How To Jump Start a Portable Generator

Many portable generators offer two starting options. You can start them with a recoil start. With this method, you’ll switch on the generator and pull the recoil handle swiftly. Many people don’t like this option because it is not as convenient as the second option which we are going to talk about right now.

The second option allows you to start your generator with a key. You’ll just turn the key the way you start your car, and your generator will roar to life.

Unfortunately, this option requires a functional battery to work. If the battery is dead or weak, the generator will not start with this method. Since that’s the more preferred option, a lot of people want to know how to jump start a portable generator. To them, it is a better option than using the recoil start option.

We are glad to let you know that we have given the required steps below. In addition, we have also answered several other relevant frequently asked questions. So, we’d like to get straight to business immediately.

Read More: How Much Do Portable Generators Cost?

How To Jump Start a Portable Generator – 8 Easy Steps

If your generator does not start, there are several reasons for this. If the spark plug of the generator is dirty or dead, the generator won’t start. Also, if the level of engine oil does not reach a certain level, the generator won’t start. This is a safety measure that prevents users from mistakenly running the generator without any engine oil in it.

So, you need to be sure that the spark plug of the generator is intact, and ensure you have filled your generator to the right level. You can now conclude that the issue is the battery. Here’re the easy steps to follow:

Step 1 – Locate the battery of the generator and identify the positive and negative terminals. The positive terminal is usually labeled with any of these signs – POS, P, or +

Step 2 – Connect the red jump starter cable to the positive battery terminal.

Step 3 – You can connect the black jump starter cable to either the negative battery terminal or a metal frame on the body of the generator. It all depends on the instructions on the particular jump starter that you’re using.

Step 4 – Now, you can switch on the jump starter and switch on the generator.

Step 5 – Start the generator with the key. The generator should start within 3 seconds. And if the generator does not start, make up to five attempts, but you must wait for at least a minute after each attempt.

Step 6 – When the generator starts, you can switch off the jump starter before removing the cables.

Step 7 – Disconnect the black jump starter cable from the generator battery.

Step 8 – Disconnect the red cable too.

Remember, by the time the generator works for up to an hour, the battery should be fully charged. If you have to jump start the generator more than once a week, you may have to replace the battery.

Can You Jump Start a Generator with A Car Battery?

Yes, you can jump start a generator with a car battery and we’ll explain how you can do it right now. Drive the car close to your generator. Open the hood of the car and leave its ignition on. Now, you can connect one of the jump-starter cables from the positive terminal of the battery in the car to the positive terminal of your generator battery.

The next step is to connect the other jump-starter cable from the negative terminal of the battery in the car to the negative terminal of your generator battery. Switch on your generator and turn the key to your generator to start it. The generator should start within the first three attempts.

After starting your generator, you can disconnect the negative cable first before you disconnect the positive cable. Now, you can close the hood of your car and drive it away from the generator.

Can You Hook Up Jumper Cables to a Generator?

Yes, you can hook up jumper cables to the terminals of your generator battery. That’s the only way to be able to jump start it. All you have to do is to identify which of the battery terminals is positive and which of them is negative. If you can’t discern the difference, don’t guess. You may seek the assistance of an expert. Connecting them wrongly could lead to an explosion.

What Can Make Generator Not Start?

There are several reasons why your generator may not start.

1. Weak or dead battery

When the battery of your generator is weak, you may not be able to start your generator with the key. In that case, you have three options. You can recharge the battery, jump start the generator, or use the recoil start.

2. Dirty spark plug

When the spark plug of your generator is dirty or dead. The generator won’t start. Remove the plug, wash it with some fuel and wipe it dry. You can place it back and try to start the generator. If the generator still does not start, you need to change the spark plug.

3. Low engine oil level

Many portable generators come with a safety measure called oil alert. When the level of engine oil in the generator is low, the generator won’t start. And if the generator is already working when it runs low on engine oil, it will shut down automatically.

The feature helps to protect the engine of the generator. So, if your generator refuses to start, you need to check the engine oil gauge. If it’s low, top it up.

These are the three common reasons why your generator won’t start. If after ruling out the three problems, your generator still does not start, you might have to hire an expert because it will likely be a major problem.

Does a Generator Need a Battery to Run?

No, a generator does not need a battery to run. It only needs a battery to start. And once it starts, the battery will no longer be of any use. Even after removing the battery entirely, you can still start the generator through a recoil start. And the generator will perform well.

So, a generator only needs a battery to start and not to run.

How Do You Charge a Dead Generator Battery?

You can charge a dead battery with a handheld battery charger. Here are the steps involved.

Step 1 – Remove the battery from the generator and bring it near a power outlet.

Step 2 – Connect the positive cable of the battery charger to the positive battery terminal.

Step 3 – Connect the negative cable of the battery charger to the negative battery terminal.

Step 4 – Plug the battery into a power outlet.

Step 5 – Select the preferred charging setting. You may have to choose between fast charging or slow charging. It is better to choose slow charging because it charges batteries more effectively. However, you can choose faster charging for an emergency.

Step 6 – Switch on the charger, and it will start charging your battery.

Step 7 – When it is fully charged, it will indicate. You can then turn it off.

Step 8 – Unplug the charger.

Step 9 – Disconnect the cables before returning the battery to the generator.

Safety Tips:

When jump starting your generator battery, there are several precautionary measures to take. Remember, safety should always come first.

1. Don’t guess the terminals

If you don’t understand the difference between the positive battery terminal and the negative one, seek assistance. Don’t just guess. If you mistakenly connect the positive jumper cable to the negative battery terminal, an explosion could occur. Thankfully, many of the latest jump starters will alert you when the connection is wrong.

2. Charge your battery every three months

It is possible that there’s no power failure within six months. That means you may not use the battery of your generator for six months. It is possible for your generator battery to lose its charge within that period. That’s why it is advisable to charge the battery every three months.

3. Remove your jewelry

Jewelry is usually made of metal and that makes it a conductor of electricity. If the jewelry gets too close to the battery, it could pull a charge and shock you. So, to eliminate the risk of getting shocked, it is better to remove all the jewelry on your body, especially the one on your wrists, if any.

4. Wear goggles

There have been reports of seemingly fine batteries exploding. So, your battery can also explode without any prior sign. For that reason, it is better to protect your eyes while jump starting your generator battery. Also, you should not bring your face too near to the battery all through the process.

Final Words

Always remember that when the battery of your generator is weak, the unit won’t start. Before thinking of jump starting it, you can use the recoil start. Although it works fine, many people don’t like the option. As far as we’re concerned, both recoil starter and key starter are fine and convenient.

In fact, we often use both methods. That’s why we won’t advise you to stick with the key starter and ignore the recoil starter. It is better to use both methods. You can alternate them.