Can I Use a Generator in an Apartment?

Quick Answer: Traditional gasoline and propane generators should never be used inside apartments due to the danger of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. However, small portable solar generators designed for indoor use can be safely operated in apartments. Solar generators provide quiet, clean electricity from batteries charged by solar panels. When choosing one, select a compact, lightweight model with sufficient capacity to power essential devices. With proper precautions, solar generators are a safe option for indoor backup power in apartments.


Living in an apartment has its perks, like not having to worry about maintenance and repairs. But it also means you don't have control over the building's electricity. Power outages can be a real inconvenience, especially if they last for hours or days. Generators offer a solution by providing backup electricity, but can you run one inside your apartment?

There are pros and cons to using a generator in an apartment. This guide will overview the benefits, which types are unsafe for indoor use, recommendations for quiet portable models, how to determine the right size, and answers to frequently asked questions.

The Benefits of Backup Power in an Apartment

Having access to electricity during an outage provides more than just convenience. Here are some key reasons why backup power is useful in apartments:

  • Keep refrigerated and frozen foods from spoiling. Outages can sometimes last for days, which can lead to hundreds of dollars worth of food waste. A generator keeps the fridge and freezer running.
  • Charge essential electronics like cell phones, laptops, and medical devices. Many people rely on phones and computers for work and school when stuck at home during an outage.
  • Use key appliances like lights, fans, televisions, and small kitchen appliances. These make outages more bearable and provide a sense of normalcy.
  • Avoid relocating to a hotel or family/friend's house. This prevents expensive costs and logistical headaches associated with temporary lodging during emergencies.
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature. During hot summer months or cold winters, the loss of air conditioning or heat can become a safety issue for vulnerable groups like the elderly and sick.
  • Backup power access provides apartment residents with safety, convenience, and peace of mind when the electricity goes down.
Having backup power provides convenience during power outages

What Generators Should Not Be Used Indoors?

Gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, and dual-fuel generators should never be operated indoors due to the risk of dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Even though propane burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel, it still produces harmful CO. Two-stroke gasoline generators are also very high-emission and cannot be used inside.

The CO emitted by engine-driven generators is colorless and odorless, making it impossible to detect without a working CO detector. Using any fossil fuel-powered generator inside an enclosed apartment can rapidly lead to CO buildup that poisons or kills the occupants. Just 20-30 minutes of operation is enough to reach dangerous CO concentrations indoors.

Even small, portable generators can produce high CO levels very quickly in interior spaces. Never operate an outdoor generator in a garage or apartment, even with doors open. The safest location is outdoors at least 20 feet from doors, windows, and air intakes. Consult the generator manual for guidance on proper ventilation if indoor use is unavoidable.

In summary, no gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, or dual-fuel generator should ever be used inside an apartment or condo. The health risks are simply too great. Opt for a solar-powered portable generator designed explicitly for safe, indoor operation if you need backup electricity inside your home.

vtoman solar generator vs. gas generator

What Kind of Generators Are Good for Apartments?

Portable solar generators are the ideal backup power solution for apartments. Here's an overview of their benefits:

  • Solar-powered: Charge via solar panels placed near windows. Clean and quiet with no emissions or fumes.
  • Battery-stored power: Solar energy is stored in integrated batteries to provide electricity quietly throughout nighttime hours.
  • Compact size: With no bulky fuel tank, they easily fit in small spaces. Their lightweight design improves portability.
  • Quiet operation: Solar generators produce very little noise when running, making them neighbor-friendly.
  • Plug-and-play power: Can safely run sensitive electronics thanks to pure sine wave inverter output.
  • Universal outlets: Provide standard AC outlets for running essentials like laptops, phones, lights, and mini-fridges during outages.
  • USB charging: Built-in USB ports allow direct charging of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

With zero emissions, ultra-quiet operation, and compact storage, portable solar generators are ideal for delivering backup electricity within an apartment. Their solar power and integrated batteries provide renewable energy independence.

Portable solar generators offer apartments the perfect solution for backup power needs.

What Size Generator Do I Need for an Apartment?

Choosing the right power capacity involves balancing your electrical needs and the generator's physical size. Follow these tips:

  • Take an appliance inventory: Make a list of essential items you want to power like a fridge, phone chargers, laptop, lights, TV, and medical devices. Note their wattages which are typically listed on appliance labels.
  • Account for start-up wattage: Appliances require 2-3x their rated wattages for several seconds during start-up. A 1,200W fridge may briefly need 3,000W.
  • Choose a generator capacity: Add together the items' continuous and start-up wattages. Select a generator that meets this total, with some extra cushion.
  • Consider sizing down: Portable models over 3,500W often become prohibitively heavy and noisy for apartments. Get by with less capacity using conservation tricks during outages.
  • Observe noise/size limits: Ensure the unit's decibel rating and physical footprint will be acceptable for use in your living space.

As an example budget, a 1,000 sq ft apartment with a 1,200W fridge, 800W freezer, phone chargers, fans, lights, and TV might get by with a compact 2,000W generator. Right-sizing your generator saves on costs while still offering essential backup power.

Can I Run a Generator in My Apartment Without Telling Anyone?

You should notify your landlord and neighbors beforehand since the exhaust sound may disturb other tenants, even if using a quiet model rated under 60 decibels. Always follow proper safety practices.

Final Words

Using a generator safely in an apartment provides many benefits during power outages. Focus on compact inverter models explicitly rated for indoor use. Be considerate of noise, properly ventilate exhaust, and right-size the wattage capacity to balance your essential electrical needs. With smart operational practices, a generator can be a useful backup power asset for apartment living.

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