Is it safe to ground a portable generator using the house ground at the service panel?


The generator must get its ground from whichever main service panel it feeds (e.g. it could have its own main panel), which in turn must be grounded any way that's legal. If you are simply running extension cords to the generator, it must be grounded legally.

It's legal to share grounds. You do that by running your own ground strap to the same pipe clamp, pipe or ground rod. You cannot go inside the other panel.

If generator power is entering the same service panel as utility power, then you absolutely must have some kind of transfer switch, which makes it impossible to have both utility service and generator connected at once.

The transfer switch can be as simple as two 240V breakers with a piece of sliding metal so they can't both be on at the same time. No big deal....

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Grounding is a method of giving electricity the most effect way to return to ground via the service panel. You see current flows from the panel to the outlet or device to power it up. The neutral wire is the return path for unused current. The ground wire is an additional path for electrical current to return safely to the ground without danger to anyone in the event of a short circuit. In that instant, the short would cause the current to flow through the ground wire, causing a fuse to blow or a circuit breaker to trip.

Ground wires used on power tools, vacuums, and other portable devices are made much safer when they incorporate the use of a third prong, thus a ground connection. Often people do an unthinkable act of cutting off the ground tab of an extension cord or power tool. This usually happens when the outlet being used has no ground, thus a polarized plug.

Dangers of an Ungrounded Appliance

An ungrounded electrical box, appliance, power tool, or...

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Everyone knows just how bad it can be if you lose your power for one reason or another, and a portable generator can really save the day when those issues emerge. There are important things, however, that you need to remember before using one of these for your home. All of the tips below will help keep your generator grounded.

Avoid Electrical Hazards

It is vital that you handle your generator with care in order to avoid electric shock or even execution. The first thing you need to know about grounding the generator is to check and make sure that the generator is dry, Do not use it in wet conditions. Make sure to dry your hands when setting up a generator. Make sure that you set the generator up on a dry surface and try to shelter it from any kind of moisture.

It is important to plug your appliance directly into the generator. If there is an extension cord it will need to be a heavy-duty type that is specially used for outdoors. It should be one...

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When A Portable Generator Won’t Power Your RV

See my video on testing for a floating neutral at

I received this email from a reader who wants to power his RV from a Honda portable generator.

I have a 2011 Fleetwood 40-footer. I am trying to get my Honda EU3000 generator to power up the motorhome for a few items. My display after plugging in will show NO LOAD. This generator will power anything else I try such as a 30-foot trailer with one air conditioner, compressor, etc. I also have a Coleman 5000 and that will power up the motorhome. I have an adapter cord 50-amp female going to 30-amp (3 prong) male. The Honda worked with my 2002 Monaco hooking the same way. The reason I like to use the Honda is when I am at the track this time of year, there is no need to run the motorhome generator since there is no need for air conditioning. I have called Honda and they were no help. John Z., (Purcellville, VA)

John, all...

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Why do they say to do it? Simply put, to reduce lawsuits.

The two examples you show here do not show there was a shock hazard because the generator not being attached to a ground electrode. There was a problem with the generators themselves. Possibly defective GFIs, wiring of the generator or camper, or other faults in the units themselves. The fact that someone using "an ungrounded generator" caused a shock to someone is merely anecdotal. Without any definite facts, it's difficult to comment. Does it mean there was no ground rod driven, or does it mean the generator's internal ground was not present?
How many campsites provide you with metal pipe that has 10 feet in direct contact with the ground, for the express purpose of grounding a generator? Do you ever see folks jumping out of their Holiday Rambler for the night, start a fire, set up the awning, and drive an 8' ground rod? And even if you do drive a ground rod, is it an acceptable ground to prevent shock? In the 2005...

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8 replies to this topic

… a faculty member…. advised that we ground the generator. (And) it seems like a ground fault interrupter (GFI) is recommended in any situation where you're potentially mixing water and electricity but …. been told that it's not necessary and will trip too easily or too often. I've never worked with a GFI or shot very much in snow so I put it to you, the experts: are GFIs absolutely necessary, just a good idea or a waste of time?

You do not need to Ground the gensets... The Gensets are "grounded" thus the 3 prong receptacle.... ground can be the earth or in the case of portable generators, the frame of the generator which will serve as a large conducting body that serves in place of the earth.

A question came up in another thread, “How to enjoy snow and not let it kill you” (


) that, I feel, warrants being addressed alone. That questions is...

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With hurricanes coming ashore more often, I wanted a better solution than running multiple extensions cords to my portable generator whenever we experienced a power outage. If you have used this setup, you know those windows and door gaps (where the extension cords are routed) tend to let in water and/or freezing cold air.

Instead, I was looking for a flexible setup that was simple (i.e. minimal failure risk) to operate and maintain.


I quickly eliminated the standby generator (comes with an automatic transfer switch) for three main reasons:

Cost was out of my budget (average quote was around $12,000); I did not like having yet another electronic part (i.e.brain of the standyby gen) to worry about; I wanted a flexibility to quickly change out a faulty generator (if needed);

I also eliminated the dedicated manual transfer switch (used with a portable generator) because:

The cost was high ($800 – $ 1,000); I did not want choose a...
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Choose a wiring system.

There are several different wiring systems that can be used to connect a generator to a home. The main two are discussed here


. Contact your local Department of Labor and Industries, Planning Department, or Power Company to find out what is legal in your area. Do not consult the internet to find out which system is legal in your area. There are many people that are unqualified to offer advice doing just that, and the law can vary significantly between countries, states, and even cities.

Consider an interlock kit. These are fairly simple to install yourself and they are the cheapest option. However, they are illegal in many areas and can be very unsafe. They must be installed absolutely correctly. Safe installation also requires that you have several extra spaces in your existing breaker box or that you install a new one, which must be done professionally. It is also a strict requirement that you get a kit that is approved for your specific...
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1) Ask to an electrician to connect a cable with a male plug. Set up the EVOLVE according to the generator size.

2) The generator must be provided with a proper female plug according to the safety standards.

3) The body of the generator must be grounded via a proper connection.

4) Set the EVOLVE in Manual Mode of operation.

5) In case of Mains Failure or in case you want to use the generator, connect the generator cable to the portable generator.

6) Start the generator. Use the Manual control of the circuit breakers on the EVOLVE front panel to open the MAINS circuit breaker, and to close the Generator circuit breaker.

7) Once the MAINS restores, close the MAINS circuit breaker. Let the engine running for a few minutes to cool down. Stop the generator and disconnect the...

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A portable generator is a gas or diesel-powered device which provides temporary electrical power. The engine turns a small turbine, which in turn creates usable electricity up to a certain level of wattage. Users can plug electrical appliance or tools directly into the generator's sockets, or the generator can be professionally wired into the sub-panel of a home.

Many construction teams use a portable generator to power tools and lights at a remote site. Sports officials may also bring in one to aid in night play or to run an electronic timer/scoreboard. Most commonly, residents and businesses left without power after a weather event will use a portable generator to keep vital appliances operating. These devices usually have enough power to keep a freezer, refrigerator, television and some lights working.

Because a portable generator uses a combustion engine to generate electricity, it must have several regulators on board. The engine must turn at 3600 rpm in order to...

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How to Ground an Ungrounded House

If your home's receptacles have only two holes or if a receptacle analyzer indicates they are ungrounded, don't panic—people have lived with ungrounded homes for decades. However, grounding considerably improves a home's safety and is worth adding.

If you want to ground an entire system, you have to call in a pro to rewire the entire home—an expensive job. If you want to ground only one receptacle, you can ask an electrician to run an individual ground wire from the receptacle to a cold-water pipe.

Here's a simpler solution: Install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles. These offer protection similar to grounding. Installed correctly, a single GFCI can protect all the receptacles on a...

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Portable backup generators are less expensive that whole house generators but require set up and fueling by the homeowner each time they are used. They also raise safety concerns, including carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, fire, and damage to appliances and other electrical equipment.

Here are some important safety guidelines for operating a portable generator:

Only operate a generator in the open and at a safe distance from your home. Don’t use a generator in an enclosed storage building, garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or near an open window or door. Never attach a portable generator directly to the wiring in your home. Instead, plug electrical devices into a heavy duty extension cord that is attached to the generator. Be sure the combined wattage of all the devices that are plugged into the generator does not exceed the rated capacity of either the generator or extension cord. Turn the generator off and allow it to cool before filling it with...
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Having a portable generator but only using extension cords to power your home is like having a car with only one seat. It works and gets the job done, but adding more seats or in the case of the generator, adding a receptacle to your home allows you to leverage the full capabilities of your generator and live much more comfortably.

Portable Generators of about 3,000 watts or higher generally have heavy duty power connectors meant for connecting heavy loads beyond a basic extension cable. In the case of my 7,500 watt generator, it has a large four prong outlet that’s meant to connect a 30 amp cable to a receptacle.

I purchased the Reliance Controls PB30 L14-30 30 Amp Generator Inlet Box which matched the connector (L14-30) on my Champion 7,500 Watt with Electric Start perfectly. These generator outlets are universal and generally go by the number of prongs. Smaller generators will use receptacles with less prongs, bigger generators will have more. It will often say...

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I can understand that since the RV isn't bonded, I should bond the generator when using it with the RV. But, does it really make a difference if the system is double bonded when using the generator as emergency power for the house?

As Pete said, there are too many generations and variations of electrical wiring out there for a "one answer fits all" approach. My expired license only allows me to provide "cautions" not "wiring advice"

The key is to know how to completely disconnect incoming service power from your house before attaching a generator, and to know where and how the neutral bonding is done.

On my house the bonding is done in the service panel and the ground is provided from a 'ground rod' directly outside the service entrance. The possibility of me sending voltage back out the neutral, to the grid, is near nil.

The answer to your latest question about the problem with two bonds is simple. If you attach the generator to exactly the same place...

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When installing a solar Photo-voltaic system (PV), it is extremely important all the equipment is grounded correctly. Failure to ground the entire system to include all the individual pieces, can be devastating, especially in an area that experiences lightning on a regular basis. Even if you seldom have electrical storms, all it takes is one lightning strike or a single lose wire and all the equipment can be destroyed. Worse yet, it can start a fire and cause even more damage to your home.

Electricity follows the path of least resistance, and while it’s almost impossible to know its exact path, we can take reasonable steps to try and direct the electricity someplace safe when a surge occurs. The way we do this is with an earth grounding system.

Every electrical outlet, light socket, electrical device, gas line, copper pipe and service panel in your house is all tied together by a bare copper wire. Somewhere, this bare copper wire is either connected to a copper pipe...

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With tornadoes and floods pummeling the South and Midwest and a blistering heat wave engulfing much of the country, people have power outages on their minds. That's what we found out when the Popular Mechanics crew went to Houston, Texas, last week for the first RAM Home Safety Prep Show, an event organized by Popular Mechanics and sponsored by RAM Trucks, Stihl and Northern Tools + Equipment.

In our "Generators Made Simple" presentation, for example, we met people in the crowd who said that they've lost power for periods of up to three weeks following Hurricane Ike in 2008, among other disasters that have hit the Gulf region. But no matter where you live, a little disaster planning can go a long way to securing your family's safety, especially when it comes to generating your own electricity. Here are 10 basic generator questions people asked PM, and their answers.

1. How Big a Generator Should I Get?

We're not...

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Rohn 65G

RF In Station Equipment

2nd Floor Grounding

Rumor has station equipment or desk grounds improving reception and transmission, and reducing TVI or RFI. Some even think filters divert harmonics to ground, where the ground absorbs unwanted signals. Like many things heard, there is an element of true results behind scientific folklore.

In early radio installations, single-wire feeders were common. Even after WWII, when coaxial cable became common, very few systems used baluns. As a result, early installations frequently had very high levels of RF on station wiring and equipment cabinets.

Early equipment did not have a safety ground. USA house wiring was absent the round ground pin, having only a hot and neutral in 110...

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Even when the manufacturer indicates it should be grounded?


If your out boondocking you will have to drive a 8ft copper ground rod into the ground to ground to.


not true.

"...frame of a portable generator need not be grounded (connected to earth) and that the frame may serve as the ground (in place of the earth):

• The generator supplies only equipment mounted on the generator and/or cord- and plug-connected equipment through receptacles mounted on the generator, and
• The noncurrent-carrying metal parts of equipment (such as the fuel tank, the inter- nal combustion engine, and the generator’s housing) are bonded to the generator frame, and the equipment grounding con- ductor terminals (of the power receptacles that are a part of [mounted on]...

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Before circuit breakers, mankind had fuses. They are single-use current interrupter with a component that melts if the current traveling through a circuit grows to excessive levels; thus, the fuse is used up and the electrical circuit remains protected and intact.

So, what do fuses do exactly? Well, fuses are usually just thin pieces of wire enclosed in heat-resistant glass or some other type of material. These fuses are plugged into the circuit and act as a conduit for the electricity flowing through it. You can think of fuses as a bridge that allows current to travel across the circuit. The wire (or other component) in the fuse is designed to tolerate a certain level of current. When the current flowing through the circuit experiences a surge, the wire melts or disintegrates, creating a gap that the current cannot cross. Going back to the bridge metaphor, the bridge has a weight limit. A surge of current is like a really heavy truck that caused the bridge to collapse....

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A generator is a core component to many people's emergency preparedness plans. (Maybe you have a cool charcoal powered or a multi-fuel generator.) However many fail to think through how exactly they will power the items they want to run when the grid is down.

In June of 2012 my family experienced a 10 day power outage. It was eye opening. It was 100 degrees during the day with periods of heavy rain. I had to run a sump pump to keep my basement dry, a refrigerator, freezer for food preservation, a portable AC unit in the living room to protect my infant, we charged phones, and ran the wifi router. I had power cords everywhere. It was a pain. I decided then and there I would find a better way.

A generator transfer switch is the legal and proper way to power your home with an emergency generator. There are three main types: automatic, manual transfer sub panel and a breaker interlock. Each has varying degrees of complexity, benefits and expense.

Automatic transfer...

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Standby or Emergency Generators

We usually take electric power for granted, until we lose power due to an outage. Usually power is restored within a few hours, but during major ice storms, wind storms, or other disasters, it could take several days or longer for power company crews to restore power to everyone.

Inexpensive emergency back-up generators are available from home centers, mail order, and internet sources, so many of us keep a generator around for use when the power goes out.
Backup generators are handy, but they can also create a dangerous situation if not connected properly to your home’s electrical wiring.

Generators are sometimes permanently attached to the home wiring. If the connection to the home wiring is not done correctly, then the generator can feed into BARC’s power system and can electrocute linemen who are working to restore power.

Generators should never be connected to a home electrical outlet and should not be directly...

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Let me start by saying that the safest way of connecting a portable generator set or any other power source to a house wiring is via a transfer system. The question of course is what to do if you don’t have one and a power outage caught you off guard? Fortunately, there are still some ways of energizing your house without a transfer switch, especially if you have a drier line. However, these methods may be not quite safe, do not comply with National Electrical Code (NEC®) and should not be used unless it is absolutely necessary in an emergency.

I personally would not recommend doing this. However, I realize that some people will do so anyway, so I have compiled here some information to help you do it technically right. Of course, this information is provided for general reference only without liability of any kind- this is not a professional advice! Remember, you can always use extension cords to feed stand-alone appliances. If nevertheless you decided to power up your home...

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When considering the purchase of a generator for home back up use, you should also think about installing a transfer switch device. A professionally installed transfer switch makes using your generator easy and safe.

What is a transfer switch?
Why do I need a transfer switch?
How does a transfer switch work?
What options are available?
How do I use a transfer switch?

What is a transfer switch?

A transfer switch is an electrical device that is installed next to your electrical panel in your home. It connects to the circuits in your electrical panel that you wish to power during an electrical outage.

This allows you to power these circuits by connecting the generator to the transfer switch, instead of having to run extension cords to various items.

Why do I need a transfer switch?

A transfer switch is required by the National Electric Code for any connection of ...

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Generator Grounding, Bonding And Full Panel GFI:
Problems With Two Pole Transfer Switches:

Problems arise when you have a generator with whole panel GFI protection and you connect to a two pole transfer switch. When connected, these generators will TRIP their GFI protection and not provide power to your home. The GFI tripping problem can also occur on homes that use a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit. This is because you have two ground/neutral bonding points, both in the home electricial panel and the generator.

Generators with whole panel GFI protection are primarily used on construction sites for OSHA compliance. In some cases you can remove a jumper wire which bonds the generator frame to the Neutral of the alternator winding. This will convert the generator to a Floating Neutral. Consult with the manfacture to see if they allow such changes. If so, then the panel GFI will be disabled and you can not use it on a construction site. Floating Neutral generators...

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