Do you know what they say about portable generators? Always ground them.
What â€˜theyâ€™ mean by grounding is that the connections, or the establishment of a connection, of an electric circuit or equipment to reference ground, which includes the generatorâ€™s frame.
Let me break it for you in simpler words. It refers to connecting an electric circuit to a reference ground. We need to ground every appliance in use to the ground for safety reasons.
In the case of portable generators, the frame acts as the electric circuit, and a properly installed grounding rod acts as the reference ground.
Grounding is a necessary aspect to look forward to as it allows excess electricity to be displaced and prevents you from accidental shocks or getting yourself electrocuted.
Grounding creates a neutral condition for electricity and it will protect your generator from the damage caused by abnormal electricity fluctuations.
Problems Of Not Grounding A Generator
We just looked at why do we need to ground our generators for camping. I think you should also be well aware of what are the various possible outcomes of not grounding a generator.
- The path of least resistance could allow electricity to flow in places it shouldnâ€™t be.
- Which can cause electrocution, spark a fire, or cause other dangerous situations.
- Grounding provides a backup path of least resistance for electricity to flow.
- You are risking the safety of your appliances. It can damage your electrical equipment as wiring can be affected.
- Your electrical equipment can also overheat, thereby creating a risk of fire.
- Your circuit might not work, because many circuits donâ€™t have a physical and direct connection to the earth.
How To Ground The Generator?
The first and foremost step is to check the userâ€™s manual, if or not it is required to be grounded. Although it is a given that every portable generator should be grounded for safety reasons.
The minimum basic requirement is a main circuit i.e generator, a reference rod. Whether or not you need a reference rod depends upon your system of the generator.
What if there is no manual?
- Check the design of the generator. Most modern portable generators are designed such as the metal frame around it acts as the least path of resistance for current.
- If your generator is a separately derived system. In this case, you will be required to use a reference rod.
- If you do not have a generator with the separately derived system, you do not need to ground at all.
To recognize a separately derived system, simply check the generatorâ€™s transfer switch. An unseparated derived system features a transfer switch that cannot be transferred to the neutral ground conductor, meaning it will not need a connection to a grounding rod.
Most portable generators have their fuel tank, engine, and housing bonded to the frame, meaning they will not have to be grounded.
Requirements For Grounding The Generator
Remember the ground rules for camping? Always be prepared. Therefore you need to be prepared and equipped with the right type of tools for grounding.
You can easily find them online or in any hardware or store with camping supplies.
- A wire stripper– you will need to strip the wire when connecting to the copper rod or generator. This is the online link to the tool.
- Copper grounding wire– this is the link between the rod and the generator. Buy or carry an ample amount of it just in case. This is the link to the wires.
- 4-foot copper ground rod– the most necessary product as this will act as the reference rod. You need to see how far the rod is to be driven in the ground and then decide. This is the link to the rod.
- Hammer– you will need this to hammer the rod into the ground. Just ensure to buy a good one so that it will not damage the insulation of the rod, which can lead to a poor connection.
- Pliers– this is required to connect the wire to the pieces of equipment correctly.
- Wrench– it comes in handy when we need to loosen a bolt or something in the generator for proper connection.
- You can carry your toolbox to the campsite as you will require some other tools here and there if the ground is not favorable.
3 Step Guide To Ground Your Generator
With all the equipment mentioned above, you are good to start grounding your generator.
Grounding becomes very easy when you are on a campsite and they have provided you with a reference rod installed, now you just have to connect your generator to the rod with a conducting wire. It is as simple as it sounds.
But, what if there is no pre-installed rod? That is why we have the copper grounding rod.
Step 1- Install the copper ground rod.
Search for a soft ground where it will be easy to ground the rod into the ground. If there is no such area available, just pour some water on the ground and wait until the soil loosens a bit. Do not make it too wet and flowy.
Once the ground is ready, drive the rod into the ground, using a hammer or a mallet. Make sure to drive the rod at least 8 feet inside the ground to ensure proper installation.
If the ground is too rocky, you can drive the rod at an angle of 45 degrees maximum.
Step 2- Connect the copper wire to the rod.
After your rod is completely installed at 4 feet depth into the ground, it is time to get the wire ready by striping it at both ends. Properly strip the wire to ensure proper connections.
Wrap the stripped wire around the rod using a plier. Make it tight to ensure connections.
Step 3- Connect it to the generator.
Once all the setup is done, you can proceed to the last step of the grounding that is to connect the generator.
Take the other stripped end of the wire and connect it to the generator.
Keeping in mind the convenience of portable generators, you can easily find a grounding bolt o the generators.
Loosen the bolt enough to connect the wire properly and tight. Use a plier to connect to ensure tight connections.
Once the wire is connected, again tighten the bolt back.
Tips To Follow While Grounding A Generator
Since you will be dealing with current and wires, there are some tips to keep in mind.
- Never ground the generator while itâ€™s in use.
- Make sure the ground and equipment are dry and away from water.
- Ensure safe distance from the wires in working conditions or the area where the generator is grounded.
- Distance will also help you to get rid of the noise from the generator. You can check our article on how to keep the generator quite while camping.
- When you are using a generator with a separate grounding system, it is better to use wires and rods with low resistance. Resistance makes it difficult for the current to flow.
- If your generator has a frame that acts as a circuit, then the manufacturers have already taken care of the low resistance.
- A resistance of 0.2 ohms is preferred.
- Ensure all the connections are tight, to ensure grounding can perform the purpose of passing the current to the ground.
- Wear safety rubber gloves while working with wires.
I hope this article gave you everything you need to know about grounding a generator. I would still recommend you to read the userâ€™s manual for a better guide, since, there are so many different types of portable generators available in the market.
If you have any more suggestions or any new idea you are welcomed to the comment section. We would love to hear them.
Check out our website for more such guides and articles.
Until then happy camping!
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