What Is Starting Watts Vs Running Watts

When it comes to understanding power generators, one of the most important concepts to grasp is the difference between starting watts and running watts. These two terms may sound similar, but they play distinct roles in assessing the capacity and performance of a generator. Let’s delve deeper into this topic to gain a comprehensive understanding of starting watts versus running watts.

Starting Watts

Starting watts, also known as peak watts, refers to the maximum power output that a generator can produce for a short period to start motor-driven appliances or tools. This could include items like refrigerators, air conditioners, power tools, and other equipment that require an initial surge of power to start up. The starting watts value is typically higher than the running watts, as it accounts for the additional power needed to overcome the inertia of starting the appliance.

Running Watts

On the other hand, running watts represent the continuous power output that a generator can sustain to keep appliances and devices running once they have started. This value is crucial for determining whether a generator can handle the sustained load of running multiple devices simultaneously. It is important to note that running watts are typically lower than starting watts, as running appliances settle into a lower power consumption mode once they are up and running.

Understanding the Difference

It’s essential to understand the difference between starting watts and running watts to ensure that a generator can effectively power the appliances and devices it is intended for. When shopping for a generator, it’s important to identify the starting watts and running watts requirements of the appliances that will be connected to it. This will help in selecting a generator that can handle the initial surge and continuous power needs of the devices.

Personal Experience

During my search for a suitable generator for outdoor events, I encountered the starting watts versus running watts dilemma. I realized that the generator I was eyeing needed to have sufficient starting watts to power up the sound system and running watts to maintain the operation throughout the event. This understanding saved me from potential power disruptions during important gatherings.


In conclusion, the distinction between starting watts and running watts is vital in choosing the right generator for specific power needs. By recognizing the peak and continuous power requirements of appliances, individuals can make informed decisions when selecting a generator that can reliably meet their power demands.