What Will a 5500 Watt Generator Run? Will It Be Able To Meet Your Needs?

You are planning to buy a 5500 watts generator, but is it big enough for you? Will it be able to fulfill all your needs? 

It is easy to be conflicted about how much power you require. If you buy a generator with incorrect estimation, you might find trouble after it’s too late. 

You do not want to spend your life savings on the wrong product and regret it for a very long time. So we decided to help you out with your purchase.

Let’s find out together if a 5500 watts generator is the one for you!

A Little Background

A 5500 generator is used by many offices and families to power the most crucial electronics during a power outage. This energy supply can sustain at least two heavy appliances and many smaller ones. 

It is usually accompanied by equipment that enhances portability and is utilized for almost all circumstances. 

Do you want to travel? Use a 5.5kW generator! Do you want power in your house? A 5.5kW generator has got your back!

It is the ultimate solution to all your power-related problems!

What Powers the Generator?

Several brands and companies have manufactured this generator. This means that each generator model had a twist in it. However, one factor was constant in almost all of them: the fuels used to run the device.

The standard fuels used to power 5.5kW generators were: gas or liquid propane. There were diesel-powered generators, too; however, they were in scarcity. 

Some products also provide dual and tri-fuel features. These variations of generators allow the machine to function on more than a single fuel simultaneously. As a result, it has several benefits, like eco-friendliness, cheaper maintenance, etc. 

Click here to learn more about dual-fuel generators and their pros and cons. 

There are also conversion kits on various retailers’ websites and other fuel enhancement equipment that can help you in upgrading your standard generators.

How Long Will It Run For?

A generator’s run time is conventionally calculated on 50% of its load. However, you will find it impossible to settle for one run time of a 5500-watt generator as every brand and model have a different value. 

The number depends on the fuel consumption rate, fuel tank, type of fuel, electrical production, and several other factors.

Regardless, to get an estimate, an average 5.5kW generator will run for approximately 9 to 11 hours continuously on a 50% load. This means you can run appliances of 2500 watts with use for almost half a day. 

It is recommended to rest your generator during long usage hours to ensure an efficient and smooth experience.

Everything You Need To Know About Wattage

You need to thoroughly grasp the concept of wattages and what 5500 watts mean before you can move onto the appliances. 

More Than The Definition

The term wattage is used to measure the amount of power an electronic device requires or how much energy it provides in the case of a generator. Machines like refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines pull more watts due to the heavy workload.

On the other hand, smaller electronics like bulbs, chargers, coffee makers rely on lesser watts. This means you can use almost ten bulbs for the wattage power of a single heavy device. 

You can find the number of watts on an information label on the surface of the device, the retailer’s website, or a manual

However, some companies use other units to define the electrical energy utilized. In such cases, your device will have the number of amperes or volts it needs to run smoothly. Amperes (or Amps) are used to measure the flow of current

Everything you need to know about volts is that machines either run on 240V or 120V, and that information is always provided.

The calculation to find wattage from these two units is extremely simple. You just need to apply this equation: 

Wattage = Amperes x Volts

However, there is more to the term wattage than you know of.

A Hidden Type

While it is commonly known that you measure the power needed in watts, you might not be aware that devices require a push before they start. 

Starting Wattage 

Surge power or starting wattage is the energy that all machines with a motor need to initiate. This energy is necessary for a few seconds, and it is the highest wattage a device will ever draw. It is also known as peak wattage

Running Wattage 

Continuous wattage is the wattage that is essential for all electronics to function. A constant number allows your device to work and can have different values for the same machine. This difference is generated due to the difference in fuel usage.

Running wattage is also called rated power by several people. 

Remember, if your device has not labeled the two wattages separately, the starting wattage always has a higher value than the rated power. 

How It Affects Your Generator

It is crucial to identify what 5500 watts in your generator means before buying it, and this measurement can represent either of the wattages. 

If your power source has a peak wattage of 5.5kW, it is most likely that your running wattage is at least a few hundred lower. While 5kW continuous wattage is suitable, it is better to get an extra of five hundred watts. Furthermore, you will gain a higher starting wattage.

Most devices require greater surge power, and if the costs of the different generators are the same, why not go higher?

A shortage of peak wattage will prevent your device from starting, while low running wattage will fail to run your machines continuously. It would be foolish to purchase extra for either of them.

Here’s Why Precision Matters

You need to make sure that your generator fulfills the needs of both the wattages. In addition, they need to be calculated with high accuracy, or it might be dangerous for you. 

While using a generator, especially to sustain your house, connecting more devices to the backup energy supply than it can handle is very easy. Unfortunately, this overestimation and forgetfulness open the pandora’s box. 

If you overload your generator, it might cause a strain on your backup energy source resulting in a breakdown. This shutdown could be a temporary shut-off or, worse, a permanent one. You will need to get it checked and fixed by a professional

In some terrible scenarios, your generator may never work again. Furthermore, it can also lead to an explosion and harm you and your loved ones. 

It’s not a risk you should take because the waste of money, effort, and lives will never be worth it. 

If you want to run your generator to support all your household needs, it’s best to rely on a whole house generator rather than a portable one. This is because it will provide you with significantly more power and run efficiently. 

Know The Limits

Using a generator means you need to maintain and take care of it, regardless of its size. This obviously applies to a 5.5kW generator, and it is a sensitive device that requires a margin of safety

You cannot use a generator on full load. 

Therefore, at least two to three hundred watts of power should be left untouched to allow your power source a breather. Failing to do so results in stressing your generator and causing extensive internal damage

Remember, using the exact value of 5500 watts is not wise. Instead, you should stay below the boundary

This is why it is recommended that you use a generator at 90% of the load. If you cannot reach that goal, unplug devices that are not required and prevent an overload. Then, you can switch between machines instead of running them simultaneously.

What Your Appliances Need?

Once you are versed with your generator, you need to move onto the main character on the topic: your electronic devices and their needs. To find out how many appliances your generator can run, you need to know how much power each device needs.  

Here is a table of primary machines you come across in your daily life and would require to work during a power outage:

Chart of Essential Household Appliances and Their Wattages

AppliancesRunning WattageStarting Wattage
Bathroom Towel Heater60 W90 W
Ceiling Fan60 W70 W
Central AC (10,000 BTU)1,500 W4,500 W
Coffee Maker1,000 W0 W
Computer Monitor25 W5 W
Deep Freezer500 W1,500 W
Desktop Computer100 W350 W
Dishwasher1,500 W1,500 W
Electric Heater (Fan)2,000 W1,000 W
Electric Kettle1,200 W3,000 W
Electric Oven2,150 W0 W
Electric Stove (8″ Element)2,100 W0 W
Electric Water Heater4,000 W0 W
Electric Water Heater (Immersion)3,000 W0 W
Electric Water Heater (Tankless)6,600 W2,200 W
Heat Pump4,700 W4,500 W
Home Internet Router5 W15 W
Home Phone3 W5 W
Iron1,200 W0 W
Laptop50 W0 W
Light Bulb (Common)75 W0 W
Light Bulb (LED)9 W0 W
Microwave1,000 W0 W
Modern Fridge (2001-2020)400 W600 W
Refrigerator / Freezer700 W2,200 W
Sump Pump (1/2 HP)1,050 W2,150 W
Sump Pump (1/3 HP)800 W1,300 W
Television (82″ LED)230 W65 W
Toaster850 W0 W
Tube Light (1500mm)22 W0 W
Vacuum Cleaner200 W200 W
Washing Machine1,150 W2,250 W
Water Dispenser100 W0 W
Well Water Pump (1/2 HP)1,000 W2,100 W
Window AC (10,000 BTU)1,200 W3,600 W
Window AC (12,000 BTU)3,250 W9,750 W
** these values are merely an estimate; your appliance’s power consumption may differ

Let’s Do The Math!

You need to calculate how much starting and rated power you require from your generator. The steps are pretty simple, and there is nothing to worry about!

Step #1 – Define Your Priorities

Make a list of all the devices you will be using during a blackout. This list should only include the most necessary and needed devices. You should avoid entertainment products and rely on survival appliances. 

Step #2 – Involve The Wattages

Note down the surge and continuous power utilized by each device. Remember, you cannot forget either and double-check the values to ensure accuracy.

Step #3 – Addition Of The Watts

Once you have your running wattages, you need to add all the values for the selected electronics to find the total rated power your generator will produce. 

For efficient generator operation, this value should be at least three hundred less than 5.5kW. You need a buffer to prevent overload and malfunction. 

Step #4 – A Tricky Stage 

Calculating the starting wattage is different from the previous steps. First, you need to check all the starting wattage and choose the highest one. Once you determine this value, simply add it to the total running wattages

That is how you calculate the total starting wattage your generator requires in any crisis. Both of these values should be under at least 500 watts to take the most advantage out of your generator. 

However, if you fail to stay within the boundaries, you should reconsider the devices you require and eliminate a few from the list. 

You can also create two electronics lists matching the requirements and alternate between them during an emergency and blackout. This switch should not be regular and take place at least every twelve hours. 

The Difficult Devices

While most devices are easy to count and consider, a few are advanced and require special attention. These devices either have abnormal values or are challenging to sustain. 

Let’s take a look at them in detail:

1. Electric Water Heater

In the table, we mentioned different types of heaters and their wattages. However, as you observed, most of the running power crossed 5kW, and therefore, you cannot use most of the heaters with a 5.5kW generator. 

However, you can utilize a very basic electric water heater with this generator due to its 4000 watts of rated power. 

Unfortunately, this also means a generator powering the heater will not sustain other heavy or mid-ranged appliances. You will only be able to use smaller electronics such as a bulb or a communication device with a heater. 

Using a generator to support an electric heater restricts its usage by a mile and is highly inconvenient if you do not have an ample power supply.

2. A Refrigerator

A 5.5kW generator can easily run a refrigerator, and it requires about 700 watts of continuous power, which is surprisingly low for a device as big as a freezer. 

The question comes in the starting wattage of the machine. It is three times the value of the rated power!

This is where you might want to hesitate when connecting a refrigerator to the generator. With 2100 watts of starting wattage value, the fridge occupies approximately 50% of the surge power a generator can provide. 

If you run a fridge on a 5500-watt energy supply, you will not be able to run another heavy device with a motor, as it is likely to require a large amount of surge power.

So, if you choose to power a refrigerator, you need to group it with other smaller electronics

Running two heavy appliances with a total surge power of 5.5kW watts is possible, but it is too restricting and limiting. You will need more than just a few devices during a blackout. 

Hence, if you choose to run a refrigerator, you should select electrically light-weight devices with almost no peak wattage necessities. 

Find out more about energy consumption by refrigerators of different sizes here.

3. Welder

A 120-volts welder can run on a generator with a surge wattage of 5500 watts. The welder will have a power output under 140 Amps. 

Welders are complicated devices that require a lot more knowledge and education. You will need help from a professional to find the perfect generator size for your welder. 

However, in the meantime, while help arrives, you can visit our detailed guide about what size of generator you need to buy to power your welder.

Be Thorough and Careful

Buying a generator might be one of the biggest investments you make in your life as a family man or a business owner. 

The price you pay is huge, and the device lasts almost a lifetime with you. Hence, it is okay to be paranoid before making a decision. 

Double-check every calculation you have made and consider every electronic before eliminating it from the list. 

Anything can save your life during an emergency. Therefore, survival appliances and communication devices should be a priority. That being said, you cannot run every tiny machine on your generator, and you should not forget about overestimation. 

A 5500 watts generator is enough to run a large amount of the necessities in your house, and should you choose to purchase it, you won’t regret the decision!

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