What can you run on a 2000 watt generator?

Are you interested in purchasing a generator, but don't really know how much power you need? Each appliance is different and will have a different power demand. You also need to consider the type of generator as some appliances may be affected by the type of power produced. What can you run on a 2000 watt generator? This article will answer that question and outline the considerations you need to make.

Jump to:
Understanding the difference between running watts and starting watts
Portable generator vs inverter generator
Sensitive appliances
What can you run on a 2000 watt generator?

Understanding the difference between running watts and starting watts​

The first thing you need to be aware of is that each generator will have two different power ratings.  These are starting or maximum and rated or running.  It is very important that you understand the difference between the two as it will affect which appliances you can use and how.

Every time you switch on an appliance it requires a boost of power to get started. This power demand is known as starting watts. Once started, it then slowly requires less power until it is fully on. At this point it then uses a stable amount of power know as running watts. For example, consider a fan. When you initially switch the fan on at the power outlet, the fan requires a surge of power to start the motor. As the motor and the fan speeds up, it slowly requires less power until it reaches its continuous speed. At this point it now only requires the running watts of power. 

So what does this mean for your generator? Well, the running watts is the maximum power it can provide over a continuous time period. The starting watts is the extra power it can provide to account for the extra power your appliances need to switch on. So its very important that when you match your appliance needs to a generator, you compare running watts with running watts.

Portable generator vs inverter generator

Another consideration you need to make is what type of generator you need. Generally if you are looking at a 2000 watt generator you will be deciding between a portable generator and an inverter generator. The basic differences are listed below. For a more extensive description, please see each respective page.  

Portable generators

  • Use gasoline or propane
  • Less clean power
  • Typically noisier
  • Less expensive
  • Less fuel efficient

Inverter generators

  • Use gasoline
  • Clean power
  • Quieter
  • More expensive
  • More fuel efficient

Sensitive appliances

The key difference between the two types of generators is the way the power is created. In a portable generator, alternating current (AC) is produced by the motor which runs directly to your appliances. However an inverter generator uses a much cleaner process. Its motor will initially produce alternating current which is converted to direct current (DC). This direct current is then inverted back to alternating current. This inversion creates a much more stable current known as a true sine wave. The reason this is important is that some appliances are sensitive.  Devices such as computers, laptops, televisions and DVD players have complex technological components which are at risk if you connect them to a portable generator. However they can be used safely with an inverter generator due to its clean electrical current.

Related reading: our comparison of the Yamaha vs Honda 2000 watt inverter generators.

What can you run on a 2000 watt generator?

Every appliance has a different power demand in watts. Whether the appliance is used in your house, in the garden, in your RV or at a work site, it should have a wattage displayed on it. To determine how many and which appliances you can run on a 2000 watt generator, you need to add the individual wattages together to get a total demand. 

General guide to appliance wattages

Watts (indication only)

Espresso machine
Washing machine
Ceiling fan
Portable electric heater
Sump pump


If you think you'll need more power, check out these 3000 watt generator reviews.