How to Ground your Portable Generator

To ground a portable generator, you will first have to install the ground rod into the ground at an angle not exceeding 45 degrees but should go at least 8 feet deep. Once the grounding is done, strip your copper wire using wire strippers and coil it around the ground rod. The last step will be to attach the other end of the wire to the generator and test if it is working.

A portable generator has become quite a necessity, mainly for people who live off-grid, as power outages are very common. And though these machines are generally safer than other motor-driven tools, handling them with utmost keenness is essential as they carry several other risks with them. A safe way to deal with a portable generator is by grounding it to prevent some risks like electrocution. Grounding a portable generator is a crucial measure that is often overlooked. However, do you know that not all generators can be grounded or need to be grounded? Stick around to get crucial information on how you can ground your generator.

How can I tell if my portable generator needs grounding?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines note that all portable generators need grounding. However, just because they all do, doesn’t mean that all portable generators need manual grounding. Some generators come when they have already been grounded and are safe to use, mainly depending on what you want to use them for.

To determine if your generator needs manual grounding, check the manufacturer’s manual of the generator that comes with it, and see if the manufacturer recommends you ground your portable generator. However, if you cannot access the manual, check out a checklist provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to determine whether you should ground your generator.

According to the checklist, you do not need to ground your generator if parts of it that don’t carry current are connected to the generator frame. Such parts include an internal combustion engine and a fuel tank. Such a generator does not need grounding because a generator comes with a metallic frame that provides grounding by acting as the least resistance path.

On the other hand, you should consider grounding your generator if it is directly plugged into your home circuit, even if it has met the above conditions for not being grounded. Another determination of whether your generator needs grounding is whether it has a transfer switch to a neutral conductor.

The best way to ground a portable generator

To ground your portable generator, you will need a grounding wire, grounding rod, pliers, hammer, wire strippers, wrench, and a piece of soldiering equipment if need be. Most portable generators will need a grounding rod of at least 6 feet in length because the longer the rod, the easier the grounding process. A grounding wire recommended for most portable generators is copper, which you will use to connect your generator to the grounding rod. The other equipment will make your work easier, as seen in the few steps below.

  1. The first step of grounding your portable generator is driving your grounding rod into the ground. You should use a hammer to do this, and the rod should go at least 8 feet deep into the ground. The 8-feet depth ensures that any electrical discharge from the rod will go to the ground and not electrocute anyone standing on the surface.
  2. The second step is to strip your copper wire using wire strippers and connect it to the grounding rod. You can either coil the wire around the rod or soldier it if you can access soldiering equipment.
  3. The next step is to use the other end of your wire and connect the grounding rod to the generator. You should do this when your generator is off for safety purposes.
  4. The final step is to test the integrity of your connection. This is simply verifying that you have gotten the grounding process right. You can either look for a professional electrician to test for you. But, if your connection is secure and good, the ohmic resistance should read zero.


Steps What to do
Ground the rod Use a hammer to drive the grounding into the ground, at least 8 feet deep.
Connect the rod to the copper wire Strip your copper wire, soldier it around the grounding rod, or coil it around it.
Connect the grounding of the rod to the generator You should be able to achieve this by connecting the other end of the copper wire to the generator.
Test your connection integrity I recommend getting a professional electrician to test the connectivity if you do not know such tests.


Though most modern generators are designed not to need manual grounding as the frame acts as the least path of resistance, it is essential to verify if your generator needs manual grounding. If it does, you must be extremely careful when grounding your portable generator because getting it wrong is also risky. However, this process should be simple and fast if you have all the necessary tools and know how to do it. Grounding is an important measure that you should not overlook, and always ensure your portable generator is grounded before starting to use it.


Do I have to ground my portable generator?

Not all portable generators need to be grounded. However, if your generator uses a transfer switch to provide electric power to a structure, you need to ground it to avoid risks like electrocution.

What should I use to ground my portable generator?

Grounding a portable generator will need a ground rod and some copper wire.

Do I need to ground my generator if I use an extension cord?

If your extension cord is heavy-duty and has a grounding conductor, then there is no need to ground your portable generator.

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