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 post 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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How to Start a 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 Generator

Ensure that the generator is not connected to the load (appliances). This you do by placing the transfer switch to neutral or leaving on grid connection. You can also simply turn the generator switch off.

You can also achieve this by removing the connecting cable from the generator receptacle. Never start your power generator loaded (connected to appliances), it could damage your generator especially if you have appliances with high starting current like Air conditioners and Refrigerators.

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.

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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 left to right. For some generators you pull the choke out. You can also consult your generator user manual or 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. There is now a new options that you start with just a start button.

To start a generator with a recoil starter, pull the rope lightly (slowly) 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 or pushing the choke in. 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 moving the transfer switch from the neutral or grid position to the Generator Position or by connecting the connection cable to the the panel receptacle.

Note that a generator is meant to run for limited hours usually from 4.5 hours or more. Consult the user manual of your generator for how many hours your generator can run continuously.

Running your generator beyond the number of recommended hours can lead to damage of your generator. When you are ready to shut down your generator, read our guide about How to Turn Off a Generator.

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This post 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: February 4th, 2022
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Paschal Okafor is the founder of NaijaTechGuide. Over the past 15 years, he has managed to turn a blog that started life on a Google Blogger subdomain into the Largest Technology Blog in Nigeria and quite possibly the largest in Africa. Paschal has been building, analyzing, and maintaining websites for over 17 years and can offer you his wealth of experience to help you get the best results for your blog or website.