Can a portable generator be used in the rain? Can my portable generator get wet? These are both common questions year-round campers ask. If you love camping out in the winter months or early spring, then this answer is crucial, especially if you camp in parts of the country that experience more rain than average, or you’re braving freezing temperatures.
Can a portable generator be used in the rain? No. When not in use, the generator should be covered with a generator-specific cover. For permanent setups, you can use a steel or plastic enclosure to protect the generator from the elements. Even the slightest amount of moisture can do serious damage to the outlets on a generator, which is why you should always keep it covered. Aside from doing some serious damage to your generator, a generator that gets wet during operation can electrocute you.
Read on to learn how to stay safe and what you can do to protect your generator, and yourself in the event you find yourself stuck outdoors in the middle of a downpour or another type of inclement weather situation.
Camping Out During the Rainy Season
Manufacturers stress how unsafe it is to use an inverter generator indoors or too close to an open door or window, but they usually don’t mention whether or not these generators can handle getting wet.
Unfortunately, they can’t. If an inverter generator is left out in the rain, the water can easily make its way into the generator’s outlets. If the generator’s electrical panel gets wet, you risk electrocution and significant damage to the generator.
Some models come equipped with ground fault circuit interrupt outlets, which automatically switch off when they become wet. But even if the outlets shut down, the generator is still considered dangerous.
If used incorrectly, an inverter generator can electrocute you or cause a serious shock, considering the amount of electricity they can produce. Using one in wet conditions, or when your hands are wet, will inevitably lead to electrocution.
If you store your generator outdoors, in a place that’s not well-protected from the weather, make sure you check the GFCI receptacle, in addition to the other control panel electrical components, before you fire it up. Ice, snow, and moisture of any kind can damage the generator and cause a short.
The Generac 7117 GP2200i Portable Inverter Generator is one of the top camp generators on the market, but despite its innovative design, it still requires a shelter, enclosure, or tent of some sort, to protect it from the elements. This goes for any generator on the market, even those that are specifically designed for camping.
How to Protect Your Generator
The inverter generator is able to produce powerful voltage, but when you add rain to the mix, this can permanently damage the generator, or seriously harm someone. Even a small amount of moisture, such as morning dew, can lead to disaster.
Because of this, it’s important to protect the generator from exposure to rain, snow, and moisture.
Fortunately, there are options you can choose from, each of which can provide the type of protection you need to run your generator safely.
- Special generator covers
Generator canopies can easily protect a generator from the elements, allowing you to operate it safely. Obviously, these canopies are waterproof and double sealed and can provide ultimate protection in the event of a downpour. However, they may not offer enough protection if you’re dealing with high winds in addition to rain or snow.
In the right conditions, the canopy can be a great, effective option, and one that won’t interfere with the generator’s portability or installation. Keep in mind, you can’t use any type of cover or canopy to protect the generator because it can easily cause the generator to run too hot and overheat.
Covers and canopies are specially designed to protect a generator from the elements while also promoting airflow, allowing the generator to run smoothly, without overheating.
A top of the line generator cover can be used in rain and snow, and like the canopy, is designed to keep the generator nice, cool, and dry. Some brands of covers, such as Gentent, even claim that their covers can be used even in intense temperatures or during a hurricane. While these covers tend to be a little pricey, considering they’ll prevent electrocution and serious damage to your generator, the higher price tag is definitely worth it.
Canopies are an affordable option, however, they’re designed for temporary use only. You can easily construct your own canopy using a tarp, some bungees, and some rope, and poles. The tarp should not make any contact with the generator. You can even make do with a collapsible canopy designed for a day at the beach, just as long as the material is waterproof. The big downside here is wind. If it’s pouring rain and windy, the generator is going to get wet.
A tent cover can also work and will help to maintain the generator’s portability. Tent covers can be purchased at any sporting goods store and may be one of the best options if you can’t find a generator cover. However, you won’t be able to really rely on these covers to protect your generator, in high wind conditions.
Permanent and Portable Generator Rain Shelters
An enclosure made out of steel is another popular option. These enclosures provide a much safer way to operate your generator and are usually on the pricey side. Of course, if you don’t have the right setup and you need a place to permanently house your generator, for emergency power, then you may also need to pour a pad of cement to support the enclosure, which can also be costly. This type of setup is perfect for the home, but if you’re looking for a portable option, this definitely isn’t it.
While a steel enclosure is the best option, if you’re looking for a more affordable enclosure, retrofitted plastic is also a good choice. However, there have been some reports that this type of enclosure can be potentially dangerous and can lead to overheating.
Make Your Own Generator Enclosure or Cover
Another option is to simply make your own generator enclosure. Most online tutorials that focus on DIY generator enclosures will teach you how to correctly vent the generator in order to avoid overheating or a possible fire.
You can also find tutorials that will teach you how to make your own generator cover, for half the price that a premade cover costs. These covers are usually made out of a thick tarp, combined with PVC pipes. For this type of setup, you’ll need to place the generator on top of a dry surface, such as a cement pad or a large piece of plywood. The key here will be to make sure that whatever type of enclosure you make, moisture and water is not able to find its way inside.
- The control panel and the outlets on a generator must be completely protected from moisture
- Air circulation is crucial in order to prevent a fire or the generator from overheating.
- If you plan on taking your generator with you on your next camping trip, make sure the enclosure you have is portable, or buy or make a generator cover.
- Make sure the cover or enclosure can protect the generator in the event of both high wind and rain
What Type of Generator Should I Use During the Rainy Season?
Each type of generator is going to be susceptible to serious damage if you don’t take the proper precautions and keep the machine nice and dry during wet weather. However, a more compact, smaller inverter generator will be much easier to haul, transport, and protect from the elements.
Below you’ll find our top choice of compact inverter generator to use for both RV’ing and camping.
Considered one of the safest inverter generators on the market, the PAXCESS 2000 Watts Inverter Generator is a great choice for both camping and RV’ing. The lightweight design, fuel efficiency, and super-quiet operation make this model a must-have if you’re looking for a generator that’s environmentally friendly and easy to use. The generator comes with a noise rating of just sixty decibels, which is the same volume as a quiet conversation. It’s also equipped with two outlets and a small five-volt USB port, complete with inverter technology.
This generator comes with all of the bells and whistles you could want in a camping-specific model, and of course, like other camp generators, you’ll need to cover this model in inclement weather in order to prevent damage.
What We Love:
- Two outlets and one USB port
- Low noise rating
- Features sixteen hundred running watts
- Two thousand surge watts
- Eleven hours of runtime
- Smart eco-mode
- Parallel compatible
What We Didn’t Love:
- Kill switch is very small and can be difficult to locate
To learn more about this top-selling model, click the button below.
Can You Put Gas in a Generator While it’s Running?
Always make sure you allow the generator to cool off before you refuel it. Otherwise, this can be very dangerous. If you pour gas into the tank while the generator is hot or running, the fumes can ignite. We recommend giving it twenty minutes of cooldown time before you add more gas to the tank.
To learn more about inverter generators, click here to read our buyer’s guide.
Can I Run a Generator in a Shed?
A generator should never be used indoors, inside a traditional shed, or in a garage. Proper generator enclosures are carefully ventilated in order to circulate the air and prevent CO from building up. If you’re not sure the enclosure you’ve created is safe, purchase a CO detector, which will alert you immediately if dangerous levels of CO are detected.
Is it Okay to Run a Generator Without a Load
Running a generator without a load means the generator is operating without a building load. This can be done for a short period of time to ensure that the machine is in good working order. However, if done for an extended period of time, running the generator without a load can lead to wet stacking. When it’s run for a long time without a load, you will also waste a lot of fuel. Any unburnt fuel that accumulates on the exhaust stack can result in permanent damage.
As we mentioned, running a generator without a load should only be done to test the generator’s performance. If you don’t use your generator often, then this type of test should be performed at least once a year.
If you’d like to learn more about inverter generator power and upkeep, click here to read our article on How to check portable generator output.
Can RV Solar Panels Get Wet?
Yes, unlike portable generators, solar panels are protected against wet weather conditions. The HQST 100 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Solar Panel Off-Grid RV solar panel kit is the perfect example of a durable, easy to use solar panel system that can handle the elements. However, if it does rain, you may need to wipe down the solar panel, in the event it becomes muddy. Dirt and debris can negatively impact a solar panel’s performance.
Click here to read our solar panel buyer’s guide if you’d like to learn more about how these RV solar panel kits work.
Can my portable generator get wet and still work? No. These generators are not designed to withstand water or moisture of any kind.
So, can a portable generator be used in the rain? It can, but with the right type of protection. It’s crucial that no moisture reaches the outlets or the generator’s control panel. Because of this, if you decide to purchase a premade cover, make sure it’s the right style and size for your specific generator, otherwise, it will be useless.