One of the most critical safety instructions while running a portable generator is ensuring it is grounded. Not all portable generators need to be grounded; some come with this feature already installed in them. This article will discuss how you can ground a portable generator and how you can identify which generator needs to be grounded and which doesn’t.
How to Ground a Portable Generator
First of all, it is essential to understand the process of grounding.
What is Grounding?
Grounding refers to connecting an electrical circuit to a reference ground. It is also known as the “earth” process in some places. When we are talking about electrical appliances, grounding and “earth” means the same process. Ungrounded electrical appliances like a generator can cause a fire in the case of a short circuit. You can also get a heavy electrical shock from such machines if they are not grounded properly.
Do I need to Ground my Portable Generator?
All the latest models do not need to be grounded as they are already grounded, and this feature comes built-in. In order to assess whether your generator needs to be grounded, you need to read the user manual. You can easily find out what safety measures you need to take along with grounding your generator. If the safety manual is not available, you can check your particle model online to find grounding if required. If you are unable to do both, you can check your generator to find out:
- If your generator is a separately derived unit, it needs grounding.
- If it is not a separately derived unit, it does need to be grounded.
If you do not know what a separately derived unit is, inspect the generator’s transfer switch. An un-separated derived system has a transfer switch that cannot be transferred to a neutral ground conductor. It means that you do not need to connect a copper rod to it. In other words, it has already been grounded.
Most of the latest models come with this feature. The fuel tank, engines, electrical components, and all the parts which can cause a current or start a fire are bonded to the frame. Hence, they do not need to be grounded. If you own an older model that needs to be grounded, you will need the following things to complete the grounding process.
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Things you will need
You may need to drive to a nearby hardware store for this or buy some things online from the list below
Wire Strippers – Needed for quick wire connections. You can strip wires with a knife or any sharp object if you are handy with electrical cables.
Copper Wire – You will need a copper wire for making connections between the generator and the copper rod.
4-feet Copper Ground Rod – The most important piece of equipment is the copper rod. Make sure you buy at least a 4-feet copper rod. The quality of the copper rod will impact the whole process. Therefore, you should buy a high-quality copper rod.
Hammer – You can find a hammer in your home easily.
Pliers and Wrench – These items are also available in most households. If not, you can buy your own or ask a friend for it. Pliers are needed for winding the copper wire, whereas the wrench will help in loosing and tightening the generator’s bolts.
You may also need water, a Phillips screwdriver, or a shovel for this process. If the soil is hard, water will help to soften it. The screwdriver will come in handy for opening bolts, which can be opened with the wrench and the shovel will help drive the rod in rocky terrains and tough soil.
The Grounding Process
The grounding process has the following steps.
Installing the Copper Rod – The first step is to install the copper rod in the ground. You need to make sure that you fit the rod at least 6-8 feet inside the ground for proper grounding. Another important concern is the location of the rod. You can install the grounding rod 6-8 feet away from your generator. The location of installing the rod depends upon the availability of the copper wire. If the soil is tough and rocky, you can use water and shovel accordingly to soften it up.
Connecting the Copper Wire – Now, you need to connect the copper wire to the generator and the copper rod. Strip the wire properly and connect it to the copper rod, wrap it tightly using pliers. Strip the other side of the copper wire and connect it to your generator after locating a grounding bolt. Loosen up the grounding bolt and wrap the stripped wire around it. Make sure you wrap the wire tightly and tighten up the bolt again. It will make the connection strong and secure and reduce the chances of any malfunctioning.
Now you can start your generator, add load, and run as usual without any worries.
Grounding Safety Generator Checklist
Keep in mind the following safety precautions while grounding your generator.
- Maintain, run, and store your generator as directed in the manufacturer’s guide and user manual.
- Don’t attach a portable generator directly to any installation, such as a home or a trailer. Installing a transfer switch helps in the smooth and safe functioning of a generator.
- Make sure you use high-quality cords for connecting appliances to your generator. Use heavy-duty cords that have a grounding conductor.
- Notice your generator is running safely and has a smooth sound without any defects.
Conclusion: Never Ignore Grounding
One should never ignore grounding if the generator needs to be grounded. Ungrounded generators can be life-threatening and cause electric shocks or start up a fire. Grounded generators also reduce the chances of malfunctioning and keep your generator and appliances safe.