Portable generators have become an inseparable component in our daily lives. In times of emergencies and power outages, a portable generator would help us use the devices when we need them the most.
Imagine hosting a party and the power goes off. To make things worse, it’s incessantly raining outside. What would you do in that case? If you do not know how to operate a generator in the rain outside, you have come to the right place. No matter what the situation is, you can not call off the party suddenly. To handle the situation in that case, you must use the generator judiciously ensuring that it remains safe and efficient.
In such times you must take preventive measures to run the generator safely as there are risks associated with running a generator in the rain.
Being a responsible homeowner, you must be aware of the safety implications and take every step to ensure the generator runs safely during adverse climatic conditions. This guide gives you a detailed account on how to run a generator safely during rains.
How to Run a Generator in the Rain?
Ideally, one shouldn’t run generators in rains. Even if you are doing so, you must be well aware of the risks associated with it and therefore take precautionary measures beforehand.
Keeping your generator covered with an enclosure is a great way of protecting it. To know more about this, continue reading below.
Give your generator a protective covering
Before you place your generator out in the rain, remember to keep it inside a protective top quality enclosure. The enclosure would prevent rain drops from entering the parts of the generator. Homeowners can choose from a variety of covers in the market. We have discussed the various types of generator covers available later in this guide.
Remember to check if the enclosure caters to the safety requirements. Also, do not forget to take help from a professional while installing it.
Go through the owner’s manual
No matter what’s the weather condition outside, you must always refer to the owner’s manual for proper instructions. Do not proceed to do anything of your own. Before running the generator, you must go through the pre-start checklist that’s usually mentioned in the manual and if you have met all the prerequisites.
Place the generator outside your house
As mentioned earlier, you cannot use a portable generator indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Furthermore, the placement of your generator outdoors is critical. You must place it at least 10 to 20 feet away from your property while also keeping neighboring homes in mind.
Try to avoid the garden area as water pooling can be dangerous for the generator. Also, prefer placing the generator on a dry and levelled surface. If the area is entirely uneven, you can create a concrete pad somewhere within your property. Place your generator on it. Do not forget to get a permanent enclosure for your generator.
Connect the Portable Generator to Your Appliances
Now the installation is done, it’s time to connect the appliances to the generator. To establish connections, use a power cord.
The safest option to use to establish the connection is a grounded three prong cord. This will not only protect the electrical appliances but also will protect homeowners from electrical shocks and fire hazards.
Start Up Your Portable Generator
If you have followed the above mentioned steps, you are good to go. Now your generator is ready to start and power your home! With the newly installed generator, you can now use your electrical appliances until the rain stops and the Mains power is restored.
How to Cover My Generator In Rain?
By now you have understood that leaving a generator out in the rains is dangerous. Therefore, consider wrapping it up in a cover or building an enclosure around it.
If you are looking for various options that you can consider for this purpose, we have mentioned some of the most useful ones below.
Standard Manufacturer Covers
When you purchase a portable generator, it will probably have a nylon cover. You can expect it to cater to the requirements of that particular model generator that you have bought. However these covers are only meant to protect your generator during storage.
This means one cannot operate the generator with these kinds of covers on it. You can also not use it in the rain outside. These covers are meant to protect the generator when it has cooled down and not in use.
Protective Tent Covers
If you intend to run a generator in the rain you can also use protective tent covers to shield your machine and prevent water drops from getting inside its components. A lot of people are using protective tent covers to run their machines safely during rains. Even with these tents on, you can shift your generator from one place to another and give its much needed protection during adverse weather conditions.
There are innumerable tent covers one can choose from. The ideal one would prevent moisture and rain from entering into the generator’s parts and conduct thorough airflow that’s essential to cool the generator. You do not have to worry about refueling of the generator with these covers on. It’s easy.
Portable Safety Canopy Covers
This is a viable solution if you are looking out for protective covers to keep a generator safe during rains. Although we must mention that the pop up canopy covers are good to be used in light rains only. It looks like a tent. It shields your generator from snow, light rain, light wind, etc. Not just that, with the canopy you can protect your generator from the direct rays of the sun too.
The best part about these canopies is that it’s affordable. However they have a major drawback. These canopies are vulnerable and weak in front of strong winds. So, if rain is accompanied by strong winds, the canopy has a chance of being blown away, because the structure supporting it isn’t sturdy enough.
Protective Steel/Aluminum/Fiberglass Enclosures
If you want a more sturdy, rigid cover generator in the rain, you must buy protective enclosures, be it of steel, fiberglass or aluminum. These rigid enclosures are designed especially to protect running generators in the rain.
Though these are rigid and strong, they have necessary amounts of vents to allow air to circulate within the cover and keep the generator cool when it’s running. Some of the advanced models of these type of enclosures can be locked, giving you a higher security option. Remember that proper ventilation is essential for the proper functioning of the generator. Therefore choose an enclosure carefully that fulfills this criteria.
Another benefit of using these rigid enclosures is that they reduce the noise produced by the generator while it’s running. Out of all the covers we have mentioned so far, these metal enclosures are the best.
Build a DIY enclosure at home
The best thing is you can now make a diy generator enclosure and soundproof it at the same time! Isn’t it wonderful? No longer do you have to look out for a suitable kind of generator enclosure. You can make a custom enclosure as per your choice. While building it, make sure the enclosure can keep the temperature in check, while also reducing the noise levels.
What are you waiting for! Choose a suitable item out of which you want to build your enclosure. You might even come up with better tips which would further make it more efficient.
If you haven’t yet decided the material of which you want to build a diy enclosure, concrete blocks are an option worth considering. Concrete blocks will create a sturdy enclosure if you take time to seal the joints with mortar and construct a solid roof. An enclosure made up of concrete blocks will undoubtedly provide resistance against rain and other adverse climates while also reducing the noise produced by the generator.
If you intend to construct a DIY enclosure, make sure to keep the requirements of this enclosure in mind. It must be well ventilated, ensure airflow, while being sturdy at the same time. Also, it has to be portable. Make sure it protects the generator against all the adversities of nature and moisture.
Portable Generator Cover Safety Requirements
To protect generator from the rain, your cover must meet the following criteria:
The Cover or Enclosure Must Provide Proper Ventilation to The Generator
No matter if you are putting on a cover or an enclosure, it must have vents to allow proper air circulation. Without optimum airflow, the temperature of the generator will keep rising, which will eventually cause malfunctioning.
Therefore, while buying a protective cover or enclosure or while making one, you must ensure that it comes with proper ventilation to avoid generator overheating.
The Enclosure Must Be Able to Withstand Adverse Climates
The enclosure must be sturdy enough to withstand the natural elements. This is the most important prerequisite of an enclosure. If you intend to run a generator in the rain, you must meet this criteria. The enclosure you buy or build must be able to withstand the harsh elements of nature.
The Enclosure Must Be Moisture -Resistant
Not only does the enclosure or cover have to protect the machine from rain, but also from moisture, because certain parts of the generator are sensitive to moisture. Moisture can damage those parts, causing a hazard.
For instance, if there is no power supply due to bad weather conditions, you can expect the air to have high moisture content. In that case, the generator must be protected from the moisture in the air.
The Protective Cover Must Be Portable
Lastly, for the user’s convenience, the cover or enclosure must be portable. This factor however isn’t a priority. Therefore consider it in the end. After all, portable generators are meant to be placed outside and therefore it’s important to protect them from the weather conditions while allowing proper ventilation.
Since generators make a lot of noise, it would be worth an enclosure that’s effective enough to reduce the noise produced by the generator. If you are making a diy enclosure, make sure to incorporate soundproof features to lessen the noise coming from the generator.
Risks of Running a Generator When It’s Raining
If you have decided to run a generator in the rain, you must be well aware of the dangers that come with it. If the generator gets wet, or water enters into any of its parts, it will create serious risks. It can permanently damage the generator besides hurting anyone or anything around it.
That’s why we advise people to use a cover or protective generator enclosure before using a generator in the rain. The various risks associated with running a generator out in the rains are given below.
- Severe chances of electrocution.
- Water droplets entering the generator can cause short circuits.
- The generator can malfunction and become irreparable.
- A short circuit can also be followed by fire hazards and sparks.
Being a responsible homeowner, you must know that no generator is made to withstand bad climatic conditions.
Since a portable generator is designed to operate during emergencies, you shouldn’t think that they can withstand adverse climates. You are very wrong to think that! Go through the manual given by the manufacturer to understand the warning signs of the generator.
The Bottom Line
By now you know that operating a generator in rain needs to be protected with a cover or enclosure. At the same time, it also needs to get proper air circulation, to prevent overheating and accumulation of carbon monoxide. Therefore, you mustn’t buy any random enclosure. We have already enlisted the requirements of a proper generator enclosure or cover. Make sure the one you choose meets those requirements.
We would also advise people to place the generator on a flat, levelled land. Manufacturers recommend placing them somewhere that has less than 15 degrees of surface change in all directions. Sometimes they also ask homeowners to place the generator on a piece of plywood to keep it off the ground.
You also know that it’s possible to build a custom enclosure as per your choice. However, we wouldn’t advise homeowners to proceed with this process unless one has the necessary skill and equipment. It’s always safe to call a professional and get a customized enclosure built by him.