What can you run on a generator? (AVOID Doing This!)

Generators can be used for many different purposes. They are a great source of backup power when there is an outage or if you just want to enjoy the peace and quiet of being unplugged from the grid for a few hours. 

However, it’s important to know what you can and can’t run on a generator before using it. To help you get started using your generator, we have listed some helpful tips below. 

Whether your generator is natural gas or propane-powered, check the user manual first to determine its maximum load capacity before proceeding with any additional tasks. If you aren’t sure what that capacity is, take note of the engine output in watts and proceed with caution.

A big generator that is mounted on a vehicle. Image by PlumbingInstantFix. All rights reserved.

What to run on a generator

When it comes to what to run on a generator, you need to be careful about what you choose to plug in. 

Let’s take a look at some common items below.

Can you run an air conditioner on a generator?

You may be surprised to learn that air conditioners can run on a generator. In most cases, they are too big to fit on the generator.

Especially small and portable ac systems shouldn’t be a problem. Bigger systems can require more electricity.

The generator should produce enough power though. If you try to plug an air conditioner into a weak generator, it will probably trip the circuit breaker due to the immense power draw. Especially if you use the highest settings of the air conditioner, it can require quite a lot of energy.  

Check the manual of your AC to get an idea of how much power it needs to run properly.

Is it ok to run a welder off a generator?

Check the manual of your welder to check how much power it needs.

 If you need to run a welder off a generator on a regular basis, you should look into purchasing an automatic voltage regulator. This will ensure a consistent voltage output.

Make sure that your generator doesn’t turn off often as this can make it dangerous to use the welder. You might expect a flame and when this suddenly stops, you can be surprised and do something dangerous.

Welding machines can also break if they get power spikes or intermittent power.

Is it ok to run a vacuum off a generator?

Yes, it should be OK to run a vacuum off a generator. Vacuums generally don’t need a ton of power. 

Just make sure that the power cord of the vacuum is long enough. In some instances you can pull on it when you want to reach certain parts of your house. This could unplug the vacuum from the generator.

In most instances, you should wait until the electricity is back up though. Generators are  often used during power outages. It is often hard to predict how long these will last and you might want to save fuel for essential items.

A vacuum should work on most generators without too many issues. Some vacuums also have batteries. This can be a great solution if you have a lot of power outages. 

Will a generator run a shop vac?

You might have done some woodworking that you want to clean up. Does the shop vac work with a generator though?

Most shop vacs should work on a generator. This includes Bosch and other brands.

Some shop vacs require a lot of electricity though. If you have a small generator, it might not be able to power your shop vac. This can lead to intermittent power or your shop vac shutting down while you are working.

If you want to do woodworking in a remote area, you can run your shop vac on a generator without any issues.

Can a generator run a heat pump?

If you need to run a heat pump off a generator, it may be possible to do so. However, you will want to make sure the generator has the capacity to do so. You should also make sure that the heat pump can handle sudden energy cuts (you can check this in the manual).

Some heat pumps need time to shut down properly. Generators can shut off if there is a problem and the heat pump will have to turn off faster. If they regularly have to deal with this, they can break faster.

Since heat pumps run on electricity, they will not operate when there is no electricity. 

Generators are generally used for a short period of time. This is why they are generally not connected to heat pumps or heaters. It makes it harder to install the heat pump if you need a connection with the generator.

The best solution is to use a whole-house generator if you want to install a heat pump on a generator; These are more expensive but can produce more power. 

Can you plug a dryer into a generator?

In most cases, you will not want to plug a dryer into a generator. Dryers operate at very high temperatures and draw a significant amount of power. 

If you try to plug a dryer into a weak generator, it will probably trip the circuit breaker due to the high power draw. You will need a strong generator to run a dryer (also known as a standby generator).

 If you need to run a dryer off a generator, you will want to make sure you choose the correct dryer plug. You may also want to consider purchasing a special plug for the machine. This will reduce the risk of tripping the circuit breaker.

Generators are generally used during emergencies or power outages. It is better to save your fuel for other appliances. Just hang the clothes outside to dry if possible. 

Can you use all the outlets on a generator at once?

You might be tempted to plug in everything you own into your generator at the same time. This should be possible but we have to take the maximum power output of the generator into account.

If you start using it for energy intense devices, such as a washing machine or heat pump, your generator might not be able to power them all. In some instances you will get intermittent power or the generator might shut down altogether.

When you use a generator, you have to be aware of how much energy it produces. These systems have their limitations and you should check these before plugging devices in.

We have outlined how generators work here and what size you need.

Is it safe to charge phone with generator?

Generally speaking, it is safe to charge your phone with a generator. However, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. 

Ensure you don’t attach too many devices to your power generator. This can make it stop charging your phone.

It is also important that you use a good cable. Some cables that are being sold are cheap and can damage your phone. They don’t have the required safety mechanisms in place that more expensive cables have. 

For this reason, you should only charge a phone with a generator if you have a good cable to do so.

To conclude, wa can state that generators can run a lot of devices.

We have discussed the difference between inverters and generators here.

 If you want to use your generator for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to make sure it is properly maintained. Be sure to inspect the fuel tank regularly and keep it filled as needed. It is also a good idea to clean the air filter and change the oil on a regular basis.