Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Rod Olivares
Natural disasters can cause a lot of problems. When using a portable generator as a backup after a storm, you might run into an additional problem: moisture.
Typically, it’s not safe to use generators in wet weather, rain, or snow.
Often, these conditions are unavoidable and occur when you need the generator’s power most. Is there a solution?
Can you run a generator in the rain?
The short answer is yes, you can run a generator in the rain so long as you have a special cover to shelter it from getting wet. However, you should be extremely careful, and it is still not recommended.
Running a portable gas generator during heavy wind and rain can be deadly
Manufacturers strongly and clearly state that their generators should not be used in rain or other wet conditions, largely because of safety concerns.
Generators produce powerful voltage, and when you add wet conditions, this could lead to electrocution or some kind of explosion.
It could also result in permanent damage to your generator.
If any moisture were to get into the outlets, it could be disastrous.
It’s important to protect your generator from exposure to moisture for safety reasons but also to keep the generator in ideal working condition.
Options for Safely Using a Generator During Wet Conditions
Rain and snow can’t be avoided, but sometimes you still need power during these conditions.
You might be relieved to learn that there are a few options for safely using your generator in wet conditions.
Purchase a special cover
GenTent Safety Canopies are one example of protecting your generator from the elements while safely operating it.
The GenTent canopy protects and waterproofs all of the sensitive areas that you don’t want to get wet.
This special canopy doesn’t interfere with the portability of the generator so you can easily install it and take it down for transport to various locations.
You might think that a cover like this would lead the generator to overheat, but the GenTent canopy maintains quality airflow and promotes natural cooling.
It can handle strong winds up to 70 MPH so you should be safe even in hurricane or blizzard conditions.
The GenTent is a pretty ideal product and is very reasonably priced.
Being able to use your generator safely even in wet and stormy conditions is priceless.
Another option is a steel enclosure.
These provide a safe way to operate the generator, but they are quite expensive and generally require professional installation.
You may need to lay a pad of cement to install the enclosure on.
In addition to the possibly prohibitive price, another big downside to a steel enclosure is that it is not portable.
It’s fine to use at home but if you want to move your portable generator, you’ll be stuck without a safe way to power it in wet conditions everywhere else.
You can find similar enclosures made from retrofitted plastic.
These tend to be a bit cheaper than the steel ones but there is a serious concern that the sheds will lead to overheating or possibly even fire.
Build your own enclosure
For the DIY crowd, another option is to build your own enclosure.
You can find a number of tutorials online that will walk you through how to make your own enclosure.
This tutorial teaches you how to make a wooden “doghouse”-style enclosure with venting to prevent overheating.
DIY generator cover
The video above shows you how to make a portable tent that folds up using PVC pipe and tarp.
For this kind of homemade tent, it’s a good idea to place the generator and tent on top of a piece of dry wood when using it in wet conditions.
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to build a more permanent enclosure or tent, you may be able to rig up a quick canopy using canvas tarp.
Just make sure that there is no way that moisture can get inside any of the sensitive areas of the generator.
When building your own enclosure to use during wet conditions, it’s important to remember a few things:
- the sensitive areas of the generator, especially the outlets, must be 100% protected from moisture
- you need to maintain some kind of air flow through ventilation or you will risk overheating
- make sure your enclosure can handle the elements, including strong wind
- make sure your enclosure is portable
How do I use a generator safely during a hurricane?
To use your generator during a hurricane, you need a generator cover or rain tent. You must cover your generator from getting wet during a hurricane, tropical storm, or other major rainstorm. Rain can permanently damage a generator and most manufacturers state that they should not be run in the rain.
Champion has a nice generator cover for larger generators, and you can find a nice selection for most generator sizes online.
Never run your gas generator indoors. Often more people die from running gas generators indoors, or improper ventilation of their gas generator, than from the hurricane itself!
Also, consider a non-gas generator option like a battery-powered generator. These newer battery-powered solar generators can now power fridges and TVs for long periods of time due to their ever increasing capacity sizes
Whether you purchase a product like the GenTent Safety Canopy or build your own enclosure, using a generator during wet weather can be a safe and easy experience.
As long as you take the proper precautions, there’s no reason you can’t use your portable generator during a storm.
That’s great news because we often need generators more than ever during storms!
Have you ever used something like the GenTent canopy or a DIY enclosure with your portable generator during rain or snow? How did it go?
If you’ve built your own enclosure, let us know your best tips in the comments.
Scott Krager purchased generatorgrid.com in the summer of 2020 and quickly began to buy every generator under the sun! He currently has over a dozen generators and the number is growing quickly. He lives in Portland, OR near his family and friends.
GeneratorGrid.com is an independent review business. I am not affiliated with any manufacturers and do not accept paid reviews. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission which helps me purchase more generators for testing. - Scott Krager