Battery Equivalents and Replacements

Can I Run A TV Using A Power Generator?

Although even the smallest power generators are generally strong enough to power home TVs, even the largest ones, many people nonetheless ask if they can run their TVs using power generators. And they ask for a good reason.

When powering TVs using power generators, the output power of generators is not an issue. However, a waveform of the output voltage can cause various issues to modern TVs, laptops, tablets, audio devices, telecommunication devices, and similar devices.

Updated: September 16, 2023.

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Not All Generators Are Created Equal

There are two basic types of power generators: inverter power generators and non-inverter power generators.

Non-inverter power generators have very simple control electronics that help smooth out the output voltage waveform, but it can't do much since the basic waveform is determined by the motion/rotation of the power generator - for example, if the engine changes the speed, so does the output voltage change the frequency.

Such non-inverter power generators feature Total Harmonic Distortions (THD) up to, or even more than 20%, which is too much for sensitive electronics.

Inverter power generators have more complex control electronics, and their output voltage form and frequency don't depend on the engine speed. Such units feature very low THD levels, mostly below 3%, with some units featuring THD levels below 1% when not loaded more than 25-30% or similar.

So, if You want to power your TV directly from the power generator, consider buying an inverter power generator. Also, if it is going to be used in a residential area, consider getting a quiet unit - fully enclosed inverter power generators often have very low noise levels, sometimes even below 50 dB @25% load, when measured from a distance of 21-23 feet.

The following comparison chart lists some of the best inverter power generators with very low THD levels and very low noise levels:

Model

Running Watts

Starting Watts

Runtime Noise

Receptacle

Review

A-iPower SUA2300i 1800W
2300W
6.5h @50% 52 dB @25%
58 dB @50%
AC: 120V 20A 5-20R, 120V 30A L5-30R; DC: 12V 8.3A, USB 5V
-
Champion 2000W Model #100402 2000/1800W
1600/1440W
11h @25% 53 dB @25% AC: 20A 120V 5-20R Duplex; DC: 12V 8A
-
Champion 2000W Model #100692 1700W
2000W
11.5h @25% 53 dB @25% AC: 20A 120V 5-20R Duplex; DC: 12V
-
Energizer eZV2000P 1600W
2000W
11h @25% 50 dB @25%
56 dB @75%
60 dB @100%
AC: 20A 120V 5-20R Duplex; DC: 12V 5A
-
Generac iQ3500 3000W
3500W
8.9h @50%
14.1 @25%
45* dB AC: 120V 20A Duplex 5-20R, 120V 30A L5-30R; DC: two USB ports (5V/2.1A, 5V/1A)
Review
Honda EU2000i 1600W
2000W
8h @25% 50 dB @25%

AC: 20A 120V Duplex; DC: 12V
-

Honda EU2200i 1800W
2200W
3.2h @100%
8.1h @25%
48 dB @25%
57 dB @100%

AC: 20A 120V Duplex; DC: 12V 100W (8.3 Amps)
Review

Honda EU3000IS 2800W
3000W
20h @25% 50 dB @25%

AC: 120V 20A Duplex, 120V 30A L5-30R
-

WEN 56203i 1700W
2000W
10.8h @25%
7h @25%
51 dB @25% AC: 2x NEMA 5-20R; DC: 12V (8.3A), 2x USB 5V (1A, 2.1A)
Review
WEN 56235i 1900W
2350W
10.5h @25% 51 dB @25% AC: 15A 120V NEMA 5-20R Duplex; DC: 12V, USB 5V (2.1A, 1A)
-
Westinghouse iGen2600 2200W
2600W
10h @25% 52 dB @25% AC: 20A 120V Duplex; DC: 12V, 2x USB 5V
Review
Westinghouse iGen2800c 2200W
2800W
12h @25% 52 dB @25% AC: 20A 120V Duplex; DC: 2x USB 5V
Review
Westinghouse iGen4500 3700W
4500W
18h @25% 52 dB @25% AC: 120V 20A 5-20R Duplex, 120V 30A TT-30R; 2x USB 5.0V (2.1, 1.0 A)
Review
Yamaha EF2000iSv2 1600W
2000W
10.5h @25% 51.5 dB @25% AC: 120V Duplex; DC: 12V 8A
-
Yamaha EF2400iSHC 2000W
2400W
8.6h @25% 53 dB @25% AC: 120V Duplex; DC: 12V 8A
-

Note: Amazon affiliate links ('Model' Column) open in the new windows, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.

Power Generators vs. Solar Generators

While power generators burn fuel to create electric energy and thus must be operated outdoors, solar generators create AC power from the energy being stored in onboard batteries.

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While the energy stored in the onboard battery is far from the energy stored in the fossil fuel, solar generators can operate indoors safely.

Also, many solar generators support "pass-through" charging - the solar generator can be recharged using, for example, solar panels and can provide AC and/or DC power to the external load, TV, for example.

Note: output voltage of most portable solar generators is pure sine waveform, with very low THD levels, making solar generators safe for powering TVs and other sensitive electronics.

Since smaller to medium TVs generally require less than 100 Watts, a medium-sized solar generator can power such TVs for hours, making them preferred energy sources over power generators in many situations...

For more info about this topic, feel free to check our Solar Powered TV: How Many Solar Panels To Run a TV article.

AVR vs. Surge Protectors vs. Line Conditioner vs. UPS

Automatic Voltage Regulators (AVR), Surge Protectors, Line Conditioners, and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) are all used to protect sensitive devices, TVs included, from issues with power supply.

Automatic Voltage Regulators (AVR)

  • Primary Function: Regulation of voltage to a stable level.

An AVR's chief purpose is to counteract under-voltages and over-voltages, ensuring that the output voltage remains within a predefined range.

Voltage fluctuations can be harmful to sensitive electronic equipment, and AVRs help prevent these potentially damaging variations.

They do this by automatically adjusting the voltage, either by boosting it during low-voltage periods or reducing it during surges.

Surge Protectors

  • Primary Function: Protect against voltage spikes.

Surge protectors, often found as power strips, are designed to shield electronic devices from short-lived voltage spikes.

These surges can be caused by various factors like lightning strikes or switching of large appliances.

When a voltage spike is detected, the surge protector diverts the excess electricity away from the connected devices, usually grounding it, thus protecting them from potential harm.

Line Conditioners

  • Primary Function: Noise filtering and consistent voltage.

While surge protectors defend against large spikes, line conditioners tackle smaller, more consistent fluctuations and electromagnetic interference.

They ensure a smooth and clean flow of electricity to the connected equipment by filtering out noise and correcting minor under-voltages and over-voltages.

As such, line conditioners provide better protection to sensitive electronics when being powered by non-inverter power generators. And the best of all, many such units feature surge protector feature built-in - true 2-in-1 units.

Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)

  • Primary Function: Immediate power during outages and protection against power disturbances.

A UPS offers a multi-layered defense mechanism. Not only does it provide surge protection and battery backup, but in the event of a power outage, it instantly supplies power to the connected devices, allowing for safe shutdown or continuous operation for a limited duration.

By doing so, it protects data integrity and prevents potential damage to computer systems, TVs, telecommunication devices, and other sensitive electronics.

There are different types of UPS systems, ranging from standby (basic protection) to online double-conversion (maximum protection).


While all these devices offer protection against varying electrical issues, their purposes differ.

An AVR focuses on voltage stabilization, surge protectors guard against spikes, line conditioners offer noise filtering and minor voltage adjustments, and UPS systems provide battery backup and broader protection.

Depending on the specific needs of your electronic equipment and the power conditions of your environment, one or a combination of these devices may be essential to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Personally, the best options are advanced UPS units with built-in surge protection features, combined with WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity and real-time reporting to smartphone Apps.