Can a Portable Generator Power a TV?

Once in a while, our main electricity source may disappoint with blackouts here and there. But your life can’t stop no matter how much your household energy need depends on it. These are the times when you wish you had an alternative source of power like a generator in the house.

But we’re not looking at just any generator here. You don’t need a bulky factory generator to power things like bulbs, a laptop and/or a TV set in the house. A medium-sized portable generator will just be enough.

So, what type of portable generator can comfortably power your TV set while retaining some extra electrical energy for other household devices like laptops, bulbs, and maybe a CCTV camera or two? That’s the focus of our post here.

We’re going to learn all the main details regarding the compatibility between portable generators and TVs as we guide you on the best generator to buy for this purpose.

I’m sure you don’t want to buy a generator only to come home and realize that it can’t handle the amount of power needed to kick-start or run your television. Worse still, an overloaded generator could be a hazard in your house.

Come with me as we go through all the important features between generators and TVs as we learn how the two appliances work or don’t work together.

Best Portable Generators To Power A TV

What’s Your TV’s Wattage Rating?

portable generator power Tv

Without scrutinizing the manufacturer’s details and trying to understand a little bit about how televisions and generators work, it may be difficult to determine whether a particular TV can work with a certain portable generator.

The two devices vary in many ways. In order to know whether the power output of the generator you want to buy can sufficiently support your television set, you have to be sure how many watts the latter consumes.

Some of the key factors affecting the wattage rating of a particular TV set include the size of its display screen; whether the TV is LCD, LED or Plasma; whether or not the TV is rated as energy-efficient; etc. Although not true for every single TV set out there, the following hold in most situations:

– Smaller TV screens mean lower wattage;

– LCD and LED TVs consume less power than Plasma TVs;

– Energy Star-marked TV sets take in about 30% less power than non-efficient versions.

The above statements are just basic guidelines. The most surefire way to know the number of watts your TV set really needs is to check it from relevant sources. You can easily find this information in the manufacturer’s manual that comes with the TV when you purchase it. Alternatively, you can look it up online or ask your vendor or retailer.

For most television sets on the market today, the typical wattage calibration will be in the range of 80-350 watts.

Starting vs. Running Watts

For portable generators, the wattage is often expressed in two ways. There’s the starting/surge watts and there’s the running/rated watts. This is because, for most appliances, the amount of power required to kick-start them is often higher than that required to keep them running. Most of them need that extra energy boost to “wake them up” from a shut-down or off state but less in continuous power consumption to keep them in operation. That typically applies to devices and appliances that run a motor.

While your refrigerator and dishwasher need that additional surge of electrical power to start up, the TV set doesn’t. All you need to look out for when buying a portable generator is that its wattage rating exceeds your TV’s. As long as the TV set’s indicated figure is lower than the generator’s running watts, you’re good to go.

Does the Television Share the Power Load?

Because most TV sets aren’t rated too high when it comes to their wattage, it’s possible to easily power yours even if you employ a portable generator calibrated with lower power ratings. But this will most likely mean that it’s the only appliance you power in your household.

What this means is that you’ll probably have to forgo operating other devices and appliances like bulbs and laptops if all you depend on is power from this small portable generator.

To avoid overload, you need to be able to check and know the total wattage of all the devices your small generator is connected and supplying power to. There are various kinds of online wattage calculators you can use to help you estimate your power requirements in the house. Overloading your generator can easily damage it.

Do You Really Need an Inverter Generator for Your Television?

Yes, you definitely do! Many household electronic appliances need an inverter generator. The inverter technology is designed to safeguard the most power-sensitive electronic devices against damage in case of unexpected electrical surges. It keeps the power clean and steady and is a vital installation in your house.

By keeping the power voltage reaching your crucial electronic devices steady and without huge fluctuations, you avoid the risk of not only destroying them and having to buy new ones but also keeping your house safe. Huge power surges can even cause fires.

When buying a portable generator for the purposes of powering your TV set, then you need one equipped with inverter technology. If not, then you’ll just be courting disaster. To be safe, just don’t buy a non-inverter generator for your television, whether its wattage rating matches the TV or not. While it may be able to supply power to the TV set, it could also be putting it at a huge risk of permanent damage.

What about the Generator’s Noise Factor?

When buying a portable generator, another critical factor to consider is its noise rating. While some generators can produce a really loud noise, more so when powering a heavy load, others can be amazingly quiet.

I’m sure you don’t want to have your ears competing for your TV’s volume with the noise from the generator. If you have a noisy generator running while at the same you’re trying to blast your television’s volume so as to hear well, most likely you’ll start worrying about your neighbors getting annoyed by the disturbance coming out of your house, especially if you’re doing so at night.

But the good news is that with modern technology getting better by the day, portable generators are also getting quieter. Today, the market has brands and models that are as loud as a typical conversation between three people.

So, What Portable Generators Can You Buy to Power Your Television Set?

DISCLAIMER: We’re not promoting any particular brand or type of portable generator in this post. The models discussed here are just our own recommendations from the generators we reviewed.

Most people buying a portable inverter generator as a back-up plan to power their TV sets also want one that can power a few other appliances and devices in their home. It’s for this reason that we recommend a generator rated higher than your TV, typically 1600 watts or more.

Rated 1600 watts, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Inverter Generator is highly sought after because of its great performance, consistency, extreme quietness, and durability.

But if your appliance requirements for total wattage exceed 1600 watts, then the Briggs & Stratton 30545-P3000 generator is another good choice. Rated 2600 watts, this one has up to 4 AC outlets.

While the noise factor on the Briggs & Stratton is a little bit higher than on the Yamaha, it can only hit that “too-loud-to-hear-the-TV” threshold if you run it at maximum capacity loading with your TV and a few other devices plugged in. Otherwise, it’s a great option for use even at night.

Coming to our 3rd option, the Champion Dual Fuel Inverter Generator is a perfect fit for your needs if you, for instance, want to relax and catch 3 or 4 movies without having to get up and go to refuel your power machine too frequently. At a power output of 500 watts, it’s powerful enough to run your TV set and DVD player for 12 hours non-stop.

The Champion can support a power output of up to 3400 watts and is fueled using either car gasoline or propane. About its noise factor, this generator is comparable to the Briggs & Stratton model.


While you can power your TV set using a portable generator, it’s critical that you understand how the two appliances relate when it comes to wattage ratings.

Apart from knowing how much power your TV set needs in wattage, you also need to consider the total wattage consumed by all the devices being powered by the portable generator you’re looking to buy.

In order for your generator to power your television safely, it needs to be equipped with inverter technology that helps protect it from power surges.

To recap, the generators we recommend to help power your TV are the following:

  1. DuroMax XP13000HX Portable Generator
  2. Westinghouse WGen9500DF
  3. Durostar DS10000E Portable Generator
  4. Champion 100573 Inverter Generator

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Have you used a portable generator to power your TV set before or this is your first time to try it? For any queries, opinions or even suggestions regarding our discussion in this article, talk to us in the comments section below. We’ll be glad to engage you. To find out more about generators check our homepage.

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