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A generator is an essential piece of equipment to power your RV when dry camping. Unlike solar panels, a generator can produce power with a click of a button, irrespective of the time and weather.
But, what if it starts pouring as you run the generator? Can you run a portable generator in the rain or snow?
Yes, you can run a portable generator in the rain, snow, or wet condition given you don’t let it get wet. Portable generators are not waterproof and thus shouldn’t be run during heavy rainfall without cover. However, most portable generators can handle drizzles and snows without any problem.
Running your portable unit when the heavens have let loose will increase the risk of generator damage and electrocution. However, there are ways to make running a generator safe to power your RV even when it is raining or snowing.
In this post, we’ll talk about ways to help you run your portable unit safely in wet conditions. Plus, we’ll also learn how to dry a wet generator to eliminate generator damage.
Table of Contents
Are Generators Waterproof or Water-Resistant?
No, portable generators are not waterproof, meaning the water will find its way if submerged or exposed to heavy rain. However, most portable generators on the market today are water-resistant, making them ready to handle light showers.
Irrespective of the type and brand, no portable generators are waterproof. Water or moisture will get into their internal components if exposed to heavy rain or snowfall.
However, portable generators are water-resistant. This means you can run them in light rain given the unit is using a generator running tent or is under a canopy.
Generators produce electricity that can become dangerous if it is exposed to water or moisture after it is generated. Water or moisture finding its way into the working parts or the outlets will increase the risk of generator damage or worse, lead to electrocution.
Is it Safe to Run a Generator in the Rain?
Well, the bad news is, portable generators are not designed to work in wet conditions. This indicates that operating the generator when it is raining hard can raise safety concerns for both you and the equipment.
Generators have internal electronic circuits that will get damaged if the rainwater finds its way to the electronics circuits. The circuits that control the current flowing to appliances you are using can get short-circuited, or worse yet, cause a fire within the generator itself.
Running a generator in the rain also increases the risk of electric shocks or electrocution. The risk is even higher if your unit doesn’t have UFCI protected outlets or the power cord is damaged. Additionally, operating a generator with wet hands can also electrocute you.
So the answer to the question, “can I run a generator in the rain?” is it is not recommended.
However, some people still want to use their portable generators when it’s pouring outside. As a result, a lot of generators today have optional rain covers. These rain covers will help to keep the generator dry while allowing you to run it when needed.
However, do not rely on the generator for extended periods under heavy rain, snow, or a storm.
Note: Never touch any electrical parts with moist hands when operating your generator under wet conditions. Make sure you are dry before touching any switch or button.
How to Safely Run a Generator in the Rain?
You can safely run your portable generator in case of rain by moving the unit under your RV or tow vehicle. You can also use a generator running cover to run it when it snows or rains.
Though modern generators can easily handle light showers, most manufacturers advise against running their units in wet conditions. This is mainly because of the safety concerts as the combination of water and electricity is a recipe for disaster.
However, there are ways you can run your generator safely even when the conditions are not suitable.
Run the Unit Under your RV
The easiest way to operate a generator and avoid getting it wet when in operation is by placing it under your RV or tow vehicle. When under the RV, your RV acts like an umbrella protecting it from the elements.
However, before placing your generator under your RV, make sure the ground is hard and there is no chance of water pooling under it. Moreover, make sure to close all the windows and have an active CO detector as your generator is running right under your rig.
If you decide to run the generator from under your truck, make sure it is placed away from the fuel tank of your vehicle. Though the heat generator from the unit will not cause any trouble, why take chance.
Use a Generator Running Tent
Another option for running your generator when it rains or snows is to use a generator running tent like the one from GenTent. These tents are specially designed to withstand bad weather like rain, snow, hail storms, and wind gusts.
Using these tents provide adequate protection to the sensitive parts, including the outlets. You don’t have to worry about your generator overheating as it is designed to maintain proper airflow and the tent has a dedicated opening for refueling.
How to Dry a Wet Generator?
You can just wipe it off or let it air dry if your generator was left outside overnight as it was pouring. However, if for some reason you found your generator submerged, you need to disassemble the unit, dry it and reassemble it back.
You don’t have to worry much about the drying process if your generator was washed by light rain. You can simply wipe the unit dry or leave it under the sun to air dry, and it should be fine.
However, if the unit was submerged or soaked because it rained cats and dogs overnight, then we have some work to do. The first thing to do is not run the generator until you have dried it completely, as it will increase the risk of electrocution or damage to the unit.
Next, move the unit to a dry place. Drying out a soaked unit and making it ready for operation means opening the parts that are soaked. You need to open the main circuit panels, air filter, battery, and electrical cables.
You can use an air compressor (if available) or air dry it under the sun. But, I would suggest not opening the unit if you’re not very technical as you may do more damage than good while also voiding the warranty. Take the unit to the manufacturer’s service center or call for professional help.
Though running a generator when it’s raining is not advisable as it can be hazardous for you, your neighbors, and the unit itself. However, you can use a generator running tent when using it in wet conditions if that is the only source of your RV power.
Make sure to dry out the unit completely if it gets wet before using it and call for help if the generator is soaked.