How to Ground a Generator When Camping

How to Ground a Generator When Camping

Camping in the great outdoors is both fun and challenging. If you want to enjoy your camping trip in the wild fully, you can take a portable generator along with you. A portable generator will make your whole camping experience comfortable. It simplifies activities such as cooking, heating, and charging devices. A generator is an engine that produces electrical energy instead of mechanical energy.

If you want to use a portable generator safely, you should know how to ground a generator when camping. Grounding is merely connecting an electrical device to the ground. It ensures that any static electricity or leakage current goes into the ground. An ungrounded faulty electrical device can give you a shock or even cause a fire.

Grounding a generator is not an uphill task. You should always make sure your generator is grounded to avoid any accident. This article will help you learn how to ground a generator when camping.

Do I Need to Ground My Portable Generator?

Always make sure if your generator model needs to be grounded. Some generators do not need to be grounded to work safely and correctly. It is a good practice to go through your Generator manual. The generator manual can tell you if your generator model requires grounding. If you don’t have the manual, check whether your generator is a separately derived system or not.

You can identify a separately derived system by the generator’s transfer switch. If you can transfer the switch to the neutral ground conductor, you have a separately derived system. A separately derived system must be grounded.

Tools Needed for Grounding a Generator

Before grounding a generator, you must ensure you have all the right tools for the job. I have made a checklist of the tools needed for grounding a generator.

1. Solid Copper Grounding Wire

For grounding, you must have a good quality copper wire with enough length. Copper wire is needed for connecting the generator and copper rod. It’s a good practice to take a little extra copper wire. 

2. Wire Strippers

For grounding, you need to connect a copper wire to the copper rod and generator. You need to strip some of the insulation on both edges of the copper wire to do this. A good set of wire strippers allows you to strip the wire safely, easy, and clean. If you don’t have a wire stripper, then a knife or sharp will do just fine. Just be careful when using a knife to strip wire.

3. 4 Foot Copper Ground Rod

The most crucial piece required for grounding a generator is the copper ground rod. A good and adequate copper grounding rod ensures proper grounding. Make sure you get a copper grounding rod, at least 4 feet in length. The length is critical, as you need to drive the copper rod deep into the ground. 

4. Hammer

For grounding, you need to drive the copper rod into the ground. You can strike the copper rod from the top with a hammer or mallet. The hammer or mallet will make this task easier. Just make sure not to damage the copper rod’s coating as this would result in a poor connection. If you don’t have a hammer, then a good old rock will also work. Just be careful when hammering with a rock.

5. Pliers

Pliers will help you to wound the copper wire with the copper rod tightly. A loose connection will not ensure proper grounding, so take a good set of pliers with you.

5. Wrench or Screw Driver

To attach the copper wire to the generator, you might need a wrench or screwdriver. A wrench will allow you to loosen and tighten the bolt for connecting the copper wire securely. A screwdriver does the same if there is a screw instead of a bolt, on the generator connection.

6. Shovel

If you are going camping in rocky terrain, then take a shovel with you. A shovel will help you bury the rod instead of driving it.

How to Ground a Generator When Camping

After making sure you have all the tools and parts for grounding the generator. Let’s go through the steps involved in the grounding of a generator. 

1. Installing the Copper Grounding Rod

For the first step, you need to drive the copper rod into the ground. You can do this by hammering the copper rod into the soil. You might be able to drive the copper rod easily if the soil is soft. But to drive the copper rod to the required length of at least 8 feet, you might need a hammer. The deeper the copper rod, the more effective it is at grounding.

If the soil is hard and you are having trouble hammering the copper rod, use some water to soften the ground. You can also try sinking the copper rod at an angle. The copper rod doesn’t need to be entirely straight to the ground correctly.

If you are camping on rocky terrain, then hammering the copper rod is useless. Instead, use a shovel to bury the copper rod deep into the ground.

Installing the copper rod deep into the ground ensures good grounding and safety.

2. Stripping the Wire

To connect the copper wire with the copper rod and generator, you first need to strip the copper wire. Use the wire stripper to strip each end of the copper wire carefully. Make sure not to strip too much insulation as the extra bare wire is dangerous. Just strip enough wire required to twist the wire around the copper rod and connect it to the generator. You can use a knife for stripping as well, but it is risky and strips poorly.

3. Wrap the Wire

In this step, you make electrical contact between the grounding wire and the earthed rod. For this, you need to tightly wound the stripped part of the wire around the copper wire. A tightly wound wire on the rod ensures that the generator operates safely. You can easily wound the copper wire around the copper rod using a good set of pliers. Pliers help you get a good grip on the wire and twist it around the copper rod.

4. Attaching Wire to the Generator

For the last step, you just need to securely connect the remaining free end of the stripped wire to the generator. Most generators come with a grounding bolt. Use a wrench to remove the grounding bolt first. Get a good grip of the bolt with the wrench and loosen it. Once there is enough gap for the wire, stop loosening the bolt. Now twist the stripped end of the wire around the bolt, use the wrench to tighten back the bolt.

Instead of bolts, some generators use a screw; in this case, you need a screwdriver. Loosen the screw using the screwdriver. Now place the stripped end of the wire in the opening formed due to loosing of the screw. Finally, tighten the screw back, so it tightly presses the wire to hold it securely.

Once you have done all these steps, you have successfully grounded the generator. You are now all set to start the generator safely and enjoy your camping trip.


Even on outdoor adventures like camping, technology has made our lives easier. A generator is a very good option to power our electronic devices on camping trips. However, we should take all the necessary safety measures to ensure no mishap happens. Grounding the generator is one such very important safety measure. You should know how to ground a generator when camping to ensure both yours and nature’s safety.

Steve Hudson

I have been an outdoor activities enthusiast from teenage. I have been going out with my parents on different outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. After moving to a town surrounded by three well known fishing spots, I started fishing and started using all kinds of tricks and equipment to make the most out of each adventure I pursued. Over the years I have been camping outdoor, hiking and following my passion of enjoying life at full. Few years ago, I started writing about my thoughts, experiments and ideas about outdoor, fishing, hiking and more. This blog is a compilation of that plus tips, ideas and products that can make life more meaningful, enjoyable and a pleasant.

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