some small window ACs will draw a starting current that will be tough for a small generator to supply. there are "hard start kits" available that help considerably. an appliance dealer should be able to supply you with one. they are sometimes used on refrigerators, coolers and washers that are run on poor quality circuits. an example device would be the Supco SPP5. i see they are sold on eBay for less than $15. I bought one of these generators 6/20/2011. it ran the 6000 BTU AC in my motorhome fine, it does have a hard start kit on the compressor.
Well I must chime in. I have a Honda 2000 EUI and i can run a 5000BTU fridgeair A/C Unit. The key to doing this is, if your small inverter has an ECON MODE....turn it off untill the compressor kicks on or else the inverter will shut off. Once my A/C compressor kicks on, I turn the Inverter on ECON MODE and turn the 5000 BTU A/C down to its coldest setting so the Compressor will not turn off as to make another surge on my inverter. Once the compressor is on and stays on, then I will plug another device into it like a TV or something small. I would SERIOUSLY think twice before plugging something else into it like a refrigerator or something that takes a lot of start up amps/watts (good way to fry your appliance). Im sure this 2000 watt inverter would be sufficent to start a 5000 BTU- 8000BTU if it was the only thing on when your compressor kicked on. Now even with my Honda 2000 EUI it will still make my inverter pur up something fierce with a 5000 BTU only when starting the compressor though.
This is a fun question to answer where the real problem you can have is from the "surge" power demand needed to start motors that is 3-5 times the normal run power. If I was just wanting to run my fridge, I'd do it on this gen knowing that it needs about 400 watts continuous and needs 1200-1800 watts surge power to start (and I'd always start it with nothing else plugged in). An A/C unit like that is virtually the same thing as a fridge (except for where the cold air is blown) where it seems like if it can handle one then it should handle the other. However, A/C units often have another motor for a fan that circulates the air that is turned on before the compressor. Having that extra power being used for that fan while trying to start the compressor can put you over the edge on power demand. I remember seeing a review on a similar generator or a power inverter rated ~1200 watt continuous (2400 watt surge if it was an inverter) where someone said they tried to run such an A/C unit and reported "It starts the fan fine, but when the compressor tries to start it constantly pops the breaker (or goes into the alarm/shut down for inverters)". A few others have put out reviews on this generator saying "I expected this to handle my sump pump, but it doesn't" again probably because of the surge to start them. At the same time one guys review "bipemean" says he ran an A/C unit and it did OK (but he said "My TV would reset when the A/C cycled because of the voltage drop" from that surge draw). So you may want to look for a generator closer to 2400 watt continuous to try such an A/C unit or other tools with motors (and I'd NOT run more than 1 item with a motor at a time on such unlike others saying "you can probably run the A/C and a fridge too").
I bought a 1000 watt shop force generator from Meijer last Spring 2011 during tornadoe season when we lost power for 3 days. It had surge of 1000 watts and 900 watts continous... I was able to run a 8000 BTU window air conditioner no problem and a few lights and TV.. The Amps for the generator rated only 7.5 amps but the air conditioner only needed 6.9 amps.. I switched between the refridge/freezer that needed 6.5 amps and the air conditioner.. So guys I am very sure this generator that is rated 2000 watt (16.67 amps) surge and 1400 watts continuious ( 11.6 amps) would have no trouble with a small 5000 btu air conditioner it most likely would handle a 10,000 btu one...
I have a 5000 btu unit plugged into a power strip with a 15 amp breaker. It will cycle on & off with a 900 watt microwave running on the strip at the same time. But a few times a day, I turn on a 70 watt (less than 1 amp) window fan to circulate a little fresh air in so the air don't get stale. With the fan, it will kick out the 15 amp power strip breaker when the AC cycles off & back on. 15 amps at an average of around 117 volts is 1755 watts. With the 900 watt microwave, that means the AC on startup surge is pretty much at the strips limit, & probably surging at close to an average of 855 watts... probably much more for a fraction of a second, but too fast to trip the breaker. Of course, not all AC units are created equal. This was a Frigidaire, less than 5 years old & rather efficient. The unit or inverter should probably be able to handle around an 1100 watt split second surge, & an almost 900 watt surge for about a whole second or two. You can use a much smaller, quieter, more fuel efficient generator if you use it to charge a large deep cycle battery connected to a power inverter able to handle high surges. After the surge, the charger charges the battery, while powering the inverter, which powers the AC. Beware you'll need a charger with a 10 amp, 12 volt output to deliver 1200 watts to the battery, inverter, & AC. You'll drain the battery real fast trying to use it on battery power alone, or with a charger of an output only a couple of amps. An inverter with an 1800 watt surge is recommended. With a big battery, & a modern real efficient 5000 BTU AC unit. The whole system technically could run on just a 500 watt generator (4 amp charger, 1800 watt surge inverter) until the gas or diesel runs out, as the battery absorbs the surges. I've seen modern 5000 btu AC units that draw only 350-400 watts. But those startup surges will be much more. The battery system will also be handy when running a few LED lights, a small TV, laptop, or warming up a snack or coffee in the microwave in a few minutes without actually having to fire up the generator.
Yes it will. The key is to extend the time it takes for the a/c unit to cycle between the two modes of compressor (cooling) 'on' and compressor 'off'. applying some amount of insulation to the a/c thermostat to extend the time it takes to achieve its cold turn-off temp and warmer turn-on temp. Once you have ensured enough time elapses between those states, then you have also ensured that the residual refrigerant pressure from the previous cooling 'on' condition has roughly equalized and the compressor motor starts with the least residual resistance. That ensures the lowest amperage draw. I would do this in preference to, or at-least together with, adding a soft-start capacitor. Less intrusive and complicated.
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