What Are The Grounding Requirements For Portable Generators?

Mas Broto

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Grounding Requirements For Portable Generators

Portable generators are used to generate electricity when temporary or remote power is required. These internal combustion engines prove useful during recovery operations that follow disasters. Grounding requirements for generators are explained by the National Electrical Code (NEC) in the following.

Portable generators also supply 115 or 230 volts of AC auxiliary power, and according to the National Electrical Code (NEC), the aim of grounding is to keep the frame of the generator at zero voltage at all times. The reason for this is that when the generator is operating, current could pass through your body, causing a shock. This can easily happen if there is a fault condition, such as bare wires.

Grounding Requirements Using Earth Pin and Metal Water Pipe

There are a number of situations during which the National Electrical Code requires that a portable generator be grounded to a metal water pipe or ground rod.

The first of these is when the generator is not part of a separately derived system. The second is when it has a neutral conductor. The third is when it supplies auxiliary power by means other than a plug-and-cord connection.

A portable generator that operates after being placed directly on the ground requires an earth rod that has been driven deeply into the earth. A generator that has been hard-wired to a building’s electrical system must also be connected to either a ground rod or a metal water pipe.

Grounding Requirements When Earth Pin and Metal Pipe are not Required

Grounding the portable generator to a metal water pipe or ground rod is no longer required if the portable generator is mounted on a vehicle and the generator’s frame is secured to the frame of the vehicle. In this instance, the vehicle will be a connecting body that serves as a grounding device.

The conditions for grounding are met if the portable generator is bolted to the frame of the vehicle. In this case, the permanent joining of the metallic parts forms an electrically conductive path that ensures electrical continuity.

The National Electrical Code will also permit the generator to be connected to the vehicle via a ground wire. In cases where the portable generator has auxiliary power output, and a ground pin outlet exists for any equipment that connects to the receptacles, grounding to an earth pin or metal water pipe is not required.

Last, in the situation where receptacles are mounted on the generator, grounding to an earth pin or metal water pipe is not required.

Grounding Requirements for the Metal Rods and Metal Water Pipes

This rod must be manufactured from metal, normally copper. It can not be less than eight feet in length and requires a diameter of 0.5-inches. Eight feet of the rod must be driven into the earth. The metal water pipe can be a standard underground water pipe that is in contact with the earth for a certain distance.

What are some safety concerns with portable generators?

Safe ways to work with portable generators are often forgotten when they are brought to the site. Here is a list of things to do to stay safe.

  1. Take care of and use portable generators by following the manufacturer’s instructions for use and safety.
  2. You should never connect a portable generator directly to the electrical system of a building (like a home, office, or trailer) unless the generator has an open-transition transfer switch that has been properly installed.
  3. Always plug electrical tools and appliances directly into the generator using the cords that come with them.
  4. Use extension cords that are strong and have a grounding conductor (3 wire flexible cord and 3 pronged cord connectors).
  5. Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) according to the instructions from the manufacturer.
  6. Do not hook up a generator to a building unless the generator has a transfer switch that is set up correctly.
  7. Look at the equipment before you use it, take it out of service if it’s broken, and mark it as unsafe to use.

All portable generators should be checked once a year to make sure that the connection between the frame of the generator and the equipment grounding terminals of power outlets is still solid. This is important for the safe use of the equipment. A skilled electrician with the right tools can test the connection to make sure it works. The ohmic resistance should be close to zero, and it can’t change because that means the connection is loose.

Mas Broto

Written by: Mas Broto

Mas Broto is a small business owner with 30 years experience in the real estate industry. He is the founder and editor of theDailyThrive.net, the most comprehensive free home improvement website on the planet!