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Can I Run Heat Pump On Generator? – Answered by HVAC Expert

As a homeowner, one of the questions you might find yourself asking is, “Can I run a heat pump on a generator?“.

This question arises more often, especially during power outages due to extreme weather conditions.

Understanding the dynamics between these two machines and how they can efficiently work together can make a significant difference in ensuring your home stays comfortable throughout the year.

To power a heat pump, a generator with a capacity ranging from 7,200 to 15,000 watts (7.2kW to 15kW) is necessary. For optimal operation, HVAC professionals advise employing a generator ranging from 7.5kW to 20kW for heat pumps.

This power capacity ensures that there is sufficient energy to support both the heat pump and other essential home appliances such as lights and refrigeration units.

Can I Run a Heat Pump on a Generator? – Brief Overview

Yes, you can indeed run a heat pump on a generator. However, the generator must have a power output within the range of 7,200 to 15,000 watts (7.2kW to 15kW).

To ensure there’s enough power for the heat pump and other necessary appliances such as lights and refrigerators, HVAC professionals suggest a generator capacity ranging from 7.5kW to 20kW.

Understanding Heat Pumps and Generators:

Heat pumps are devices that transfer heat from a source to its destination, typically a building or a house.

They are energy-efficient and can both heat and cool a space, making them a versatile option for temperature control.

Understanding the power requirements of a heat pump is key to using it efficiently.

On the other hand, a generator is a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, providing power when the primary source is unavailable.

Generators come in various sizes and power outputs, hence knowing their functionalities can aid in determining the right one for your heat pump.

Can I Run a Heat Pump on a Generator?

The answer is yes, but it’s crucial to have a generator with an adequate power output.

As per HVAC contractors, a generator with 7,200 to 15,000 watts, or 7.2kW to 15kW, is required to run a heat pump efficiently.

This ensures not only the running of the heat pump but also powers other essentials like lights and refrigerators.

However, merely having a generator within this power range isn’t the end of the story.

There are other considerations when using a generator to power a heat pump such as noise levels, maintenance needs, fuel type, and more, which we will discuss in the coming sections.

Factors to Consider When Running a Heat Pump on a Generator

Running a heat pump on a generator is not just about connecting two devices.

There are multiple aspects to consider to ensure safe and efficient operation:

Understanding the Energy Consumption of a Heat Pump:

The energy a heat pump consumes largely depends on its model, efficiency, and the size of the space it’s controlling the temperature of.

A larger space or a less efficient model will require more power. It’s important to review the product specifications to understand the energy requirement.

Size and Power Requirements of the Generator:

Generators come in various sizes and power outputs.

Choosing a generator that can’t provide sufficient power for your heat pump can result in inefficient operation or even damage to your heat pump. 

Consider the generator’s continuous power rating, which is the power it can supply over a long period, and its surge power rating, which is the extra power it can provide for short periods for appliances that need more power at startup.

Energy Efficiency and Load Management:

Striking a balance between the energy the generator produces and the energy your heat pump consumes is critical.

This also includes accounting for other appliances that will be powered by the generator. 

Overloading can cause the generator to fail, while underloading can lead to wasted fuel and energy.

Safety Precautions:

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation and operation.

Regularly maintain both the heat pump and the generator, checking for any signs of wear and tear or damage. This preventive measure can help avoid unexpected accidents or breakdowns.

How to Choose the Right Generator for Your Heat Pump?

Choosing the right generator for your heat pump is critical to its effective operation. Here are the factors you should consider:

Understanding Power Requirements:

The power requirements of your heat pump will be outlined in the manufacturer’s specifications. Make sure the generator you choose can meet these requirements.

Choosing the Right Size:

The size of the generator should align with the power requirements of not just your heat pump but all the appliances that you plan to run simultaneously. Remember to account for the higher startup power requirements.

Choosing the Right Brand and Model:

With numerous brands and models of generators available in the market, you need to choose one that suits your specific needs the best.

This includes factors like reliability, noise levels, and maintenance needs. Reading reviews and conducting thorough research can help in making an informed decision.

Backup Plan for Power Outages:

In case of power outages, it is vital to have a backup plan. This includes ensuring you have enough fuel for the generator and knowing how to manually start it.

Regular maintenance checks are also key to ensuring your generator is always ready to go.

Tips for Running a Heat Pump on a Generator

Running a heat pump on a generator requires attention to detail and adherence to some best practices.

  1. Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance of heat pumps helps ensure the efficient operation of both the generator and the heat pump. This includes oil changes for the generator, cleaning or replacing air filters, and making sure the heat pump is free of dust and debris.
  2. Appropriate Fuel Supply: Always ensure you have an adequate fuel supply for the generator. Running out of fuel in the middle of a cold night is not a situation you want to find yourself in.
  3. Periodic Load Checks: Regularly checking the load on your generator helps avoid overloading or underloading it. Monitoring the power usage of your appliances and adjusting them as needed can help keep your generator running smoothly.

From 2016 onward, Browns Heating & Cooling has been the trusted provider of heat pump services in the Chicago area and beyond. We pride ourselves on genuine advice, reasonable pricing, and the services of our factory-trained, EPA-certified technicians. Schedule your appointment or reach us at (708) 536-8134.


In conclusion, yes, you can run a heat pump on a generator. However, to ensure seamless operation, there are various factors to consider, including the power requirements of the heat pump and the capacity of the generator.

Additionally, following best practices for running a heat pump on a generator is equally important.

The practices include regular maintenance of both devices and ensuring appropriate power management to enhance longevity and efficiency.

By understanding these factors and putting them into practice, you can enjoy the benefits of your heat pump all year round, regardless of the power situation.


What is the minimum generator size needed to run a heat pump?

The smallest generator size you should consider for running a heat pump is one with a power output of 7,200 watts, or 7.2kW. However, to cater to the energy needs of other home appliances, a 7.5kW to 20kW generator is typically recommended.

What precautions should I take when running a heat pump on a generator?

When running a heat pump on a generator, ensure regular maintenance of both devices, appropriate power management, and adherence to safety guidelines. Prevent overloading the generator and keep an adequate fuel supply.

What brands of generators are most suitable for running a heat pump?

Choosing the right generator brand depends on individual needs and preferences. However, brands that are known for reliability, energy efficiency, and good customer support are generally a better choice for running a heat pump.

How do I maintain my generator when running a heat pump?

To maintain your generator, you should regularly check and change its oil, clean or replace the air filters, and ensure it has enough fuel. Also, monitor the load to prevent overloading and ensure efficient operation.

Are there any risks to running a heat pump on a generator?

There can be risks if the generator isn’t properly maintained or if it’s not powerful enough to support the heat pump. Overloading can damage both the generator and heat pump while underloading can result in wasted energy. Regular maintenance and monitoring can help mitigate these risks.