Warning: Don’t Even Think About Using a Generator Until You Read This

Your presence here indicates that you are facing any issue regarding your generator, and now you want to know what happens when you use a surge protector with a generator? 

Is it safe? Does it protect your sensitive electronics when voltage spikes?

In this article, we will address these questions and give you a piece of in-depth information about them. 

Let’s begin!

The Need Of a Surge Protector

It is a common malfunction of generators to suffer from surges, and these spikes result in destroying your electronic devices due to sudden electrical overload. 

This is where a surge protector comes in!

A surge protector contains MOVs (Metal Oxide Varistors), and its job is to absorb the excess voltage. These MOVs stop extra voltage from traveling to the ground wire. 

In short, a surge protector saves your precious appliances via MOVs. 

It prevents excess voltage and surge, which helps your appliances work efficiently and prevent electrical threats from destroying them. 

Will a Surge Protector Work With a Generator?

Suppose you notice that the generator you are using sometimes provides surges that damage or destroy your home appliances. In that case, we highly recommend our readers to use surge protectors with the generator. 

Usually, generators come with a 120V outlet, and fortunately, most surge protectors can easily connect with a 120V outlet generator. 

Sometimes users confuse surge protectors and power strips. Both of them are entirely different devices, and power strips won’t protect your devices from surges. We will address this in a while. 

Hence, we recommend relying on surge protectors to keep your electronics safe from damage and yourself from extra trouble.

Is It Safe Though? 

Yes, it is!

Using a surge protector with a generator is entirely safe. However, we will not recommend you directly plug a surge protector into the generator within the boundaries of your house.

A simple answer is that generators release toxic gases due to combustion in the engine. These emissions harm the human body in various ways, including suffocation, chronic respiratory problems, etc.

Instead, you can use an outdoor extension wire and insert it into your generator that comes into your desired area where you want to connect your home appliances. Then you can insert a surge protector into it to use your electronic devices there.  

Using a long extension cord will help you stay away from the lethal fumes and help you distance yourself from the loud sounds.

In short, using a surge protector is safe if you remember to follow the instructions set by experts and professionals.

Implement it Today!

The most crucial question that you should ask yourself is, do you use a surge protector with a generator? 

If not, then you are making a big mistake!

This is one of the most common mistakes that beginners tend to make. They fail to realize the importance of this shield between a sudden tide of electricity and sensitive household appliances.

Remember, using a generator without a surge protector is like performing surgery in the middle of a sandstorm… it will end poorly for everyone involved.

Factors To Consider When Buying a Surge Protector

Like buying every other electrical device, you need to consider a few factors for surge protectors before you decide to purchase one. These aspects determine the quality and reliability of the gadget and help you decide better for your generator:

1. Clamping Voltage – What Your Surge Protector Allows

Clamping voltage refers to the amount of voltage your surge protector cannot absorb after a hit by an electrical surge. This is then directed into the primary ground wire.

Remember, since this is the voltage that passes through your appliances, it has to be as low as possible. High values of extra voltage can damage your electronics.

Hence, select the surge protector with the smallest clamping voltage to ensure higher security.

2. Lights – A Soundless Alert

The surge protectors with the finest quality always have built-in lights on their surface that indicate the life span of these surge protectors.

The best surge protector will always alert the customer if it suffers from a spike. This helps you keep track of all surges and eventually replace the device to protect your appliances from a future rise in electrical load.

3. Joule Rating – What Your Surge Protector Can Tolerate

Most surge protectors come with the joule rating. Joule rating tells you how much a surge protector can absorb surges before stopping working. In other words, it is a measure of the gadget’s tolerance towards sudden spikes.

Remember, always go for the surge protector with the highest joule rating. 

4. UL Rating – A “Safe To Use” Stamp

Generators verified by UL rating are preferred to those without a rating. This rating is a “certificate” third-party laboratories give after testing these surge protectors thoroughly.

All surge protector devices with a UL rating are entirely safe for use, and their quality has also been verified comprehensively. So, you can rest assured that you are getting the best deal. 

It is always recommended to buy surge protectors with a UL rating. 

Where Surge Protector Lacks

No matter which brand you buy from or which model your select, there are some limitations that every surge protector has. It is not invincible

Unfortunately, this electrical piece of equipment becomes weaker and weaker by absorbing a surge.  

Although this is very rare, some surges are so strong that they bypass your surge protector and damage your electronics, and there is only one way to prevent it, and that is by replacing your surge protector with every passing year. 

Extra Safety Never Hurt Anyone!

We all know that generators are an excellent way of maintaining independent power for our mobile, laptops, computers, and other home appliances. But now the question appears, Can You Make A Conventional Generator Safe For Electronics? 

The answer is yes. You can make a conventional generator safe for electronics for prolonged usage. There are additional equipment and services that can help in improving your generator’s efficiency.

1. Surge Protector – Let’s Revise  

Surge Protector is the must-have device for every household that owns a generator. The primary purpose of a surge protector is to detect the excess voltage and redirect it to the ground wire. 

Although surge protector manufacturers claim that their devices can absorb surges over five years, experts recommend that you change the surge protector by every passing year. This is because a surge protector weakens after consuming each surging wave. 

2. Surge Arrester – A Substitute Protection

A surge arrester is a device that is used to protect the whole house from surges and spikes of sudden voltage. It can be used with a generator or the main power supply.

However, a surge arrester is not entirely reliable as it can absorb only 85 to 90% of the surges. Moreover, they are utilized for large amounts of voltage compared to the limited household of surge protectors.

That is why it is recommended to use two surge arrestors each for the generator and the central power supply to add an extra layer of safety for your treasured devices.

3. Backfeeding – It’s Illegal And Deadly!

Back-feed refers to the flow of electric current in the reverse direction. Some generator users do it intentionally due to a lack of knowledge.

Backflow of energy occurs when you connect your generator directly to the house without using a safety switch. This results in the power running to the main panel grid and redistributing itself in the house wiring.

Here is where things go wrong.

Your house is now running on an unbalanced electrical load and is a ticking time bomb. Former incidents have resulted in explosions, electrocutions, and fatalities due to back feeding.

Back feeding is not only illegal in several states, but it also damages your electrical devices through bypassing surge protectors. 

If you want your conventional generator safe for electronics, you should never attempt back-feed power. 

4. Keep Your Generator Safe

Bad storms and unwanted moisture are primary reasons for surges and high voltage spikes. Before using it, make sure to dry your generator and remove all dust and dampness to avoid an overflow of energy.  

If your generator constantly contacts water, you need to buy a cover or a protector to keep it safe. Users living in areas with heavy rainfall and snowfall are recommended to purchase a permanent enclosure. 

To learn more about using your generator in storms, read our guides: How To Use A Generator In Rain Safely and How To Use A Generator In Snow Safely.

More About Generators And Surges

“Can my generator cause an electrical surge?”

There is no clear answer to this question because it ultimately depends on the generator you are using. For example, some generators require surge protectors because they produce surges, while other generators don’t. 

Let us examine the common types of generators to get a better idea:

Conventional vs. Inverter Generators

Conventional generators work on the 3600RPM, and these generators produce surges way more often than inverter generators

Inverter generators are a modern variation of portable generators. Rather than operating at a steady speed regardless of load size, an inverter generator automatically changes its engine speed to the current electrical demand

They are known for not having electrical spikes often and thus, outshine conventional generators in this aspect.

So, if you have a conventional generator, you must buy a surge protector to ensure the protection of your devices. 

Portable vs Standby Generators

As the name suggests, portable generators can be easily moved from one place to another. These generators produce surges when they power an entire house.

But if you use a mobile generator to provide electricity for an individual appliance, it will not result in any voltage spikes. So it’s better to install a surge protector when you are using a portable generator for the whole house. 

Furthermore, we recommend using a larger power supply for your residence. This energy source should sustain the weight of all your household devices, such as a standby generator.

Standby generators are commonly known to have a consistent current flow, even during long usage periods. These machines do not produce any surges as they work entirely manually.

A Quick Review

Generators provide us with power in case of blackouts. However, this blessing is only beneficial if you make it safe to use for your electronics.

Using a Surge Protector guard, you need to tackle generators that produce electrical surges.

It is crucial for every household that owns a generator to use a surge protector to protect their loved ones. They work by absorbing excess voltage and redirecting the current to your primary ground wire and away from your appliances.

You should consider other precautions when using a generator, especially for the first time. You never know what small act benefits you in the long run.

Built-in protectors accompany a few types of generators to prevent electrical spikes. These would include an inverter and a standby generator. However, it is better to use a surge protector for extra safeguard if things go wrong. 

No More Room For Second Thoughts, Buy A Surge Protector Right Now!


A few queries pop up in the heads of our clients regularly. So, to save you from inconvenience, we decided to address and answer them for you:

What’s the difference between a power strip and a surge protector?

As we have already told you at the beginning of this article, many customers confuse power strips and surge protectors, but they are entirely different devices:

Surge protectors are the device that is used to absorb the surges through MOVs and then forward the current to the primary ground wire. 

Power strips allow you to plug many devices into a single outlet/ power source and provide energy to them. However, they won’t protect these electronic devices from surge waves

Can a generator damage electronics?

It entirely depends on the type of generator that you are using. For example, standby and Invertor generators won’t damage your electronic devices, while on other hand, conventional and portable generators produce surges that damage your electronics.

A simple solution to guarantee the safety of your devices is to use surge protectors in all instances.

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