What Can You Run on a 3500 Watt Generator? – Easy Tips

Whether you already own a 3500 watt generator or planning to buy one, you should first need to know what you can run on it. This article provides all the necessary information that helps you in optimizing the power usage without overloading your generator. Let’s move on with the basics of what can you run on a 3500 watt generator.

3500 watt generator

What Does A 3500 Watt Generator Mean?

The power rating of generators is expressed in watts or kilowatts, which is the common measurement of power. The more the watts, the more power you can get from the generator. However, there are two important power ratings that you need to now. They are namely Surge Wattage and Continuous Wattage.

Surge wattage is the amount of power that the generator can support for a few seconds, especially when starting appliances driven by motors. This is because there will be a spike in wattage when starting certain electrical equipment. Surge power is relevant for refrigerators, ACs, lawnmowers, chainsaws, etc. Continuous wattage is the operational wattage that the generator will sustain during running. This wattage is usually indicated on the electrical appliances. 

There is a misconception that these two wattage ratings are interchangeable, whereas they are not. It is recommended to check the real power requirements on the electrical appliances. The wattage indicated on the generator could be either the continuous wattage or the surge wattage. Therefore, make sure to clarify this when looking for a generator.

What Is The Ideal Wattage For Your Needs?

You need to know your power need before selecting a generator. This is to avoid any inconveniences caused by under-sizing and oversizing. You can find more details about this on What size portable generator to power 200 amp service?

Here are some tips that will be useful in selecting the ideal generator to meet your power needs.

  1. If you add more electrical appliances, you need a generator with more wattage.
  2. Similarly, if you need to run the appliances for a longer time, you need more wattage.
  3. If your appliances are high-energy users, you will have to go for a generator with a higher capacity.
  4. The higher the power capacity of your generator, the more expensive it will be.
  5. You can check the electrical equipment and add up the wattages to determine the value of power capacity needed for your residential or commercial needs.

Home Appliances You Can Run On A 3500 Watt Generator.

What will a 3500 watt generator run? Here is a list of household appliances you can run on a 3500 watt generator. These are only the average wattages. The real power value may slightly differ depending on the make and model of your device.

Electrical ApplianceAverage Wattage
Refrigerator/ Freezer700 W
Grinder/ Blender/ Mixer850 W
DVD Player350 W
Television120 W
Portable Fan120 W
Coffee Maker600 W
Laptop300 W
Hair Dryer1900 W
Heater1500 W
Light Bulb60 W
Electric Grill1650 W
Iron 1200 W
Microwave Iron1000 W
Dishwasher 300 W
Electric Stove1500 W

Work Station Equipment That You Can Run On A 3500 Watt Generator

Here are some of the equipment in your workstation and their respective wattage. You may not be able to connect two or more devices to the generator, depending on their individual power consumption.

EquipmentAverage Wattage
Circular Saw1400 W
Band Saw1500 W
Jig Saw2400 W
Cordless Drill380 W
Drill Press1400 W
Soldering Iron400 W
Small Vacuum Cleaner2200 W
Small Shaper1400 W
Table Saw1600 W
Portable Sawmill2000 W

Various Needs for a 3500 Watt Generator

What will a 3500 watt generator run when considering both indoor and outdoor power needs? Here are some of the situations where you may find a generator with a power capacity of 3500 watts useful. 

For a Power Outage at Home

Generators are widely used as a backup power source for houses during blackouts. A 3500 watt generator can power up several lights, a television, and another appliance of low wattage. It will run a window AC, but not a central AC unit which consumes a lot more power.

For Parties and Outdoor Events

What can you run on a 3500 watt generator outdoors? A small freezer with a coffee maker can be powered using a 3500 watt generator. If not, a TV, fan, and some lighting system can be powered up using this generator. Depending on the basic supplies, you can determine what appliances can be connected to your generator.

For Tailgating

You can tailgate with a normal load using this generator of 3500 watts. You can power up a television, laptop, and lights easily and even a mini-fridge to store food and drinks. But if you need to run appliances with heavy power consumption together at once, you may need multiple generators. 

For Blackouts in Adverse Weather

Power outages are a common scenario in various regions during extreme weather. Sometimes the authorities may take many hours or even a few days to recover the system. Therefore, having a generator is an added benefit to carrying out your daily tasks conveniently. But if you are using a generator under such weather conditions, you need to have a proper idea of how to protect your generator from rain. It is because wet generators can be dangerous due to electrical hazards.

For Commercial Needs: Small Business

Not all businesses can easily get power from the grid. If you are thinking of a startup business on the roadside that requires power, the best option is to get a generator. It helps you light up a few bulbs and operate low-power-consuming appliances. You can adjust the electrical devices to suit the wattage of the generator depending on the requirements of your business.

For Camping

A generator of 3500 watts is an ideal option for camping. You can run lights, fans, and most other appliances necessary for camping easily through this. You can even run larger appliances as long as you are running one at a time.

For Boating and Fishing Trips

You can conveniently use a 3500 generator for all your boating requirements. It will be better if you can run one appliance at a time rather than running multiple devices at once. It will remove any risk of overloading the generator and related downsides.

For RV

Will a 3500 watt generator run my RV? This is a common question and the answer is yes because most of the appliances powered in an RV are quite similar to that of your home during a blackout. Since they are even smaller, they consume less power than normal ones. A 3500 watt generator is enough to run the essentials and if you need to run many heavy appliances at once, you would have to use multiple generators. So as long as you are managing the load properly by running one item at once, this generator will be enough.

Benefits Of Buying A 3500 Watt Generator

A 3500 watt generator is the ideal choice for many reasons. The affordable price and ability to connect a few appliances are the main advantages. It provides clean power protection and is popular in the market due to its efficiency and low noise. It can be used for both commercial needs and residential power backup requirements. These portable generators are usually light in weight and can be transferred from one place to another easily. Knowing how long will a generator run on propane would also be useful for you.

Conventional vs Inverter 3,500-watt Generators

In the beginning, 3500 generators used conventional open-frame motors. But recently, the inverter technology was introduced for these generators. Although inverter generators are quite more expensive than conventional ones, there are many advantages. They are quieter, cleaner, more efficient, and save your money in repairs and fuel costs in the long run.

Inverter generators usually have a surge wattage of over 3500 watts. Therefore, they can be used safely to power up sensitive electronics such as mobile phones, televisions, computers, and other communication devices. You can also connect two generators in parallel with inverter generators. That means, combining two 3500 watt generators will give you the convenience of pulling out up to 7000 watts from one generator. But the two generators need to be of the same model and have an additional parallel connectivity kit. Inverter generators are more reliable and have a longer lifespan. 

Conventional generators produce the standard power of 3500 watts. They are relatively cheaper but may have the disadvantage of unstable power. When too much load is put on the generator, it will stall abruptly, shutting off the power. Conventional generators are also known for high-pitched hum during operation. It would be annoying when the generator runs all day. They are also relatively loud and emit more fumes which are strict drawbacks in terms of environmental concerns. Conventional generators are expensive to refuel when compared to inverter models.

Generator Usage Tips

Here are some tips that you can use to get the most out of your generator when connecting electrical appliances.

  • Avoid using motorized appliances when starting up. It is because motors cause high surge demand that may cause damage to the generator engine. Let the generator run for about 5 minutes initially before connecting any load.
  • Sometimes the appliances may need an inverter to change DC to AC. In this case, the generator should reach its running RPM before you connect the appliances because most of the surge demand will be over by that time. If you still have an issue even after connecting past this time, the problem could be due to overload.
  • Do not run heating elements including ovens, heaters, and toasters for more than an hour at a time. This is to make sure that the generator doesn’t overheat in providing the heavy load. Avoid using heating appliances such as microwaves and kettles together.
  • Replacing bulbs with LEDs that consume lesser power will help manage the power more efficiently. Shut off unused appliances to decrease the power consumption. For example, deep freezers can be left up to 5 – 6 hours before the ingredients thaw.
  • Having proper home insulation will have you less to worry about since you don’t need to focus on the power drawn for the AC system.

Frequently Asked Questions

3500 watt generator

How many appliances can you run off a 3500 watt generator?

It is recommended to use only two large appliances simultaneously off a 3500 watt generator. The remaining power can be consumed by smaller devices. Although you can use up to about four large appliances, the power gets added up when you plug in small devices along with them. This would drain out the power from your generator quickly, causing a power failure.

Is 3,500 watts the right size for you?

Power of 3500 watts is an adequate amount although you may not be able to power up all your electrical appliances at once. You can choose the essentials out of them based on your individual residential needs. Considering power requirements outdoors and on sites, 3500 watts of power would be more than enough for your needs. The only concern should be in planning the equipment so as not to go beyond the rated surge power.

Why do you need to start up slowly when turning on a generator?

All electrical equipment needs more energy to start up than when running. This should not increase the surge overhead of the generator. Usually, a generator of 3500 watts will have an overhead value for a surge of around 4000 watts. This is the reason that a generator needs to start slow and connect appliances one by one. Through this, you can prevent overloading the generator and sudden stalls.

What are the things you cannot run on a 3500 watt generator?

Large appliances that may have a power capacity close to the limiting power cannot be run on a generator of 3500 watts. If the generator runs at a total capacity, it may eventually damage the engine and also the electrical components. 


Most of the essential electrical appliances at your home can be powered up by a 3500-watt generator. It will also be the best power source for outdoor activities for which you cannot obtain grid power. Hence, a generator with a power capacity of 3500 watts is recommended for your basic needs. Knowing how to size your generator depending on the load at your home will help clarify this. You can always refer to online discussions and reviews of users before settling on a brand or model of the generator.


What Appliances Can I Run With My Generator?

What You Can Run with a 3500-Watt Generator