Rated vs Max Capacity in my generator and Inverter – What does it mean?

What does it mean?

rated capacity vs max capacity

Any time you want to buy a Generator or Power Inverter; the first question that comes to mind is usually what size do I need. The size you eventually buy can be limited by your budget but more importantly, it is determined by the load you intend to power with your device. All Generators and Inverters are rated using KVA (or sometimes KW- this stands for KiloWatts); KVA stands for Kilo-Volts-Amperes; electrical power is measure in watts (1000 watts is 1KiloWatts). When you put on your TV, it draws power in terms of current (Amperes) depending on its rating, if you multiply the Currents in Amperes with the Voltage in Volts you’ll get KVA (for sake of our topic we will assume 1KVA is the same as 1KW). Nigeria’s power system delivers 220volts while some countries like the US uses 110V; this is fixed for each country.


When someone tells you that a generator or inverter is a 5KVA generator, ask if that is the Maximum or the Running Capacity. The Running Capacity (also called rated capacity) is the load that should be connected to a power source (here generator or inverter) for continuous operation; it’s similar to state a Man’s walking speed. You can walk for a long time before getting tired, your generator can run at its rated capacity without overheating or being overloaded. The maximum load is the load above which your power source becomes overloaded and you are causing a lot of strain on the machine; an inverter will trip off at this point while most generators too will shut down. This is what happens when you mistakenly leave the AC on when you put on your small generator. You should never plan to operate your generator at its maximum capacity.

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Your generator or inverter can and should only run at its Max Capacity for a few seconds, this was designed to allow the large starting power some devices require; like your ACs, Pumps, and Refrigerators. The load is expected to reduce once the appliance has started and it’s running. You can overcome the large starting power required by AC by using inverter AC as explained here. You should always run your generator or inverter at their rated capacity, do not let any salesman tell you otherwise. Let me know if you have any other questions in the comment section below.

About Oluwafemi 100 Articles
Oluwafemi is a trained Engineer with so much passion for all things tech. He launched his first website in 2008 and has not stopped since then. He is also a Digital Marketing Expert and heavily involved in Data Analytics and Machine Learning. He loves to try his hands on new tech items. He has a 9 to 5 full-time position and only writes as a hobby.