Generators are a good source of energy in this age of where we need temporary or remote power all the time, be it for construction household or miscellaneous work. Portable generators have made life much more comfortable. Especially since the advancement in technology, making generators is no more a hassle.
Generators are used for almost every kind of electrical work. It provides temporary or distant power. You can see generators in construction sites and shops. Some people use it when main power is lost, or there is a failure. In some countries, it is used in halls, auditoriums and offices for continuous power. The main problems with generators are to know if they are grounded or not. Because grounding plays an essential role in determining the power outrage, if your generator is not rooted, the excess power will be stuck in between the wire causing the home appliances and circuits to catch fire. Most of the explosions or fire you see in homes is because of this.
What is Grounding?
Grounding or Earthing is mainly used in technical industries which means connection of the ground to “non-current carrying materials” such as frame in case of portable generator. It provides an alternate path to the current to flow directly to the ground if there is a fault in the wire or if the wire is damaged.
In case of generators, they mainly consist of three types, portable generator, standby generator and inverter generator, which we typically use for powering our homes and offices. And its hands down the best kind of generator which can be grounded or earthed.
You need to look for ground faults too because they mostly go unnoticed and cause trouble. It can cause a bigger problem with manufacturing or a construction site as the workload on these places are more as compared to in homes, offices and shops.
Is Grounding Necessary?
Grounding a generator is mandatory. Most of the modern generators do not require grounding as they are already grounded having the latest technology; however, typical generators do need grounding as it saves you from electrocution and damage of home appliances. There should be proper grounding and bonding of all the electrical components to minimize the flow of abnormal current to your home appliances such as TVs, refrigerators, AC. Not grounding a portable generator will destroy all of your beloved components. And yes, your Mac too, so, better safe than sorry.
For this purpose, we first need to understand how electricity moves from the generator to home and then to the appliances. The live wire, neutral wire and ground wire are used for this purpose. A pair of live wires in a 50 amps generator transfers power from the generator to your home and then to appliances or switchboard. The neutral wire gives a path back to the generator and appliances. Now the ground wire is attached to any non-current carrying material, and it does not have a current flowing. So, what are the motive to use this wire for earthing and other dynamics?
What if My Generator is Not Grounded?
Things wear out with time. Everything has a desired time and cost. In most of the cases during the usage of the generator, the live wire wears out or get damaged, and its insulation wears out. If this damages part gets exposed to the metallic material of the generator or any body part. It will end up in a short circuit. The entire frame of the generator gets hot if the wire touches the frame from the damaged part, and if anyone reaches it, you might end up in the hospital due to electrocution.
If your portable generator is appropriately grounded into the earth, it will get all the current directed to the earth wire and then to the ground and from the ground to the 4 feet rod. Besides the electrocution, a non-grounded generator may set your home appliances on fire, and things might get damaged. Worst case scenario, it might even destroy the building.
Setting Up Your Generator for Grounding
There is a variety of generators in the market. How do you know which generator can be grounded, and which one will not? For this, you need to look for if your generator is “separately derived” or not.
Many modern generators have already the frames required to direct the flow of current to earth. One way to check if your generator is grounded or not is to read the owner’s manual as it contains all the information you need to know at first hand.
If your portable generator is separately derived, it will need a grounding rod of about 4 feet. And if it is not independently derived, it will not be grounded.
Checking of Separately Derived Generator
To check if your generator is separately derived or not, simply check the transfer switch of the generator. Most of the modern portable generators do not require the featuring of grounding them because they contain the functionality for that purpose. For the essential part, if you have a conventional portable generator, you need to make sure everything, including a combustion engine, the fuel tank is connected with the frame. In this case, the generator, along with the frame, will handle carrying the current if it flows into the frame directly to the earth wire.
If your generator is separately derived, it will have a grounding bolt. A grounding bolt is what we use for tying the copper wire across it for grounding purposes. You need to look for that bolt if It is available. Congratulations! You are able to ground your portable generator.
Tools Required to Ground a Portable Generator
For grounding your portable generator, you will need some tools and basic knowledge of current and power. Otherwise seek expert help as one wrong move can cause harm or mechanical fault. Having pretty much everything for the job does not make you a professional. Though in this age, everything is readily available on the internet and most importantly, the tutorials may be helpful for grounding the generator.
For grounding a portable generator, the tools you will need are available at home. Some of the things which are not available can be brought from online stores.
Wire strippers will come in handy because most of the work will be done by this tool such as cutting the wire from the end, trimming correctly and extending the copper surface to your desired length. It is necessary that you have a wire stripper.
Wire strippers will do the work smoothly, and if it’s not available, a knife will do. Wire strippers are available on Amazon on cheap rates quality ensured.
Copper Wire for Grounding
For connecting the wire with the rod, you should have ample grounding wire so that it may fulfill the need of installation from the generator to the rod.
Copper Ground Rod
The central part of the whole procedure is this copper ground rod. If this is not available, you cannot continue as the rod is the main component we need for grounding the generator. You will need to ensure the length of the copper rod is at least 4 feet or maximum of 8 feet which is usually required but since using a portable generator for home 4 feet will do the job. It should be stuck deep down in the ground. For injecting it into the ground, you can use a hammer with a slight push on the top. Beware not to push or struck it with a hammer to a point where you mold the rod.
For binding the copper wire with the rod, you will need a set of pliers. Optional tools can contain water to soften the surface, making it easier to insert the grounding rod into the ground. A screwdriver for minor works and a shovel if necessary. The pliers will be used to tie the copper wire we used across the bolt of the generator, so they’re mandatory. You cannot use hands for wrapping the cable if you are looking for quick fixes, you should stop.
Steps for Grounding Your Generator
Step 1: Selecting a Surface
Look for the ground with soft mud, or you will keep on shoveling or hammering the rod which will definitely ruin the above coating of the rod. Select a moist surface, so you don’t get to make the extra effort.
Step 2: Setting up Copper Rod
Using a mallet or a hammer, insert the rod into the ground but be cautious about looking out for how much you want to insert it in as it will be 4 feet. If inserting in a hard terrain or rocky surface, look out for an angle in which it gets pretty much inside the ground. Be cautious of not striking the hammer to the rod forcefully as a slight mold or damaging of insulation will fail the purpose of grounding the generator.
Step 3: Connecting Wire to the Rod:
You are now half done with the job. Now you need to connect the wire with the rod you just inserted into the ground. That is exactly where the wire strippers come in. Use the wire strippers for removing the insulating material from the wire and wrap it around the rod using the pliers. Make sure not to cover it too much to the point where it breaks. Just a minimal amount will do.
Step 4: Grounding the Generator:
This is the final step of getting the portable generator grounded. Look for the grounding bolt in the generator and strip away the other end of the copper wire using a wire stripper to give it an excellent finish. Look for the bolt and wrap the copper wire around it just enough so that it serves the purpose. Firmly wrap it around and tighten the grounding bolt.
Grounding a portable generator is not that much of a hassle. Just with the right number of tools and basic knowledge of current, you can root your generator easily. It is not a choice to ground your generator, but it is mandatory.
You never know the chain of events happening with the electrical appliances and your generator. It will become weary, sooner or later. Better safe than sorry. You should consider buying a modern generator in the first place as it completely vanishes the need for grounding. Advancement in technology has changed a lot, and ways to the ground have also changed. If you want to keep yourself and your home safe, grounding is the best option.