When you’re not connected to the grid, or if you have an electrical failure, generators are used to create electricity. Whether or not your generator needs to be grounded is determined by how it is built and used.
The procedure of connecting an electrical circuit to the ground is known as grounding (or earthing). Most current portable generators that you’d bring on a camping trip don’t require a grounded electrical line.
Although, you need to be sure your electrical devices are safe not to be grounded, and there’s no chance you’ll get any electric shocks. Generators come in all shapes and sizes, such as a Honda Generator, Briggs & Stratton, or more. In our guide, you can learn more about camping with a generator, how to ground a generator when camping, and more.
By the end, you’ll know enough how to power your devices safely, how to care for an ungrounded generator, and use the right extension cord for the task. (Read 7 Pop Up Camper Essentials)
Do You Really Need to Ground a Portable Generator?
Check the manufacturer’s directions to see if you need to ground your portable generator. If your generator is “separately derived,” you must use a grounding rod. If your generator is not a separate system, there is no need to connect a ground.
If you don’t have the instructions with you, look at the generator transfer switch to see if it needs grounding.
If your generator’s transfer switch cannot be grounded to the neutral ground conductor, it does not require a separate grounding rod.
A separately derived system has this configuration, and you’ll discover most modern portable generators use them.
The circuit’s earth connection is already there, and the engine will connect to the is linked to an exterior metal frame, which is correctly grounded for use. Then, the electricity can flow to another circuit (the frame).
Note: If you are using a large generator (above 10 kilowatts per hour), it is advised that you ground it.
Do I Need To Ground Standby Generator?
On a camping trip, typically, generators sit on the ground. Therefore, the metal frame will be external ground and pass any current directly into the earth from the generator safely.
Noncurrent-carrying metal sections of the generator, such as the fuel tank, the engine, and the generator housing, must also be connected to the frame. The equipment grounding conductor terminals (the generator’s power receptacles) are mounted to the frame. (Read What Is A Tent Footprint)
However, should there be an instance when the external metal frame won’t suffice, you can carry out grounding your generator quite easily.
All you need are a few basic grounding supplies, equipment, and tools to allow you to ground your standby or portable generator properly.
- Wire strippers (Most generators that require grounding have insulated grounding wire supplied with them)
- Hammer or mallet (used to ground using the copper rod properly)
- Socket wrench set – needs to fit the grounding bolt on rod and your generator.
- Copper grounding wire – typically, grounding wire is bare copper. It is best to use heavy-duty green insulated copper wire made for outdoor use to show your ground connection.
- 4 ft long copper grounding rod.
Take the copper grounding electrode and hammer it into the ground in an appropriate spot near the generator, ensuring that the long copper rod is hammered into the ground and leaving about an inch on top to fasten your connector to the grounding terminals.
Strip back the copper wire with the wire stripper and tightly wrap the copper wire tightly around the end of the copper ground rod with the pliers.
The other end of the copper wire should be stripped and connected to the grounding bolt on your generator. To accomplish this, use the pliers to unscrew the ground terminal and wrap the stripped wire before tightening the bolt on your generator.
Do I Need To Ground My RV Generator?
With camping or grounding portable generator for RV use, not all portable generators need grounding. However, you have more electrical devices in an RV, so it’s wise to learn how to ground a generator when camping.
Depending on your generator type, you can have an indicator light or floating neutral where the circuit isn’t connected to a frame or earth ground (Champion Generators).
What Does to Ground a Generator Mean?
Grounding is a connection you make between an electrical circuit or equipment to a reference ground. The reference ground refers to a copper wire and a metal rod or the generator’s frame that can safely conduct a surge of electrical power away from the device.
- When grounding your generator, check sure it is absolutely dry. Never try it in damp weather. Instead, dry your hands and find a dry patch on the ground.
- Use copper wire and an 8-foot metal rod when you ground your generator. Keep the cable away from your campground or your RV.
- All RV electrical systems feature float or unbonded ground and neutral wires. NEC and RVIA require this. In this way, there is only one ground to neutral bonding point.
- You do not need to ground your generator if you use extension cords that plug straight into it and then into your appliances. Also, if your generator’s components aren’t attached to the frame, you’ll need to ground it.
- Bonding eliminates the need to ground your generator. Also, if you connect your generator to your home’s circuit breaker system or a transfer switch, you must ground it.
- If you are unsure about grounding your generator, call a licensed electrician. They will tell you when to do it and when not to.
- You may need to do this when connecting your generator to a wired circuit system. Or if you’re directly connecting appliances into it.
- Your RV may have a feature that checks for open ground. Non-grounding your generator risks it refusing all power. To do this, either utilize the copper wire and stake or create an adaptor connector that connects the ground and neutral pins to simulate an open ground.
What Happens if You Don’t Ground a Generator?
In a nutshell, you have the potential to wreck it. Unwanted voltage is prevented from wreaking havoc on your electrical equipment, including a generator, by grounding. However, a burst of electricity could pass through the various connections if the generator is not grounded correctly, destroying more than just your generator.
Grounding protects you, your family, and your belongings from the effects of these
unpredictably high surges. You shouldn’t have any problems if you set up your generator correctly. This does not imply that you must pound in a copper rod and connect a copper cable to your generator every time you set up camp. (Find the Best 14 Person Tent)
Sometimes, more than the bonded generator frame will be needed to direct an electrical surge away from your equipment, and RV.
Proper grounding takes little effort, and for the sake of a copper grounding rod, insulated ground wire, and a pair of wire strippers to carefully strip and connect to a proper ground rod. You can protect your devices and your family.
Note on Predator Generator Grounding **
While most portable generators don’t require grounding, the manufacturers of this model of portable generator state you should ground their generator before using it. To do so, you will need to purchase 6 AWG grounding wire and attach it to the grounding terminal and ground bolt on the control panel.