Generator Care Rules & Regulations

Can You Cover a Generator While It’s Running


Most of the time, power outages occur during wet weather. It’s at this time that most homeowners turn to their generators for emergency power. And since you can only run it outdoors, you have to think of protecting it from the wet elements, begging the question, can you cover a generator while it’s running.

Well! It depends on the type of cover you will be using. If your generator cover is adequately ventilated, enough to allow exhaust fumes to vent out and cold air to flow in, you can use it while the generator is running. However, if it’s an enclosed cage for storage or a shed with no ventilation, you cannot cover the generator while it runs.

The type of cover and its design affects your safety and that of your generator. Understanding how to cover a generator while it’s running safely can help you protect it from wet weather while also ensuring it runs properly. Continue reading to understand more on how to protect the generator from elements even when it’s running.

What to Use to Cover a Generator While It’s Running (safely)

Not every type of generator cover available out there can be used on a running generator. The best kind has to meet some minimum requirements to allow the generator to run safely. What you need is something that protects your generator while also allowing it to run optimally.

Enough Ventilation

Generators burn fuel in the engine to create a series of explosions enough to rotate the crankshaft, which turns the rotor and produces power. The explosion and the rotation create heat and exhaust fumes that must be disposed of while the generator runs.

When picking a generator cover, you want to make sure it’s a model with enough ventilation to allow cold air to flow in the generators and hot air out. What’s more, the exhaust has to be extended to outside the cover, or the generator cover should be open enough to allow all fumes to vent outside it.

A generator canopy can deliver this type of coverage since it covers the generator top leaving the bottom part open. The open design allows the engine to receive enough cold air, and the exhaust remains unobstructed. What’s more, it serves the purpose of protecting the generator from shallow rains and snow.

You can also use a generator enclosure that has proper ventilation. It should have vents on the sides or holes at the bottom for allowing free flow of cold air in and near its roof to allow hot air to flow out. Remember, the ventilation system should be big enough to allow unrestricted airflow and small enough to prevent elements and pests from entering it.

Weatherproof Design

Suppose you’re considering covering your generator while it’s running to protect it against wet weather elements. In that case, you might want to make sure the generator cover you’re using is weatherproof. Water and electricity don’t mix.

If water finds its way onto your generator, you can get electrocuted, leading to injuries or even death. There could also be damage to your generator or connected appliances. So, it’d be best to make sure the type of cover you intend to use can protect your generator from water and moisture.

Don’t forget to make sure the generator cover protects your unit against the scorching sun, as it can increase the overall heat and cause the engine to overheat.

A generator canopy can only provide enough protection when there is shallow and calm rain or light snow. If it’s windy and stormy, this type of cover won’t cut it. The week frame used in generator canopies cannot withstand windy, stormy rain. What’s more, the bottom part of your generator isn’t covered, and water or moisture and easily seep in as the tents is pushed around.

You need a firmer alternative that can withstand the strong winds. Weatherproof steel or DIY enclosure can be the best choice.

Size and Coverage

Another requirement is that the cover must be big enough to accommodate the generator and leave enough allowance for the air to circulate and prevent heat buildup.

If you want to buy a generator canopy or tent, make sure it offers enough coverage to the generator from all sides. At least 70% of the generator should be covered. The exhaust side, however, should be left open to prevent the hot fumes from burning it.

If it’s an enclosure or a shed, the space around the generator should be enough to allow free air circulation when it’s covered. Going for a generator with at least a foot of allowance all-around can serve the minimum requirement.

Why Would You Want to Cover a Generator While It’s Running

Longevity and durability are the two things that come in most generators owners’ minds when figuring out how to protect a generator. The cost of getting a generator cover for safekeeping and protection against elements cannot compare to the cost of paying for repairs, maintenance or generator replacement.

And since a generator must be run outdoors, there are lots of things that could happen to it, with some having the potential to damage it. It would be best if you had a way to prevent these factors from prolonging your unit’s life and reducing the risks of shocks and accidents.

And you know what; covering your generator while it’s running can prove beneficial as it will protect it against the following.

Weather Elements

Power outages mainly occur during adverse weather. Maybe it is drizzling, or it’s heavily storming; you will have to run your generator to keep your family safe, protect your basement from flooding and prevent your food in the fridge or freezer from going bad.

However, all the wet elements cannot come near your generator. Why? Electricity and water don’t make the best combination. If your generator was to get wet, a lot could go wrong. There is the risk of getting electrocuted, a short circuit could damage your generator and appliances, and there is the possibility of some parts getting compromised, leading to expensive repairs.

What’s more, most of the generator parts are metallic. And as you well know, when metals come into contact with moisture and oxygen, they are susceptible to rusting or corroding. So, when your generator is rained or snowed on, there is a chance its iron parts will rust, something that can reduce its lifespan and also cause some performance issues.

Another thing, during a hot day, the scorching sun can easily add some warming to the already hot engine. Even if there is enough air circulation, the unit might overheat, a situation possible of causing catastrophic failure to the generator engine.

Getting a perfect generator cover to protect the generator against the elements while it’s running protects you from the electric shock that can leave you with permanent injuries or even kill you. The coverage also helps prevent generator rusting, thus reducing maintenance and protecting you against expensive repair costs.

Protection against Theft

The best place to run a generator is outdoors, and leaving it exposed in your backyard can get unwanted attention from people with no qualms over stealing. Even if you live in a safe neighbourhood, leaving your generator in the open can still sparkle temptation to those passing by.

You can give yourself some peace of mind by getting a protective generator cover that you can use to secure it while it’s running. Such an enclosure won’t come cheap, but it can be a cost you can compromise to keep your unit safe. If you have an unused, well-ventilated shed, you can place the generator in it and restrict entry.

Prevent Accidents

The risk of getting electrocuted when dealing with power generators is real. What’s more, it takes only a minute for a child or pet to get burned by touching a generator’s hot parts.

Covering your open-frame generator when kids and pets are running in your backyard can help avoid such accidents. You can have some peace of mind knowing there is no way the little ones will get in danger when you’re not looking.

Related Questions

Can generators get wet when not in use?

No. Most of the generator parts are metallic. They are susceptible to rust and corrosion when exposed to oxygen and moisture, or water. The rust and corrosion can affect the generator performance or even reduce its lifespan in the long run. It doesn’t need to be running for it to rust or corrode.

About the author

Sharif Gen

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