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#300539 - 12/18/21 06:37 PM Generator Advice
brandtb Offline

Registered: 11/26/04
Posts: 480
Loc: S.E. Pennsylvania
I recently bought a Champion 3500 watt portable generator, and I can't get a straight answer on one thing -

Do I need to ground it? It has a neutral floating, as opposed to a neutral bonded to frame. (For some technical reason that I can't figure out this seems to be an important point.) There is a grounding point on the generator. I wrote to Champion on their site, but never got an answer back.

The generator will not be on a transfer switch with the house power. It will use grounded extension cords to power selected appliances.

From the instruction manual - A ground terminal connected to the frame of the generator has been provided. For remote grounding connect 12 AWG minimum . . . to copper rod driven into the ground. We strongly recommend . . . consult with a qualified electrician to insure compliance with local code.

However, I did talk to an electrician and he didn't think it was necessary.
Brian Brandt

#300540 - 12/18/21 07:23 PM Re: Generator Advice [Re: brandtb]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7688
Loc: southern Cal
I am not well grounded in electrical knowledge, but what are the negatives to establishing a ground? A bit of wire and a rod - it seems no big deal....
Geezer in Chief

#300541 - 12/18/21 11:08 PM Re: Generator Advice [Re: brandtb]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3688
Loc: USA
I have a Champion 3500W generator. It’s more than ten years old and has served me flawlessly. I’ve never connected the ground lug. But it would be safer if I did and one of my loads had some kind of electrical fault.

#300555 - 12/20/21 03:53 PM Re: Generator Advice [Re: brandtb]
roberttheiii Offline

Registered: 02/13/09
Posts: 377
Loc: Connecticut, USA
As I understand it, if your'e plugging individual appliances/tools into the generator you don't need to ground it. If you're connecting it structure to power everything inside, then you do need to ground the generator.

From: https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/grounding_port_generator.pdf

Grounding Requirements for Portable and Vehicle-mounted Generators Under the following conditions, OSHA directs (29 CFR 1926.404(f)(3)(i)) that the frame of a portable generator need not be grounded (connected to earth) and that the frame may serve as the ground (in place of the earth):
• The generator supplies only equipment mounted on the generator and/or cord- and plug-connected equipment through receptacles mounted on the generator, § 1926.404(f)(3)(i)(A), and
• The noncurrent-carrying metal parts of equipment (such as the fuel tank, the inter- nal combustion engine, and the generator’s housing) are bonded to the generator frame, and the equipment grounding con- ductor terminals (of the power receptacles that are a part of [mounted on] the genera- tor) are bonded to the generator frame,
§ 1926.404(f)(3)(i)(B).
Thus, rather than connect to a grounding electrode system, such as a driven ground rod, the generator’s frame replaces the grounding electrode.
If these conditions do not exist, then a grounding electrode, such as a ground rod, is required.
If the portable generator is providing electric power to a structure by connection via a transfer switch to a structure (home, office, shop, trailer, or similar) it must be connected to a grounding electrode system, such as a driven ground rod. The transfer switch must be approved for the use and installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installa- tion instructions by a qualified electrician Grounding requirements for generators con- nected via transfer switches are covered by Article 250 of the National Electrical Code (NEC).

#300571 - 12/29/21 02:29 PM Re: Generator Advice [Re: brandtb]
joshbrown Offline

Registered: 12/28/21
Posts: 3
I think since it is recommended in the manual to ground the generator, I would advise you ground it. Moreso, some of the benefits of grounding it as already being stated in the manual. I would just advise you contact another electrician to help you with it.

#300577 - 01/01/22 09:18 PM Re: Generator Advice [Re: brandtb]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2191
Loc: NE Wisconsin
My take on this issue:

If you are using double insulated tools or appliances that by design do not have a ground pin on the plug, then you're OK not grounding the generator.

If you are using tools or appliances that do have a ground pin on the plug, then you really should ground the generator. It seems that simply grounding the tool or appliance to the generator frame does nothing from a safety standpoint. After all, the safety function of the ground is to draw off current of an unintended /unexpected short occurs in the appliance.

When a teenager I was sitting on a carpeted floor pinning large pieces of fabric (making a Frostline tent, if you remember those). I was using a 36 inch steel cased fluorescent light laying on the floor as an extra source of light. At one point I slid the light to the side, it touched the heating vent grid, produced a large spark, and popped off the circuit breaker.

Clearly there was a short in the light that charged the metal case, and I assume (I can'tremember for sure) that the light was not grounded. Had that metal case been grounded, just plugging the light in would have popped off the circuit breaker, safely handling the shorted condition.

If I had happened to have touched a heating vent cover with a foot while touching the light with a hand, that current would have gone through me. Scary!

#300578 - 01/02/22 12:42 AM Re: Generator Advice [Re: brandtb]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7688
Loc: southern Cal
That's one way to keep up with current events.....
Geezer in Chief


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