Can A Home Generator Run an Air Conditioner?

A standby home generator is a good option for powering your air conditioner, but be sure to do your research first. There are a lot of different types of generators, and you shouldn’t try to power your AC if your generator isn’t powerful enough to handle the load.

Can A Home Generator Run an Air Conditioner?

Summer in New England can often mean big storms, and with storms come power outages. While it may be a relief to know that your pipes aren’t going to freeze during one of these summer outages, you may find yourself uncomfortable without your air conditioner. So should you take the chance and run it off of your generator? Keep in mind that there are a few factors that will influence whether or not it will work.

The Wattage of Your Generator

The first thing that you should note is the size of your generator – that is, how much it is capable of powering at one time. Electric power is measured in watts, and standby generators are rated in kilowatts (kW). While a small generator may support about 3,000-4,000 watts at a time, a large standby generator can support 10kW to 15kW! This is a big range, so if you don’t know what size generator you have, find that out before you do anything.

The Needs of Your Air Conditioner

Just as there’s no one size fits all generator, there’s a lot of variation in the sizing and wattage of different air conditioning units. Are you looking to power one or two window units or a 3-ton central air system? There is a big difference in the power required to run these different ACs.

It’s also important to know that your air conditioner doesn’t use the same amount of power all the time – it takes much more energy to start your AC than it does to keep it running. Your generator must be powerful enough to meet these startup demands, or you won’t be able to use your AC.

Every air conditioner is different, but Kohler estimates that a typical window unit will take about 5100 watts to start and will run at around 1700 watts. Meanwhile, central air conditioners tend to run at about 3500 watts – and their startup wattage can often be thousands of watts higher than that! You can buy a hard start kit to reduce the impact of startup, but it’s always best to consult a professional.

The best way to know your power needs is to check for yourself. Take a look at your air conditioning unit – it should list the startup and running wattage on it. This is the only way to know for sure what your unique AC’s power needs are.

Don’t Forget the Rest

One last thing before you turn on your AC! Your generator may be strong enough to power your air conditioner, but is your AC the only thing plugged in? If you’re powering other appliances, your lights, or your TV, you don’t want the cumulative power needs to exceed what your generator can provide.

If you haven’t already, check the wattage of everything you want to power at once and add it up. Don’t forget to factor in those high startup wattages! Now does your generator still meet your power needs? Go ahead and enjoy that AC! But if it doesn’t, you’re going to have to decide what’s most important. Can you leave the TV off for a while to run the AC?

The Right Generator

Every home has unique power needs. Are you looking for a generator powerful enough to keep you comfortable during outages all year long? Contact Standby Generators today – one of our experienced generator technicians will be happy to help you find the right generator for your needs.