Power Up: A Guide To Connecting A Portable Generator

Did you know that 36% of Americans have experienced a power outage that lasted at least four hours in the past year? That’s a lot of time spent in the dark, without the ability to charge phones or cook a warm meal.

While power outages can be inconvenient, they can also be dangerous if you rely on medical equipment or live in extreme weather conditions. That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan in place, like a portable generator.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of connecting a portable generator to your home or RV. We’ll cover everything from determining your power needs to safely starting and testing your generator.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to power up your home or RV in no time and be prepared for any future power outages. So let’s get started and become masters of portable power!

Connecting A Generator To Your House

Key Takeaways

  • Determine power needs before shopping for a portable generator by making a list of appliances and electronics and adding up wattage requirements.
  • Choose the right location for the generator, ensuring it is at least 10 feet away from the home, and ground the generator to prevent safety hazards.
  • Regular maintenance is crucial for longevity and safety, and neglecting maintenance can lead to costly repairs or accidents.
  • Safety should be the top priority when using a portable generator, and necessary safety equipment includes fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors.

Determine Your Power Needs

Before you start shopping for a portable generator, it’s important to determine exactly how much power you’ll need to keep your home running smoothly during a blackout. This will depend on what appliances and electronics you want to keep powered.

A good rule of thumb is to make a list of everything you want to keep running during an outage and add up the wattage requirements for each item. You can usually find the wattage information on the device itself or in the owner’s manual.

Don’t forget to include things like your refrigerator, heater, or air conditioner, and any medical equipment you or someone in your household may rely on. Once you have a total wattage number, you can choose a generator with the appropriate capacity to meet your needs.

Now that you know how much power you need, it’s time to choose the right location for your generator. This is crucial as placement can affect both safety and performance. So let’s move on to the next step and find out how to choose the best location for your portable generator.

Choose the Right Location

Selecting the perfect spot for your generator to rest is crucial to ensure its longevity – a stitch in time saves nine. Here are five things to consider when choosing the right location for your generator:

  • Keep it dry: Moisture is the enemy of all electrical equipment. To avoid damage, it’s best to keep your generator in a dry, sheltered area.
  • Keep it away from windows and doors: Exhaust fumes can be dangerous if inhaled. It’s essential to keep your generator away from windows and doors to prevent fumes from entering your home.
  • Keep it level: Generators need to be on a level surface to function correctly. A tilted or uneven surface can cause damage and reduce the efficiency of your generator.
  • Keep it accessible: In case of an emergency, you want to be able to access your generator quickly. Make sure it’s in a location that’s easy to get to.
  • Keep it away from combustibles: Generators produce heat, and it’s essential to keep them away from anything that could catch fire. This includes things like grass, leaves, and other combustible materials.

Choosing the right location for your generator can make all the difference. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, it’s time to prepare your generator for use.

Prepare Your Generator

Before we start our generator, we need to prepare it properly. First, we need to check the oil and fuel levels to ensure it has enough supply to run efficiently.

Second, it’s important to familiarize ourselves with the controls to avoid any confusion when using it.

Lastly, let’s make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure our safety and the generator’s optimal performance.

Check the Oil and Fuel Levels

Make sure you’ve checked the oil and fuel levels before firing up your portable generator, to avoid any potential damage or malfunction. The oil level is crucial to keep your generator running smoothly and efficiently. Check the oil level before and after each use, and top it up if necessary. It’s also important to use the correct type of oil for your particular generator model, which can usually be found in the owner’s manual.

Similarly, fuel levels should be checked before each use. Make sure there’s enough fuel in the tank to power your generator adequately. Running your generator with low fuel levels can cause damage to the engine and other components.

Once you’ve checked the oil and fuel levels, you’re ready to move on to the next step of connecting your portable generator. Familiarize yourself with the controls, and ensure that you understand how to operate your generator safely and efficiently.

Familiarize Yourself with the Controls

Once you’ve checked the oil and fuel levels, it’s time to get familiar with the controls of your generator, so you can start it up easily and confidently.

Did you know that over 50% of generator-related injuries are caused by improper use of the controls? That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the controls before you start your generator. It’s a simple process that can make a huge difference in your safety and the longevity of your generator.

Start by reading the user manual that came with your generator. It’ll provide you with all the information you need about the controls and how to use them. Make sure you know how to turn the generator on and off, adjust the fuel and air mixture, and adjust the power output.

Once you’re comfortable with the controls, you can move on to the next step of connecting the generator to your home or RV.

Connect the Generator to Your Home or RV

To successfully power your home or RV during an outage, it’s crucial to connect the portable generator properly. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to connect the generator to your home or RV:

  • Make sure your generator is placed in a well-ventilated area and away from doors, windows, and vents to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Use a heavy-duty extension cord to connect the generator to your home’s transfer switch or the RV’s electrical system. Make sure the cord is rated for the amperage of your generator and is long enough to reach your transfer switch or RV.
  • Turn off all the circuit breakers in your home or RV before plugging in the generator. This will prevent any power surges or damage to your electrical appliances.

Connecting a portable generator to your home or RV is a straightforward process that requires attention to detail and safety precautions. Before you start connecting the generator, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. In addition, always ground your generator to prevent electrocution in case of a short circuit or electrical fault.

Properly grounding your generator is essential. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Find a suitable location for your generator, away from any standing water or damp ground.
  • Use a grounding rod or a grounding wire to connect the generator’s grounding terminal to the ground. Make sure the grounding wire is securely attached to the grounding rod and to the generator’s grounding terminal.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to connect your generator to your home or RV safely and efficiently.

Ground Your Generator

Now that you’ve got your generator in place, it’s important to ensure that you’re grounding it properly to avoid potential safety hazards. Remember, just like a superhero needs their sidekick to help them save the day, your generator needs proper grounding to do its job effectively and safely.

To ground your generator, start by checking the manufacturer’s instructions for specific grounding requirements. Generally, you’ll need to connect a grounding rod to the generator’s grounding terminal with a copper wire. The grounding rod should be placed at least six feet away from the generator and buried in the ground to ensure proper grounding.

Once you’ve properly grounded your generator, you can move on to starting and testing it. This step is crucial to ensure that your generator is working correctly and that it’s capable of powering the appliances you need it for.

So, let’s move on to the next step and learn how to start and test your generator.

Start and Test Your Generator

Ready to make sure your generator is ready for action? Let’s fire it up and put it to the test!

Before starting your generator, make sure that all of your appliances and equipment that you plan to power are unplugged. This will prevent any electrical surge from damaging your electronics.

Next, turn the fuel valve to the ‘On’ position and set the choke to ‘Closed’. Pull the starter cord gently until you feel some resistance, and then give it a firm pull.

Once your generator is running, let it warm up for a few minutes before attaching any appliances or equipment.

Now that your generator is up and running, it’s time to test it out! Plug in your appliances and equipment one at a time and make sure that they are working properly. If there are any issues, turn off the generator and double-check your connections.

Once you’re satisfied that everything is working as it should, you’re ready to power up!

As you prepare to use your generator, keep in mind that safety is key. Make sure to follow all manufacturer instructions and never operate your generator indoors or in a confined space.

In the next section, we’ll cover some important maintenance and safety tips to keep your generator running smoothly and safely.

Maintenance and Safety Tips

Maintaining your generator is crucial for its longevity and your safety, so don’t neglect it! Remember to regularly check the oil and air filter. Don’t forget to store it in a safe and secure location when not in use – because, let’s face it, you don’t want it to sprout legs and run away!

Neglecting maintenance can lead to costly repairs or even worse, accidents. So, make it a habit to inspect your generator before and after each use to ensure it’s in good working condition.

In addition to regular maintenance, safety should be your top priority when using your portable generator. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them strictly. It’s important to place the generator in a well-ventilated area, away from any openings, and at least 10 feet away from your home.

Never run your generator indoors or in an enclosed space, as it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning – a silent killer. Make sure you have the necessary safety equipment on hand, such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors.

It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan in case of an emergency, such as a power outage or severe weather. By following these maintenance and safety tips, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of your portable generator without any worries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of generators available in the market and how do I choose the right one for my needs?

There are various types of generators available, including portable, standby, and inverter generators. To choose the right one for your needs, consider factors such as power output, fuel type, noise level, and intended use.

Can I connect my generator directly to my home’s electrical panel or do I need a transfer switch?

Connecting a generator directly to a home’s electrical panel without a transfer switch is dangerous and illegal. A transfer switch ensures safe, efficient, and legal use of a generator during power outages. Don’t risk your safety, invest in a transfer switch.

How do I calculate the amount of fuel I will need for my generator during an extended power outage?

To calculate the fuel needed during a power outage, we first determine the generator’s fuel consumption rate in gallons per hour (GPH). Multiply the GPH by the number of hours the generator will run each day. Finally, multiply that result by the number of days without power.

What are the common maintenance tasks that I need to perform on my generator to ensure its longevity?

To ensure our generator lasts, we need to perform regular maintenance tasks like changing the oil, air filter, spark plug, and fuel filter. We also need to store it properly and run it every few months.

How do I safely store and transport my generator when it’s not in use?

To safely store and transport our generator, we always drain the fuel, clean the exterior and store it in a dry, secure location. We use the original packaging or a sturdy cover to protect it during transport.


So there you have it, our guide to connecting a portable generator. It may seem daunting at first, but with the right preparation and steps, you can have backup power whenever you need it.

Just remember to determine your power needs, choose the right location, prepare your generator, connect it to your home or RV, ground it, and test it. And don’t forget about maintenance and safety tips to keep your generator running smoothly.

Now, you may be thinking, “But what if I don’t have the technical skills to connect a generator?”Well, fear not. There are plenty of resources available, from instructional videos to professional electricians who can assist you.

Don’t let a lack of knowledge hold you back from being prepared for power outages or emergencies. Take the time to educate yourself and follow the proper steps, and you’ll be one step closer to having the peace of mind that comes with backup power.

Subscribe to our list

Don't worry, we don't spam


I'm Wayne. I have worked in the construction industry for many decades and have had the opportunity to work with various equipment and portable generators. I've also written extensively about both subjects. I spend time with my family when I'm not writing or working in construction.

Electric Ninjas
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart