Can a generator run in the rain?

A generator is a thing you use during either power outages or outside events and camping. As the weather is unpredictable, you might have asked yourself: can a generator run in the rain or during a storm?

The short answer is “yes”

Running a generator in the rain is possible if you have protected it from getting wet. You can do it with a special cover, or a generator itself can be waterproof.

Despite this, you need to be extremely careful. If water gets into the outlets or other parts of a generator, it is likely to lead to electrocution or even an explosion. This can damage the generator and anything or anyone nearby.

Please, be cautious when running a generator during the rain

All generator manufacturers put it clearly in the manuals that generators are not supposed to be used in wet conditions due to safety concerns.

If the generator gets wet, it can lead to electrocution and cause permanent damage to the unit. That’s why generators need to be protected from moisture and kept in ideal working conditions.

Always keep in mind that generators produce powerful voltage, so it is highly important to follow all safety guidelines.

How to protect your generator from rain

If there is a necessity to use your generator in wet conditions, here are some ways of how to make it as safe as possible.

Option 1: Use a generator canopy

The easiest way to protect a generator from the rain is to cover it. There are pop-up canopies designed specifically for portable generators that are not waterproof. They can be useful if power outages are rare and random to ensure that you have power in any weather.

Despite the ease of use, there are some obvious drawbacks:

  • they can’t protect the generator from the wind that can blow the rain aside
  • they can’t endure strong winds
  • they can be hard to anchor

The price of a portable generator canopy varies from $75 to $300 depending on its quality.


GenTent Generator Tent

GenTent produces safety canopies for portable and inverter generators. This generator tent was tested for strong winds (up to 70 MPH), 18” snow load (up to 55 lb.), and even hurricane-force precipitation (up to 12” a day).

This model is universal as it comes with four frame adapters to fit any open-frame unit. It features a self-attaching clamp system, so you don’t need any tools to install it. It also has an electric apron to safely cover the electric panel.

Specification:

  • Welded 100% waterproof cover
  • Vented top cap
  • Comes in standard or extreme material type
  • Fits portable generators of 3-10 kW

Pros:

  • Easy 3-step installation
  • Intake, vents, and exhaust stay open for cooling
  • Suitable for cold winter weather

Cons:

  • An extra adaptor kit may be needed
  • Not suitable if you fear rain or snow blowing under the canopy

Option 2: Use a generator cover

Another way to protect a generator from wet weather is a good quality generator cover. It can waterproof your unit and still keep it portable. The cover does not stop you from installing and transporting the generator.

A cover provides 360-degree protection for a generator, and many of them allow natural cooling. Some covers can be used even during a hurricane or blizzard, though it is not advisable to run a generator in adverse weather.

You can create a cover for your generator yourself, or buy one that suits your model in particular. You can also opt for a universal design.


Porch Shield Waterproof Universal Generator

This universal generator cover is made of heavy-duty material that provides 100% waterproofness. It will help you to protect your generator from bad weather, sun rays, dust, and birds.

The cover protects the generator from 5 sides. It is attached to the frame with the help of velcro, and an elastic cord around the bottom secures it in place. This is especially important during high winds and severe weather conditions.

The manufacturer warns not to use this cover when the generator is running.

Specification:

  • Three size options: 26x20x20, 32x24x24, or 38x28x30 in.
  • 100% waterproof material
  • Black, gray, or light tan color
  • Buckles, velcro, and cord adjustments

Pros:

  • Universal design to suit any portable generator
  • Can be used for storage
  • Easy to expose the handle

Cons:

  • Not advisable while the generator is in use

Option 3: Use a rigid generator enclosure

Rigid enclosures are solid-wall structures that provide great protection from rain and snow. Just like generators, they vary in size and material, but even the smallest one can hardly be portable. The reason is that they are typically mounted straight to the concrete to withstand rough weather, which turns your camping generator into a pseudo-permanent one.

Such boxes can be made of fiberglass, steel, or aluminum. The structure is ventilated, which provides safe functioning of the unit even with the lid closed. The greatest benefit of this method is that a generator box like that can be easily hand-made.

Option 4: Build your own DIY generator box

You can build a DIY generator shed from metal sheets or lumber. If you choose lumber, select only the straight planks with no visible flaws such as knots or decay. It’s a good idea to choose some weather-resistant lumber type as it will make the construction long-lasting.

The project of creating a simple generator cover requires a hammer, a level, a saw, a sander, and a screwdriver. You can also order to get the lumber sawn beforehand. Building a protection case for a generator will take one day, but then there are countless benefits of it.

Pros:

  • Your own design suitable for your needs
  • Cheap and effective
  • A strong and solid way to protect your generator in use
  • Partial noise absorbance

Cons:

  • Basic construction skills are needed
  • Time-consuming

Three don’ts of using a generator during the rain

1. Do not use a gas generator indoors

All portable gas generators are made for outdoor use. Never turn it on inside, even with the door or window left open. Generators produce deadly carbon monoxide. It is a colorless and odorless substance that collects quickly leaving you no chance to escape. Check this indoor option instead.

That’s why only use the generator outside, at least 20 feet away from buildings. An open door isn’t enough as the wind may be blowing inward, and the gas will enter your home. Even several hours after the generator was turned off, there will still be some lethal fumes.

Another reason to keep the working generator outside is that enclosing it badly influences its lifespan. The unit should get enough cooling, which is impossible in a closed garage. If it gets too hot, it can considerably damage the machine.

2. Touch the generator only with one hand

Always wear rubber-soled shoes when maintaining the working generator and touch any metal surfaces near the generator with one hand only. This will prevent the electric circuit from going right through your body.

In case of wet weather, gum gloves are an extra safety option as they will also protect you from electricity. Electricity flows through the less resistant path, which can be your body if you aren’t careful enough.

If you have children. teach them to be careful and do not allow them to play close to the generator.

3. Do not use the generator during hurricanes

Hurricanes reach enormous speeds and can easily damage anything in their way. In case of a sudden power outage during bad weather wait for it to calm down and only then can you turn your portable generator on. Using a generator in bad weather can result in damage, explosions, and electrocutions.

Even if your power is out and you need it right now, the best way is to wait for some time rather than start a generator right away. The damage caused by a hurricane-broken generator can be much worse than from a couple of hours without power.


In a word

Your generator should provide you with power whenever you need it. Still, it is important to use it in proper conditions without the possibility of harming the unit or yourself. While tornadoes and hurricanes are taboo for using a portable generator, it needs extra protection from rainy or snowy weather. Specific enclosures will help you be prepared for power outages in any weather.

Keep in mind that electricity is dangerous, so protection from possible electrocutions is a must to stay safe and keep your machine working. 

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