FAQs About Generators

See what we did there? Where’s our rimshot!

We’ve generated some answers to your FAQs about generators! (We’ll be here all week!)

1. Can I run my generator in the rain?

If you think you can withstand electrocution, go for it! Just kidding: do not go for it at all.

Running a generator in the rain is not recommended. It poses a safety hazard as water can enter the electrical components of the generator and cause a short circuit. It can also damage the generator or give you an electrical shock. 

In the dire circumstance where you must run a generator in the rain, make sure it is placed under a shelter/cover that provides adequate protection from water. Remember to put a tarp over it, if you have to move the generator through the rain to a second location. And if it’s already wet, you should let it dry out before starting it.

2. How often should I change the oil in my generator?

Probably more often than you thought! Change your oil after the first 20-30 hours of operation. In addition, you should schedule an oil change after every 100 hours of operation. 

Note: Don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s oil change recommendations for your specific generator model as it can vary from brand to brand and model to model.

Q: Is there a JiffyLube for generators? A: No.

3. Can a generator be used to power sensitive electronic devices?

Yes, if you buy the right one. A generator can be used to power sensitive electronic devices including laptops, mobile phones, and the like. However, for that, it is best if your generator has a low Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) rating. 

A low THD rating ensures that the electricity it produces is stable and free from voltage spikes and fluctuations that could potentially damage electronic devices. Keep a close eye on that THD when choosing your generator. If you want the very best results when using sensitive devices on generator power, you may want to purchase a permanent standby generator.

4. How many appliances can I run on my generator?

Look for the wattage indication in your generator’s manual! It should list the maximum peak (highest) capacity, as well as the average power capacity.

Before purchasing a generator, you should calculate the wattage needs of the appliances you’ll want to power simultaneously. Then you can find and invest in a generator that can handle the total load. 

You can find the maximum output rating for most generators in their user manual or sometimes printed on the generator itself. If you choose a lower wattage generator, remember to limit the number of attached appliances according to its capacity, to avoid damaging the generator or the appliances. Be selective!

If this is your vision, rein it in.

5. What safety precautions should I take when using a generator?

There are several safety precautions and best practices that should be followed while using generators. Be sure to read your manual completely before operating your generator. However, with that said, you should follow these two key (read: absolutely mandatory) pieces of advice while using any gas- or propane-powered generator:

  • Always use the generator in well-ventilated areas to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces.
  • Never try to refuel a generator while it’s running. 

Store your generator manual in an accessible place. Stick it in a zip top bag attached to the handle of the generator for easy access. Make sure you always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.

6. How do I maintain and service a portable generator?

Think of your gas-powered generator as a tiny car that doesn’t go anywhere. It has an engine just like a car, so most of the engine-related maintenance tasks you have to do for a car apply to a generator as well. Your generator might become the neediest part of your Stay Bag, but it’s probably worth it.

To ensure that your portable generator remains in top working condition, regular maintenance and servicing are important. Some key maintenance tasks include: 

  • Changing the oil and air filter
  • Inspecting the spark plug
  • Cleaning the fuel system  
  • Checking the battery
  • Keeping the generator clean and free of debris
  • Storing it in a dry and protected area when not in use

It is also essential to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and recommendations for your specific model. Upon encountering any issues, seek professional servicing from an authorized repair centre. A car or small engine mechanic will also be able to solve most of your generator problems, in a pinch.

If there’s a Q we haven’t A’d in this FAQ about generators, be sure to check out our generator buying guide for more info!

If you haven’t bought a generator yet, go get it! Escape the nuisance of flashlights, headlamps, and candles during power outages.

About the Author

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.