What Happens If You Don’t Ground a Generator? – Complete Guide

Generators are powerful machines that can be very helpful in case of a power outage. It also comes in handy when a natural disaster causes some harm to the electrical grid. Instead of waiting for the power to come back on, you can rely on the generator to give you the electricity you need.

So, getting a backup option like a generator is a smart decision. But after you get it, you will have to take good care of it, like ground it, to avoid disaster. After all, there is no playing games with electricity.

You should read this guide with the utmost attention to learn how to maintain a generator well. By the time you reach the end, you will know everything about grounding generators and why it is so important. So, let’s get right into the guide!


What Happens If You Don't Ground a Generator

What Exactly Is Grounding?

Before I get into why generators need grounding and what happens if you don’t ground a generator, I want to cover what generators and grounding are. Let’s start by defining what a generator is.

What is a generator?

The generator is an electric system. You can use it to turn mechanical energy into electrical energy. As mentioned above, it comes in handy when you cannot rely on the regular electrical grid to provide electricity.

Since the generator is all about electrical energy, it can wreak havoc should a person not take proper care of it. One of the things that the generator must go through is regular grounding. That brings me to my second definition – the one about what grounding is.

What is grounding?

Grounding is also called earthing, and it is a process in which you connect the generator and the ground. There must be a ground rod that has low resistance and is connected to the generator. Then, you must connect the grounding rod to an electrode that you need to push far into the ground. The wire and the electrode will ground the generator and help it perform well at all times.

How to ground a generator?

If you have a generator, you will have to check it at least once a year to make sure it is functioning well. Grounding is obligatory, and you can do it by yourself. If you cannot do that for some reason, you can have a professional do the grounding for you.

The most important thing you need to ground a generator is a grounding rod that is at least eight feet long. If you can find a copper rod, that would be best. You stick this copper grounding rod into the ground and leave a small part of it outside of the ground. Then, you connect the generator to that rod and allow it to ground your device.

What Happens if You Don’t Ground a Generator?

As you have seen, grounding a generator is not that difficult, but it is something that you must do. You are putting your and your family’s lives in danger if you do not ground it. All the side effects of a non-grounded generator could be deadly to the people living in the house connected to that generator.

This is why proper maintenance and handling of the generator is a must. The potential risks are very serious. If you do not have the time or willingness to deal with the generator, it is better not to have it at all than to have it and not maintain it. Once you read more about the risks, you will see why I am stressing this so much.

Risks of Not Grounding a Generator

Several risks could come out of not grounding a generator. Four are very serious, and you must keep them in mind. Here are the four biggest risks that might go aside because of a faulty ground connection of a generator:

Power surges

Power surges happen if there is more voltage than usual that goes through the electrical devices connected to the electrical grid. If the generator is not grounded, the electricity will go right through an appliance and will likely cause it to malfunction.

But the power surge means more voltage goes to all appliances connected to the generator. So, you risk all your appliances malfunctioning. Imagine how much money you would need to repair or replace appliances like televisions, fridges, computers, air conditioners, etc. It is not something that many people would like to deal with.


If the generator is not grounded or damaged, it is likely to cause overheating to anything connected to it. As mentioned in the previous section, some households connect all their devices to the generator. So, if the generator causes damage to one, it will likely cause damage to the rest of the devices.

In the case of overheating, the generator can damage your appliances and cause them to burst into flames. Suppose that happens to several appliances or devices in a home. In that case, there is a serious threat of the entire house burning. So, this is also not something that you want to deal with.

Wire insulation damage

If there are power surges or voltage spikes, the wire insulation is likely to damage. This means that the wires used to connect an appliance to the power grid will lose their insulation and will be more prone to damage.

If a wire does not have any insulation or is poor, it is likely to cause a malfunction to the appliance. It might even cause the appliance to burst into flames and possibly cause serious damage to the entire house.


When a device is connected to a malfunctioning power source or case, it has poor wire insulation. It will allow the electricity to move through it differently. So, if a person touches the device, the electrical current might pass through them. This is something that is also known as electrocution or electric shock.

Depending on how strong the electric shock is, it can cause injury or death to the person. So, it is not something that you should take lightly.

Do You Really Need to Ground My Portable Generator?

Most portable generators require grounding. It is best to check the instructions on your specific generators and see if they need to be grounded. One of the times when a generator might not need grounding is if there is a frame that holds all parts together. If those parts are all connected to the frame, there is no need for further grounding of the device.

Grounding is obligatory in all other cases, including when you have generators with a manual transfer switch. Find yourself a grounding wire and get ready to put in the work.


Thank you for reading this guide on generators, how to ground them, and what the risks are of them not being grounded. If you have portable generators, make sure to ground them as well. A portable generator can also wreak havoc if not used properly.

I hope this guide helped you understand the grounding process of a generator. If you have some tips on the usage and grounding of generators, please share them in the comments below!

Andrew Mullen

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