Camping is ideal for letting off steam and catching a breath from busy everyday life. And indeed, you may not have to sacrifice the day-to-day essentials that nature won’t provide. Especially so, having a reliable power source to keep the lights on and add to the bonfire luminesces can come in handy.
As a camper, there are numerous go-to options to provide you with sufficient power, so fair to say, you may be spoilt for choice. However, a portable generator can be your perfect choice for seamless power provision. But since most portable generators are separately derived systems, you might have to ground them for your safety and uninterrupted camping.
This article provides insight into how to ground a generator while camping, and whether it’s necessary, and addresses the most frequently asked questions.
Should I Ground my Generator?
If your portable generator doesn’t have an in-built grounding system, installing a makeshift one can be ideal. Generally, all portable generators need to be grounded when out camping or even on car camping. However, some manufacturers design them differently, with some able to channel electrical surges to the ground through their metal frames.
Grounding your generator makes it safe to handle since it prevents accidental shocks that can be detrimental. Grounding usually channels excessive electrons into the ground in an instance of repeated electricity surges. Besides, there’s an incredible chance that these electricity surges can wreak havoc on your portable generator and reduce its functionality.
When Should you?
Most people take grounding as a necessary precaution, and rightly so. If your generator is grid-connected or non-separated, you might need to do some grounding. However, that won’t be practical since you won’t access the grid while camping. Grounding can be necessary if you’re connecting your generator to a power-intensive device or using way over 10 KW per hour.
If you’re using an extension cord with two spade plugs on each end to distribute power to your appliances, grounding your generator is unnecessary. However, it’s good not to leave it to chance, and going ahead with it can prove essential. It’s also possible to ground your portable generator through a trailer’s wheels, but you must be savvy with it.
What are the Dangers if you Don’t?
There are high chances of electrical shocks due to potential surges and spikes on your portable generator. These miniature powerhouses usually produce DC power which isn’t entirely stable and can predispose you to accidental shocks. Besides, there’s a high chance that the spikes and surges can spoil your camping appliances or kill the lights.
As straightforward as grounding a generator might seem, it’s usually a chronology of steps that involves using the correct procedure without risking electrical shocks or doing it wrongly. There are several ways to ground your portable generator, but the most convenient way is putting together a system of rods and copper wires before fixing them to the ground. Therefore, you need a few tools to work with, and if you can’t figure your way around it, this guide helps you achieve that.
Tools you Need
- Copper wire
- Copper rod
- Wire strippers
Step by Step Procedure
- Discharge the Generator – before getting on with grounding your generator, try discharging it so that it doesn’t shock you later. That should be a precaution to put your safety ahead of the operation. To do that, touch your generator with one of the wires while lying on the ground. If the power cord from your generator’s outlet is still connected, detach and set it aside.
- Hammer in Your Copper rod – find a suitable position to hammer the copper rod into the ground. Drive the rod deep into the ground as much as you can.
- Strip the Wires – strip the ends of the wires using the wire strippers. Expose just a few inches to provide you with a suitable length to fit into the ground and the generator.
- Wrap the wires – once you have a suitable cord length to work with, wrap the wires on the copper rod from top to the bottom. It’s more convenient working with shorter rods since they’ll only demand shorter wires which is more economical.
- Attach to the Generator – you must fix the wire into the ground before connecting them to your portable generator. Besides, be sure to switch your generator before making the wire connection. Operating a working generator increases the risk of shocks that can be hazardous.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Grounding my Generator Necessary when Camping?
Grounding your portable generator channels electrical surges has the potential to spoil your camping appliances on the ground. Besides, it alleviates any risks of unexpected shocks, which can be detrimental. Most portable generators demand grounding for safety, while some don’t since they have in-built grounding systems. Therefore, grounding shouldn’t be necessary.
What’s the Suitable Gauge Wire to Ground a Portable Generator?
A #6 or #8 copper wire can be perfect for grounding your portable generator while camping. This gauge is similar to that used in household standby generators and should seamlessly channel electric spikes into the ground.
Do I Need a Ground rod for my Portable Generator?
A ground rod won’t be necessary if you need to ground your portable generator. However, it’s recommendable that you use it outdoors for better protection against electrical hazards.
How Deep Does the Ground rod go?
A 12-inch high pole going about 16 inches deep can be ideal for channeling the electrical charges into the ground. However, it would be more efficient if you managed to sink it deeper. In addition, it all depends on the length and size of the generator.
How Many rods are Enough to Ground my Portable Generator?
Only a single rod can be enough to ground your generator. However, you can use a few more, clamping them together if the electric surges are incredibly high. If the rod doesn’t appear stable, you can offer more support by tying wooden planks and tying them all together.
What are the Imminent Dangers to be Mindful of?
You may risk a fire if you’re using naked wires to ground your generator. Ideally, short-circuiting can be an imminent danger that could not only put your safety on the line but the people around you as well. Also, plugging a cord at the bottom of the generator may start a fire and quickly escalate to hazardous levels.
Camping is fun when you don’t have to sacrifice the everyday essentials you’re used to. Even though you won’t be in a grid connection, there’s still a chance to get the lights and stereo up when camping. However, your safety should precede everything else, and it helps to ground your portable generator properly.