How to check portable generator output

One of the most important things you will want to know about your portable generator is its run time. This is the length of time the generator will run without having the need to refuel. To make sure you get the run time right, you will have to know how to check portable generator output.

The reason for this is that your generator output will affect your run time. The more power your generator produces, the more fuel it burns up.

That will then shorten the run time. If you’re banking on a good night’s sleep because your generator can run for 8 hours straight on 50%, then you better make sure your output doesn’t exceed this level.

1. Buy a Voltmeter

This doesn’t have to be super expensive. You can buy a cheap one for your best generator brand and it will work perfectly well. It’s very helpful for measuring electrical electric potential between 2 points in an electric circuit.

2. Minimizing the Risks

If something can go wrong, it will. This is a good attitude to take when you’re dealing with gadgets that can possible electrocute you.

This means you should wear shoes that have a non-conductive sole (rubber will do). Then you should also stand on a rubber mat. These will all help in minimizing the risk.

You also have to be very sure that you never touch wires like the voltage regulator at any point while you’re using the voltmeter. You can get shocked—in a literal sense!

3. Start Your Engines

Start the generator and get it running. Then turn on the voltmeter, while you make sure that it’s at the “AC Voltage” setting. If you’re not at this setting when you use the voltmeter, there’s a chance you’ll blow a fuse.

4. Using the Voltmeter

Ground the meter by using the black lead to attach it to the frame of the generator. This lead usually has an alligator lead, and that’s what you attach to the generator frame.

Now take the red lead and then touch it to the outlet where you’d plug in your appliance or a power tool. That will then have your voltmeter displaying the current voltage output of your generator.

5. The Shortcut

There’s an easier way to do this, and you don’t have to buy a separate voltmeter to read the portable generator output. Instead, you can just purchase a portable generator that already has a voltmeter built in.

This means you won’t have to set various safety measures regarding rubber soles and rubber mats. There’s no lead to touch. When your generator is running, you can just take a glance at the voltmeter to see where your output level is.


If you buy a generator with a built-in voltmeter, then learning how to check portable generator output is easy. You just take a look at the voltmeter and that’s that.

If you’re bothered by the noise of the generator, then your output may be too high. You should also reduce the load if you’re going to go to sleep so that you can extend your generator running time.