Sump pumps are a must have for those who have basements and are susceptible to flooding.
When your basement floods, it is not an easy task to get the water out quickly. That is what a sump pump is for.
However, if you are dealing with flooding issues and a power outage, your sump pump may be dead in the water.
In these situations, I get asked the question “can I use a sump pump with a portable generator?”.
Portable generators can run sump pumps of all sizes, with a few considerations.
Since you will be working in flooded areas, it is important to use caution when using extension cords with your generators. Electricity and water pose the risk of shock, so be sure to stay aware of your surroundings.
3 Generators To Power a (up to 1/2 horsepower) Sump Pump
To make things easy, I am going to suggest a couple of generators that will easily power up to ½ horsepower sump pumps.
These generators are tried and true and can be used for just about anything when you are not using them for your sump pump.
Champion Dual Fuel Inverter
First up on my list of sump pump generators is the powerful Champion 3400W dual fuel inverter (click to read reviews on Amazon). This generator allows you to use propane or gasoline as a fuel source for the ultimate versatile generator.
- Starting Watts: 3400
- Running Watts: 3100
- Weight: 95.7
- Estimated Runtime @ 500W Load: 11H 35M
At 3100 watts, it can easily power the largest of home sump pumps and still have more to power other appliances.
If you are needing to power larger appliances at the same time, you can hook this generator up to another Champion Dual Fuel in parallel for up to 6200 running watts.
While this generator does weigh near 100lbs, the integrated handle and plastic wheels allow for easy transporting to anywhere you need it.
It even includes an electric start which is a great solution for those who struggle with pull cord type generators.
Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000
When it comes to small motors, Briggs & Stratton is a household name that just about everyone knows. With a full line of portable generators, Briggs & Stratton offers a perfectly sized generator for sump pumps.
- Starting Watts: 3000
- Running Watts: 2600
- Weight: 54.6
- Estimated Runtime @ 500W Load: 10H 25M
The P3000 pumps out 2600 running watts which is enough to power the larger sump pumps and still help with other charging needs during your next blackout. At only 54.6lbs and featuring a telescoping handle and wheels, you can move this generator around with ease.
This portable generator features many different outlets which makes it a great solution for not only sump pumps, but a solid home backup energy solution.
Featuring 4 household 3 prong outlets, an RV hookup, a cigarette lighter outlet and USB plugs, this generator can do just about anything you need it to do.
Yamaha has been around for awhile now and has made its name known in various industries.
Most known for their dirt bike and motorsports, Yamaha also has a lineup of generators that have been tested and proven to carry on the high quality reputation that Yamaha is known for.
- Starting Watts: 2000
- Running Watts: 2400
- Weight: 82.45
- Estimated Runtime @ 500W Load: 8H 35M
This generator is no different and provides more than enough power for a standard sump pump which means you can use it for cleaning up your flooded basement while powering other needed appliances at the same time.
A built in smart throttle technology allows this generator to optimize fuel usage and reduce noise volumes for better fuel economy and easier neighborhood usage.
While it is a little on the heavier side, this generator can easily be carried by two people thanks to the two built in handles on top of the generator.
This generator is lacking when it comes to outlet selection as it only has a single DC trickle charger and a pair or AC household outlets.
We would have liked to see more outlets, but it is enough to get your sump pump running!
Sump Pump Basics
A sump pump is installed in many basements inside a box shaped cutout in the floor.
This allows the pump to be at the lowest level and allow water to naturally gravitate to the pump (read this article about sump pumps to find out more).
Once the pump senses water, it will kick on and start to pump water from the basement to wherever the hose or pipe is ran, preferably away from the home.
When you are dealing with conditions that cause flooding, you may run into power outages as well.
This will cause your sump pump to not run, leaving you with a flooded basement. This is where a portable generator can help.
A portable generator can be hooked up to your sump pump to help power the pump and remove the standing water.
Since a portable generator can be used whenever and wherever you have fuel, it is a great way to have standby power for your sump pump.
What Type Of Generator Can I Use To Run A Sump Pump?
Choosing the best generator for a sump pump is quite easy. What you will want to do is find the wattage demands of your sump pump and find a generator that will support this power.
The higher the horsepower of the sump pump, the larger the generator you will need.
For example, a ⅓ horsepower sump pump will have an average starting wattage of 1300 watts and an average running watts of 800 watts.
For ½ horsepower models, you can expect about a 2150 starting wattage and a 1050 running wattage.
With these types of wattage number, you are going to want a fairly large portable generator. You will want to find a generator that has enough power to run your sump pump with a little wiggle room of extra wattage available.
This will ensure that your generator is not running at maximum power at all times. This can cause unnecessary wear on your generator and can cause premature damage.
How To Install Your Generator
Now that I have discussed what types of generators you can use to run your sump pump, let’s take a look at how to install a generator to your pump.
Step 1 – Ensure That Your Generator Is In Good Working Condition
As with any usage of your portable generator, you are going to want to make sure your generator is in good working order.
This includes checking that the generator is clean and free of any defects.
A dirty generator can cause larger problems down the road so ensure that you keep it clean. Give it a few test pulls to make sure that it fires up.
The last thing that you want to do is to get it out to where you need it, only to find out that it needs to be repaired or that it is no longer working.
It is a good idea to go ahead and clean the air filter and check the oil before using the generator to make sure that it is in tip-top shape when in use.
Step 2 – Set Your Generator Up At Least 15 Feet Away From Windows/Doors
Portable gas generators use combustion engines to generate power.
This means that the generator is going to be giving off harmful fumes that can harm humans and pets if not properly ventilated. To ensure that the harmful gases do not affect anyone, you have two choices.
You can hook up a rerouting exhaust to your generator or you can simply set up the generator 15 feet away from windows and doors.
If you are needing to use the generator in a confined space where exhaust fumes cannot be properly ventilated, you can make a generator exhaust to reroute the gases to an exterior area.
These exhausts are relatively easy to make and are a great way to use generators in a garage or under an awning when it is snowing or raining.
If you are able to put your generator outside, you can simply just set it up at least 15 feet away from windows or doors.
This distance will allow the harmful gases to dissipate before reaching your home. This can also help to reduce noise levels as well since portable generators, depending on the size, can be very loud.
Step 3 – Measure The Distance Between The Generator & The Sump Pump To Get The Correct Extension Cord
When connecting your sump pump to the generator, you are going to want to use an extension cord.
An extension cord will help to take up the slack between the sump pump power cord and generator and allow you to run electricity from the generator to the pump.
What you will want to do is measure, or eyeball guess, the distance between the two in order to figure out what size extension cord you will need.
When using extension cords with generators, you are going to want to make sure to use a high quality, construction grade extension cord when possible. I suggest these outdoor extension cords by Us Wire (click to buy it on Amazon).
This will ensure that you and your appliances are fully protected from the harmful current of electricity.
Cheaper, low quality extension cords can overheat and shock you or damage your appliances/generator.
If you are unsure of what type of extension cord to use, refer to the portable generator owners manual and you should find recommendations on the correct type of extension cord to use.
Step 4 – Fill Your Generator With Fuel
Before you get your sump pump hooked up and ready to roll on the generator, make sure you fill up your generator with fuel before you begin.
While this may seem like common sense, it is a very easy step to look over when you are in a hurry to save your basement from flooding.
The last thing that you want to do once you get the water flowing out of your basement, is to leave your generator to run and it cuts off due to low fuel.
Step 5 – Connect The Generator To The Sump Pump
Lastly, connect the generator to the sump pump and ensure that everything is running correctly. With power to the sump pump, you should start to hear the sump pump kick on and notice the water levels decreasing.
You can also check where the sump pump relocates the water to in order to confirm that the pump is doing its job.
With all of the information I have just discussed on using a portable generator with a sump pump, you should feel comfortable getting through your next flooded black out.
This information can also be used to help pump water from other areas that have become flooded where you could use a sump pump to help.
I want to hear from you on your experience using a generator with a sump pump. What type of generator did you use? What did you find most challenging about using your generator to power the sump pump?