Generator Care Rules & Regulations

Can Run a Portable Generator in Wet Weather or Rain?

Portable generators are lifesavers; there is no debate on that. However, they also require you to take them out of storage, place them in an ideal spot outdoors, and start the engine. But what if it’s raining – can a generator get wet?

Absolutely not! A generator cannot get wet and for the perfect reason. You are allowing your generator to get wet puts you, your generator, and your property at risk. Water and electricity don’t do well; there is the danger of getting electrocuted, your appliances and electrical system can be short-circuited, and there’s the risk of a fire outbreak.

So, running a generator in wet conditions without protection is never an option. So, what can you do if you need backup power during damp weather? Continue reading to find out the dangers of getting your generator wet and how you can run a generator safely in wet conditions.

Why Shouldn’t You Run a Generator in the rain?

Wet weather is always a challenge for homeowners. At this time, we experience a power outage, and it’s the same time when you start wondering where you will run your portable generator.

Typically, you would want to find a place away from the rain or snow. But what if there isn’t any. Do you compromise and allow it to get rained on while it’s running or not? That’s never a good idea. Why? Here are reasons why you shouldn’t run your generator in the rain:

Risks of Getting Electrocuted

Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. When you stand on water and touch the wet generator while it’s producing electricity, you risk getting electrocuted. Your body will provide an alternative shorter path for electricity to pass through you to the ground. The electrocution could be mild or fatal.

In the right amount, electricity can be dangerous. The current that passes through your body can directly affect your heart beating rhythm, affect electrolytes in your body, affect your muscle communication causing paralysis, or even burn you alive.

That’s why it’s always advisable to a portable Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) system. The generator should also be adequately grounded in case water finds its way to the generator.

Short Circuit Damages

I did mention water is a good conductor of electricity. That means, if the water was to touch two points of the same polarity, there is a chance of causing electric circuit and leading to generator malfunction.

The short-circuited components can be rendered irreparable, forcing you to search for replacement parts and spending hundreds of dollars.

Even though circuit breakers might detect the short circuit surge voltage, at times, it might be too late, especially for sensitive electronics. They might also get damaged by the voltage surge, adding even a bigger problem to your plate.

Rust and Corrosion

With generator parts mostly made from metal parts, it’s susceptible to rust and corrosion. Oxygen in the air can combine with moisture and facilitate rusting on the metal parts. It won’t happen right away, but it’s a problem that can occur in the long run.

And with rust (iron oxide) being a poor conductor of electricity, it can get between the electrical contacts in various electrical parts in your generator. The generator performance will reduce or even fail to produce power.

The outlets might produce zero to small voltage depending on the rust effect on the contacts. If your generator uses an electric start, the battery might not work because of rusted terminals.

The electric conductivity of the electrolyte: Corrosion involves electrochemical reactions, and an increase in the electrical conductivity of the electrolyte will therefore increase the corrosion rate. Stray electrical current can cause electrolytic corrosion.

It gets worse. When the generator is rerun with the rust presence, electricity increases electrochemical reactions, thus increasing the corrosion rate. That means it could lead to corrosion that increases wear and tear to the rusted parts.

Create Fire Hazards

Trying to get smart and covering your generator might also not cut it. Using the wrong materials that can catch fire or using an enclosure that doesn’t allow the generator to breathe enough could lead to a fire outbreak.

What’s more, the generator engine runs hot and requires cold air to circulate it to cool it down. If that doesn’t happen, your unit might overheat, causing damage to the engine that might render it unrepairable.

How Do You Protect a Portable Generator from Rain?

So, since most power outages happen during wet weather, it might be helpful to know how to run your generator safely and protect it from rain and other wet elements.

Cover your generator

Covering your generator to keep it away from the elements is the first thing you want to protect yourself and the generator from the above dangers. You have few options here, including:

Use a Generator Enclosure

A generator enclosure is probably the best type of coverage you can give a generator to protect it from the wet elements completely. You can use either a ready-made enclosure or build a DIY enclosure.

Ready-Made Generator Enclosure: What you want to look for when buying a ready-made generator enclosure is the material used in making it and the ventilation system. The material must be weather resistant, and there should be enough holes or vents to allow cold air in and fumes out while ensuring the moisture doesn’t reach the generator. You might also want to pick a model that comes with a fitting pad (optional) for mounting the enclosure. Check its size to ensure your generator fits in it. Consult your generator manual to know its size or use a tape measure to take its measurements.

Custom-Made DIY Generator Enclosure: If you decide to build a custom generator enclosure, you need the generator measurements, and a cutting saw to cut wood panels to size. You’ll also need to apply weather-resistance clothing for the exterior and fire-resistant foam for the interior. Don’t forget to add some ventilation system to vent out the fumes and allow in cold air to cool the engine.

Place it in a Shed

Another way you can protect your generator from rain is to place it in a shed. A shade is also a great way to reduce the generator’s noise output.

You even have an option of extending the exhaust to vent out the fumes or adding a robust muffler to cut down the noise further. The cover provided by a shed will ensure your unit runs dry all the time.

However, when using a shed to protect the generator, there are few things you need to keep in mind:

  • The shed has to be at a safe distance from your house.
  • You cannot store flammable items in the shed, including fuel.
  • The structure has to be well ventilated and with limited access.

Get a Pop-Up Canopy and Cover

A pop-up canopy or cover is among the easiest to use when it comes to covering a generator. However, its design is weak, and it struggles to guard the unit against rain. What’s more, it is easily damaged by winds.

It would help if you had a spot where you could anchor them. They are relatively inexpensive. Their prices range depending on how good the fabric and the frame is.

When appropriately secured and in a spot with less wind, the best part is that it can help waterproof and protect your generator from elements.

What’s more, it allows you to move the generator while it’s on, and you don’t have to worry about ventilation as the sides are all open.

Apply Polymer Epoxy Coating

And since it might be challenging to keep the generator completely dry, especially if you’re using a canopy, you can apply some rust and corrosion-resistant coating such as polymer epoxy coating to protect the exposed generator components. The coating is tough as nails, moisture-, salt-, and rust-proof. When you apply it, you can enjoy some peace of mind.

Avoid Floodwaters

When placing your generator, pick a spot that doesn’t collect water or flood. Most generator owners overlook this when setting up the generator. If the water level starts rising in your area, keep an eye on your unit and ensure it doesn’t get flooded.

Avoid Using the Generator in Hurricane or Adverse Weather

Cyclones, tornadoes and hurricanes can damage almost anything they come across, significantly when their speed exceeds 60mps. The aftermath can be devastating. They at times even carry heavy objects.

If you tried running your generator in those adverse weather conditions, it could end up being disastrous. It’s best to wait until the wind subsides before you can start the backup generator.

About the author

Sharif Gen

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