Camping in the great outdoors can be a whole lot of fun, but sometimes you need access to the electrical grid for charging devices and so on. In this day and age, camping with kids and teenagers is often about dealing with the charging time of such devices!
Of course, when you’re out camping in the middle of nowhere, how are you going to access electrical power?
Why Use a Portable Generator?
A portable generator is essentially an engine that generates electrical power. This is incredibly useful when you’re out camping and you need quick and easy access to electricity. All you need to do is simply power on the generator and plug in the cable so that you have access to instant and easy power.
What About Grounding?
If you have a portable generator, it’s necessary to be as safe as possible. The last thing you need while camping in the middle of nowhere is for someone to be seriously injured because the portable generator was not grounded properly.
Grounding, or earthing, is the process of connecting an electrical device to the ground to make it safe to use. This minimizes the chances of electrical fault and electrocution. Of course, some portable generators don’t require grounding, but if you have one that does, you need to do it properly.
How Should You Ground Your Portable Generator?
Before you start, you need to ensure that you have the right tools for grounding your generator. Make sure you have access to the following:
- Copper rod: This is the rod that you will actually stick into the earth to ground your portable generator. Ideally, the copper rod should be no less than four feet in length.
- Copper wire: This copper wire will connect to the grounding copper rod and will act like a conductive electrical wire.
- Hammer: When you’re out camping in the great outdoors, things don’t always go as planned. You’ll often need to pound your copper rod into solid earth with a hammer.
- Pliers: When you need to ground your portable generator, you’ll need to do it properly. You can use a good pair of pliers to twist the copper wire around the copper grounding rod so that there is a good connection between the two.
- Wire strippers: Most portable generators will come with a grounding wire that is insulated. You’ll need to strip off the insulation at both ends with wire strippers so you can easily attach it to the copper wire on the grounding rod and the portable generator.
- Wrench: Once the grounding wire has been stripped bare, you’ll need to attach it to the portable generator. Often, this involves loosening a nut and this is where the wrench can really come in handy.
Getting to Work on Grounding Your Generator
Once you have all of these tools, follow these simple steps to ground or earth your portable generator:
1. Hammer in Your Copper Rod
The first step is to hammer the copper rod into the soil. In many cases, the surface of the soil may be soft enough for easy insertion, but you’ll likely need to use a hammer to get it to the required depth of at least eight feet. The deeper the grounding rod is, the more effective it will be at keeping you safe.
If you are having real trouble hammering in the rod, you can try to sink it in at an angle. Many people who camp are used to hammering in tent pegs at an angle to make them easier to sink.
2. Stripping the Wire
Now you need to take your wire stripping tool and carefully strip each end of the copper wire. It’s important not to strip all of the insulation off the wire. Remove just enough at each end so that you can twist it around the copper rod and also attach it to the appropriate spot on the generator.
3. Wrap the Wire
The idea here is to tightly wind the stripped part of the wire around the copper rod. This is how there will be electrical contact made between the grounding wire and the earthed rod so the generator can be operated safely and without mishap. This is when you can use the pliers to get a good grip on the wire and twist it around the copper rod.
4. Attach to the Generator
Now it’s time to attach the other end of the stripped wire to the appropriate place on the generator. There is usually a grounding bolt that needs to be removed first. Use the wrench to get a good grip on it and loosen it. Once there’s a gap, you can then twist the stripped end of the wire around the bolt and tighten the nut once more.
Once you’ve followed all of these steps, you’ve successfully grounded your portable generator and you can start using it safely!
Other Power Sources for Camping
Of course, as convenient as portable generators are, there are other sources of electrical power for use while camping. Just consider some of the following if you don’t have access to your own portable generator:
With solar power making massive inroads in the electricity sector, it’s now possible to buy generators that are powered by the sun. Unlike regular diesel-powered generators, these solar powered ones are much quieter and will work as long as there is sun around.
They are also cheap in the long run to operate, which makes great sense if you happen to go camping frequently. Of course, you may still need to ground one of these generators.
2. Lithium Battery Power
These days, many people carry rechargeable lithium polymer batteries to charge their tablets and smartphones. These can be a good source of temporary electrical power in the great outdoors, but they do need to be fully charged before the camping trip begins.
These can be used to power or recharge smaller devices such as phones. One good option is to use a portable generator as well so that the batteries can be easily recharged for hikes and so on.
3. Regular Batteries
Of course, the regular old battery can also be a fine source of transient electrical power. The problem is that they tend only to power small devices such as lights. But with the advancement of LED light technology, the power of the batteries may last for much longer.
Once more, when combined with a portable generator, batteries like this can serve a fine purpose when camping, especially if it is to power small devices. Just remember to bring along some spare batteries!
4. Your Car Battery
One option that many people don’t think of is using a good old car battery as an alternative electrical power source. This can be especially useful if you don’t have a portable generator around, and all it requires is the right kind of connection that usually plugs into the car cigarette lighter.
The biggest issue with this kind of power source is that you’ll be limited by the voltage output of your car battery. This means that it may not be sufficient for certain tasks that require more power.
The other issue is that you’ll be draining your car battery as you tap into it, and the last thing you want is to end up with a dead battery out in the wilderness!
If you regularly go on camping trips, you should invest in a portable generator for your power needs. There are many on the market and they can be powered with diesel. Just make sure that you ground them with a copper rod sunk deep into the ground and the appropriate copper wiring.
It’s important, especially in the age of smartphones and other devices, to have some access to reliable electrical power. A portable generator can provide a very reliable source of power, but there are also other alternatives such as solar panels, lithium batteries, and even regular batteries.
Often, it is a good idea to combine something like a lithium battery with a portable generator. The lithium battery can be very useful when on a long hike where there is no immediate access to your portable generator, for example.
So, should you ground your portable generator and is it an easy thing to do? The short answer is that you should definitely ground your generator. Also known as earthing, this helps to prevent minor events such as electric shocks, but will also prove to provide safety during a storm or if the generator somehow breaks down or discharges electrical power in the form of a surge.
It is also very easy to ground a portable generator, as long as you have a long copper rod, copper wire, and the appropriate tools, In fact, it takes very little time at all and doing so could certainly save your life.