propane, natural gas, etc.

So, you have to choose the model that runs on the fuel type that is most accessible to you.

If you buy a generator that runs on propane while this type of fuel is rarely sold in your area, you will experience difficulty getting it to run your generator.

For this reason, it is crucial to do prior research on what fuel type is widely accessible in your area.

For added convenience, choose a generator that runs in dual fuel sources. You should also store enough fuel to run your air conditioning unit during power outages.

Easy Connectivity

When choosing a generator for your air conditioning unit, you should also go for a model that your trusted electrician can easily set up.

Disregard this factor if you live in an area where you have access to many expert electricians.

If your electrician is new to the generator model you bought, you will face problems setting it up and linking it to the electric circuit of your home.

Automatic Transfer Switch

You don’t need to worry about an automatic transfer switch when buying a standby generator to power your A/C during a power outage, as all standby units have this feature.

On the other hand, you have to buy a separate transfer switch for a portable generator.

The fundamental difference between portable and standby generators is that a standby generator is like a central air conditioning unit installed outside the home.

It automatically starts when the power shuts off in your home. Meanwhile, you can move portable generators from one location to another.

So, if you plan to buy a portable generator to power your home during outages, buying a transfer switch is an excellent investment.

With this, you don’t have to worry about plugging in the generator at the moment of power failure.

Intelligent Operation

With the advancement of technology, it is no surprise that generators also involve technologies that allow intelligent operation.

Some generators feature a technology called the A/C Power Control Modules or ACCM that prioritizes the generator.

Since you want a generator that can run your air conditioning unit during power outages, this feature will continuously monitor the load of your home’s circuits and turn off those that are less priority if necessary to ensure that your A/C is running.

Best Generators To Run Air Conditioners

Here are among our top picks for the best portable generators to run air conditioners:

1. DuroMax XP12000EH Generator-12000 Watt

If you opt for a portable generator that can power your home’s central air, DuroMax XP12000EH is ideal for you.

It has a capacity of 12000 watts, enough to run your central air conditioning unit along with other essential appliances during a power outage.

Its 9500 running watts and 12000 watts surge power can provide a reliable backup power solution without a time-consuming installation.

When running at gas, this portable generator produces 12,000 watts and 11,400 when running on propane.

Its control panel is also capable of plugging several outlets at once. It has an outlet for 120/240V 30 amp twist lock, 120/240V 50 amp heavy duty outlet, and two 120V 20 amp household outlets.

DuroMax XP12000EH has a fuel tank capacity of 8.5 gallons. At 50% load, it can run up to 16 hours.

It is 236 lbs, which is quite heavy, but it comes with a wheel, so you can pretty much move it quickly wherever you want to.

2. Westinghouse WGen7500DF

Another dual fuel portable generator that can run even a central air conditioning or heating system is the Westinghouse WGen7500DF.

It runs on either gas or propane, making it a flexible solution during power failures.

As mentioned earlier, it is best to get a portable generator that is transfer switch ready.

The good news is that this generator features a transfer switch and is CARB compliant.

With a 7,500-watt generator, you no longer need to suffer on a summer day without electricity.

However, you need to prioritize your air conditioning unit over the rest of your appliances to ensure that you can use it for the entire day.

Unlike a standby generator, the Westinghouse WGen7500DF portable generator allows plug-and-play usage.

It includes a remote start key fob, oil funnel, battery charger oil, a tool kit, and a user’s manual to help you quickly get started.

No complicated installation is required!

3. Generac GP3500iO

Generac GP3500iO is the ideal generator for you if you are looking for something you can use to run your air conditioner both at home and in your RV.

It has 3,500 starting watts, enough for a window unit air conditioner working during a power outage.

With its PowerPush Technology, it can deliver more than 50% starting capacity to allow you to do more with less.

It is more discreet, making it ideal for environments that is sensitive to noise.

If you want a generator that you can bring anywhere you want, this generator is your best choice.

It weighs significantly less compared to other generators out there.

Portable Generator To Power Central A/C Unit

A portable generator can power your home’s central A/C unit. But, it needs to have a large capacity to supply the energy required by your central A/C unit.

Most likely, it needs to be a portable generator with 10,000 watts or higher. So, a quiet 2,000-watt portable generator is out of the question.

The right portable generator is capable of backing up your home’s central A/C unit during emergency power loss.

With this in mind, make sure to choose one with a considerable capacity.

A portable generator might not be enough to run all the appliances in your home, but it powers the most important things.

During summer, A/Cs are the most important, so ensure that your air conditioning unit can run off the portable generator you will buy.

Here are some of the tips to determine the right portable generator size to run your air conditioning unit:

How Many Watts Does Central A/C Use?

To determine whether you can run off your air conditioning unit in a portable generator, you must first know your A/C’s required wattage.

It would be best if you also learned about your portable generator’s starting and running wattage capacity.

When your air conditioning unit’s wattage is within the boundaries of your generator’s wattage, you can safely run your central A/C.

Average Central Air Conditioning Wattage

You can find a wide range of wattages for central air conditioning units.

Energy-efficient A/Cs, even the large ones, require a minimum of 2,000 watts, while large, less-efficient units need up to 10,000 watts.

Getting the average central air conditioning wattage is not helpful to ensure that your central A/C works during an outage.

What is essential is for you to get the right generator that has the capacity that your central air conditioning unit requires.

Powering A Window Unit Air Conditioner

Usually, window-type air conditioning units require less power compared to a central A/C. To get the right generator that can run a window unit A/C, use the same math.

First, determine the starting and running wattage of your window unit air conditioner.

Then, check if the generator you wish to buy has the capacity within the range of that wattage.

For instance, your window-type air conditioner requires 1,500 running watts and 2,000 starting watts.

Meanwhile, your generator provides 2,000 starting watts and 1,600 running watts. It means that your generator can run your window unit A/C but not much else in the home.

If you utilized a generator with a larger capacity, such as one with 3,400 starting watts and 3,100 running watts, you would be able to run your window unit A/C along with a few other appliances.

For those who have an existing generator at home but with low wattage, choosing a smaller window unit A/C is also a good option.

Many more minor variants of window-type air conditioners only require 500 to 700 running watts. It is also essential to know the actual numbers and never guess.

Otherwise, it would not be a surprise if your window unit A/C won’t work when you need it the most.

Will A 6,500 Watt Generator Run Central Air?

For residential use, a 6500-watt generator is more extensive compared to what most people will opt to.

It is an excellent option for running a central air conditioning unit during a power outage.

Most central air conditioners require 3500 watts to run, which means that a 6500-watt generator is more than enough to run your central air.

The good news is that you can also plug in other essential appliances while running your A/C in this generator type.


To summarize, during a power outage in hot weather, your top priority is to run your air conditioning unit in a generator.

Knowing this, it is recommended that all homes should have a generator ready in times of power outage.

Suppose you have an existing generator at home. In that case, it is essential to note that the number one factor in determining if it can run your air conditioning unit is its capacity.

If it has enough wattage to supply your air conditioning unit’s required wattage, then there is no need for you to worry about power failures. But, also consider other appliances you also want to run along with your A/C.

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