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Can Portable Generators Get Wet? What To Do In Rainy Weather

Can portable generators get wet? As a general rule you do not want to let your generator get wet. If you're using it in the rain then a generator cover should always be used - preferably one made specifically for your model of generator.

You can also use a cover you've made yourself, but be sure to check that it adequately covers your generator and can deal with any wind and driving rain. Specially manufactured generator covers are always going to be the best option.

Do not use a generator inside just because it is raining. The carbon monoxide is far too dangerous. Always use a generator outdoors if it's a regular portable model.

Image: a popular generator from Firman

Generators are essential products which can create electricity during a power outage, or in natural disasters when nothing else is working. Today we'll discuss using them in rainy conditions, why wet generators are good, and how to protect your own generator when it's raining and you need to use it.

In most of the country, reliable electrical service is a given - except sometimes when severe weather strikes. Storms can knock out power for minutes, hours or days at a time, leaving homeowners alone in the dark. It's at these times when generators are needed most.

Snow, ice, falling tree branches and high winds can lead to sudden loss of power, sending homeowners outdoors to start the generator - but is this safe?

Can you get portable generators wet? Can a portable generator get rained on? 

What happens if a generator gets wet? If it's snowing or raining, is it safe to run a generator?

These are all good questions - ones we often get here at

Knowing the answers to these questions can help you operate a generator with less danger. Here's what you need to know about running a generator during times of wet weather and rain - and how you can do so safely. 

Can a portable generator get wet?

While the impulse to run a generator in the rain is natural, it's not recommended¹. Even for portable generators that are marketed as safe for operation in all weather conditions.

Where there's water and electricity, there's danger. Moisture that manages to penetrate the generator is likely to cause a short circuit or even a spark that could render the generator useless.  

Is there such thing as a waterproof generator?

Are portable generators waterproof?

Is there such a thing as a safe wet generator? The answer is no

There is no such thing as a waterproof generator. Some generators are marketed as safe for use in all weather conditions, but it's important to read the instructions for operation, and ensure that the generator is properly protected from potential exposure to moisture. 

Can I run my portable generator in the rain?

If you're a homeowner that frequently experiences power outages due to severe weather, then you may be wondering if there is a type of generator that can be used in the rain.

The answer is whole home generators.

Whole-home generators are placed outdoors in the location where they are intended to be operated, and they do not move from that location.

These generators  are intended to be used in the rain, snow, sleet or whatever weather your home faces.

Whole-home generators have built-in protective covers that keep them safe from precipitation. 

What's the danger of running a portable generator in the rain?

There are a couple dangers of running a generator in the rain:

  1. Fire or destruction of the generator.

  2. Shock and electrocution hazard.

The first danger is the potential that the generator's components will simply burn themselves out in the event that rain or water causes the generator to spark. With some models you could find that after just a little light rain, your generator refuses to work.

This would ruin your generator and also leave you stranded in the dark.

It's a waste of your money and a waste of the effort that it took to get make your generator operational.² 

Another danger of running a generator in the rain is the potential for electrocution. A ground fault is what happens when electricity strays to an undesirable path into the ground - often electrocuting someone in the process. 

If you're familiar with GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets, you're probably familiar with this phenomenon. GFCI outlets are designed to protect against ground faults.

The moment the outlet senses a ground fault, the ground fault circuit interrupt outlet will automatically shut off. When a generator is wet, there's a potential for a ground fault that could be life-threatening. 

What can you do to run a portable generator safely in the rain?

Use manufactured generator covers. In some cases making your own can be a good option if it is very sturdy and resistant to bad weather.

Generator covers are designed to protect all the electrical components of a running generator and can allow homeowners to run an inverter generator in wet weather, although not in severe weather.

High winds could cause a generator cover to blow off, leaving the generator vulnerable.

It's worth noting that not all generator covers are safe to use while the generator is in operation. If you're looking for a generator cover specifically for use while the generator is turned on, look for a product called an "operational cover." 

In addition to the operational generator covers you can also consider a steel enclosure or in some cases a wooden generator cover. Steel or wooden enclosures provide optimal protection from inclement weather, but for best results, have yours professionally installed. 

It is worth spending the money to protect your generator. As we know, the popular inverter generators generators and other common models are not cheap. When generators get wet, it can be costly to repair them and they'll often need to be replaced. More importantly, you may not have the power you desperately need in an emergency situation.

Is a homemade tarp cover good enough to protect a generator in the rain? 

The safest generator shelter for wet conditions is one that is designed for the purpose of protecting a generator while in use.

These covers promote natural cooling features and optimal protection. A tarp or normal canopy is not intended for this purpose and may not provide adequate protection. Especially during heavy rain and wind. 

You will even find that in extreme weather, a specially made PVC generator cover or tent generator covers won't hold up very well. This is especially true in strong winds.

Where is the best place to put a generator during wet or snowy conditions? 

The best place to keep a generator running safely is in a solid covered spot without pooling water.

If you don't have such a place in your yard, you may consider constructing a safe concrete platform or building some kind of lean to style cover, a generator shed, or some other structure which can withstand both wind and rain.

Can you use a portable generator indoors while it's raining?

Unfortunately, you cannot use a portable generator inside. Generators burn fresh fuel and have an exhaust system that produces carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that's toxic for humans. 

Running a generator in the garage can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning (CO poisoning) in your home.

It's not safe to operate a generator in a garage or another structure like a shed, because of those exhaust gases, engine air, and carbon monoxide in particular from the engine's exhaust.

It is absolutely essential you let the exhaust safely blow away outside. Consider using carbon monoxide detectors if you are at all concerned about this.

Using generators in wet weather

The next time you hear someone ask, "are portable generators waterpoof," you'll know the answer.

Most generators - all generators except whole home generators - need protection to operate safely in adverse weather. There are just too many parts which need adequate protection from wet weather such as fuel supply valve, fuel injectors, air intakes, extension cords, etc.

A DIY enclosure may not be good enough.

Before shopping for a generator cover to protect from wind blown rain, measure the front and side dimensions of the front and side panels to ensure that the cover you purchase will work for your generator. Don't forget to take top panel measurements as well.

Ultimately, using a cover can protect you and your generator, so it's important to go the extra mile.

Always buy a cover that works for your specific generator, and follow the safety instructions provided with both the cover and the generator. It's worth it.

Here are some more generator safety tips you might want to read up on if you're just starting to use generators for the first time. 
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