Yes. You can run your generator in the rain but you should take safety measures.
Running the generator in the rain is a high-risk job and a potential hazard. That’s why we recommend that you use your generator with precautions in the rainy, stormy, or snowy weather.
We do not recommend using a generator in the rain without some protective cover and power anything except the essentials.
Let’s explore the potential risks and safety tips on how you can safely run your generator in the rain.
Can A Generator Run In The Rain: Potential Risks
This might be true that water doesn’t conduct much electricity through itself, but the minerals usually found in water do. That is why it is super risky to work with electricity in wet weather.
Electrocution from the generator can do some serious damage to you. That is why it is not advisable to even go near a generator in wet weather. Even touching the generator with both hands can get you a nasty shock.
Many generators use an automated circuit breaker named GFCI to discharge any build-up current. However, that isn’t always enough to soften the blow and it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.
Water can also break down the generator. If water gets into the sensitive parts it can cause short circuits and damage the unit beyond repair.
If you don’t use a protective cover, the chance of your generator catching water and causing irreparable damage skyrockets.
We recommend that you use premium covers since they can save you from costly repairs down the road.
Your generator can also catch fire, even if you use a cover. What happens is, your generator needs proper ventilation and airflow to work smoothly. Remember, you are burning fuel to get electricity here.
If your cover doesn’t allow the necessary amount of air to pass through, the build-up gas can create pressure and temperature to rise and help the generator to catch fire.
That is why running your generator in the rain can become fatal real quick. Always take proper safety measures to minimize the risk factor.
What Can be Done?
Read the manual
We strongly recommend you go through the instruction manual before you even start using the generator. The more you know about the machine, the better you can prepare yourself.
Portable generators may be small, but they are powerful enough to give you a nasty shock. Most manufacturers provide a general pre-start checklist to maintain. Strictly follow that guideline every time you need to run your generator.
Additionally, take a look at the manufacturer’s protection for your generator. Each generator is equipped with an ingress protection (IP) rating that showcases the protection level of your machine against external influences like mechanical and water influences.
The rating consists of two numbers followed by the letter IP. The 1st number expresses the protection level from external dirt and debris, and the 2nd number showcases the water protection level. Let’s look at the chart below to get a clear idea.
|1||Protection against objects larger than 50 mm|
|2||Protection against objects larger than 12 mm|
|3||Protection against objects larger than 2.5 mm|
|4||Protection against objects larger than 1 mm|
|5||Protection against dust|
|1||Protection against vertically dripping water|
|2||Protection against dripping water of ±15° angle|
|3||Protection against a rain|
|4||Protection against water spray|
|5||Protection against water jets under pressure|
|6||Protection against waves|
|7||Protection against an immersion underwater (1m)|
|8||Protection against flooding|
For example, if your machine has an IP54 rating that means your machine can protect itself from dust and normal water sprays.
Take safety measures
We can’t stress the importance of safety measures enough, especially when you work with a machine that can catch fire, electrocute you, or if you are really unlucky, blow up.
Avoid touching the generator with both hands, especially when they’re wet. Use rubber gloves and shoes and try to operate the machine on a dry and flat surface. Never plug a generator into any of your wall outlets.
Most generators run on gas, so stay alert for any sign of gas leakage in the system. If you find anything suspicious, call the professionals and fix the issue before you turn your generator on. Never refuel your machine while it’s hot or running.
Either buy or build a protective cover for your generator and make sure that the cover is of premium quality, provides enough ventilation, and easy access. Use heavy-duty exterior extension power cords to ensure safety.
Choose the right place
Diesel generators produce toxic fumes that can be dangerous for people around. To ensure proper ventilation, place your generator at least 20 feet away from any building. Keep your children away from the running generator and direct the exhaust away from your home.
You can also use a foundation beneath the generator in case of snow or heavy rain. Make sure the foundation is high enough to keep the generator out of water. Even stopping the generator in wet weather can become dangerous if you are not careful.
Get a shelter
The best way to secure your generator in harsh weather is a purpose-built shelter. Collect or build a shelter before you even start using the machine to power your appliances. Don’t overload your generator.
There are a wide number of generator covers you can use. Make sure that the cover/shelter is spacious enough to allow healthy air ventilation and can keep your machine dry.
Additionally, no electrical cables should get in puddles when it’s raining. Try to secure them in the air on temporary support. Never put a gas-powered generator in your garage or basement as it can lead to CO poisoning.
Types of Covers for Portable Generators
Standard Manufacturer Covers
These covers provide basic protection from dust and water while the generator is off and kept in storage. These are not intended to use in the rain or when the generator is hot.
Usually, they are specific to your model, come from the manufacturer of the machine, and are usually made from thin materials like nylon.
Protective Canopy Covers
This is perhaps the most cost-effective and the easiest way to cover your machine while it is running. The canopy is usually supported by plastic poles and provides the necessary airflow for the machine.
The only downside of a canopy is if there is wind alongside the rain, water can eventually leak into your machine through the joints. In case of heavy rain, we recommend using some more secure options.
Protective Tent Covers
Tent covers are a bit more stable than the canopy ones. They are easy to assemble, provide enough ventilation, and help cool the engine. They have become the standard choice for protecting portable generators in wet weather conditions.
Refullening is also easier with a tent-style cover. There is a wide range of tent covers available online at an affordable price range.
Protective Steel/Aluminum/Fiberglass Enclosures
This is the best option if you are looking for more rigid and secure protection. These enclosures are usually made from materials like steel, aluminum, or fiberglass.
They provide enough ventilation and can be locked up for safekeeping. These robust covers can protect your generator from even the harshest of weather.
The protective enclosures can also help reduce the noise that your machine will make. Choose a heavy-duty enclosure that can protect your machine for a long time.
You can also make your own protective cover for your generator if you have enough skill and necessary tools. The cover needs to be durable and safe for your machine. We don’t recommend making a DIY cover unless you have any experience.
Many people build a dog-house-like structure with noise cancellation technology. You can either go for a dedicated space or use easily available tools to make a basic version of a protective cover for your generator.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can build a basic version of the generator cover with only a few elements.
Which Generators Can Run in Rain?
There are 3 main types of generators: portable, inverter, and whole-house generators. The smaller ones can be used in the rain safely but they don’t provide much power.
Electrochemical generators are extremely sensitive to wet weather and mustn’t get wet. They are mainly used in radios, televisions, and vehicles.
Rotating machine generators can’t be used in rain either. They provide AC current and can give you a nasty shock when wet.
Standby generators come with insulated weatherproof housings so they are safe to use in the rain. Even so, taking proper security measures is a must.
Electrostatic generators run on gasoline, diesel, or natural gas and aren’t safe to use outside without proper protection.
Generator safety tips
Here are some safety tips for you in case you have to keep your generator running during rains or wet weather conditions
- Read and understand the instruction manual thoroughly before using
- Don’t run your generator in the rain or near water if it’s not essential
- Keep your generator away from children and houses (20 feet)
- Use proper enclosures
- Never plug your generator into a wall outlet
- Use heavy-duty exterior extension cords
- Never overload your machine
- Give the machine enough space for adequate ventilation
- Use one hand if you need to touch the generator
- Avoid using the generator during hurricanes or adverse weather
- Don’t refuel your machine while it’s hot or running
- Always shut off the fuel valve to prevent fuel clogging
- Use a transfer switch for backup
Q. Should I Bring My Generator Inside to Avoid the Rain?
No. If the generator is running, it can leak toxic CO fumes that can be dangerous to the people inside. You can store a generator inside your house if it isn’t hot or running.
Q. Can you run a generator in the snow?
Yes. If you use adequate precautions and keep your generator protected, you can use your generator in almost all wet weather conditions. We don’t recommend using a generator unless it’s essential, especially if the weather is harsh.
Q. Where should a generator be placed in a storm?
You need to protect your generator during a storm, rain, hail, or snow using protective enclosures. The machine should be completely dry or covered, with enough space (3-4 feet on all sides) to ventilate properly. If the machine is off, you are safe to store it inside.
Q. Does An Inverter Generator Need To Be Protected From The Rain?
Yes. Inverter generators use alternators to produce AC currents, which can shock you if you come in contact. The electricity can also damage the inner components of the generator beyond repair.
Q. What happens if my generator gets wet?
Natural water contains minerals and sediments that can transport electricity. The electricity can ruin your machine if it gets wet. A wet generator is also an electric hazard waiting to happen. The shock from the generator can turn fatal if not treated immediately.