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Run Your Portable Generator in Wet Weather or Rain?

Portable Generator CO Poisoning Warning

Do you use your portable generator in wet weather? Or perhaps you are camping or tailgating or in an RV park, or even at the race track and you simply need power. Do you feel safe running your portable generator or inverter generator in wet weather? You shouldn't!

Most people know that it is dangerous to use a portable generator in a garage or too close to an open window. Manufacturers do a good job warning owners to place the generator at least 10 feet from the home to reduce the risk of CO poisoning. The following warning label has been required on all generators since a 2007 Consumer Product Safety Commission mandate:

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, running a portable generator in the garage with the exhaust pointing outward is the number one reason for CO poisoning.

So why do people do it? Because manufacturers warn to never use the generator in wet weather. Read your user guide or the labels on your generator and you'll find warnings such as these:

Portable Inverter Generator Electric Shock Electrocution Warning

Safe usage problems persist and even safety minded consumers are putting themselves in harm’s way. As recently as July, 2015, Consumer Products Safety Commissioner Joseph Mohorovic wrote this article stating, " As a commissioner at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, I was troubled by a comment, in your report on this tragedy, from a neighbor who 'operates his generator in his garage, in a well-ventilated area.' This safety-minded but misinformed comment reflects how much more we need to do to make consumers aware of generators’ inherent dangers. A garage is never a safe place to run a generator, even with the door open."

Why can't portable generators be used in wet weather? Because water can get into the outlets. In fact, you risk damage to your portable generator and electrocution if the electrical panel gets wet. Some portable generators have GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupt) outlets. These outlets shut themselves off when they get wet. Think about it--if your generator's GFCI outlet shuts off, do you really want to go near your generator?

Perhaps Honda, a leading portable generator manufacturer, states it best on page 7 of the owner's manual for their top-of-the-line EU7000is model:

Electric Shock Hazards

  • The generator produces enough electric power to cause a serious shock or electrocution if misused.
  • Using a generator or electrical appliance in wet conditions, such as rain or snow, or near a pool or sprinkler system, or when your hands are wet, could result in electrocution. Keep the generator dry.
  • If the generator is stored outdoors, unprotected from the weather, check the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacle and all other electrical components on the control panel before each use. Moisture or ice can cause a malfunction or short circuit in electrical components that could result in electrocution.

Compare the alternatives to run your portable generator safely in wet weather, protect your portable generator and your family:

Be prepared for the next outage; complete your portable generator with the GenTent, the best way to keep your portable generator safe to run in wet weather.