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The Truth About Running A Portable Generator In The Rain

You see them almost everywhere these days; portable generators. They’re helpful for a variety of applications, including residential use during a power outage and as backup power for businesses. But the thing that continues to concern many potential users: one of these is the weather. 

You may be in danger if you run a generator while it’s raining. After all, it’s an electronic device that produces electricity through mechanical means to operate electrical appliances. Is it not like we could turn on the exhaust fumes or add a roof to keep it dry?

Well, not exactly. However, there are some concerns when considering running a generator in the rain. Before starting with one of these units in inclement conditions, it is essential to understand why. Let’s look at this frequently asked question regarding operating a generator in the rain.

Can I Run a Generator in the Rain?

It is dangerous to run a portable generator during wet weather unless you have a high-quality generator tent, shelter, plywood, or materials to cover your generator. Operating a generator during wet weather puts you at risk of electrocution or generator damage, so it is necessary to place it in a dry area.

Always ensure the surface around the generator is dry before starting it up and keep a weather eye out for any incoming storms or even hurricanes. Generators can be beneficial for supplying power in emergencies, but you must still properly care them.

The Dangers of Running a Generator in the Rain

Most people know that running a generator in the rain can be dangerous, but many don’t realize just how difficult it can be. Here are some dangers that you must keep in mind:

Electrocution

Even if the generator is turned off and if you come into contact with a wet generator or generator with moisture, it could lead you to death. The high level of voltage produced by generators can lead to electrocution or an explosion if moisture gets into the outlet or seeps into the engine. 

Grounding your generator properly will reduce the risk of electrocution. A portable ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is the best way to ground it. Learn more about grounding portable generators.

Even if you use the generator on dry ground with a GFCI, you may still receive a nasty jolt if standing in a puddle. The generator should be in storage with a canopy or items for the protective structure to avoid getting wet and safeguard yourself.

Fire Hazards

You may still be at risk if you’ve protected your generator. Without adequate ventilation, generators will not operate effectively and may even catch fire because of heat. Similarly, overfilling fuel like gas or gasoline near the generator or overload is also a potential fire risk.

In these situations, a fire extinguisher in your car may lessen the damage, but it won’t eliminate the threat. Leaving a portable generator out in the rain when it isn’t in use is okay, but long-term issues, such as more maintenance and more problems, may result from exposure to the elements.

That is why we suggest purchasing or constructing a cover for your backup generator.

Generator Malfunction

Generators with dual fuel capabilities are not designed to work with water. Suppose water enters any part of the generator. In that case, it could ruin specific components and cause irreparable damage, forcing you to purchase a new generator and incurring replacement costs of $500 or more.

Tips on How To Run a Generator Safely

If you have a generator, it is essential to know how to operate it safely. Here are some tips and a solution that you might try:

Don’t Run Your Generator in the Rain or Near Water

You may have heard that water is an excellent conductor of electricity, but that’s not true. Pure water conducts no electricity because it has no electrons.

Naturally occurring water, such as rain or the water in your pool or sprinkler system, is made up of sediments and minerals that ionize water molecules, causing them to conduct electricity. You may get a nasty shock if you touch one of the generator’s electrical components with your wet hands.

It would be even worse if the generator were sitting in a puddle of water while it rained on you and it.

Keep Your Generator Outside and Far From Your Home

Generators are often positioned indoors during a storm, but this is a risky endeavor. Even the most well-ventilated locations are not safe for generators. The Consumer Products Safety Commission warns that we unintentionally put ourselves at risk by putting our generators too close to or inside the house.

Even if they seem safety-conscious, people unintentionally increase their risk of carbon monoxide poisoning by placing their generators near the home. As generators burn fuel, they emit toxins, including monoxide.

Inhaling these fumes leads to suffocation and subsequent unconsciousness. The closer your generator is to your house, the more likely you will be exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning, so you should get a CO detector to assess the emission levels.

Never Plug Your Generator Into a Wall Outlet

“Back feeding” is a dangerous phenomenon that can permanently damage your electrical system and deliver a potentially fatal jolt of electricity to anyone who touches the generator cords or works on the main power lines. Avoid this process at all costs because it is highly hazardous.

jackery solar power station

Can I Run My Generator in the Rain if It’s Covered?

If you want to run your generator without worrying about it getting wet, you must pay a little more for cover than the bargain-basement ones for non-operating generators. You will not receive much assistance if you operate your generator in the rain with a bargain-basement cover.

Here are some top covers that you may want to try and everything you need to know about these covers:

GenTent 10k Generator Tent Running Cover

This generator cover, a product of manufacturers engineered line, is designed to protect generators of any type with a wattage between 3,000 and 10,000.

The company asserts that this generator tent is the only product on the market that keeps generators safe to operate in inclement weather. It is tested for 70 mph winds, 12 inches of rain per day, and 18 inches of snow per day. 

Even in hurricane conditions, this generator tent will keep your engine operating at peak performance thanks to its optimal airflow. The cold-crack-rated watertight seams guarantee that this cover will last for years.

It’s an expensive piece of equipment, but shelling out a hundred dollars or so on a suitable generator cover will save you money in the long run.

IGAN Generator Tent Running Cover

The IGAN Generator Tent Running Cover is 100% waterproof and constructed to shield your machine’s most sensitive areas from the most severe weather conditions. This heavy-duty tarpaulin cover with a stainless steel frame is available in 3500w-12000w portable generators.

The strong construction of the cover prevents it from collapsing under heavy rain or snow or getting blown away in high winds.

IGAN Small Inverter Generator Tent Cover

The Inverter Generator Tent Cover provides complete protection from the weather while allowing enough natural air to keep the machine cool in its vents. Its unique design keeps the machine safe while operating 1000 to a 2300-watt inverter, regardless of the weather.

This generator tent cover is constructed from heavy-duty tarpaulin reinforced with strong metal frames and fiberglass support rods to withstand inclement weather. It is relatively inexpensive, with a 3-year guarantee, and is a good option if you do not wish to build your generator shelter.

This is suitable for fully enclosed generators only, not framed portable generators. It is an excellent place to start if you don’t want to build your generator shelter.

How To Run a Generator in the Rain

It is crucial to keep a generator shielded if it is raining. You can use one of these three options: steel enclosures, plastic sheds, or pop-up canopies. This sort of canopy will work well for the majority of generators.

Although you must always protect yourself against injury, you can construct your enclosure. No matter what, you must take safety precautions. You’ll learn how to generate power while it’s raining safely in this post.

Electrical Shocks

If the generator outlets become wet, the consequences could be severe. A GFCI is usually included in portable generators to prevent accidental electrocution.

If water gets on the panels, it significantly increases the risk of electrocution. Using a ground fault circuit interrupt, the outlets of this device will shut down if they become wet.

Plastic Shed

It is essential to consider the generator’s size when determining how much to spend on a generator shed. Many of the plastic sheds that house generators are quite costly. However, they are a good choice if you want things stronger than cloth or plastic sheets.

You can find a wide range of generators that will operate effectively in a plastic shed like this one. You should be careful of overcrowded enclosures because generators tend to overheat after being in operation for long times.

A plastic shed may be melted through the surfaces f the generator, or someone may be seriously injured if someone touches it.

Pop-Up Canopy

If you have a generator, these are among the simplest to protect. It is easy to use but relatively weak and can’t defend against the rain that impacts your outlets. Wind easily damages these canopies. In addition, these canopies may be tough to set up on driveways, limiting the space you have to use them.

jackery solar power station beside a couple

You can get one of these for not too much money, provided you want the fabric and frame to be high quality. It is fine, but we strongly suggest getting the recommended cover.

Steel Enclosures

When working outdoors with generators, one of the most effective ways to safeguard them is to house them in steel enclosures. Doing so will prevent them from overheating and allow for optimal function. Make sure that the enclosure is fitted by a professional when using steel enclosures.

A fitting pad is also crucial. Specific generators can only be used in these enclosures. If you have a generator that does not work with them, keep reading because there are other ways to safeguard it from the elements.

Generator Covers

Protecting your generator in the rain is a terrible decision. Covers can be a simple answer to this issue. You may use a waterproof cover, such as the one I described previously, to protect your generator from all-weather and allow hassle-free operation at any time.

You can waterproof and protect your generator in any location you like. In addition to being able to move the generator while the cover is on, you will not have to worry about overheating because most covers come with natural cooling options.

The Elements

Shield all of the generator’s most vulnerable areas. The outlets are the most critical components but not the only ones. If you reduce overheating with excellent airflow and shield yourself from strong winds and other elements, you will be fine.

Conclusion

Running a portable generator in the rain is not as dangerous as you think. While it is true that you need to take precautions to prevent electrocution, the risks are relatively low as long as you follow basic safety guidelines.

If you run a portable generator in the rain, you need to ensure that the generator is properly grounded. You also need to keep the generator dry and away from open flames. If you follow these basic safety guidelines, you should be able to run a portable generator in the rain safely.

FAQ

What happens if it rains on my generator?

If it rains on your generator, the rain will cause the generator to rust. The rust will then cause the generator to break down and stop working.

How do I protect my portable generator from rain?

Using a generator tent to keep the generator dry and secure while operating is crucial if you need to run a portable generator in the rain.

Where do you put a generator during a storm?

According to the National Weather Service, it is essential to keep a generator at least 20 feet away from a door, window and vent and never run one inside a home or garage, even if the doors and windows are open.