How To Ground Your Portable Generator (In 3 Easy Steps)

Portable generators are used for a variety of different tasks including back up home power supplies, powering tools at a job site, and many more.

Certain scenarios may require you to ground your portable generator and knowing how to get it done and what tools you will need can save you from serious injury.

In this article we will review what grounding is, how to tell if you need to ground your generator, the tools you will need, and the process of grounding your generator.

What Is Grounding?

Grounding refers to connecting an electrical circuit to a reference ground.

In the case of a generator, the frame of the generator acts as the electrical circuit and a properly installed grounding rod acts as the reference ground.

Connecting a copper wire from your generator’s frame to the grounding rod grounds the generator for safe operation.

Do I Need To Ground My Portable Generator?

Grounding bolts on the honda eu7000 generator

To find out if your portable generator needs to be grounded, the easiest way is to check your manual and see if it has to be grounded.

If the manual is not available, you can still make a few checks to ensure proper safety.

  • If your generator is a separately derived system, you will need to use a grounding rod.
  • If it is not a separately derived system, your generator will not need to be grounded.

To recognize a separately derived system, simply check the generator’s transfer switch.

An unseparated derived system features a transfer switch that cannot be transferred to the neutral ground conductor, meaning it will not need a connection to a grounding rod.

Most portable generators have their fuel tank, engine, and housing have been bonded to the frame making them to where they will not have to be grounded.

Tools Needed To Ground Portable Generator

If you find yourself in a situation where you have to ground your generator, you want to make sure you are equipped with the correct tools for the job.

While most of the tools can be found on most job sites, having them ready at home could prove to be a different story.

Use this quick checklist to stay prepared for when you need to use your portable generator

  • A Set Of Wire StrippersIn order to properly connect your copper wire to the copper rod and generator, you will need to strip the copper wire. A good set of wire strippers can help make this process cleaner, safer, and easier. In a pinch, a knife or other sharp object will work.
  • Solid Copper Grounding Wire Having a ample amount of copper wire will ensure that you can connect the wire to the generator and the copper ground rod with a little extra to spare just in case.
  • 4 Foot Copper Ground Rod The star of the show and most important piece is the copper ground rod. Having the proper copper grounding rod makes all of the difference in this procedure for adequate grounding. You will need to ensure that the copper ground rod is at least 4 foot in length. You will also need to check to see how far it will need to be driven down into the ground.
  • Hammer/Mallet/Sledge Hammer
    In order to drive the copper rod down into the ground for proper grounding, you are going to need something to hammer it in. A quality hammer, mallet, or sledge hammer should do the job. Just be sure not to damage the copper rod’s coating as it could cause a poor connection.
  • Pliers
    To wind the copper wire tightly around the grounding rod, a good set of pliers will definitely help out and make the connection better.
  • Wrench
    When attaching the copper wire to the generator, a wrench will be used to loosen a bolt on the generator for proper connection.

Optional Tools/Supplies

  • Water – In the case of hard ground, having water to help soften the ground can be very helpful and save you some time.
  • Screwdriver – A phillips head screwdriver can help in removing a grounding bolt that has been rounded off or does not feature a hex head.
  • Shovel – In the event of trying to drive the copper rod into a rocky terrain, a shovel can be used to bury the rod instead.

How Do I Ground My Portable Generator?

1. Install The Copper Ground Rod

Using a hammer, mallet, or sledge hammer, drive the copper ground rod into the ground at least 8 feet for a proper ground.

If the ground proves to be to tough, you can use water to soften it up.

If installing in a rocky terrain, you can opt to bury the rod at an angle that will not exceed 45 degrees.

2. Strip And Connect Copper Wire To Copper Rod

After properly staking the grounding rod 4ft down, it is time to move onto connecting the copper wire.

Using the wire stripper, properly strip the copper wire and wrap it tightly around the copper ground rod using the pliers.

3. Grounding The Generator

Once you have completed stripping and connecting the copper wire to the grounding rod, its time to connect it to the generator.

Carefully strip the other side of the copper wire to prepare it for connecting.

Locate a grounding bolt on your generator and loosen it just enough to wrap the stripped wire around it.

Tighty wrap the stripped wire around the bolt and tighten it down for a tight and secure connection.

In Conclusion

Grounding your generator is a very important part of setting up and using your portable generator properly (if it requires grounding).

This reduces the changes of any malfunctions and keeps you and your appliances (including your generator) safe.

Even if your generator does not require grounding, knowing how to properly ground a generator can help keep others safe.

I want to hear from those who have grounded a portable generator before! Did you have any troubles grounding your generator?

Would grounding a generator sway your purchasing decision on a future generator?

5 thoughts on “How To Ground Your Portable Generator (In 3 Easy Steps)”

  1. Thank you I need to ground my generator that answers my question but I have another question for you I need to run a MIG welder it’s the Eastwood 135 runs on 20 amp 120 household current. The generator I have is a Powerhouse generator 7250 watt continuous, 9000 watt surge. I was told that a 5000 watt continuous would work but I decided to get a generator with a little more juice to it.do you think this will be adequate to run the MIG welder? Thank you Brian

  2. Thanks Matt for doing this write up. It’s been very helpful.
    One thing that confuses me.
    In the “tools area” you mention a 4 ft. ground rod.
    Then in step 1 later on you say to drive an 8 foot rod into the ground.
    In step 2 you then say to “properly stake the grounding rod 4ft down”.

    My main question is, can I use the 4 foot grounding rod and be plenty safe? I’m having trouble getting just to 3′ right now.

    Thanks for your input, Robert K. Smith

  3. Hi Matt,

    How would you recommend grounding a portable generator when the area that it will be used in has concrete flooring?

    Thanks in advance.

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