Which devices to connect to mobile power generators

In the article Choosing a generator, we described the criteria according to which a mobile generator should be selected. In this article we want to go into which devices can be operated with a mobile power generator.

Operate electrical devices on a mobile power generator

In principle, all devices with a normal plug can be operated with a generator. This applies to almost all common electrically operated devices in the household.

If the generator also has a 400V three-phase connection, devices with a high-voltage plug can also be connected.

Here you can find out which devices can be operated with a mobile generator.

Here you will find accessories for the operation of a mobile power generator, as well as devices that can be operated with a mobile power generator.

Operate devices without increased starting current on a mobile power generator

Devices with pure ohmic resistance can be operated on a mobile power generator without any problems, because these devices do not have an increased starting current when switched on.

This includes:

  • Hotplates
  • Water heater
  • Iron
  • Electric radiator heating
  • Radiant heater
  • Consumer electronics
  • Charging parts for battery-operated devices

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. In order to be prepared for a blackout, we recommend a mobile power generator, as well as an electric hotplate and a radiator heater.


Operate devices with increased starting current on mobile power generators

All devices with an electric motor have an increased starting current. This starting current can briefly reach a multiple of the rated power of the device. Basically, one can say that the higher the resistance against which the motor has to start, the higher the starting current. A table with exemplary start-up coefficients can be found under Selecting a generator. The generator must be able to generate the power required for the starting current, otherwise it switches off due to overload when the corresponding device is switched on.

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Refrigerators and freezers
  • Washing machines and tumble dryers
  • Electric pumps
  • Woodworking machines
  • Electric garden tools

The list is of course not complete.

Can you measure the starting current yourself?

You can also measure yourself how much electrical power your device needs in normal operation and in the start-up tip. For this purpose there are simple consumption meters that are inserted between the socket and the device plug. Make sure that the measuring device also measures and saves the maximum power. Many devices offered do not measure the maximum power or do not save the measured values.

Can you connect devices without a plug?

It becomes much more problematic if you want to operate devices without a plug with your mobile power generator in the event of a power failure. Kitchen stoves usually have a 400 V high voltage connection with 3 phases. These are permanently connected to the house network via a special junction box. The connection cable can be provided with a 5-pole high-voltage plug. This means that the stove can be operated with a mobile power generator that has a 400 V three-phase current output, provided that the power generator has enough power.

But who wants to expand their kitchen stove from the built-in kitchen, that’s why we recommend a mobile hotplate in the event of a power failure. These are available inexpensively with a conventional heating plate or even with an induction hob.


Electric roller shutter drives or electric garage doors are usually wired directly. These can in principle be operated. To do this, you have to completely disconnect the 220 V supply cable from the house network and provide it with a plug that can be plugged into the generator.

To disconnect a device that is permanently wired to the house network in the event of a power failure, it is essential to remove the fuse, because the power can be back at any time. To be on the safe side, you should check with a phase tester before disconnecting whether the line is actually voltage-free.

Can the house heating be connected to a mobile generator?

Anyone who has modern heat pump heating or electricity storage heating does not even need to think about operating it with a mobile power generator, because a simple mobile power generator cannot generate the required power. Here we recommend electrical auxiliary heating devices, because these can be operated with a mobile generator without any problems.

Theoretically, gas or oil heating can be operated with a mobile power generator, but these heaters are usually wired directly into the house installation. However, many heating systems require a live phase with a voltage potential for grounding. The potential to earth is required for the burner for safety reasons. Portable power generators work with a protective separation for grounding. This is why there is no earth connection potential in these units.

To solve this problem, a special circuit is required, which ultimately depends on the power generator used and the oil heater to be operated. This circuit may only be installed by a specialist company. It is cheaper to use an additional electric heater that can be connected directly to the generator.


Can you connect the mobile power generator to the home network?

In various forums on the Internet you can read over and over again that this is attempted and sometimes also done. The VDN guidelines for operating an emergency generator apply here. A portable power generator with protective separation may not be operated on the home network. This also applies if the house network is disconnected from the network via a circuit breaker. There is an acute danger to life here, as in this case all protective circuits via a residual current circuit breaker no longer work. It is very dangerous when operating firing systems on house heating systems, because their temperature sensors to protect against overheating absolutely need a voltage potential to earth. If this is no longer available due to the use of a generator, the safety shutdown no longer works.

Therefore, the operation of a mobile power generator on the house network must be approved and approved by the local network operator. Here you will find accessories for the operation of a mobile power generator, as well as devices that can be operated with such a unit.