Portable Generator Power when off grid or emergencies

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How To Ground A Generator When Camping

While camping, a portable generator can prove invaluable to help you with a variety of tasks.

They are often the only source of power while you’re out in the wilderness, so they can charge your devices and run your small camping appliances as well. 

We’re going to be looking at what grounding is, why it can help while you’re camping, and how you’d go about grounding your generator. 

What does grounding mean? 

Grounding can be defined as connecting an electrical circuit and a reference ground together.

When referring to grounding a generator, the generator is the electrical circuit, and the reference ground is a grounding rod. 

The generator can be connected to the grounding rod with a copper wire to ensure that it is safe and can be used close to tents and the group of campers. 

If you don’t ground a generator that needs it, the path of least resistance could allow the energy to flow into places that it shouldn’t be. This can cause electrocution or even sparks that could lead to a fire. 

Grounding allows another path of least resistance so that the electricity can flow where it is meant to be instead of damaging the generator or your devices. 

Why do you need to ground a generator? 

Some generators do not need to be grounded, while others can benefit greatly from it.

The quickest way to check whether your generator needs to be grounded or not is to check the manual. Here you should be able to find the answer quickly. 

If you do not have the user manual for your generator, or it does not give you an answer to your question, there are a couple of things that you can check to get a clear answer. 

Firstly, if your generator is a separately derived system it will need to be attached to a grounding rod. A separately derived system is a generator with no direct connection between the circuit and supply conductors. 

grounding rod
Welding copper ground wire on ground rod.

If your generator is not a separately derived system, it will not need a grounding rod attached to it.

To see whether your generator is a separately derived system or not, simply check the transfer switch to see whether there is a neutral ground conductor or not. 

If there is a neutral ground conductor option on a generator, your model will not have a separately derived system and therefore will not need to be grounded. 

Most modern portable generators will not need to be grounded, although some do still require a grounding rod. 

How to ground a generator

If you’ve found that you do need to ground your generator while camping, here is where you’ll find the supplies needed and the method to use.

grounded generator

The majority of the supplies needed will be banging around your house, but make sure that you take them on your camping trip to use when you need them. 

Supplies you will need:

  • Wire strippers 
  • A solid copper grounding wire
  • Copper grounding rod
  • Hammer or mallet
  • Pliers 
  • Wrench

You might also need some water to soften the ground if it is too hard where you’re camping. A screwdriver and a shovel might also come in handy, although they are not always essential for grounding a generator.

Method for grounding a generator:

Step One: Finding the right place 

The first step is to find a suitable place for your generator and the grounding rod.

Many people suggest that you place the generator away from where you’re camping so that you don’t have to hear the loud rumblings of the engine for your entire vacation. 

Step Two: Installing the grounding rod

Once you have set up your generator in the place you’ve chosen, it is time to install the grounding rod. Most grounding rods are around four meters in size, and at least four feet of the length should be installed into the ground.

Use your mallet to hit the rod into the ground, being careful not to put too much pressure on the rod so that it breaks.

Pay attention to how the rod feels as you install it into the ground – if you can feel rocks underneath it, you might need to install it at a slight angle. Do not exceed 45 degrees, however. 

If the ground is too hard for you to knock the grounding rod in, use some water to soften it up. 

Step Three: Preparing and using the copper wire

Use your wire strippers to prepare the copper wire for installation. Take the wire and wrap it tightly around the grounding rod using the pliers. 

Step Four: Grounding your generator

Once one end of the wire is connected to the grounding rod, it is now time to attach the other end to your generator.

Make sure that you take safety precautions while doing this and prevent any children or pets from clouding your focus during the final step. 

Find the grounding bolt on your generator and loosen it slightly with the wrench. You don’t have to loosen it too much – just enough that the wire can be wrapped around it. 

Use the pliers on the other end of the copper wire to wrap it around the grounding bolt. Tighten the bolt again to ensure a secure connection between the generator and the grounding rod. 

Grounding rods

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And that’s it – you’ve successfully grounded your generator properly out in the wilderness. You can now get on with the fun activities that your holiday has in store for you while your generator deals with your power needs. 

Grounding a generator can keep your appliances and devices safe from being overworked from power surges. It can also prevent your generator from malfunctioning halfway through your vacation. 

Grounding a generator can be a very important part of using a generator properly.

Even if you don’t need to ground your own generator, it can be important to know how to do it if you ever come across someone who needs your expertise. 

Not everyone will know that they need to ground their generator, so you having this knowledge can help keep them and their family safe. 


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All the article on Oofgrid offer help and practical advice for using and purchasing a portable generator. However, We are enthusiasts and not qualified electricians. Always seek professional advice when working with electrical or Petrol appliances.