BlogHVAC TipsApril 8, 2021Can a portable generator run my central air conditioning system?

Hurricane season is right around the corner. Time to stock up on batteries, water, and peanut butter and maybe think about getting a generator in case we lose power. Small generators can power up your radio, TV and a small refrigerator, but did you know a larger one may be able to keep your HVAC running too?

You will need a little information to make sure you buy the right size generator:

  • The starting wattage of your HVAC unit
  • The running wattage of your HVAC unit

You may find this information on the unit’s nameplate or on the manufacturer’s website. But don’t guess at these numbers – if you overload your generator, it could damage everything plugged into it. And don’t be surprised if the starting wattage is as much as 1,000 watts over the running wattage because it takes a lot more power to start up an appliance than to keep it running.

Once you have your HVAC numbers, you can use a calculator like this  one to figure out how many watts you will need for your other appliances. This calculator assumes a 10,000 BTU HVAC system, but you can change that to a zero and manually type in your requirements.

Here are some average wattage specifications on other items you may need to use during a hurricane:

  • Two lighting circuits = 200 watts. Add 200 watts for each additional pair of lighting circuits you will need.
  • Refrigerator = 1200 watts
  • Microwave = 1000 to 1200 watts
  • Electric oven = 2000 watts
  • Radio = 50 watts
  • Television = 300 watts
  • Laptop = 45 watts, desktop = 200 watts
  • Coffeemaker = 900 watts

Source = Popular Mechanics

You will also need a Manual Transfer Switch to change the power feed from an electrical panel from the utility company to the portable generator. The cost of the switch starts around $100 and it will take an electrician several hours to install it.

If you need assistance with your HVAC requirements, Contact the experts at Millian Aire. Ask your technician about what to do during a power outage and about things you can do to prevent your system from being damaged during power outages. We can also check your AC system to make sure it is ready for the summer heat!

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