How To Fix a Tripping Generator Within 5 Minutes: A Quick Guide For Beginners

The storm is on its verge. None of us has an idea when you enter the age of darkness, and it may be in the next few moments.

Now, imagine you turn on your generator in this intense blackout, and your generator starts acting up and tripping. 

What will you do next?

Generator tripping is one of the most frustrating scenarios that every generator owner faces and fails to tackle and overcome.

This article will resolve all your queries in mind related to generator tripping. Furthermore, we will also help you identify the root cause and how you can fix it without any professional assistance.

What’s Tripping?

In a power outage, the phrase “tripping” refers to the rapid disconnecting of all electrical equipment.

Every electrical device has a circuit breaker. In case of an issue, such as an electrical surge, that might destroy the machine or other appliances connected to it, circuit breakers help shut down said item. 

Therefore, it is possible that generators, like the primary power sources, would also experience unanticipated power interruptions

It might be aggravating if the generator fails and there is no electricity. There are several reasons why a generator could fail. Fortunately, there are solutions to these problems that you can apply to prevent a generator failure in the future.

What Causes a Circuit Breaker To Trip?

In most cases, a generator trips because either the circuit breaker interrupts the power supply or a malfunction with the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles causes the power to be interrupted.

The circuit breaker and the ground fault circuit interrupter safeguard electronics from harm; yet, their functions are significantly different. 

Standard Circuit Breaker – For The Extra Electrical Weight

The circuit breakers (and fuses) trip or disconnect the electricity on all generators whenever the linked devices are in danger. They are mainly utilized to cope with spontaneous surges.

You might place the maximum load on a generator and its associated circuit breaker. As a result, the portable generator repeatedly trips due to you overloading the capacity of the power supply.

Try retracing your steps back to the time of the vacation. Have you used more electronics than usual?

Maybe you added a new appliance to the circuit without noticing. There is a good chance that the generator is drawing more amps than you expected, which is why it continues to trip the switch.

Reduce the load if that’s what’s necessary. For example, if you use your generator a lot because you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors (like sailing or camping), you’ll want to be extra cautious in the future.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) – A Savior In Disguise

When circuit breakers trip, GFCI breakers are to blame in most cases, and most generators only have these two kinds of breakers.

GFCI receptacles are employed to detect any possible electricity leakage from the device. They show that the electric current is taking the targeted route to the ground instead of being lost in an unwanted direction.

In addition to faulty wiring, other factors that contribute to electric leakage include deteriorated insulation, water in the circuitry, and direct human contact.

A GFCI is a life-saving device that shuts off the generator to detect an abnormal current flow, preventing electrocution or electric shock. An explosion or fire might occur if the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) fails.

It’s very uncommon for circuit breakers and GFCIs to start failing and continually shutting off the generator without any apparent cause. When that occurs, you’ll have to go through each one and figure out what’s wrong.

How To Fix a Tripping Generator?

Most importantly, understand that your generator is tripping for a reason and that you should not ignore it. The breakers are doing their duty to protect you and your connected gadgets from potential danger. 

If this occurs regularly, you’ll need to address the underlying cause of the problem. To repair your tripping breaker, you may try the following methods.

1. Where It All Began

It is critical to determine the actual reason for generator tripping and limit the scope of the issue since there are two primary causes of generator tripping. 

It’s worth noting that not all generators have GFCI outlets. Thus the first step is to determine if your generator is accommodating these. Both the circuit breaker and the ground fault circuit interrupter can trigger simultaneously. 

Ensure that you are not overloading the generator’s capacity before proceeding. On the other hand, if just the GFCI is tripping, it is most likely due to a leakage of electric current in the system.

2. Why Attached Extensions are Bad News

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) reports that overloading a circuit by connecting an extension wire or one power strip to another is a common cause of residential electrical fires.

Avoid overloading the circuit by daisy-chaining the power strips. 

3. Resetting The System

Once the generator has been shut down, you will need to unhook all of your generator’s components to see whether the GFCI receptacle is to blame. Then, restarting the generator and resetting the GFCI outlet are both essential. 

You just require the “Reset” button for this function. There are no complex steps to follow.

If the GFCI button doesn’t work even after turning off your generator, you’ll need to replace your GFCI receptacle.

If there are no potential issues, you can connect the GFCI straight to a small electrical load, like a light bulb, without the need for an extension cable.

Allow at least 15 seconds to pass before checking to see whether it trips. If it doesn’t, the GCFI receptacle isn’t at fault, and the issue might come from somewhere else.

Before jumping to conclusions, try the technique again with a minor load, even if the bulb trips. If every item you’re trying to connect continues tripping, you may want to consult with a technician.

4. Establish Safe Connections

Using an extension cord to connect your gadgets means that you must also check the cable after the GFCI receptacles have been examined or rectified.

You should check all of your generator’s cable connections one at a time for dirt and moisture. It is necessary to replace any cord that causes the generator to shut down. 

If the GFCI receptacles and cables are in good working order, you may need your circuit breaker checked and replaced. Occasionally, the generator will run for some time before the automated air switch triggers, letting out a strong odor as a result. 

Insufficient spring pressure or a faulty air switch is the most common causes of this problem. As a result, the main circuit’s contact resistance rises, heating the control and triggering it to trip. 

Clean the switch well and remove any moisture or dust accumulated. Check to see that the switch is installed correctly. When you connect the load to the generator, it will trip in certain circumstances. 

A significant source of this issue may be an external short circuit or excessive load. To locate the specific location of the outer short circuit and get it repaired, you may want the assistance of a specialist.

5. Have You Exceeded Your Generator’s Capacity?

Capacitor testing is considerably trickier than verifying the GFCI outlets. However, a built-in overload indication may be found on many circuit breakers, making it easy to see when the device has tripped. 

It isn’t always obvious when the breaker is malfunctioning, and you can’t rely on the indicator.

Try the same techniques with various appliances to see whether it’s the breaker or something else causing the problem. Additionally, a multimeter may test lead-wire connections inside the panel.

There is a good chance that the breaker is working and the fault is someplace else based on any measurements. It indicates that the circuit breaker needs to be changed if it reads ‘OL’ (overload) or infinity, despite no attached appliances.

6. Faulty Wiring – Covert Internal Damage

Maintaining the wiring is also critical because broken wires might cause the circuit breaker to trip and cause the generator to stumble as well. 

It is preferable to check on the wires every few days rather than every week. This maintenance will reward you in the long term. 

Beginners should rely on the skillset of a professional to service or examine their generators. Self-analysis might not provide you with a satisfactory report or the desired results.

How To Choose The Right Circuit Breaker

While there is no way to prevent power surges and undesired tripping that may occur unexpectedly from time to time, selecting the proper kind of circuit breaker can make it easier to deal with these situations. 

There are a few factors you cannot miss when making the purchase:

1. High Voltage Rating

You’ll find the voltage rating on the package of every fuse. Therefore, choosing a suitable circuit breaker is dependent on finding one with adequate voltage capacity to power the appliances without overheating. 

2. Interrupting Capacity

To put it simply, the interrupting capacity of a trip switch is the amount of surge voltage it can without getting harmed. Therefore, the component’s interrupting ability should always be large to prevent it from ceasing to function in the event of a power fluctuation.

Interrupting capacity is also known as its breaking capacity.

3. High Temperature

A good circuit breaker should endure high temperatures when a gadget warms up. Unfortunately, it will be in contact with extreme temperatures more often than one can think. Moreover, make sure it is re-calibrated for the climate you will use it in.

4. Corrosion & Moisture

Dust and moisture have been blamed for tripping the generator earlier in the article. However, moisture-resistant circuit breakers are available on the market, and they will enhance your experience and ease your life during emergencies.

You should consider all these characteristics when buying a capacitor.

Summary

There are lots of reasons why the generator can trip. We’ve also spoken about how to figure out precisely what’s wrong so that you can repair it.

In addition, we’ve looked at some of the characteristics to look for in a circuit breaker to avoid common issues. Use this to repair your generators if you understand electric circuits.

Experts in every sector are always preferable to those who have a general understanding of a subject. Therefore, it’s usually best to leave these issues to a licensed electrician.

At times, tripping may be life-threatening since it may be a sign of a more serious issue.

If you notice a burning odor, a spark, or overheated wires, you should contact a professional as soon as possible. Ignoring these warning signals might lead to a disaster you might regret for the rest of your life.

FAQs

Why Does My RV AC Trip The Breaker?

It’s annoying when your RV’s air conditioner continuously trips the breaker. Several factors may cause this. For example, you used too many high-powered AC appliances, or the rooftop air conditioner uses a lot of electricity, perhaps overloading your electrical system. 

Answering it can be pretty vague and challenging, hence follow the step to identify to cause of the problem.

What Causes a Generator To Trip and Shut Off Power?

Water, dust, damaged insulation, faulty electrical equipment, and human skin are the most common sources of leaks. 

There are GFCIs in place to prevent electric shock, electrocution, burns, and fires by tripping and shutting off electricity when there is an electrical leak. 

Why Does My Generator Keep Tripping?

Moisture, dust, and worn-out cables may all contribute to power leakage. Moreover, you can prevent fires and electrocutions by tripping the breakers if something is wrong with the power production.

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