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The portable generators on the market today are well-engineered machines, capable of withstanding troubles, whether natural or human-caused. Even so, it’s important to know if these are electrical machines that handle high voltages and work outside the confines of our homes. Being exposed to all sorts of weather conditions, you might ask if generators are waterproof.
Generators are not waterproof. Although some models are advertised to run safe in all weather conditions, water and electric-powered generators don’t mix. There is a dual risk of harm for you and your generator, but there are steps to ensure your generator’s safe operation in bad weather.
Rainfall or wet weather presents numerous hazards when it comes to your generator’s operation. In this piece, we’ll take a look at these danger points and delve into some of the easily implemented measures you can take to guarantee your safety and that of your generator.
Safe Generator Operation in Wet Conditions
While science and technology have come a long way in providing us with durable, powerful, and highly efficient portable generators, we are yet to see a model that can be completely safe to operate when in contact with water. Below are a couple of things you can do to ensure that your generator runs safely and at optimal capacity without running any unnecessary risks.
Put Up a Temporary Weather Covering (Generator Tent)
One great and utterly simple way to keep water from any storm, blizzard, or ice storm is by using wet-weather covering. These are specially designed coverings that will adequately cover up your generator and protect it from the elements while allowing exhaust fumes to escape without hindrance.
It may be tempting to throw a tarp over your unit, but good airflow is essential for your generator’s safe operation. The GenTent 10k Generator Tent Running Cover is a great example, and it will protect various generator sizes (3000w to 1000w). The struts and supports on this kind of generator cover ensure that no generator parts are obstructed or in contact with the machine’s hot parts.
A major point in favor of these temporary coverings is that they are easily folded up and carried away should you need to utilize your generator away from home. Campers and recreational vehicle owners will find this solution very convenient whenever they are camping in areas without power service. They are also very easily installed.
Erect a Permanent Generator Enclosure (Generator Shed)
Should your generator be serving you as a permanent standby power option, then a wet weather cover might not be the most efficient solution for you. You might be better served by building a permanent generator cover or shed to hose your unit under. The main benefit of this solution is that you will not have to set up and dismantle it every time the weather starts acting up.
You can build your generator housing from various materials according to their availability and what’s most convenient for you. Brick or plywood setups are the most popular options, but corrugated iron sheets will also adequately do the job.
Be sure to position your shed or enclosure at a suitable distance away from your home. It eliminates the possibility of any fumes seeping back into your living areas. It might be a simple enough job for those with a penchant for do-it-yourself projects out there, but professionals can always be called in to handle the job.
Here’s a great video from Get My Tips detailing the steps this project will entail:
You might prefer to purchase a generator enclosure that you can assemble on your property, such as this Portable Generator Enclosure made from powdered coated aluminum, which makes it very lightweight and easy to transfer.
Ensure the Generator Stands on a Dry Base
Any machine whose operation involves electricity is best kept off the ground. This goes for such household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and the like. Your generator is especially prone to the dangers of standing or running water should it be lying on bare ground since it will be exposed to water on the ground.
By placing a plywood base underneath your generator, you will keep it safe from the dangers of standing water. Select a plywood piece that’s at least half an inch in thickness and be sure that it lays on a level surface with not more than a 15-degree inclination. It should be wide enough for the generator to stand on all four points.
Most wet-weather tents and pre-fabricated generator enclosures will come with a generator base for you to place your unit upon, so this will be considered the most relevant for those who wish to build their wet weather protection setup.
Why You Shouldn’t Allow Water to Get Into Your Generator
Generators are designed to produce electricity and supply that power to their outlets. In times of rain, blizzards, snowstorms, and other wet weather types, an exposed generator is likely to see moisture getting into it. Water can cause a short circuit that may cause a spark and go on to burn your generator, rendering it useless.
Aside from the dangers to your unit, your safety is at risk. Electrocution is a real risk when we allow water and electricity to mix. Even units fitted with ground fault circuit interrupts (GFCIs) are not entirely safe in this scenario.
While the GFCI will cut off power to the outlet, anyone who proceeds to inspect the generator to figure out why it isn’t functioning must be very careful not to touch any live parts because they might get hurt.
Note that generators should not be situated near water sources or standing water bodies such as water mains, swimming pools, and lakes, even in dry operating conditions. Do not handle a running generator with wet hands.
Operational safety considerations will also require you to be careful when choosing and handling the cables that connect to and from your generator. You should only use heavy-duty and high-quality cables.
The need for proper power cords is especially important if your generator is being used for outdoor power provision or if a transfer switch is not installed. Quality cords will also withstand harsh weather conditions, heat, and the attention of nibbling creatures.
Don’t Run Your Generator Indoors
Generators produce electricity through internal combustion, and one of the by-products of this reaction is carbon monoxide. This is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless yet highly hazardous emission circulating indoors without inhabitants noticing anything amiss.
We get carbon monoxide from the partial oxidation or burning of fuel types that contain carbon. These fuels consist of coal, oil, wood, kerosene, charcoal, natural gas, gasoline, and propane.
The most commonly available generators use gasoline, natural gas, or propane, which all fall in this category. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a potentially fatal eventuality responsible for over 20,000 visits to emergency rooms and over 400 deaths each year in the United States.
Generators require quite a bit of care and a good sense for us to enjoy their services safely and satisfactorily. It is a fact that weather events such as rainstorms and blizzards are often the cause of power outages, which make using generators necessary in the first place.
It is also true that such wet weather events make operating a generator outdoors a rather delicate affair. In addition to these two facts, the dilemma is compounded by the reality that operating a generator indoors or garage poses a great risk to everyone’s health at home.
As generators are not waterproof, the most viable and effective solution here will be to install safety measures such as wet weather tents or generator enclosures to ensure your portable generator’s safe operation.