Is it Necessary to Ground a Generator while Camping? – All You Need to Know

Being grounded is the path to create a safe space around you. To be precise, staying grounded means you can handle life properly.

And what it is to the Generators, you might wonder. When you ground your camping generator, you add up an extra layer of safety and handle the lifespan of generators quite well.

Grounding is an action when you connect the electrical circuit to the reference ground purposefully. Usually, the reference ground indicates a copper wire along with a rod or the frame of the generator as a whole.

And in the case of generators, the electric connections are often given to the fragments like the gas tank or engine of the generator.

Also note that the camping generators are portable and thus do not produce much power. The high power camping generators come with additional features such as GFCI protection and ground wires.

So look out for these features when purchasing a generator for your camping trip.

How to ground a generator when camping?

It is evident that when you are camping, you must be using a portable generator. Recalling all the pros of portable generators, these are compact, can provide emergency power.

These are specially used for recreational purposes, preventing significant generator damage. It is one of the safest generators.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Before starting any steps to ground your generator, make sure that the machine is completely dry. Do not operate the generator with your wet hands. Do not shelter the device in any moist place. Construct a dry place for it if needed.
  2. Always use an 8-foot metal rod and copper wire when you ground your generator to be on the safe side. Do not let any smoke cover your generator. It is pretty normal to have a campfire while you are camping. If you are planning to do so, make sure you sit at the other side.
  3. You need to use low resistance connections for the bonding circuits. These circuits must be able to perform a surge of electrical power isolated from the machine. To make sure the connection works, you will need 0.2 ohms of resistance or less than that. Be careful of lightning when you are outside.
  4. According to the NEC and RVIA code, it is compulsory to have neutral wires float or be unbounded. Every RV Electrical system comes with a suitable power cord. It guarantees that the safety ground wire never carries the extra load. It is quite necessary to balance the load everywhere.
  5. You can ground a generator by following the book of instructions at your convenience. But if you still feel like you cannot play with wires, it is always better to take precautions than causing a disaster. Please call your electrician to ground the generator.

When do you ground your generator?

It depends on how many kilowatts you are using per hour. You should start grounding your generator if you are using more than 10 KW per hour. In reality, what happens when you are camping? You won’t need this heavy amount of electricity. Hence, most generator owners do not ground their generators.

grounded generator symbol

If you use your generator to connect the charger cords or lights, you are in the safe zone. In case the components are not attached to the frame, you will definitely need to ground your generator.

What happens when you do not ground your camping generator?

In simple words, you can destroy it. The purpose of grounding is to remove unwanted voltage, saving the equipment and surroundings from creating havoc. And if the generator is not grounded ideally, then a streak of electricity could travel to different electric connections and ruin

the whole surroundings.

So a proper grounding always shields you, your loved ones, and your possessions from being damaged by the uncertain outpouring of current.

Even if you are using a framed RV generator, it is essential to ground a generator to stay on the safe side. The use of copper wire makes the electric flow easy and fair.

How to ground a portable generator while camping?

how to do grounding of a generator

Things to use:

  • 8-foot copper rod.
  • 6 to 20 feet of copper wire.
  • Hammer.

First of all, cover the wire made of copper around the handle of the generator. Hold the other end and walk far away from your RV. After you have crossed 15 to 20 feet, hammer the 8-foot copper rod to the ground. After hammering tightly, wrap the wire around it. And that’s it; you are done.

The only disadvantage is that you need to have some space in the radius of the generator. If your surroundings are extremely packed with other things, then the grounding of the generator goes to waste.

But to look into the bright side comes with lots and lots of open areas. So choose an adventurous site which has a good amount of free space.

The instruction manual is always helpful in these situations. Many instructions vary according to the type of generator you have. It consists of a pro tip advising if you really need to ground your generator or not.

And if yes, it will tell the correct way to it. If the instructions don’t clarify the steps of grounding, then here are some easy steps:

  • Hammer your 8-foot copper rod into the ground. In case you are in a rocky and hilly area, don’t let your copper rod exceed more than 45 degrees angle.
  • Affix the wire made of copper around the rod tightly.
  • Detect a grounding bolt in your generator and attach the other copper end to it. For this step, you have to clear a bit of copper coating in the ends of the wire, which gets connected to the rod and generator as well. Do not operate with bare Copper Wire. The big middle portion of the wire can remain shielded.
  • Pro Tip: Make sure both the ends are secured tightly and will not fall off easily.

In the case of portable generators, is the ground rod needed?

We have been continuously referring to a ground rod while grounding a generator. But the portable generators need not have a ground rod. They come with a fastened bonding system that connects the components tightly.

But still, the generator owners search for equipment for grounding it. The process of grounding boosts up the performance to maximum level. It shields up your equipment and protects it from crashing electronics.

According to the protocols and guidelines, you need to have a copper rod measuring from a minimum of 4 feet to a maximum of 8 feet. Forge it till it is covered by the ground. Any copper rod shorter from that will not be able to support the wire properly.

If your ground condition is too dry, add some water to wet the soil. And if your ground is too wet, add up some soil to make it normal. Check the condition of the soil before hammering the rod into a specified place.

The tools required to do a perfect grounding is:

  • A pair of Pliers.
  • A Socket wrench set.
  • A Pair of Wire Strippers.
  • A Hammer.

The right appliances will always result in an ideally grounded generator. Anyways, if you want the process of grounding quick and easy, you can always purchase a Generator Grounding Kit.

These kits are readily available in generator equipment stores. The kit comprises a rod and attached wire to it. You only have to connect the loose end to your generator.

There are even different types of measurements in the kits. Before buying anything and everything, choose which one suits you the best.

Check with the price and measurements before you buy a kit. It is always advisable to buy a kit that has a longer copper wire attached to it. It will provide you a safer experience.

case of portable generators

Safety Tips for Using a Generator

No doubt we are talking about adequately grounding a generator. It is also one of the many safety habits which you need to follow while using a generator. And below are some of the other safety tips you will need to follow while using a generator:

  • Keep the generator outside and do not cover it in between different equipment.
  • Do not overfill the gas or fuel in the generator. Always have the right indicated amount of fuel.
  • Keep your generator clean. Look out for any spills. If there are any, clean them frequently.
  • Do not store fuel in the generator after use.
  • No smoking is allowed near the generator.
  • Disconnect all the electric cords while connecting to the generator.
  • Avoid the overloading of generators with unnecessary appliances.

What aspects count the most when selecting your camp generator?

You want your portable generator to power your virtual devices. However, which features give a reliable generator for your camping trips?

Weight

A lightweight generator for camping is attractive for campers. You need to check out the dry weight of the generator; it refers to the generator’s weight with an empty fuel container. Don’t skip examining the weight if it’s important to you. It depends on the size of the fuel tank, and a full tank can add 2 to 6 pounds to the generator.

Runtime

The time a generator runs before you need to refill the gas tank is the runtime. The fuel tank dimension, the generator’s efficiency, and the tons applied will impact the runtime. Most manufacturers provide clients with runtime for the quarter, half, and 90% lots.

Power result

Inverter models have maximum power ranging from 1 to 3 thousand watts. Powerful models will run your ACs, fans, and also TVs. Typically, two numbers give the electrical power rating. One number reveals the generator’s power ability at half lots, whereas another ranking is just how much power the generators produce at 90 or 100% lots.

To find the power rating, you need to add the power level for every appliance/electrical device you use when camping. Not all portable generators are powerful enough to power all your devices simultaneously.

Noise level

Sometimes, it can be challenging to give an idea about how loud or silent your generator will be. When you take your portable generator for camping, you need it to have 50 to 68 decibels—they’re the typical requirements for noise level at campgrounds.

The provided decibels for a generator tell about how quiet or loud a generator is, based on the load level. If the model is 50 to 60 decibels, don’t forget to consider the load, making the generator louder. A generator is less noisy when it’s at 25 or 50% of its lots ability.

Additional features

Several additional functions will make a generator more or less useful for camping. Circuit, defense and parallel ability are some to name.

Safety features

Look for a model with enclosures that protect against the elements. Emergency shutoff, fuel safety, and power surge features are also to look for in a generator.

Circuit protection keeps the generator safe in case of straining or overheating. It switches off the device when the power draw is too high.

Fuel economy

Examine the fuel consumption and fuel economy of several models. Choose to buy a model using efficiently the natural resources. Many modern generators come with eco-mode to preserve power when not using all the electrical devices and appliances.

Portability

There’s a direct connection between the generator’s size and its power output. If you need high power, a large model will be the appropriate choice. The generator you need to power your RV will fit just fine within the truck bed or the RV most of the time. Models with handles and wheels for effortless lifting and transporting are ideal.

Electronics safe

If you want to use the generator to power sensitive electronics (computers and TVs), make sure that the unit won’t alter them in any way.

Effortless startup

Some generators come pull-start, similar to lawnmowers. Some models feature a key or a remote to start. Needless to say, the latter are ideal—there’s nothing more comfortable than starting up the generator while laying in bed.

How big or small should your generator for camping be?

If you plan to use your generator exclusively for camping, 1 to 2000 watts models will work. Such small models have a low noise level that doesn’t exceed 65 decibels. However, they will run for only 4 to 6 hours.

As for voltage, most camp generators come with two 100 and 20-volt outlets, which gives 220 volts.

If you don’t plan to run many home appliances throughout the night, a small generator will be enough to power your tablet computer and smartphone. Thanks to the generator, you will be able to enjoy some hot tea in the morning.

When you write down the numbers to discover the power outage you have when camping, we recommend beginning with the air conditioner. It will draw the most power for the longest time when camping. Most models draw much force when you turn them on (the “starting watts”). The energy you need to maintain the air conditioner running after starting it is known as “running watts.” Reliable manufacturers list both limits.

Here’s an example of calculation when you intend to power your AC and several indoor entertainment devices:

generator for camping

Used all the time

  • Air conditioner (15,000 BTU)- 1,800 watts
  • Trailer interior lights -100 watts
  • Refrigerator- 325 watts

Used from time to time

  • Radio/CD player/DVD player-200 watts for each of them
  • Convection microwave- 1,956 watts
  • TV- 200 watts
  • Laptop -140 watts

Total

For our example, your power use is 4,721 watts. A 5,000 watts and the higher generator will ensure you start up and run all your essential appliances together with propane-powered devices and appliances.

Important reminder

The example calculation is only to give you an idea and you shouldn’t use it as a standard across all RVs. We kindly advise you to check out the generator manufacturer for details on the limitations of the generator.

What if you don’t get the needed power?

If you don’t go with a generator or if it runs out of fuel, your appliances in use will drain your RV’s battery pretty fast. The large appliances (refrigerator, air conditioner) will shut down first.

Sensitive electronics (computers and TVs) can suffer severe damage by a sudden surge of loss of power. Keeping the generator running is crucial for such devices. Buying an electronics-safe generator is a wise decision.

It’s not a disaster if you RV without the battery power when you’re parked. However, it’s not safe to do it when driving/towing because the battery powers the driving lights. It can also power the hitch raising/lowering of the trailer when towing your RV.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is buying a portable generator a good decision?

If you go camping a lot, you should consider buying a dependable portable generator. As long as you pick the model that suits your needs the most, it would help if you considered investing in a reliable generator for your camping trips.

Is it disrespectful to run a generator at a campground?

Contractor-style portable generators don’t represent a good choice for campgrounds. To keep everyone and everything safe when using a portable generator, make sure you put it far from other campers. Don’t leave the generator on all night, even if it’s only for running a fan or charging your electric toothbrush.