How To Ground A Generator When Camping?

Grounding is the process of giving an intentional connection between an electrical circuit to a reference ground. The reference ground means a copper wire and a metal rod or the generator’s frame. With regards to the generator, these electrical connections can be given to the components like a gas tank or engine, to the frame of the generator. 

Tips For Grounding a Generator

How To Ground A Generator When Camping
How To Ground A Generator When Camping

Tip 1: Be sure it is dry

When grounding your generator you have to make sure it is completely dry. Do not try to do it under wet conditions at any time. Dry your hands, find a dry spot on the ground and shelter it from any moisture.

Tip 2: Safety Is Better Than Being Sorry  

It is always a safe option to ground your generator by using copper wire and an 8-foot metal rod. Keep the direction of the wire away from your campsite as well.

Tip 3: Let the Resistance Win

When separate grounding is processed you need to ensure that the grounding and bonding circuits are low resistance. It is better to use 0.2 ohms resistance or less in your ground wire and metal stake. Additionally, it is important to make sure the bonding connection is capable of conducting electricity when a short occurs or lightning strikes.

Tip 4: The Mighty RV Electric System 

RV electric system owns three separate electrical systems with a 12-volt DC automotive system, a 12-volt DC coach system, and a 120 volt AC coach system. Mostly, the RV electrical systems possess their ground and neutral wires for ensuring the safety ground wire to neutral bonding point. It is recommended to ground generators when you are using over 10 KW an hour. 

Most RV owners do not consume this much power thereby, RV owners do not ground their generator. By using extension cords that plug directly into the generator and then in the appliances, then grounding your generator is not required. The bonding process helps remove the need for grounding. If the generator is directly plugged in the home’s circuit breaker system then grounding the generator is not required. 

Tools and Equipment To Ground Your Generator

Following are the mandatory tools required for grounding the generator:

Copper Grounding Rod 

A copper grounding rod is designed to safely dissipate the current in the ground. Most of the portable generators need a copper grounding rod with four feet length, however, a longer copper rod can help in driving deeper into the ground.

Copper Grounding Wire 

Copper grounding wire connects the grounding bolt on your generator to the grounding rod. The amount of wire needed to perform grounding depends on the distance between the generator and a buried rod. On the safe side make sure to keep an extra wire for making the grounding process easier. 

Wire Strippers, Pliers, and Wrench 

These tools assist to strip the copper grounding wire and to connect it to the grounding rod and your generator’s grounding bolt.

Hammer or Mallet  

A blunt object is required for driving the copper grounding wire into the ground. Depending on the terrain, a shovel or spike may also be useful.

Why is generator neutral grounded?

The neutral ground provides a path for faulty current to leave the system and flow into the ground. 

Usually, the voltages produced by generators are very high, the current generated will be high as well. Such high current could destroy the neutral grounding. Therefore, to limit its value we connect the grounding through a high resistance.

In addition to this, generators have protective relays in the circuit. The fault current’s value shouldn’t be so high that even the relay can’t work properly. A high resistance reduces the transient overvoltages, however, it becomes obviously preferable since resistance is harmful to the machine.

Steps For Grounding A Generator When Camping

A professional grounding safeguards you, your family and your home from damages caused by these unpredictable mishappenings. If you set up your generator right, then you shouldn‘t have to worry. On the contrary, if the generator is not properly grounded then an electric efflux could travel through the different connections and ruin more than just your generator. 

There are certain steps for grounding a generator while camping. Following each step carefully will help in making the rounding process easier and quicker.       

1. Install the Copper Rod in the Ground

Sink the copper ground rod at least 8 feet into the ground, using the hammer. By sinking the rod deeper makes sure a better earthing. Sometimes you might find that the surface is too hard and rough to embed the grounding rod smoothly. In that case, you can pour water and wait until the ground is soft. Despite pouring water the ground does not softens then sink the rod at a special angle that does not exceed 45°.

2. Strip the Copper Wire at Both Ends

Using your wire stripper, strip both ends of your copper wire prior to the next step. Be careful not to over strip the wire, leaving most of the part bare.

3. Wrap One End of the Wire around the Copper Rod

Once you have fixed at least 8 feet within the ground, it is a perfect time to wrap one end of the copper wire tightly around it, using the pliers.

4. Attach the Other End of the Wire to the Generator

Finally, connect the other stripped end of the copper wire to the generator for grounding it. Loosen the grounding bolt a bit, using the wrench and wrap the wire around it tightly before re-tightening the bolt to end the process.

Final Words on Ground Generators at Camping

There is a contradiction whether to ground the generator or not. But, some situations do demand for the grounding the generators. 

Grounding your generator is an essential part of setting up your camping equipment especially for ensuring safety when you are in remote areas. Grounding helps in reducing the chances of catching fire and the potential for injury. Regular campers should invest in a quality portable generator system as this will save a lot of time during camp set up and ensure to have safe and efficient power access.

The other school of thought says, grounding your portable generator is unnecessary. The manufacturers have usually bonded all the key components to the generator’s frame making grounding unnecessary. This makes operating your generator a lot easier.

Despite such contrasting views regarding the grounding process of generators it is essential to know the situations of your ground, and the site you are camping. Later, make sure you hire a professional electrician if the situation is beyond your control. 

Craig

My career as an Industrial Electrician with over 20 years experience in maintaining small, medium and very large generators plus repairing small engines and working in an auto electrical shop have placed me in the unique position to provide quality advice on all your generator needs. 😉

Leave a Comment

18 + eleven =