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How to Store a Generator: Long-& Short-Term Storage Guide

How to Store a Generator
Written by Jamie Masterson

Generators are very expensive and need to be kept out of the weather elements to make them last. They can be stored in the garage or even in a storage unit.

Before storing your generator, you need to do a few things, such as emptying out the fuel tank and knowing the correct procedure for storing it in different climates.

Here’s how to store your generator correctly so you get years of service out of the unit with minimal issues.

Store a Generator

Factors Affecting Generator Storage

1. Type of fuel

The type of fuel used by the generator must be considered when choosing the right storage. Each type of fuel requires its own storage method. For example, gas generators may need to be emptied but propane generators may not.

2. Storage area

Generators should not be stored in large areas since they will be exposed to more moisture. Small spaces are always the best idea.

3. The temperature

Pick a cold and dry area if you live in a hot climate. Warm weather could damage the fuel lines. Extra fuel inside the tank could be even more dangerous.

In colder climates, fuel may freeze inside and can damage fuel lines. Corrosion and rust can also be caused by melted snow.

Your generator may have to be stored in a dry place if you live in an area with a lot of rainfall.

How to Store a Generator

1. Generator enclosure

Generator enclosure

Using these devices, your generator can be stored outside safely, and you will still be protected from the weather. Additionally, they have appropriate ventilation and soundproofing.

Thanks to their weatherproofing and insulation, they are also resistant to harsh winters and hot summers.

2. Garage

People usually keep portable gas generators in their garages, especially if the tanks are empty. It will protect you from the elements while also providing a more comfortable temperature. In an emergency, it can also be easily accessed when needed.

3. Outdoor shed

Outdoor shed

In order to keep the generator from being too close to your house, you can build an outdoor shed. However, since prolonged exposure to cold weather can harm a generator, this isn’t the most ideal choice for winter.

To protect the more delicate parts of their equipment, homeowners who have no other option should purchase insulated covers.

4. Storage unit

It will provide maximum protection against the elements. Generally, storage units are located in a controlled environment, so temperature fluctuations are not an issue and they offer very good protection against theft and vandalism.

5. Consider your climate

a) Climates with high temperatures

You should store your generator somewhere cool if you live in an extremely hot climate. Your fuel lines can suffer long-term damage from too much heat, even in the short run.

This is especially true if your tank has any excess fuel.

b) Cold Climates

If the winter temperatures are below freezing point, then the fuel will freeze inside the fuel line. Rust and corrosion can also be caused by melted snow.

c) Wet Climates

Metal is mainly used to manufacture generators but corrosion and rust occur when metal is exposed to moisture. The generator has to be kept dry while it’s stored if it gets flooded, snowed on, or it’s humid.

6. Add a fuel stabilizer

You can add a fuel stabilizer easily. Just follow these simple steps:

Fill the tank to the correct level with a fuel stabilizer that was formulated correctly. It is recommended to use 1 ounce per 2.5 gallons with most stabilizers, but be sure to check the directions on the bottle

Next, let the engine run for about five to 10 minutes so the treated fuel has a chance to circulate. Then, you should shut down your generator according to the owner’s manual.

After this, you can store your generator. But if you failed to clean or replace your carburetor previously, you would need to get your engine running properly by cleaning or replacing the carburetor.

7. Plan according to storing period

No additional steps are required throughout the next 30 days if you plan on using the machine. You only need to maintain it after every use as you normally do.

What to Do in Case of Long-Term Storage

Step 1: Gather tools 

  • Bristle brush
  • Clean cloth
  • Degreaser
  • Siphon pump
  • Gas can

Step 2: Clean your unit thoroughly

Use a soft bristle brush to dust off the machine and eliminate any dirt. Clean the surface of old grease and grime with a clean cloth and a degreaser.

Step 3: Inspect your generator

Observe anything that seems unusual. Check for frayed or loose wires; rusted, damaged, or loose parts; or missing bolts.

Step 4: Empty the fuel tank

Make sure the area is well-ventilated. Shut off the fuel manually.

Use a siphon pump to drain your gas tank completely and then put your gas in a suitable gas can.

Step 5: Drain your carburetor

The next step is pretty straightforward – simply start the generator outside and wait for it to run out of fuel before you stop it. The fuel remaining in your fuel lines will burn off.

Step 6: Add oil into the cylinder

Disconnect the spark plug wire and burn off your machine. After removing the spark plug, add around 0.5 ounces of fresh engine oil to the cylinder.

Step 7: Keep it dry and cool

Your unit can be stored in a dry, cool place if you have done everything correctly. It is best to keep it away from any source of heat or fire, whether real or potential. Invest in a weatherproof cover to keep your unit safe from the elements.

What to Do in Case of Short-Term Storage

Step 1: Gather tools

  • Degreaser
  • Clean cloth

Step 2: Dust off the machine

Step 3: Remove any debris and dirt

Step 4: Clean away grease and petrol

Step 5: Look for loose bolts or fried wires on your unit, fuel tank, and wheels

Step 6: Refuel your generator after it has cooled down

How long can gas in a generator be stored?

Each generator has a different maximum gas storage time, so there is no definite limit. If you’re not sure whether the gas is safe, do a visual inspection.

Phase separation occurs when gas separates, for example, ethanol separates from the liquid and sinks to the bottom, rendering it unsafe to use.

Phase-separated fuel can never be regenerated, even with additives.

You may also want to replace your fuel if you notice any of the following:

  • varnish in the fuel
  • Gum formation
  • Oxidative damage
  • Fuel deposits

Tips to Store a generator

Storage precautions

  • Reducing the risk of fuel vapor ignition for generators whose fuel tank will be filled with fuel is important
  • Keep your storage area well-ventilated and away from appliances that operate with a flame, such as furnaces and water heaters
  • Avoid areas with electric motors that produce sparks
  • Whenever possible, avoid high humidity storage areas because they can promote corrosion and rust
  • Tiling can cause fuel or oil leaks, so place the generator on a level surface
  • Cover the generator to keep dust out while the engine and exhaust system are cool
  • Warm exhaust and engine components could ignite some materials
  • Don’t cover the generator with sheet plastic. Keeping the generator covered without pores will cause it to accumulate moisture, causing corrosion and rust as a result

Annual maintenance

Although regular maintenance will extend their lifespan, generators are a fairly low-maintenance appliance. Do this annual maintenance at the start of hurricane season to avoid problems during a storm.

You’ll have to:

  • Spark plugs need to be replaced
  • Air filter replacement

You should find instructions in your owner’s manual for these tasks.

Check for damaged components

You should inspect it thoroughly. Inspect any damaged parts or show signs of wear and replace them as necessary. Leaving these parts in storage can cause damage to become much worse.

Store gasoline separately in an approved container

If you store gasoline separately in a container, make sure that it is approved for storage and kept in a well-ventilated space in an unattached garage or shed away from your house. Storage of gasoline needs to be done in a cool, dry location and stabilized with a commercial stabilizer.

Battery

When your generator is put away for storage, the battery will drain and go flat. Start up the generator every now and again to charge the battery. You can also get a special charger that you can use to charge the battery when you store the generator for long periods. 

FAQs

Q. What are the frequency requirements for using my portable generator?

It will be easier to use a generator if you store it properly. It has no set use frequency, but you should check that it is functioning properly every once in a while.

Q. Can I store my generator inside my house?

Most homeowners don’t store generators inside their homes because it is a highly risky practice, especially if the generator is filled with gasoline. The basement might seem like a safe place to keep a generator, but it isn’t always true. Your garage is a better place to keep the generator. A generator doesn’t only pose a fire risk; it also produces gases that leave behind a potent gas smell.

Q. Can fuel stabilizers be used safely?

If you want to store a portable generator for a long period, the answer will vary. The fuel will remain stable for months with a fuel stabilizer, but if fuel is left in the tank, it might damage certain parts of the generator.

About the author

Jamie Masterson

With decade-long experience as a generator technician, Jamie has worked with USA’s top generator manufacturers and suppliers as an independent contractor.

The long years of service to the industry has taught Jamie the ins and outs of troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining all kinds of generators in home, industrial and outdoor settings.

Jamie thinks this platform is a great opportunity to share his tips and tricks with you so you can make the most of such power equipment for better living.

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