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How to Start or Turn On a Generator

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In order to ensure an efficient running of your power generator you must ensure that you follow the right procedure to turn it on. This document provides information on how to start a generator. Consult your generator manual for specific instruction on how to start your generator.

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Step 1: Take Generator to a Well Ventilated Environment

Ensure that your generator is outside the house in a well ventilated environment protected from the elements. With news of people dying of carbon monoxide suffocation every week in Nigeria this step must be adhered to. Also ensure that the generator is not too close to a wall or inflammable substances.

Step 2: Check oil & fuel levels

Ensure that the fuel in the tank is at least 15% of generator tank capacity before continuing to the next step. The Oil in the crankcase must also be above the required level (gauge level).

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Step 3: Disconnect all Load from Panel Receptacle

Ensure that the connector connecting your load to the generator is plugged out. You can also achieve this by simply keeping the control switch on neutral or keeping the generator switch in the off position. Never start your power generator loaded.

Step 4: Turn on the fuel valve

This will enable fuel to flow into the carburetor in readiness for the generator start and continuous operation.

Step 5: Move choke to closed position

You can identify the choke rod from the manual. Normally the choke is closed by moving the rod from right to left. You can also ask the dealer how to choke your generator set.

Step 6: Turn on Engine Switch

Generators with rope and grip (recoil start) will normally have an engine switch, which you must put to the on position before you can start your generator. Power generators with key start do not come with a separate engine switch since the act of starting the generator with a key also turns on the engine.

However, if a key start generator also features rope and grip start, you turn on the engine with the key by turning the key clockwise until it is in the 12 O’ Clock position.

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Step 7: Start Engine & Generator

Most generators have either of two starting methods. Some use the recoil starter (rope and grip) while others use key starter. A few come with both options.

To start a generator with a recoil starter pull the rope lightly until you feel some resistance, then apply a fast pull.

To start a generator with key starter, turn the key clockwise. Do not use the key for more than 5 seconds at a time. If the key fails to start allow sufficient time for the starter to cool before trying again. Once the generator starts you should move to step 8.

Step 8: Move choke to open position

The choke must now be moved back to its rest position. This is usually done for most generators by moving the rod from left to right. This should be done once the generator starts.

Step 9: Operate Generator at No Load for Awhile

This step is only necessary if you are starting the generator for the first time in a day. The length of time can vary from 1 minute to up to 5 minutes. This will ensure that the generator will be in the right state to carry the load. For subsequent starts you should skip this step. Never start your generator with the load connected. Always operate at no load for at least 10 seconds.

Step 10: Connect Load

You should now connect your load. This is done by connecting the panel receptacle or switching your isolation switch to the generator position.


This document is not a substitute for your generator user manual. However, be less assured that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate. Always start your generator the right way to ensure its efficient operation.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article How to Start or Turn On a Generator was written by Paschal Okafor. The article was last modified: July 16th, 2016