How to Store a Portable Generator Properly when Not in Use?

How to Store a Portable Generator

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There may be a wide variety of reasons why RVers need to store their portable generators after a camping trip.

Of them, the most prominent is if you’re a seasoned boondocker who goes camping once or twice a year. For such RVers, knowing the proper way to store a generator is important in keeping the unit in top shape.

Storing and winterizing your portable generator will make sure the generator will fire right up at the beginning of the next season. It will also ensure long working life while reducing hefty maintenance fees.

But, how to store a portable generator properly when not in use? 

Well, in this article we aim to answer all your questions related to storing and winterizing your portable generators.

How Long can you Store a Generator?

The length of storage time of an unused generator depends on the type of fuel it uses. Generally, gasoline has the shortest shelf life, whereas, propane has a very long shelf life.

Newly purchased generators that were never used will last a long time as they don’t have fuel to cause problems. However, when the unit sits unused, the internal components, electronics, and wiring will degrade over time.

On the other hand, a generator that you’re using to power your RV can be stored depending on the type of fuel it uses and how it is stored. Generally, gasoline lasts anywhere between 1-2 years if treated with a stabilizer and stored properly.

However, if you drain your gas tank and follow the procedures we spoke about below to store your generator, then it should last you a long time.

How to Store a Portable Generator when Not in Use?

Storing a portable generator for a short time is as simple as adding a fuel stabilizer or running the unit once every week. However, to store your portable for a long time, you’ll need to follow the proper storage procedures.

The first thing to decide before storing your generator is how long will it stay unused. Because the length of time it will sit without being used will decide the storage or winterizing procedure.

Generally, if the gap between your camping trips is small, then the storage procedure is pretty straightforward. On the other hand, the storage procedure is a bit more involved if you are going to be putting the unit away for long.

Let’s take a detailed look at both.

Storing a Generator for a Short-Term

Storing a generator for a week or two to a month is pretty easy. You don’t have to disconnect the battery or drain the fuel tank if the generator is left unused for a short duration.

However, it is still recommended to add a properly formulated fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank if you’re going to store the unit with gas in it. This is because the gas in your fuel tank loses its potency every day and a fuel stabilizer slows the process down.

With the fuel stabilized, run the generator with load for an hour or two every two weeks to burn some gas and keep the moving parts active.

Storing a Generator for a Long-Term

Storing a generator for over a few months to a year or two is not very straightforward. You have to follow the proper storage procedure that involves multiple steps to ensure your generator stays in shape and works when you need it.

However, the long-term storage procedure also gets easy as you perform it a few times. Here are the things you will have to perform to ensure your generator stays in top working order when stored for an extended period.

Drain your generator’s fuel tank

The gasoline in your generator’s fuel tank is the main problem creator when storing the unit for an extended period without use. Gasoline, especially ethanol-blended, is known to oxidize over time.

This results in your gas degrading while producing a gummy-like substance over time that clogs, rusts, and ruins the fuel system. You need to either use a fuel stabilizer or drain your fuel tank to prevent fuel-related issues in storage.
Fuel-related issues are only common to gas and diesel-powered generators. You don’t have to worry about emptying the fuel tank and carburetor or adding a fuel stabilizer if you have a dual-fuel generator running on propane.

Drain your generator’s carburetor

Draining your generator’s fuel tank will not solve fuel-related issues completely. You will need to make sure you drain the carburetor to make it foolproof.

Draining your generator’s carburetor is as easy as loosening the drain screw on the carburetor until the gas starts pouring down. On the other hand, running the generator after siphoning the fuel tank will also use up the remaining fuel in the carburetor and fuel lines.

Use fogging oil to prevent damage

The engine cylinder is an empty and ideal place for moisture to form when the generator sits in storage for a long time without use. Over time, there may be the development of rust due to moisture which may result in your engine failing.

To prevent this from happening, you need to add a few tablespoons of motor or spray fogging oil like STA-BIL 22001 to the engine cylinder. To add fogging oil, simply remove the air filter and spray the oil into the intake of a running engine. Turn off the engine as you see smoke coming out of your exhaust.

Next, remove your spark plug with a wrench and spray the fogging oil in the cylinder chamber for 3 seconds and replace the spark plug. Now your cylinder is free from moisture damage, is lubricated, and will not scuff at generator start-up.

Disconnect the Battery before storing

A generator that uses an automatic ignition system needs to remove the battery when storing the unit for long-term storage. This is because the battery when plugged into the unit will have a parasite drain resulting in a dead battery which will prevent your generator from starting.

Disconnect the battery terminals and store the battery in a dry and cool place away from direct sunlight. Additionally, you need to use a battery maintainer (Buy from Amazon) to keep the battery topped off and prevent it from going dead.

Exercise the generator when in storage

If you’re planning to store your generator with fuel in it, then exercising your generator every few weeks will keep it in shape and out of harm’s way. 

Though there is no alternative to a good fuel stabilizer when it comes to storing a gas-run generator with fuel in it. However, there is one more step you should take to make sure the unit stays in shape and problems are detected in time before camping season starts.

Exercising your generator once or twice a month for an hour or two with load will keep the moving parts active and lubricated. It will ensure you use up the old fuel and force you to refuel with fresh gas.

Running the generator in storage will also limit issues related to moisture that may lead to serious problems.

As you might have already noticed, the main problem when storing a generator comes from the fuel it uses. The procedures mentioned above will make sure your generator stays in top working order while keeping it ready when you need it.

Do I Need to Winterize my Portable Generator?

Yes, you need to winterize your portable if you’re storing the unit during the freezing winter months. Winterizing will make sure your generator operates smoothly and prevent cold start problems.

The process of winterizing and long-term storage has a lot of similarities. You have to drain or stabilize the fuel, disconnect the battery, and use fogging oil.

However, there are a few things you need to do differently when storing your generator over the long harsh winter months. One, you need to make sure the generator is not exposed to direct snow. Two, you need to use an engine block heater.

Keeping the generator in direct contact with snow or ice will increase the risk of rust and corrosion. Worse, being exposed to heavy snow for prolonged periods will result in excessive condensation inside the unit’s fuel tank and may fail the circuits.

An engine block heater keeps the engine at the recommended temperature level. It prevents the fluids in the generator from being frozen. Most importantly, an engine block heater makes it easy for the engine to start if you need it during these harsh times.

Where should I Store my Portable Generator?

The best place to store your portable generator is either in your garage or in a shade/generator box outside. The garage provides the same level of protection if you like to keep it indoors, whereas, a shade works the best when storing it outdoors.

After preparing your portable generator for storage you now need to decide where you’re going to keep it for the duration of storage. Generally, you have two options to consider, one, keep it indoors or two keep it outside.

The main idea is to keep the unit safe and protect it from dust, rain, heat, and snow.

Is it Safe to Store a Generator Indoors?

Keeping your generator indoors is safe as long as you follow all the safety measures. However, indoors doesn’t mean inside your home or your RV/travel trailer.

Storing your generator inside your home means your children or pets will come in contact increasing the chance of accidents. Moreover, gasoline has a distinct odor that can be uncomfortable for you and your family.

Your garage is the safest place when it comes to storing your generator indoors until the next camping season. It provides the same level of protection and security your home has.

Moreover, It is a spacious space that is well ventilated while protecting from all weather conditions.

Though, the downside to storing a generator in a garage comes from your vehicle. As you drive your vehicle, the tires get covered in sludge which will eventually melt in the garage, increasing moisture level.

To prevent this from affecting your generator unit, try washing the sludge off your tires before parking your car inside the garage.

You can also consider keeping your generator on your porch if you leave in an area that doesn’t have extreme climate changes. However, make sure to secure the generator to something and cover it with a generator cover (Buy from Amazon).

Can I Store a Portable Generator Outside?

Yes, you can store a portable generator outside your house but not under the open sky. You need to store it in a shade or generator enclosure to keep it protected from the elements.

People who don’t like the idea of storing your generator indoors can safely keep their generator in an outside shade or enclosure. They are an excellent option for storing the unit away from your home while removing all risk factors from your house.

However, outdoor shades have their downsides as your generator will suffer if it is less or over ventilated. 

During hot summer months, a less ventilated shade will heat the interior due to inadequate airflow. This will increase the level of evaporated gas fumes inside the shade, increasing the risk of a fire.

On the other hand, overly ventilated shades will let in too much moisture, water from rainfall, or snow. This will increase moisture-related issues like rust and corrosion.

To combat this, make sure the shade has the right level of ventilation, is clean, and is not already moldy or falling apart. However, if you don’t have an outdoor shade, you can get yourself an all-weather outdoor storage shade to keep your generator outside.

Conclusion

A portable generator is the most reliable source of power for your RV when out boondocking, thus keeping it in top shape is important. Though, storing a generator may seem overly complicated or time-consuming at first, but will soon be simple as you get used to it.

I hope the answer to the question, “how to store a portable generator when not in use” is clear. Following the tips and procedures, we discussed above will keep your unit healthy in storage and keep your RV powered when needed.