February 8, 2023

Does a Portable Generator Need To Be Grounded?

A portable generator uses a gas, diesel, or propane-powered engine to generate electricity. The unit has built-in receptacles to plug in appliances and gadgets when temporary or remote power is needed. A portable generator proves useful when the power goes out, during disaster cleanup efforts, and on camping trips. To reduce the risk of electric shock and fire, always follow the use and safety instructions in the owner’s manual.

If you’re using a portable generator for the first time, you may wonder about the grounding requirements. A grounded device features a safety line to redirect excess current into the earth, thus preventing electrocution. Here’s what you need to know about grounding a portable generator.

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The Generator Frame Serves as the Ground

Most portable generators are designed with a grounded frame, meaning it’s unnecessary to ground them again. Your generator is most likely designed this way if it meets two requirements:

  • The generator supplies electricity only to equipment plugged into the built-in receptacles.
  • Noncurrent-carrying metal parts of the generator are bonded to the generator frame.

Before assuming your portable generator doesn’t require additional grounding, check the owner’s manual for the words “bonded neutral portable generator.” Then, check the integrity of the connection between the generator’s frame and the power receptacles’ grounding terminals once a year. You must hire an electrician to test this connection using the correct equipment.

Use Grounded Extension Cords

Outdoor-rated, heavy-duty extension cords have a three-pronged connector. The third prong serves as a grounding wire, giving excess current and voltage somewhere to go in the event of a surge or short circuit. Never use electrical cords with missing grounding prongs.

Generators Connected to an Electrical Panel Need a Ground Rod

To prevent an electrical fire hazard, only connect a generator directly to a building’s electrical panel if it has a properly installed transfer switch. Home standby generators have this feature, allowing you to power appliances and devices without plugging them directly into the generator.

Generators supplying power to a structure must be grounded with a ground rod pounded into the earth, then connected to the ground lug on the generator via a ground cable. The rod must be driven at least 8 feet into the earth.

Consider a Home Generator Instead

Portable generators have their uses, but a home standby generator is the better choice if you want to keep the lights on and the refrigerator running. As discussed, home generators link directly to the electrical panel. The transfer switch also engages automatically during a blackout, restoring temporary power without you lifting a finger.

Install a Generator in New Jersey

Seidel Electric Inc is proud to be an authorized reseller of Generac generators. We supply portable generators and install home standby generators throughout the Tri-State Area. We also repair generators and offer preventative maintenance visits before major storms to ensure your unit is operating at its peak. To request Generac generator services in Blairstown, New Jersey, and the surrounding area, please contact us online or call us at (908) 362-6191.