Generators may be used when you’re camping or traveling in an RV. Perhaps you only rely on the generator when the power is out. However, the reality is that few of us rely on generators on a continual basis, so we need to properly shut them down and put them away for the season if you don’t want to ruin them. Here are a few tips on how to store a generator when not in use. We’ll cover what you need to do for both short-term storage and long-term storage.
Short term storage refers to storing the generator for a month or less without use. The first step here is to clean any and all debris off the unit. You can use this opportunity to check the oil and air filters, though they may not need to be changed. Check for signs of fuel or oil leaks so they can be fixed if necessary.
Store the generator somewhere where it won’t get hit by your car. You can leave gas in the generator’s gas tank unless it could get cold enough for the gas to freeze. In that case, drain fuel from the generator before you store it regardless of how long you’re going to store it.
Some people leave gas in the generator so that it is easier to start it up and run it once a month to keep it in optimal condition or make it easier to start up as a backup power supply. If you take this approach, put a note on your calendar to pull the generator off the shelf and run it for at least thirty minutes every month.
You’re done with tail-gating season, so you won’t need the generator to run lights and the TV at your parties. You’ve returned from your last camping trip for the summer, and the generator needs to be put away for the winter. This is long-term storage.
You should drain the generator of fuel before storing it for the long-term, especially if you’re using gas that contains any ethanol in it. One option is running the generator until the tank is empty.
Another solution is shutting off the fuel line, draining the gas tank (and carburetor, if it has its own drain), then putting the old gas in your gas tank. However, someone may run the system long enough to burn off fuel in the lines after they’ve theoretically drained the fuel.
The average generator will automatically shut off when it is out of fuel. Just make sure you’re in an area with sufficient ventilation if you’re planning on running the generator until it runs out of gas. While it may only run for a few seconds, you don’t want to breathe in more of those particulates and the carbon monoxide created by the generator than absolutely necessary.
In theory, you could store the generator with gas inside as long as you add stabilizer, but if the generator ends up in storage longer than expected or the fuel freezes, you’ll have a mess on your hands. The most commonly recommended brands of gas stabilizer are Sta-bil and Sea Foam.
Gas that sits for a long time in the fuel lines could dissolve the lines and destroy the engine. The ideal situation is draining the gas into an approved gas container, adding stabilizer to that, and letting it sit a fair distance from the generator itself. In a worst case scenario, only the gas in the gas can has gone bad.
Next, clean the generator. Make sure the controls, the springs and the linkage are clean. Make sure there’s nothing combustible like dead leaves or dried oil spills around the muffler. Check the spark plugs while you’re at it.
Check the cooling air slots. These need to be clean and unobstructed to avoid problems the next time you start up the generator. This also gives the generator time to cool off before you put in storage.
Once the generator is clean and empty, this is a great time to take it down to the shop for a tune-up. If that’s not on your schedule, consider replacing the air filters and doing any other maintenance that should be done regularly on the generator.
Store it somewhere safe from theft and dry, since a flooded basement or wet storage shed will damage it as certainly as leaving it out in the rain. If you aren’t sure, go ahead and cover the generator with a tarp.