FAQ: what will a 5500 watt Generator Run?

Do you consider getting a 5500 watt generator but you are not sure what appliances you can run on it? Then you have landed on the right website as our Generatorist team will try to provide you with every piece of information you are looking for.

There are two main wattage output numbers characterizing the amount of power each portable generator can create at one time.

The first, smaller number, refers to rated (running) watts – the amount of power your machine can produce over long periods of time. 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 5500 generator we refer to a machine that is able to produce 5500 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 6500 – 7000 surge watts.

In layman’s terminology, this type of machine can run almost any essential household appliance, including:

  1. Small window AC unit
  2. Fridge with a freezer
  3. Sump pump
  4. Small heating system
  5. All smaller electric appliances
  6. A couple of power tools

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. 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 other low-wattage appliances.

Just don’t expect to run your whole house on this machine simultaneously as this will require a lot more power than any 5500 generator can provide. 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.

Usually, these are much more expensive and need to be installed by a professional electrician.

Determining your

wattage requirements

If you want to learn what electronic appliances will a 5500 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
  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 300 W 0 W
Lamp (2 Lightbulbs) 150 W 0 W
Window AC (10,000 BTU) 1,200 W 3,600 W
TOTAL 3,200 W
6,800 W

As you can see in our example above, if we add up all running watts of our appliances we get the number 3,200 – so we are well within the 5500 running watts limit (850 + 700 + 300 + 150 + 1,200 = 3,200).

However, we would need a generator that is capable of producing at least 6,800 surge (starting) watts to power all these appliances (3,200 + 3,600 = 6,800).

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 equation:

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 represent the Ohm’s law from High School physics.

Luckily, there is a device called “appliance load tester” that you can get to determine precisely 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 below. 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 5500 watt generator run? Check out the wattage of the most popular appliances below to discover answer to that question.

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 300 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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About the author


handyman, loves science

Hands behind everything you see around. Matthew is the ultimate handyman. He is the expert to all things related to generators. 

When he compares the machines, he uses his comprehensive research skills combined with attention to details. If you need to pick new generator, he is your man.

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