FAQ: What Can I Run With a 5000 Watt Generator?

Are you thinking about getting a 5000 watt generator but you are not sure what appliances you can run on it? I have great news for you! Our team here at Generatorist has helped over 200,000 visitors find information about generators and we will help you as well.

Let’s begin.

A 5000 watt generator provides approximately 41 amps in case of 120 volts or 20 amps in case of 240 volts. The best ones right now are Champion 6250 watt inverter, WEN GN6000 or Generac GP5500.

In layman’s terms, a 5000 watt generator can run almost any essential household appliance, including:

  1. Small window AC unit – 1,200 watts
  2. Fridge with a freezer – 700 watts
  3. Small well pump (1/2 HP) – 1,000 watts
  4. Washing machine – 1,150 watts
  5. Coffee maker – 1,000 watts
  6. Microwave oven – 1,000 watts
  7. Dishwasher – 1,500 watts
  8. Pressure Cooker – 700 watts
  9. Espresso machine – 1,300 watts
  10. Toaster – 850 watts
  11. Ceiling fan – 60 watts
  12. Vacuum Cleaner – 200 watts
  13. TV – 85 watts
  14. Sump pump (1/2 HP) – 1,050 watts
  15. Small heating system – 500 watts
  16. Laptop – 50 watts
  17. VCR / DVD Player – 100 watts
  18. Smaller electric appliances – 400 watts
  19. A couple of power tools – 800 watts
  20. Medium radiant heater – 1,800 watts
  21. Hammer drill – 1,000 watts
  22. Radial arm saw – 2,000 watts
  23. Bench grinder – 1,400 watts
  24. Electric water heater – 4,000 watts
  25. Window AC (10,000 BTU) – 1,200 watts

To learn, whether you can run all these at the same time you need to know the power consumption of each appliance in your home. Our list of over 100+ products and their power needs will help you with this.

Also, you need to know whether your generator has the correct number and type of outlets as some higher wattage appliances such as AC units may need different outlets than some low-wattage appliances.

There are two main wattage output numbers characterizing the amount of power a generator can produce: Running watts and Starting watts.

Running watts – The first, smaller number, refers to rated (running) watts – the amount of power your machine can produce over longer periods of time.

Starting watts – The second, larger number, refers to the surge (or starting) watts – the maximum power your machine can produce over a short period of time.

By a 5000 watt generator we refer to a machine that is able to produce 5000 running watts. Its starting watts will vary depending on the brand and model of each generator, but based on our experience the range is somewhere between 5500 – 6250 surge watts.

Just don’t expect to run your whole house on this machine simultaneously as this will require a lot more power than any 5000 watt generator provides. If you are thinking about getting one, pick from Champion 6250 watt inverter, WEN GN6000 or Generac GP5500. Feel free to check our older list of the best 5500 watt generators on the market as well.

If you need an energy backup for your whole house without any limitations, you may consider getting a stand-by unit instead of a portable one. Here is a great calculator from Generac that will help you decide. Usually, these generators are much more expensive and need to be installed by a professional electrician.

Here are our tips for choosing the best generator for your household and specific tips for contractors as well, in case you are interested.

Determining your

wattage requirements

If you want to learn what electronic appliances will a 5000 generator run, you need to get ready to do some math. Don’t worry, it will be a very simple process of adding up several numbers.

To determine what appliances you can run on this type of generator at the same time, you need to follow these steps:

  1. List all electronic appliances in your home you want to keep running in the case you are out of power (here is a great list full of appliances you might use)
  2. Write information from their name tags on required running and starting watts into a table (see examples below)
  3. Then you need to add up all the running watts required to operate your appliances
  4. The next step is to find the item with the highest additional starting watts
  5. Then add this number to your total running watts
  6. The final number represent the amount of starting watts your generator needs to provide

Here is a good example of calculating wattage needs for a generator.

We have decided that in case of a weather-caused blackout, we would need only essentials such as refrigerator with a freezer so our food will be safe, a lamp that will serve as an emergency light source, a small window AC unit to keep the temperature under control, a toaster, and a laptop.

Selected Appliances Rated (Running) Watts Additional Starting Watts
Toaster 850 W 0 W
Refrigerator / Freezer 700 W 2,200 W
Laptop 50 W 0 W
Lamp (2 Lightbulbs) 150 W 0 W
Window AC (10,000 BTU) 1,200 W 3,600 W
TOTAL 2,950 W
6,550 W

As you can see in our example above, if we add up all running watts of our appliances we get the number 2,950 – so we are well within the 5000 running watts limit (850 + 700 + 50 + 150 + 1,200 = 2,950).

However, we would need a generator that is capable of producing at least 6,550 surge (starting) watts to power all these appliances (2,950 + 3,600 = 6,550).

Just keep in mind that some electric appliances in your home may not have running watts provided on their data tags. If this is the case, you can estimate the running watts required thanks to the following formula:

Watts (W or kW) = Volts (V) x Amps (A)
Amps (A) = Watts (W or kW) / Volts (V)

So, as long as you have required Volts and Amps, you can easily convert them into an estimate of required running watts. Maybe you remember that this equation represents the Ohm’s law from High School physics.

Luckily, there is a device called “appliance load tester” that you can get to determine how many watts each your appliance takes. You can easily get one from Amazon and avoid all that physic´s equation.

If you need general estimates of wattage consumption by the most common electronic appliances, then take a look at our tables at the end of this guide. Just take these numbers as rough estimates. You need to check each appliance / power tool in your home individually to see the precise wattage requirements.

How much can a 5000 watt generator run? Feel free to check out the wattage requirements of the most popular household appliancesRV & camping appliances or power tools for contractors here on Generatorist.

5000 Generator FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Because we got a lot of questions over the time with regards to 5000 watt generators, we have decided to add this FAQ section where you can look for helpful information.

If you have questions that are not answered here, feel free to contact us or leave your question in the comments section available at the end of this article.

In general, this type of machine can run almost any essential household appliance, including:

  1. Small window AC unit – 1,200 watts
  2. Fridge with a freezer – 700 watts
  3. Small well pump (1/2 HP) – 1,000 watts
  4. Washing machine – 1,150 watts
  5. Coffee maker – 1,000 watts
  6. Microwave oven – 1,000 watts
  7. Dishwasher – 1,500 watts
  8. Pressure Cooker – 700 watts
  9. Espresso machine – 1,300 watts
  10. Toaster – 850 watts
  11. Ceiling fan – 60 watts
  12. Vacuum Cleaner – 200 watts
  13. TV – 85 watts
  14. Sump pump (1/2 HP) – 1,050 watts
  15. Small heating system – 500 watts
  16. Laptop – 50 watts
  17. VCR / DVD Player – 100 watts
  18. Smaller electric appliances – 400 watts
  19. A couple of power tools – 800 watts
  20. Medium radiant heater – 1,800 watts
  21. Hammer drill – 1,000 watts
  22. Radial arm saw – 2,000 watts
  23. Bench grinder – 1,400 watts
  24. Electric water heater – 4,000 watts
  25. Window AC (10,000 BTU) – 1,200 watts

To learn, whether you can run all these at the same time you need to know the power consumption of each appliance in your home

In general, a 5000 running watts generator should provide enough power to run a small well pump. Sadly, answering this question is really hard without knowing the exact running and starting watts required by your water pump.

I have found rough estimates for different types of pumps:

  • 1/3 Horse Power – It takes 750 running watts and 1500 starting watts.
  • 1/2 Horse Power – It takes 1000 running watts and 2100 starting watts.
  • 3/4 Horse Power – It takes 1500 running watts and 3000 starting watts.
  • 1 Horse Power – It takes 2000 running watts and 4000 starting watts.
  • 1 & 1/2 Horse Power – It takes 2500 running watts and 5000 starting watts.

As you can see in the estimates above, the issue is not running watts but starting watts. To get the precise numbers, you will need to find the voltage (120 or 240) and horsepower information on the info-plate of your pump.

Then, all it takes to learn required wattage is to apply this equation:

Watts (W or kW) = Volts (V) x Amps (A)

To learn more about powering water pump with your generator, I highly recommend you to read this great article from Oakville Pump Service called: So You Need a Generator Because Your Water is Off During Power Outages…

Although theoretically, you could run a very small central AC (that is modern and power efficient) with a 5000 running watts generator, we would rather go for an emergency window AC unit as 5000 generators may have too little starting power.

However, the answer to this questions really depends on the number of running and starting watts your AC unit requires.

Obviously, these numbers vary from one unit to another and are based on cooling ability of individual models and brands. That is why you need to look for this data at the name tag of your central AC:

  1. LRA (Locked Rotor Amps) – This number represents the current you can expect under starting conditions when you apply full voltage.
  2. RLA (Rated Load Amps) – This number represents the maximum current a compressor should draw under any operating conditions.
  3. FLA (Full Load Amps) – This number represents the same as the Rated Load Amps.

Just note that you need to take into consideration the amps for both the compressor and the fan unit. To determine, if your 5000 generator can run a central AC, please consult the manufacturer or a professional electrician.

To discover the exact power needs of your AC unit, check out this helpful guide: How Many Watts Do 5,000 – 18,000 BTU Air Conditioners Use?

Keep in mind that a typical central air unit runs on a 208/240 volts and is often permanently mounted and hardwired into the electrical system of your house. That is why to safely run this electronic appliance you need to connect your generator through a transfer switch.

Actually, you should always connect your generator through a transfer switch if you don’t want to damage your appliances or endanger people who may be working on electric lines in your neighborhood.

In general, a 5000 running watts generator should provide enough power to run an RV AC unit (15000 BTU) without any issues. However, answering this question is really hard without knowing the exact running and starting watts required by your AC unit.

I have found rough estimates for different types of RV air conditioning units:

  • 11000 BTU – It takes 1050 running watts and 1600 starting watts.
  • 13000 BTU – It takes 1800 running watts and 2800 starting watts.
  • 15000 BTU – It takes 2000 running watts and 3300 starting watts.

As you can see in the estimates above, the issue is not running watts but starting watts. To get the precise numbers, you will need to find the voltage, and amperage information on the info-plate of your RV AC unit.

Then, all it takes to learn required wattage is to apply this equation:

Watts (W or kW) = Volts (V) x Amps (A)

You can read more about this topic here:

In general, a refrigerator takes around 1200 surge watts at the beginning while the compressor kicks in and then it gradually drops down to around 200 running watts. As you can see, each and every generator in this article could run a mid-sized refrigerator.

However, you shouldn’t rely on these general estimates and you have to check the nameplate and data tag on your fridge to learn the precise numbers.

Also, if your generator has a high total harmonic distortion, your fridge (especially if you have a modern type) may get damaged (that is why we recommend getting an inverter type of generator).

Learn more about power consumption of different types of refrigerators in our guide FAQ: What Size Generator Do I Need to Run a Refrigerator?

Usually, a 5000 running watts generator should provide enough power to run a small sump pump (1/2 horse power) without any issues. However, answering this question is really hard without knowing the exact running and starting watts required by your pump.

I have found rough estimates for different types of sump pumps:

  • 1/3 Horse Power – It takes 800 running watts and 1300 starting watts.
  • 1/2 Horse Power – It takes 1050 running watts and 2150 starting watts.

As you can see in the estimates above, the issue is not running watts but starting watts. To get the precise numbers, you will need to find the voltage, amperage, and horsepower information on the info-plate of your pump.

Then, all it takes to learn required wattage is to apply this equation:

Watts (W or kW) = Volts (V) x Amps (A)

Just keep in mind that your sump pump will probably require a 240V outlet on your generator. More on this topic can be found in these articles:

In general, a 5000 running watts generator should provide enough power to run an air compressor (1 horse power) without any issues. However, answering this question is really hard without knowing the exact running and starting watts required by your air compressor.

I have found rough estimates for different types of compressors:

  • 1/2 Horse Power – It takes 975 running watts and 1600 starting watts.
  • 1 Horse Power – It takes 1600 running watts and 4500 starting watts.

As you can see in the estimates above, the issue is not running watts but starting watts. To get the precise numbers, you will need to find the voltage, amperage, and horsepower information on the info-plate of your compressor.

Then, all it takes to learn required wattage is to apply this equation:

Watts (W or kW) = Volts (V) x Amps (A)

Read more in these articles:

Usually, a 5000 watt gasoline generator has a 4-stroke engine. If this is the case, you will need to use either SAE 30 (if you live in a hotter climate) or a SAE 10W-30 if you are going to use it in a colder climate.

However, there are many things you need to consider while choosing the oil for your machine:

  • Whether you got a 2-stroke or a 4-stroke engine
  • Starting and operating temperatures
  • Type of fuel your machine runs on
  • Certifications and classifications of the oil
  • Reputation of the brand and company behind the oil

If you need to learn more information on how to choose the best oil for your generator, then consult our guide that is available right here. We provide you also with a list of best brands in various categories of oil.

In general, a 5000 watt generator provides approximately 41.6 amps, in case of 120 volts or 20.8 amps in case of 240 volts. To learn more, you should check out the owner´s manual to the machine you want to buy.

Actually, identifying how many amps there are in a 5000 running watt generator is a very simple process. All you have to do is to apply the following formula:

Amps (A) = Watts (W or kW) / Volts (V)

You need to divide the wattage by the voltage. So, in this case you need to divide 5000 by 120 or 240 to get the correct numbers. Here is a great conversion calculator, in case you want to check for yourself and our helpful list of over 100+ products and their power needs.

Here is our handy cheat sheet:

  • 500 Watts, 120 V = 4.2 A, 240 V = 2.1 A
  • 1000 Watts, 120 V = 8.3 A, 240 V = 4.2 A
  • 2000 Watts, 120 V = 16.7 A, 240 V = 8.3 A
  • 3000 Watts, 120 V = 25.0 A, 240 V = 12.5 A
  • 4000 Watts, 120 V = 33.3 A, 240 V = 16.7 A
  • 5000 Watts, 120 V = 41.6 A, 240 V = 20.8 A
  • 6000 Watts, 120 V = 50.0 A, 240 V = 25.0 A
  • 7000 Watts, 120 V = 58.3 A, 240 V = 29.2 A
  • 8000 Watts, 120 V = 66.7 A, 240 V = 33.3 A
  • 9000 Watts, 120 V = 75.0 A, 240 V = 37.5 A
  • 10000 Watts, 120 V = 83.3 A, 240 V = 41.7 A
  • 12000 Watts, 120 V = 100.0 A, 240 V = 50.0 A
  • 14000 Watts, 120 V = 116.7 A, 240 V = 58.3 A
  • 16000 Watts, 120 V = 133.3 A, 240 V = 66.7 A

This question doesn’t have an universal answer as each generator has unique fuel consumption and capacity of the fuel tank. From our experience an average 5000 watt generator runs for approximately 12 hours on a 50% load.

This number is a median that we got after looking at the run time of over 30 generators that provide around 5000 running watts.

Here are some examples:

  • LIFAN Energy Storm ES5700 – 5,000 running watts – 10.0 hr on a 50% load (6.5 gal)
  • Champion 6250 – 5,000 running watts – 9.0 hr on a 50% load (5.7 gal)
  • Westinghouse WGen5300v – 5,300 running watts – 13.5 hr on a 50% load (4.7 gal)
  • WEN 6000-Watt – 5,000 running watts – 7.5 hr on a 50% load (3.4 gal)
  • Green Power Atlas 6500 – 5,300 running watts – 13.0 hr on a 50% load (6.6 gal)
  • Generac GP5500 – 5,500 running watts – 10 hr on a 50% load (7.2 gal)
  • Powermate CX5500 – 5,500 running watts – 12.5 hr on a 50% load (7.0 gal)
  • Honda EU7000iS – 5,500 running watts – 16 hr on a 25% load (5.1 gal)
  • Pulsar PG6580E – 5,500 running watts – 12 hr on a 50% load (5.2 gal)

There is no single answer to this question. Actually, there are several features of your 5000 watt generator you need to consider while choosing your transfer switch.

We are going to cover this topic soon but in the meantime, feel free to read this comprehensive guide from Electric Generators Direct: How to Pick the Perfect Manual Transfer Switch or this one from GeneratorGrid: Transfer Switch for Your Portable Generator: Buyer’s Guide

Household Appliances

Estimated wattage
Kitchen Appliances Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Toaster 850 W 0 W
Microwave 1,000 W 0 W
Refrigerator / Freezer 700 W 2,200 W
Coffee Maker 1,000 W 0 W
Electric Stove (8" Element) 2,100 W 0 W
Deep Freezer 500 W 1,500 W
Electric Can Opener 170 W 0 W
Dishwasher 1,500 W 1,500 W
Food Processor 400 W 0 W
Essential Appliances Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Electric Water Heater 4,000 W 0 W
Well Water Pump (1/2 HP) 1,000 W 2,100 W
Window AC (10,000 BTU) 1,200 W 3,600 W
Window AC (12,000 BTU) 3,250 W 9,750 W
Central AC (10,000 BTU) 1,500 W 4,500 W
Central AC (24,000 BTU) 3,800 W 11,400 W
Sump Pump (1/3 HP) 800 W 1,300 W
Sump Pump (1/2 HP) 1,050 W 2,150 W
Furnace Fan Blower (1/3 HP) 700 W 1,400 W
Furnace Fan Blower (1/2 HP) 800 W 2,350 W
Garage Door Opener (1/2 HP) 875 W 2,350 W
Common Light Bulb 75 W 0 W
Space Heater 1,800 W 0 W
Laundry Appliances Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Washing Machine 1,150 W 2,250 W
Clothes Dryer (Electric) 5,400 W 6,750 W
Iron 1,200 W 0 W
Hair Dryer 1,250 W 0 W
Entertainment Appliances Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Laptop 50 W 0 W
Television 500 W 0 W
Stereo 450 W 0 W
VCR / DVD Player 100 W 0 W
Video Game System 40 W 0 W
Other Appliances Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Clock Radio 50 - 200 W 0 W

Printable Chart

power tools & machines

Estimated wattage
Power tools Rated (Running) Watts Additional Surge Watts
Radial Arm Saw 2,000 W 2,000 W
Circular Saw (7.25") 1,400 W 4,200 W
Air Compressor (1/4 HP) 975 W 1,600 W
Air Compressor (1 HP) 1,600 W 4,500 W
Miter Saw (10") 1,800 W 1,800 W
Reciprocating Saw 960 W 0 W
Electric Drill 600 W 900 W
Belt Sander 1,200 W 2,400 W
Bench Grinder 1,400 W 2,500 W

Printable Chart

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Founder, Generator enthusiast

Our aim here at Generatorist is to become the No. 1 resource for all things related to generators & power needs. We helped over 200,000 visitors with our tips and reviews, and we will help you as well.

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