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#2672975 - 07/03/12 07:10 PM Does a portable generator need to be grounded?
Tdbo Offline


Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 2677
Loc: Ohio
After reading about the HF 2 cycle generators here, I picked up one last fall during a parking lot sale for $79. Got it out of the shed today and broke it out of the box and swapped out the spark plug as has been suggested. In reading the directions, it mentions grounding the unit, which would obviously impact the portability and convenience of the unit. As I have never owned a portable generator before, are any of you using this unit grounding it?
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#2672982 - 07/03/12 07:12 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: Tdbo]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 37784
Loc: New Jersey
How does it impact the portability? Id imagine you could ground it reasonably well with a metal tent stake or a 3' pipe.

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#2672995 - 07/03/12 07:24 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: Tdbo]
Donald Offline


Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 16644
Loc: Upstate NY
Its best to ground it to the ground rod that your electric service is grounded to.

I would say almost no one does however. I would not really worry about it too much. But a roll of stranded wire (say #10 or #12) is pretty cheap also. You could install the wire to near where you are going to use the generator and then its only one screw to connect it when you roll out the generator. Probably more important if you are going to connect it through a transfer switch (don't backfeed).

I have a 5000W LP gas Winco I bought used. The previous owner grounded it, to the negative of the 12V battery (in addition to the negative battery cable). Obviously the prior owner was not a member of Mensa.
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#2672999 - 07/03/12 07:26 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: JHZR2]
Tdbo Offline


Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 2677
Loc: Ohio
My purpose for the generator is to move it around my yard to use electric yard tools (such as hedge trimmer,etc) to save the hassle of running extension cords. I thought that I could ground the unit by running an 8 gauge wire off the unit, and use some sort of spike to attach to the ground, as you had mentioned. However,in doing a Google search, I found that proper grounding is a 8'rod and that using a spike is actually against code. If I have to go to all that hassle, may as well just use the extension cords and forget the generator.
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#2673002 - 07/03/12 07:29 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: Tdbo]
Dave Sherman Offline


Registered: 01/03/06
Posts: 879
Loc: Ohio
It's not overly critical, but without it there's the possibility to have something plugged into it float to some unknown voltage. Floating grounds can "bite" if you touch the appliance. As an example, RVs with broken ground wires have been known to have their chassis shock people who were standing on the ground when they touched it, because a little bit of leakage current caused the chassis to float to a high voltage.

That said, I've never grounded my generator.

Edit: Even if you had a short metal rod that wasn't up to code, it would still be better than nothing at all, since it would still have a ground connection, even though it may not be a perfect one.


Edited by Dave Sherman (07/03/12 07:36 PM)
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#2673011 - 07/03/12 07:40 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: Tdbo]
tom slick Offline


Registered: 05/26/03
Posts: 8954
Loc: Central Coast, Calif.
The main reason for grounding is lightning protection.
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#2673037 - 07/03/12 07:59 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: tom slick]
RF Overlord Offline


Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3490
Loc: Cape Cod, MA
Originally Posted By: tom slick
The main reason for grounding is lightning protection.
How many portable generators get struck by lightning?

The main purpose of grounding is to prevent an insulation fault or wiring issue from causing the chassis to become electrically hot and posing a shock hazard. Grounding will cause the breaker to trip in that case.
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#2673041 - 07/03/12 07:59 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: tom slick]
Rand Offline


Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 10091
Loc: NE,Ohio
i wouldnt worry about it for using tools in your yard.
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#2673064 - 07/03/12 08:28 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: RF Overlord]
tig1 Offline


Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 11221
Loc: Illinois
Originally Posted By: RF Overlord
Originally Posted By: tom slick
The main reason for grounding is lightning protection.
How many portable generators get struck by lightning?

The main purpose of grounding is to prevent an insulation fault or wiring issue from causing the chassis to become electrically hot and posing a shock hazard. Grounding will cause the breaker to trip in that case.


+1, all generators should be grounded.


Edited by tig1 (07/03/12 08:28 PM)
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#2673081 - 07/03/12 08:44 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: Tdbo]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 29059
Loc: ME
Get a GFCI adaptor like this one. "They" let you use a GFCI outlet in an old house without a grounding wire, this is the same premise.

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#2673082 - 07/03/12 08:45 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: Tdbo]
brianl703 Offline


Registered: 05/07/04
Posts: 10488
Loc: Manassas, VA
If it's being connected to building wiring, then it needs to be grounded. If it's being used with an extension cord to operate power tools (for example), there's no point to grounding it, and a fault will trip the breaker/GFCI regardless of whether it's connected to a ground rod or not.

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#2673083 - 07/03/12 08:46 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: tig1]
chad8 Offline


Registered: 08/26/09
Posts: 1296
Loc: michigan
If you have a metal fence in your yard , ground it to that just to say you did. Impress the wife.. By code portable generators do not have to be grounded. Tell me again how a cut wire is going to touch the frame and electrify it without the ground fault plug (now required) from tripping.
Its almost impossible.

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#2673411 - 07/04/12 08:20 AM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: Donald]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 37784
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By: Donald
Probably more important if you are going to connect it through a transfer switch (don't backfeed).



But the ground that is bonded in the main panel should be usable, if convenient, right?

In our panel, we have heavy solid copper going out of the house to a long rod in the ground.

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#2673628 - 07/04/12 12:18 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: chad8]
RF Overlord Offline


Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3490
Loc: Cape Cod, MA
Originally Posted By: chad8
Tell me again how a cut wire is going to touch the frame and electrify it without the ground fault plug (now required) from tripping.
Its almost impossible.
I was speaking generically. Certainly if a working GFCI is in place then the point is moot.
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#2673634 - 07/04/12 12:28 PM Re: Does a portable generator need to be grounded? [Re: chad8]
user52165 Offline


Registered: 10/21/11
Posts: 1008
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: chad8
If you have a metal fence in your yard , ground it to that just to say you did. Impress the wife.. By code portable generators do not have to be grounded. Tell me again how a cut wire is going to touch the frame and electrify it without the ground fault plug (now required) from tripping.
Its almost impossible.


Are you saying a ground fault plug (I think you meant outlet) is now required on a generator? So all new ones will have this?

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