Generally, portable generators are safe to run than other tools. But you still need to take some precautionary measures to keep everything safe. One of such measures is grounding your portable generator and determining how to do it right.
Not all portable generators must be grounded, while others only have to be grounded under certain situations.
Portable generators are great for meeting electricity needs on the go. Therefore, you can utilize its benefits and take your home comforts to campsites, run power tools at a remote worksite, power your outdoor events and do so much more with them.
This guide will tell you how to determine that you need to ground your portable generator and how you can do it safely.
Understanding What is Electrical Grounding
Electricity running through the wires is always looking for a way to return to the ground and dissipate energy. In a standard electrical system that involves your portable generator, the current flows right through those hot wires to the neutral wire series.
In case something happens to this routine circuit, the current will flow right through a path that offers the least resistance. If you don’t have your portable generator grounded, this least resistance path will allow the current to flow in prohibited directions.
This scenario can cause electrocution, spark a fire, or various other dangerous scenarios. By grounding your portable generator, you provide a backup path featuring the least resistance for the current to flow. It is called grounding because this backup path goes directly into the ground for posing a relatively lesser risk.
Does a Portable Generator Require Grounding?
To be safe and secure, you have to ground your portable generator regardless of its size and capacity. It depends on the design of your generator how you should ground it.
The fuel tank, housing, and engine have a direct connection to this frame. Any current flowing right through the generator out of wiring will be grounded by the frame.
The simplest way to tell whether your portable generator requires grounding is to see the owner’s manual of your generator. The manufacturer should provide clear instructions on whether you should ground your generator or not.
In case you don’t have the manual with you or are uncertain about it, inspect your generator’s construction. If its transfer switch provides you an option for transferring the current to a neutral conductor in the ground, your unit will have a separate mechanism. It means you must connect it to a grounding rod individually.
Grounding Your Portable Generator
After determining that you need to ground your portable generator, you must wire its transfer switch to the grounding rod.
You need to take a copper grounding wire and hammer it into the ground. It needs to bury at least eight feet deep into the ground. With this depth, any discharge from the grounding rod won’t cause electrocution to anyone standing on the ground. In case you are in tough terrain, then you should hammer the rod at a 45-degree angle.
Now, with the help of wire strippers, take out about 6 to 12 inches of insulation from one end of the copper wire and wrap it around the top end of the rod with the help of pliers to ensure that it stays intact.
Connect your generator to this grounding rod on the other end of your wire. But keep in mind that your generator is off when you are doing this. Now, locate the grounding bolt with the help of your pliers and tighten that nut to make sure the wire firmly remains in place.
What should I do if I don’t have a ground wire?
A generator must come with a prep grounding wire and a rod. But these might damage or break over time. You can use a copper wire instead.
Just strip both ends and expose the copper wire within. You need to wrap this copper wire around the ground rod and the grounding bolt on your portable generator.
Can I ground my generator without earthing it?
Under few circumstances, you can ground your generator without earthing it. For instance, this is possible if you connect it with the frame. But this would be only possible if you bond the non-current metal parts to the frame and the conductor materials.
Just make sure not to use a generator that has frayed cords or missing prongs for grounding. Also, don’t change the frame to make it work, or you don’t have to ground it at all, especially if it needs a grounding rod. You will have to go for a grounding rod or purchase a unit that doesn’t feature one
Can I test a generator if it’s grounded or not?
Whether a bond or round, the circuit must provide a connection of low resistance. Moreover, this circuit should be able to conduct electric current surges specifically to the ground. You can easily test it with the neutral continuity tester. This tester will assess the integrity of the neutral and ground connections for all receptacles on your portable generator to the ground rod or the frame.
You have to keep in mind that not all portable generators need to ground. You must go through the owner’s manual of your generator first. Follow the instructions to ground your generator.
But even if it doesn’t need grounding, knowing about the process and its need isn’t a bad thing. If you can adequately ground your generator, it will significantly reduce any risks of malfunction. Plus, it will keep you along with your generator safe and secure at all times.