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Author Topic: Grounding your generator?  (Read 12134 times)

TomD

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Grounding your generator?
« on: July 24, 2015, 08:52:18 PM »
I'm not sure if I'm posting in the right spot but I recently purchase a Champion generator and the owners manual says to stake in a grounding rod. I don't see us pounding a grounding rod at every boon docking local. Does it effect the generator much if I don't use a ground rod?
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Great Horned Owl

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2015, 09:46:01 PM »
In theory, grounding will add an additional layer of safety in the event that strange short develops. I have never grounded one of mine, nor have I ever seen anybody else do so.

Joel
« Last Edit: July 24, 2015, 09:48:03 PM by Great Horned Owl »
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HueyPilotVN

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2015, 10:18:27 PM »

On our Mobile Surgery Units we routinely drive a 6 foot copper grounding rod as the first step in the setup procedure.

We also use huge 100KW deisel generators with thier own grounding rods.  The issue for us is patient safety.  The electical system also has redundant grounds to all the outlets.
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regval

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2015, 11:29:27 PM »
http://www.noshockzone.org/generator-ground-neutral-bonding/
Here is a good article about generator "grounding", hope it helps you.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2015, 11:43:14 PM »
They’re confusing earth ground with bonding. Portable generators for RVs are NOT required to have an earth ground rod at all by the NEC (National Electrical Code). A ground rod IS NOT the same thing as a neutral-ground bond.
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blw2

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2015, 04:53:12 AM »
I've used various construction generators only occasionally/casually.  I've never myself, or seen anyone else ground them.

Several years ago, I bought a small cheap coleman genny for extended emergency power loss after storms etc....  In preparation I bought a 6ft or so length of bare copper wire, #6 or so I think..... the same stuff they use to bond to the ground rods for a home....  I have this wire wrapped around the handle of the genny.  Figured I could always poke it in the ground and attach to the ground lug if I was running the thing for extended periods and was concerned...... not ideal or code but I figured better than nothing.

But, as I said, I've never done it.
But I have often wondered about the whole ground thing in the AC circuits of an RV....
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SeilerBird

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2015, 06:52:16 AM »
On our Mobile Surgery Units we routinely drive a 6 foot copper grounding rod as the first step in the setup procedure.

We also use huge 100KW deisel generators with thier own grounding rods.  The issue for us is patient safety.  The electical system also has redundant grounds to all the outlets.
You are wasting your time driving a ground rod for a generator. Generators don't need to be grounded and it does not add any safety. Your car is not grounded, your cell phone is not grounded and your digital camera are not grounded for the same reason.
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Wizard46

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2015, 07:10:52 AM »
Got to agree with Tom on this. The manufacturer is covering their A** when they recommend a ground rod.
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HueyPilotVN

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2015, 08:49:53 AM »
I agree that in normal use it is not needed.  However, Health care facilities have more stringent requirements under NFPA 99 (Life Safety Codes) and NFPA 101.

Mobile Facilities are required to have a grounding rod.  Patients, especially under anesthesia are more at risk from electrical shock.

This really has nothing to do with RV's but I just mentioned it to show that there are conditions that call for grounding rods.

We also install isolation transformers in the OR.  Regulatory Compliance for Healthcare tends to take the belt and suspenders approach.
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Mopar1973Man

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2015, 09:05:05 AM »
I was in a permanent location with a RV and generator I would drive a ground rod for the safety factor. But for trip to trip usage I would just toss it on the ground and fire it up.The whole idea is to get the ground hooked to the generator so the RV ground pin (of the outlet) have reference to ground as well. But I look at what I plug in. 2 prong TV, 2 prong A/D converter, 2 prong cell phone charger, 2 prong laptop charger, etc. Everything is 2 prong.
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TomD

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2015, 09:07:30 AM »
Thanks for all the great info everybody!
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2015, 09:18:26 AM »
One caveat: if your coach power system has a built-in test for an open ground, it will refuse power from an ungrounded genset. You can either add the ground rod, or make an adapter plug that bonds the ground pin to the neutral pin, thus making it appear there is a ground. Ditto if you want to use a power line monitor like a Surge Guard or Progressive EMS with the genset. Those too test for an open ground.
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jmsokol

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2015, 02:30:27 PM »
One caveat: if your coach power system has a built-in test for an open ground, it will refuse power from an ungrounded genset. You can either add the ground rod, or make an adapter plug that bonds the ground pin to the neutral pin, thus making it appear there is a ground. Ditto if you want to use a power line monitor like a Surge Guard or Progressive EMS with the genset. Those too test for an open ground.
I'm Mike Sokol from the No~Shock~Zone. Thanks for linking to my Electrical Safety blog. Just a point of accuracy: driving in a ground rod and connecting it to a generator won't properly "bond" the ground and neutral bus of a floating neutral generator, and it won't satisfy the ground test of a Progressive EMS. The confusion is from the use of the word "ground" for lots of different things, many of which are not earth-ground related. While you certainly can earth-ground a generator, you'll also need to neutral-ground bond the output of the generator. The easiest way to do this is with an Edison plug with the Ground and Neutral screws connected with 12 gauge wire. See http://www.noshockzone.org/generator-ground-neutral-bonding/ or you can buy a pre-made generator neutral bonding plug directly from Progressive Industries.

Mike Sokol
« Last Edit: July 25, 2015, 03:02:36 PM by jmsokol »

livingthedream

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2015, 03:48:10 PM »
The purpose of a ground on the outlet is to prevent an electrical shock from the metal housing of anything that is plugged in. It would also prevent you from being shocked by any liquids that might come in contact with electricity. For instance if you are using a coffee maker that is metal or even if it is not. If a wire were to come loose inside and touch the case or the water the breaker would trip if it were grounded. If not you would get a shock which could kill you.

Now ask yourself some questions: 

Are you feeling lucky?

In the early 70's the entire electrical industry in the US started to ground everything. They added a third wire to all extension cords and to all appliances. Why would hey spend all that money if it was not needed?

So I say to you that an accident is never anticipated and when it happens it could be too late.

Are you that lazy that you are not able to put a stake in the ground to prevent a possible death?

Oh and cars are grounded. The body is negative for the same reason. SO when a wire comes loose and touches the body a fuse blows.

The ground wire on the outlets will only work if you ground the generator to the ground.




SeilerBird

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2015, 03:55:22 PM »
Are you that lazy that you are not able to put a stake in the ground to prevent a possible death?

Oh and cars are grounded. The body is negative for the same reason. SO when a wire comes loose and touches the body a fuse blows.
Grounding your RV will not prevent death. And cars are not grounded to ground. They use the frame as a return but that is totally different than a ground. You car is not connected to ground.
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jmsokol

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2015, 04:30:41 PM »
Grounding your RV will not prevent death. And cars are not grounded to ground. They use the frame as a return but that is totally different than a ground. You car is not connected to ground.
Again, the word "ground" is used for a lot of different things. And as you note, the frame ground on a car is not the same as an earth ground. And the so-called "ground contact" on a receptacle is connected via the EGC (Equipment Grounding Conductor / AKA Ground Wire) back to the  neutral-ground "bonding" point in the power company's incoming service panel. That bonding point is indeed connected to a ground rod, but the ground rod's primary function isn't to trip a circuit breaker in the event of a hot-to-chassis short. The ground rod is there to create an electrical path for lightning strikes and to keep the local "ground-plane" of your building power from being biased above earth potential by hundreds of volts.

The code for RV electrical systems according to the RVIA is that the neutral and chassis ground remain separated internally, but are then "bonded" externally when plugged into a shore power outlet such as a pedestal or receptacle in your home or garage. And when your RV is running from an internal generator, the transfer switch creates a neutral-ground bond. When your shore power connected is plugged into a generator with a floating neutral, any device that tests for an EGC bond thinks there's a lost "ground" and shuts down the power. This includes devices such as the Progressive Industries EMS Surge Protectors, some home and RV furnaces with electronic ignition, and a few RV refrigerators that I've heard about. Again, you don't need to drive a ground rod to properly "neutral bond" your RV electrical system connected to a portable generator. But you may need to neutral bond it to keep the electronic "ground" sensors happy.

I'll also note that you don't want to go pounding in 8 ft ground rods without notifying the power and gas companies in your area. It's way too easy to hit an underground power wire at a campground which will almost certainly created a shock or electrocution hazard. So don't put in a ground rod without proper permission. Again, you really don't need one for a portable generator unless you're distributing power to multiple locations, such as several RVs. 

Mike Sokol
« Last Edit: July 25, 2015, 04:38:07 PM by jmsokol »

SeilerBird

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2015, 04:37:28 PM »
Excellent description jmsokol, thanks. 8)
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jmsokol

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2015, 05:18:52 PM »
But I look at what I plug in. 2 prong TV, 2 prong A/D converter, 2 prong cell phone charger, 2 prong laptop charger, etc. Everything is 2 prong.

Be aware that "2-prong" ungrounded plugs are only allowed on double-insulated appliances and tools with less than 0.75 mA chassis leakage current, which allows an exception to the UL grounding requirements. That's why you can find ungrounded plugs on cell phone chargers, power drills, television sets, etc... In fact, if you use a very high-impedance meter on your iPhone, you'll find that it's actually sitting at 60 to 80 volts above earth potential. But it's at such a low fault current that you should never feel a shock. However, there have been a few electrocutions by an iPhone plugged into a damaged wall charger while answering the phone in a shower. These incidents weren't due to Apple brand chargers, but cheap aftermarket ones.

An RV does indeed require a "grounded" outlet that's properly bonded back to the power company's service panel while plugged into AC power from a pedestal or home outlet. While powered by portable or internal generator a ground rod is not required. However, I should note that it's NEVER OK to feel a shock or read any AC voltage from the chassis/skin of any RV while plugged into shore power. If it does, then something has certainly gone wrong with your EGC ground path back to the service panel. And while this could be a very high-impedance ground fault with low shock current available, it can easily turn into a low-impedance/high-current ground fault at any time, which can electrocute anyone touching the RV while standing on the damp ground. So the most important thing you can do is make sure your RV is plugged into a properly grounded outlet with cables that have proper "grounds pins". Different rules apply while powered from portable generators.

Mike Sokol

Ken & Sheila

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2015, 05:20:48 PM »
Note. Some portable generators have the Neutral/Ground bonded, but many small generators do not.
You can test to see if the generators has thew bond by using a continuity meter between the the Ground and the neutral on any of the generators outlets. If there is continuity then it is already bonded, if no continuity then it is not internally bonded.
If it does not have a bonded Neutral/Ground you can easily create a temporary bond by using a new plug and wiring the Neutral and the ground together using a short piece of 12ga wire (nothing on the Hot). Plug that into any open outlet and you have created a Neutral/Ground bond. MAKE sure you are NOT wiring to the HOT leg of the plug!!!!

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jmsokol

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2015, 05:30:42 PM »
If it does not have a bonded Neutral/Ground you can easily create a temporary bond by using a new plug and wiring the Neutral and the ground together using a short piece of 12ga wire (nothing on the Hot). Plug that into any open outlet and you have created a Neutral/Ground bond. MAKE sure you are NOT wiring to the HOT leg of the plug!!!!

ken

That's correct. And if you're not confident wiring your own G-N bonding plug, you can buy one already made from Progressive Industries at http://www.progressiveindustries.net/#!generator-plug/c1mwy Just plug it into any unused outlet on your generator, and the entire generator will be Neutral-Ground bonded. I know that all small Honda and Yamaha inverter generators up to 3KW or so have floating neutrals, but most all generators over 5KW has a bonded neutral. As noted, a simple continuity test (while the generator is turned off) is all that's required to determine if it has a floating neutral or a bonded one.

Mike Sokol

TomD

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2015, 10:32:06 PM »
 :) Again thanks for the info everybody!
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jmsokol

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2015, 07:10:36 PM »
Here's a video I just made about how to test a generator for a floating neutral and using a G-N bonding plug so an Electrical Monitoring Systems won't interpret a floating neutral as a lost ground.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-bTLdMjuqU

Mike Sokol
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TomD

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Re: Grounding your generator?
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2015, 08:37:39 AM »
Thanks for the vid!
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