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How to ground a generator – 3 Easy Steps To Ground Your Old Generator

Portable generators can give you the freedom to have power where ever you want it.

Camping by the side of a river can be made even better with the ability to light up at night, or power tools when working on some projects further out from the office.

Whether you are storing a generator, powering, maintaining it. All are essential.

One of the most crucial in determining whether your generator needs to be grounded and learning how to do so.

How to Ground the Portable Generator
How to ground a generator

The latest advancement in the generator industry has almost diminished the need for a generator to be grounded.

However, if you are living with your old school machine that still demands to ground wherever you go camping or live in RVs, this is the perfect guide for you.

As this article is highly intended for beginners with no or poor experience with generator grounding, I’ll try to keep it very simple without going into technical mambos Jambos.

Also Read our Article on the Best Solar Generators.


How to Ground a Generator – What actually it Mean:

You probably have seen a wire coming from electricity poles to the ground. This is called the neutral or ground wire. But what is happening there? The transformers, electricity poles and wires, behave like a whole electric circuit.  

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Technically, the electric power is circulating in this circuit.

In physics, there is a term called resistance. In some easy-peasy understandable words, you can term it as a barrier or obstacle in the electric circuit (I am just trying to solve the puzzling minds).

For any reason or any circumstance, when an electric system faces some resistance in its electric channel, the electric power needs some other resistance-free path to flow.

It is necessary to avoid any short circuit, fire cracking in the circuit, or any other damage.

Now, come to the generator scenario.

Your generator with the engine, motor, steel body, or other components acts as a whole electric circuit. This circuit also needs an alternative channel to pave a path for electric volts to flow whenever a resistance occurs.

So, whether you’re using a standby or portable gas/diesel generator , it needs to be grounded

But some questions still need quick answers.

Like, Do I need to ground my generator? What portable generator grounding kit includes? How deep the grounding rod should be? I’ll be answering these and many similar others below.


Do I need to Ground My Generator? You Must Know This:

What Happens if You Dont Ground a Generator
Ground My Old Generator

Grounding is an essential part to save you and your family and property from a potential risk of damage. However, it’s still questionable if your generator needs to be grounded?

In this regard, There are two types of generators; Separately Derived, Non- Separately Derived.

It’s directly impactful on the part whether a generator needs grounding or not. The separately-derived system depicts, you need to make arrangements for grounding; otherwise, in other ways, there is no need for grounding.

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The main difference between both systems is, in a Non-separately-derived system, the engine, fuel tank, and other parts get attached with the generator frame and act as a whole system. In this way, the Frame of the generator will be considered as a grounding element to the surface.

Nonetheless, in another case, you have to ground a generator manually. Why?

In Non-separately derived systems, the frame doesn’t act like a grounding channel, and instead, you get a manual transfer switch that diverts the current to a neutral ground channel.


And what’s that grounding channel?

Grounding Rods are the answer to this. So, grounding a portable generator gets done in that scenario.

What includes in the Portable Generator Grounding Kit?

·         Pure Copper Grounding Rod

·         Pure Copper Grounding Wire

·         Hammer, Mallet, Wrench, Pliers

·         Wire Strippers

Grounding Rod Image.3)

Placing the Grounding Rod

Generator Neutral Grounding – This is How you Do it:

Step 1: Hammer the Grounding Rods for Generators:

The main part here is the grounding rods that’ll transfer the current to the ground. Some people ask how deep ground rods should be.

There are variations here. Some people go for 4Ft, but ideally, 8Ft is ample to be on the safe side. Grounding rods come in 4, 6, 8ft, or in some rare cases, 10 feet. It’s totally up to you to which length you go with.

Now, you have to lead your strength here through your hands and shoulders. It entirely depends on the generator type. The small portable generator can be grounded with 4Ft, and big standby generators should go with 8Ft.

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Also, the muddy areas need to be grilled down vertically. Other than this, the rocky surface necessitates 45-degree diagonal drilling so no electric shocks flow to the ground surface.

Step 2: Stripping the Grounding Wire:

You should be highly techie here. The grounding wire needs to be of pure copper stuff. The neutral grounding wire has to deal with a high electric voltage, so going apart from copper, like silver or aluminum, isn’t a wiser idea.

As I said, you should be technical, so be watchful for copper-plated silver wires. Avoid this, simply.

Anyways, strip the wire about 10-12 inches from one end and connect it with the generator rods by wounding it tightly with your pliers.

Step 3 Finally, Connecting Grounding Wires with Generator:

Separately derived generators come with a grounding bolt. It’s always and highly safe that you should turn off the generator before the grounding process.

Split around 2-4 inches of grounding wires and wound it tightly with a generator bolt. You are ready to go.


The Bottom Line – Wrapping up the Story:

So, how to ground a generator? If you are going with a modern generator, it probably is; you won’t be going for any grounding works. Otherwise, the separate-derived generators need a great deal of your attention. However, Grounding a generator demands extreme care, and if you’re doing it the first time, be very sure of each step your making. 

About Charles Ingram

Hi, I am Charles your local Home Tech and Gadget Expert. I’ve been fascinated with electricity for as long as I can remember. I grew up in an old home in a rural setting, so the quality and continuity of our electrical service were spotty at best. Spending time without power (or running off a generator) gave me a lot of appreciation for the benefits of electricity. I love writing and talking about it.