This guide will show you how to ground a generator when camping.
You will also discover the right tools and equipment to carry out a camp generator grounding operation effectively.
One of the biggest misconceptions we often get about grounding a camping generator is that it will protect us from shocks if there is any fault in our system; this is really not the case.
Clearing a fault is the only way not to get shocked when using any electrical appliance. For instance, an electrical wire becomes loose in a toaster while camping.
Grounding a camping generator only helps to ensure the safe operation of your electrical equipment in the camping while the generator is turned on
Camping generators that are not grounded are usually prone to current flow that’s not consistent, and this can damage appliances and even cause damage to the generator itself.
In most cases, your camping generator is already properly grounded, according to the NEC. The frame of the camping generator already serves as the ground electrode already.
Now, when using extension cords in your campground, as long as the grounding pins are linked to the ground system of your generator, the non-current carrying parts of your camp generator, like the gas tank, are all linked to the frame. Your camp generator is already adequately grounded.
As a result, you do not need a ground rod or external grounding system for your camping generator. However, a few camping generators out there may not be appropriately bonded or unbonded when needed; thus, the need to ground a camping generator before any use.
What Does it Mean to Ground a Camping Generator?
Camping generators are portable in nature; they can be carried easily or moved from one point to another because of their considerable light weight and design.
As a result, grounding a camping generator can be a bit technical.
The term “ground” refers simply to a conductive body and, in this scenario, the earth. In the following reference, it refers to a metal rod or the generator’s frame and a copper wire.
Grounding a camping generator involves creating a lower resistant path between the generator and the earth. As a result, grounding a generator is the conscious connection between the generator’s neutral wires and its grounding means, including all of its non-conducting components.
The electrical term, bonding, on the other hand, is the intentional connection of components of your camping generator electrically (for instance, the generator’s gas tank or engine) to the generator’s frame.
Conversely, the grounding and bonding of circuits of a camping generator must be able to conduct a surge to drive electrical power away from devices plugged into the generator on the camping ground.
Specifically, there must be a 0.2 ohms resistance or less current flow through your grounded generator’s ground wire and metal stake.
Equipment Needed When Grounding a Camp Generator
Grounding a camping generator is pretty easy and would save you a lot of stress if you knew the right tools to use for your grounding.
Some essential tools and equipment that will be needed when grounding a camping generator include the following:
1. Copper Rod and Wires
A copper rod is one of the essential tools for grounding a camping generator. In this case, it’s best to work with a copper rod at least 5 feet long.
Copper wire is the only wire you should use to connect your camp generator to the ground. Note that using just any cable at your disposal is dangerous; use only what is recommended and follow every guideline as stated below.
A Hammer is used to drive the copper rod into the ground. You could also substitute it with a mallet or any heavy tool available for this purpose.
3. Wire Strippers
Wire strippers are used for stripping the ends of copper wires quickly and effectively. It is one tool often made available to prevent you from getting your nails or teeth all messed up while doing this.
You will need pliers to wind up the copper wire tightly around the ground rod to enhance a safer connection. A set of quality pliers are best used to avoid loose connections that could be hazardous later on.
A wrench is used to loosen bolts on the generator to attach the stripped copper wire for effective connection.
How to Ground a Generator when Camping?
Grounding a generator is necessary when camping because the generator being used is most likely to be connected to a wired circuit system and sometimes directly to the many different electrical appliances you brought with you to the camping ground.
Now that all the necessary tools and equipment for grounding a camping generator have been correctly stated, here’s precisely how to ground a generator when camping:
Step 1. Ensure proper conditions of the ground
Before grounding a generator when camping, ensure that the ground on which you will be driving your copper rod is completely dry. It is unsafe to ground a camping generator in a wet condition.
It would help to adequately shelter the space where your camping generator will be grounded.
And finally, make sure your hands are dry when grounding the generator.
Step 2. Drive the copper rod into the ground with your hammer or mallet
Using your hammer or mallet, sink the copper rod deep into the ground (at least eight (8) feet to the ground). Always remember that the deeper into the earth the rod is, the more earthed or grounded the connection would be.
If you drive the rod with more pressure, it should ground far deeper.
And if the ground is too hard to work through, you can try wetting it a bit to let it absorb moisture for some time; but you still have to wait some time for the surface to dry before you can start the grounding.
Note that the copper rod should be driven to the ground at an angle that is not more than 45 degrees. This, in turn, will make things much easier for you.
Step 3: Strip the ends of the copper wire with wire strippers
For a start, keep the copper wires well away from your campsite to avoid any unforeseen complications. Now with the wire strippers, strip both ends of the copper wire carefully.
Also, avoid removing too much copper wire so that most of the cable is not left naked while still ensuring to leave most of it bare.
Step 4. Coil the ends of the copper wire using the pair of pliers
This step involves coiling one end of the copper wire around the copper rod.
Wrap the stripped wire tightly around the copper rod with the pliers, but try not to coil it in a way that it can easily come loose from the vibrations made when the generator is turned on.
And be sure to ensure that the connection is tight enough to ensure the safety of the camp generator for use.
Step 5. Attach the second end of the copper wire to the camping generator
To complete the whole grounding process, loosen the grounding bolt on the generator with your wrench (check the generator’s user manual to know where this component is found).
Then wind the second stripped edge of the copper wire around it and tighten it back properly with the wrench.
Now, your camping generator is ready for use!
You can start the generator by flipping a switch or turning the start key, connecting it to your lovely tent to serve its purpose.
Does a Camping Generator Need a Ground Rod?
The quick answer to this question is NO!
Neither the RVIA, NEC, nor the OSHA state that campers need to ground their portable generators to a ground rod. The concept behind this is that most camping generators have their components already bonded to the generator’s frame.
Due to the design and model of most camping generators, most RV owners can go without grounding their portable generators using a ground rod.
It can be a total waste of time!
Grounding a camping generator is only necessary when you need to plug your devices and appliances directly into your portable generator on the camping ground.
Grounding using a ground rod is also necessary when using a transfer switch.
Safety Precautions to Follow While Grounding a Camping Generator
- The copper rod should be driven at least 8 feet into the ground.
- Ensure to use the ideal wire stripper to avoid over stripping.
- Make sure the bolts on the generator are properly tightened.
- Don’t rush the whole process. Take your time to ensure no accidents when grounding the generator, especially if this is your first time.
What Happens if You Fail to Ground Your Camping Generator?
In short, you could ruin your camping generator.
Grounding a camping generator protects not only your devices plugged into the generator when camping but also the generator itself. Generally, it helps to direct unwanted voltage from damaging your electrical equipment and the generator itself.
Proper grounding of a generator when camping protects you, your family, school colleagues (all other persons camping with you), and your possessions from getting hurt by these unpredictable electrical surges.
How to Choose the Perfect Camping Generator?
It would be best if you got a good camping generator as you learn how to ground a generator when camping. It’s also essential to check the description of the type of generator you want to buy for the camping adventure. That is, its exact type and how it operates!
It’s also crucial to consider the weight and size of the generator, its electric capacity, and the type of maintenance required for the generator.
Buying a camping generator without knowing a lot of information about it can leave you in a situation that often keeps you visiting the mechanic workshop for repairs.
When you go outdoors to camp and seek the relaxation that comes with being in touch with nature, you often have to forfeit the luxuries of the modern environment, which you’re quite used to.
But, electricity is one amenity that we would rather not do without, even out in the wilderness. Some campsites have adopted camping generator facilities to generate electricity on campgrounds.
Thus, when sourcing the best portable generators to buy for your camping, it’s best to look out for the following:
- Power performance
- Noise level
- Fuel type and consumption
- Size, weight, and portability
- Tank size
Whether you are going to use one of such or not, it’s still advisable to have a reliable source of electricity generation to avoid unfortunate circumstances that may end up cutting off communication with the rest of the world.
Electricity is also needed when camping to light up tents, charge mobile devices and laptops, power the television, microwave, and hairdryer, and even charge the RV battery.
Best Portable Generators to Use When Camping
There are different types of camping generators; some include inverter generators, portable generators, and solar generators.
As a result, the best generators for camping include the following:
- Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station
- Champion Dual Inverter Inverter Generator
- Westinghouse iGen 2200 Watt Quiet Inverter Generator
- Jackery Compact Battery Generator
- PAXCESS Portable Power Generator
- Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator
- Atima Quiet Portable Gas Power Generator
- ROCKPALS Battery Power Small Generator
- WEN Super Quiet Portable Generator
- Briggs & Stratton 3000 Watt Inverter Generator
How to Increase the Efficiency of Your Camping Generator?
Increasing a camping generator’s efficiency involves reducing noise levels, fuel consumption capacity, and others. These can be achieved by:
- Adjusting the camping generator’s exhaust pipes and mufflers will help reduce its noise.
- Using a soundproof box limits how far the generator’s sounds travel.
- Placing the camping generator on a rubber fabric will help reduce the noise caused by the generator vibrating.
- Installing sound deflectors towards the direction of your campground will help scatter sound waves away from your campsite.
- Avoid overloading the generator.
- Ensure proper maintenance of the generator to extend its durability.
- Avoid having scattered and disorganized wired connections.