How Often Should I Start My Portable Generator?

A portable generator, as its name suggests, is a movable device that generates electrical power. It can be a lifesaver during power outages, camping trips, or even for powering tools in remote locations.

This machine, however, needs to be started and run periodically to maintain its efficiency and extend its lifespan. In this article, we will explain the importance of starting your portable generator regularly and provide a general rule for how often this should be done.

How Often Should You Start Your Portable Generator?

As a general rule, it is often recommended to start your portable generator once every three months. However, this frequency might vary depending on the manufacturer’s instructions and the generator’s model. External factors, such as the environment and climate, might also affect how often you need to start your generator. For instance, more frequent starts might be required in colder climates to prevent the battery from freezing.

Importance of Regular Maintenance of Portable Generators

Regular starts are an essential part of the overall maintenance routine of your portable generator. These routine starts help to lubricate the engine’s parts, charge the battery, and ensure that the generator is ready for use when required.

Moreover, regular starts can also prevent potential fuel-related problems such as fuel degradation and gumming, particularly when gasoline-powered generators are used.

Steps for Proper Starting and Running of a Portable Generator

When starting your generator, ensure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. After the generator starts, let it run for a few minutes to allow the engine to warm up. The typical recommended runtime is about 30 minutes to ensure the battery is fully charged.

Remember, regular checks of oil levels, air filter condition, and overall generator health are also crucial during this routine run.

The Consequences of Infrequent Usage

If you do not start your portable generator regularly, various problems may arise. For example, the battery might discharge, the carburetor can become gummed up, and the oil might not lubricate the engine adequately.

Any of these issues could lead to potentially costly repairs or even the replacement of your generator.

Storing a Portable Generator Long-Term

If you plan to store your generator for an extended period, proper steps need to be taken to avoid damaging it. These steps may include draining the fuel, changing the oil, and safely storing the unit in a dry and clean location.

If your generator is stored, it will still need to be started periodically and always remember to check it before use if it has been stored for a long time.

how long should I run my generator for maintenance?

For maintenance purposes, it’s generally recommended to run your generator for about 20-30 minutes every three months or so. This allows the engine to warm up fully, ensuring that all moving parts are lubricated. It also provides an opportunity for the generator’s battery to charge up.

However, these recommendations can vary based on the generator’s make and model, so it’s best to refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

If your generator has been stored with fuel in the tank, running it will also help prevent the fuel from becoming stale and causing issues like gumming up the carburetor. Some experts recommend running the generator under load (i.e., with some appliances or tools connected) for a more thorough check of the system’s functions.

Remember, routine maintenance should also include checking the oil and fuel levels, inspecting the air filter, and examining the generator for any signs of wear or damage.

how often should a standby generator be tested?

A standby generator is a crucial piece of equipment that provides backup power during an outage, so regular testing is important to ensure it will operate effectively when needed. Most manufacturers recommend that standby generators be tested once a week.

During these tests, the generator is started automatically by the transfer switch that monitors utility voltage. The generator should run for about 20-30 minutes to fully warm up, which also helps ensure all moving parts are lubricated and the battery is charged.

In addition to these weekly self-tests, an annual professional inspection and maintenance service are typically recommended. This service should include checking the oil and coolant levels, inspecting the air filter, checking the battery, and examining the overall condition of the generator and its components.

As always, the user manual for your specific model will provide the most accurate guidance for testing and maintenance, so it is advisable to refer to this document or consult the manufacturer directly.

Frequently Asked Questions on How Often Should I Start My Portable Generator

What Happens if I Don’t Start my Generator Regularly?

The generator’s battery may discharge, engine parts might rust due to inadequate lubrication, and the fuel system may experience issues such as gumming, leading to performance issues and possible damage.

Does Running a Generator Under Load Impact Starting Frequency?

Running a generator under load doesn’t directly affect the starting frequency, but it is good practice to run your generator under load occasionally as it can help to ensure its optimal performance.

What Precautions Should I Take when Regularly Starting My Generator?

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, ensure the generator is in a well-ventilated area, and check the generator’s condition, including oil levels and air filter cleanliness, before starting.

Related Post:


In conclusion, regular starts are crucial for the maintenance of your portable generator. Typically, aim to start your generator once every three months, or as advised by the manufacturer. This practice keeps your generator in prime condition, ready to function efficiently when needed.

Remember, maintaining your generator is not only about the frequency of starts but also about following a holistic maintenance routine that includes oil changes, filter checks, and more.


Rayan is an engineer, lives in a farmhouse. He has a passion for electronics and alternative energy. He loves to share his thoughts with other people. That is why he started the blog.

Recent Posts