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#249470 - 08/05/12 02:45 AM Generators and air conditioning
Blacktop Offline

Registered: 06/29/05
Posts: 134
Loc: Cypress, TX
We have to possibility of Tropical Storm Ernesto paying us a visit in the next week or so. Due to medical reasons, my wife doesn't function real well without air conditioning. Being that it's August in Houston and we're looking at a heat index of 100+ degrees most days, we really don't want to be without the lovely cooling breezes of an air conditioner if there is a power outage due to the storm damage. I'm considering investing in a portable gas-powered generator to run a small window unit air conditioner to keep one room cool for my wife.

I'm familiar with the concept of the power requirements and the extra surge voltage needed when the compressor kicks on, but I was wondering if anyone here has run a window unit off a generator and what their experiences were. Thanks!

#249478 - 08/05/12 11:08 AM Re: Generators and air conditioning [Re: Blacktop]
adam2 Offline

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 431
Loc: Somerset UK
It is certainly possible to work a window A/C unit from a generator, but you will need a relatively large generator.

Determine the power requirements of the A/C unit, should be on the data plate or in the instruction book.
You will need a generator of least twice this power.

If the A/C unit uses 1KW which is about the smallest likely size then you need at least a 2KW generator.

If the A/C unit uses 3KW which is about the largest you will get in a window type, then you need at least a 6KW generator, which is about the biggest that is considered to be portable.

Dont forget a battery operated fan as backup, not to be compared with proper air conditioning but better than nothing if the generator or the air conditioner breaks.

If money permits consider a spare generator in case of failure.
A spare A/C unit might be worth considering but is arguably less important.
After a bad storm you should be able to buy an A/C unit if needed, but generators are likely to be sold out.

#249479 - 08/05/12 11:44 AM Re: Generators and air conditioning [Re: Blacktop]
LesSnyder Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1540
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
there is a neat electronic meter called a "Kill A Watt" by Intratec that can directly read volts, amps, watts, frequency and kWh.. to determine your actual current uasge

if you have natural gas available, I would suggest a conversion unit from someone like US Carburetion to save on gasoline cost

the research I've been doing on the inverter generators places the Honda EU2000i at the top of the list... the advantages are better fuel efficiency as they don't have to run at maximum rpm on standby, low weight, low noise, but they are pricey...from about $900 delivered on the internet...but they seem to be highly recommended by those with medical conditions

many of the lower end units have engines powered by known manufacturers... Honda, Yamaha etc, and generator heads from China, not that it is a bad thing..

the last modification I made to the ceiling fan thread works very well for a backup

Edited by LesSnyder (08/05/12 11:44 AM)

#249481 - 08/05/12 01:46 PM Re: Generators and air conditioning [Re: Blacktop]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3010
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Blacktop
I'm familiar with the concept of the power requirements and the extra surge voltage needed when the compressor kicks on, but I was wondering if anyone here has run a window unit off a generator and what their experiences were. Thanks!

Prepare your site carefully. You need to run the generator outside and away from structures and combustibles, with the exhaust not coming towards your house and particularly not towards the air conditioner. Portable generators shouldn't be run in the rain, so if you don't have a car port or similar way to keep rain off without containing the exhaust, consider putting up a canopy where you want to run the generator.

Use an appropriately rated (heavy) extension cord to get the power to the load. Use the shortest extension cord that will work for your application.

Along with the battery-powered fan, consider filling a large cooler with ice. A fan, a cold drink, and an ice pack on the forehead and the back of the neck can work wonders.

#249487 - 08/05/12 03:53 PM Re: Generators and air conditioning [Re: Blacktop]
TeacherRO Offline

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2377
For the same investment, you could move over to a motel 6 ( some distance away) for the duration.

#249522 - 08/06/12 06:07 PM Re: Generators and air conditioning [Re: Blacktop]
spuds Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/12
Posts: 822
Loc: SoCal Mtns
Got a Honda EU2000 I,seems to be a fine machine.

Edited by spuds (08/06/12 06:07 PM)

#249532 - 08/07/12 01:10 AM Re: Generators and air conditioning [Re: Blacktop]
RayW Offline

Registered: 12/06/01
Posts: 552
Loc: Orlando, FL
Have a Honda 3K inverter and it runs two 5K btu window units, fridge, and chest freezer without any problems.

#249533 - 08/07/12 02:18 AM Re: Generators and air conditioning [Re: RayW]
Mark_M Offline

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 295
Loc: New Jersey
I've run a 5000 BTU AC off my Kipor 2000W inverter-based generator set for full power. But the generator would occasionally trip-out trying to start a 6500 BTU AC.

There's a video on Youtube of a guy starting and running a 5000BTU AC off a 900W Harbor Freight generator, but I have strong concerns about the reliability of that setup.

Rule of thumb is that an air conditioner draws 2.5X the power during start-up as when running. I calculate 3X to allow a safety margin. Meters are not always a reliable indicator of surge power requirements because they don't update the display fast enough and don't have a peak load function.

As for emissions, always run the generator outside with the exhaust facing away from the house. Keep windows, doors and vents (including the fresh air intake on your AC) closed in the close vicinity of the generator. Putting the generator on the opposite side of the house from your AC unit is not necessary, and in hot weather you're more likely to want those windows in other parts of the house open for breezes.
2010 Jeep JKU Rubicon | 35" KM2 & 4" Lift | Skids | Winch | Recovery Gear | More ...
'13 Wheeling: 8 Camping: 6 | "The trail was rated 5+ and our rigs were -1" -Evan@LIORClub

#249538 - 08/07/12 05:47 AM Re: Generators and air conditioning [Re: Blacktop]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2811
Loc: La-USA
I agree with the power and safety concerns of the above entries. I have a 5000 watt Coleman and it has worked great.

The lube oil needs to be changed about every 30hrs but check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommendations.

I usually get 8 hrs of power from each 5 gallon tank of gas. I also use StaBil in my stored gasoline.
The best luck is what you make yourself!

#249554 - 08/07/12 04:54 PM Re: Generators and air conditioning [Re: Blacktop]
spuds Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/12
Posts: 822
Loc: SoCal Mtns
I use synthetic oil in mine

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