Generator Running Watts vs Starting Watts

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If you want to power your home with a generator in the event of a power outage, you’ll need to understand the difference between generator running watts and starting watts before getting one.

But… what do these numbers actually mean? Aren’t starting watts and surge watts the same?

Well, no. But don’t worry, we’ll teach you about the differences in this article.

Let’s get right into it.

Generator Running Watts vs Starting Watts

To find the right portable generator, you’ll want to know the difference between running watts and starting watts.

Starting Watts

Starting watts, also known as surge watts, are the extra watts needed which are needed no more than two or three seconds to start up an electric appliance.

In the case of a generator, a starting wattage is the amount of power a generator can produce when it is first turned on.

Why Are Starting Watts Important?

Let me explain through the use of an example:

If you are using a generator to power a home during a power outage, you will need to account for the surge watts of large appliances (i.e., air conditioner).

If you don’t do this, there’s a big chance you won’t be able to run that specific appliance or, worse, you could end up breaking the generator due to a power overload.

Read More:

Running Watts

Running watts are the measure of power that an appliance uses when running.

Generally, starting wattage is much higher than the running wattage.

For example, a typical hair dryer has a starting wattage of 1800 watts but only a running wattage of 1400 watts. Similarly, a refrigerator typically has a starting wattage of 1200 watts but only a running wattage of 100 watts.

Why Are Running Watts Important?

When it comes to a generator, the running watts will be key in the calculations you must do to know how many electronic devices you can run at the same time.

Let me explain.

Let’s say you’re planning to plug a phone charger, an air conditioner and your fridge to your portable generator and they need 3500 running watts to run simultaneously, then you should get a generator that has at least 4000 running watts. Get it?

If you’re more of a visual learner (like me), here’s a quick video that explains you what are the differences between starting and running watts:

YouTube video

The Best Generator With The Most Running and Starting Watts

DuroMax XP10000EH 10000 Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator


  • Wattage: 10,000 surge watts and 8,000 running watts
  • Runtime: Runtime on gasoline: 22 hours (at 25% load) or 10 hours (at 50% load) / Runtime on propane: 17 hours (at 25% load) or 9 hours (at 50% load)
  • Fuel Type: Gasoline or propane
DuroMax XP10000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator - 10000 Watt Gas or Propane Powered-Electric Start- Home Back Up & RV Ready, 50 State Approved

This DuroMax XP10000EH is one of the most powerful portablegenerators around.

With its 10,000 surge watts and 8,000 running watts, it provides the capability to handle power-hungry devices such as air conditioners and even washing machines.

Moreover, it provides continuous electrical power for up to 22 and 17 hours at a 25% load on gasoline and propane, respectively.

Even though some like to complain about its loudness, I do like to factor in its all-metal construction which makes it very durable and resistant to the elements.

Last but not least, it comes with a very convenient economy mode that saves fuel when it’s in idle by reducing the RPMs the motor generates.


  • DuroMax 439cc OHV engine delivers 10,000 surge watts and 8,000 running watts
  • Duel fuel technology – You can use either gasoline or propane
  • Reduces fuel usage when in idle mode reducing RPMs
  • You can choose to run the generator on 120V and 240V
  • All metal construction to maximize durability


  • It can be loud

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Why Do Generators Have Starting Watts and Running Watts?

As explained, surge watts (or starting watts) are the temporary watts needed to start the motor-driven devices while running watts measure the power needed to run these devices for longer periods of time.

Now, why are these measures so important when it comes to generators?

Generators are also measured in terms of starting and running watts, which tell the user what kind of devices can be plugged into them and, more importantly, how many of them can be kept running at the same time.

Hi, I’m John Smith, a proud husband, and father of two little beautiful girls. After a long time of thinking I made up my mind to build a website around my passion.. helping people who need smart advice from handymen with years of experience.

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