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Why Do Generators Have 2 Wattages?

Why Do Generators Have 2 Wattages?

Did you know that your generator has two types of wattages? While we buy generators for necessary protection against power cuts, we must also be well-versed with the said appliance’s wattage. For example, the first thing you learned today was that a generator has two wattages. 

Generators have two wattages because they have 2-watt values. These are the starting watt and the running watt. One is necessary to jumpstart your appliance after a power cut, and the other keeps it running. They are both equally essential in their function to keep your electronics active.

So today, I will help you understand what these two wattages are, how many wattages of each are needed to run a generator, their importance, and some examples. Let us begin!

What Is a Starting Watt?

 When your home has a power outage and all electronic appliances go off, you need a massive burst of power to jumpstart them. And this is where the starting watt comes in. 

Also known as the surge watt, the starting watt is the wattage a generator provides to switch on electronic appliances during a power outage. It helps your fridge, AC, and fans to start up and continue running. 

This is a temporary power surge that runs for about two to three seconds to power up your electronics. The starting wattage is equal to a generator’s power production when it is first turned on. 

Having some level of understanding about starting watt can help you find the perfect generator to jumpstart larger electronic appliances. It helps avoid risks like activation failure brought by not meeting the required surge watts or power overload (source).

What Is a Running Watt?

After the starting watt jumpstarts an appliance, a generator’s running watt helps the electronic equipment to continue running during the outrage. As a measure of power, the running wattage of an electronic device is much lower than its starting watt.

For example, suppose you are trying to boot up a refrigerator with a generator during a power outage. In that case, the fridge will need a massive amount of power to switch on and reach the desired chilling temperature. 

But once the refrigerator is chilled inside, it will not need the same amount of massive power to maintain the coldness while running. Here, a generator’s running watt comes in handy to maintain the appliance’s desired electric power.

If you know what running watt means, it can help you figure out how many devices your generator can keep running at the same time during a power outage.

How Much Starting Watt and Running Watt Are Needed To Run an Appliance?

An appliance’s starting watt and running watt depends on its function. For example, a heavy-duty electronic device will need more starting and running watts from a generator to stay active than light machinery. 

To better understand this, have a look at the tables below:

Kitchen Appliances

Kitchen appliances come in all shapes and sizes, each with its unique wattage requirements. The following are some common appliances that you might boot up with a generator during an outage:

ApplianceStarting WattRunning Watt
Electric Kettle3,000 W1,200 W
Dishwasher 540 W216 W
Refrigerator2,200 W700 W
Rice Cooker500 W200 W
Smart Fridge750 W500 W

Everyday Home Appliances

Everyday home appliances can be for entertainment, daily usage, or even for personal use. Their varying power requirements are best understood from the table below.

ApplianceStarting WattRunning Watt
Television300 W300 W
Wifi Router15 W5 W
Nintendo Switch Adapter33 W7 W
X-Box One60 W50 W
Hair Dryer1900 W1800 W

Bathroom Appliances

Bathroom appliances play a crucial role in keeping you fresh, clean, and ready for the day. The following are wattage requirements for some essential bathroom electronics at home.

AppliancesStarting WattRunning Watt
Electric Shaver20 W15 W
Power Shower20 W15 W
Steam Iron300 W2,200 W
Washing machine2,250 W1,150 W
Electric Clothes Dryer6,750 W5,400 W

You might find that some appliances need more running wattage than starting wattage while running on generator power. This is because they need constant high power to stay active so as to provide their services. A good example would be a steam iron that needs to produce consistent high temperatures (source).

What Is the Purpose of a Generator’s Starting Watt and the Running Watt?

The purposes of the starting watt and the running watt are tied to maintaining the functionality of your home’s essential electronic equipment. These wattages keep the equipment running during unpredictable power outages. 

For example, many medicines need refrigeration before consumption or injection. These include:

  • Glaucoma eye drops
  • Insulin for diabetic patients
  • Asthma patients’ aerosol sprays and certain inhalers
  • Erythromycin, Augmentin, and other reconstituted antibiotics
  • Tablets such as Alkeran, VePesid, etc.

If your power is out for long hours, these medicines might spoil and become useless for the patient. Many cold-chain pharmaceuticals keep their refrigeration units running to maintain such medications’ longevity by using heavy-duty generators during serious power outages. 

You can measure how much power your electric appliances need to activate through the generator by familiarizing yourself with their starting and running wattages. It can help you understand which devices to hook into the generator to ensure that they continue running during an outage.


Generators have two wattages: the starting wattage to jumpstart an appliance and the running wattage to maintain the said appliance’s smooth running. These two wattages are crucial for your generator.

Knowing the difference between both and how they work can help you buy the perfect generator for your home’s electronic appliances. Your generator can maintain a number of devices, depending on its power output, size, and wattage requirements. 

You can connect your fan, AC, refrigerator, and TV to the generator after calculating how much running watt it can produce for them to run simultaneously during a power outage.

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