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Question for EEs - Why isn't this generator tent suicidal?
Old 03-07-2019, 04:12 PM   #1
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Question for EEs - Why isn't this generator tent suicidal?

After using our portable generator to keep the furnace running a week ago during a windstorm (no precipitation) I was just browsing around about home standby generator stuff and stumbled across this product, a tent for a generator, aptly called a GenTent. The idea is that supposedly you can use this thing to cover a generator, plug it into your transfer switch connector, start up the generator, and it'll be safe to use your generator while there is pouring down rain. Given that most power outages occur in inclement weather there is certainly a need for something like this but I sure have doubts about the safety of using it.

To say that using this thing contradicts everything I've ever heard about generator safety around water is understatement. Questions arise such as without a remote controller, how do you safely start it, shut down for refueling, or why aren't the curious who approach it being electrocuted in a rainstorm? One would imagine there might be a bit of liability attached to that.

I suppose my questions could be directed to the company, but somehow I have more faith in the dispassionate opinions of the members of this board. Especially those with degrees in stuff like physics and electrical engineering.

I eagerly await your considered opinions.

There are a bunch of youtube videos on it and I just picked one pretty much at random. In this one the guy uses a garden hose and a leaf blower to simulate a rainstorm. It seems a bit weak, but makes his point I suppose. And even for this evangelist he points out that parts of the generator do get wet. Parts that I for one want no parts of touching while they're wet!

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Old 03-07-2019, 04:24 PM   #2
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I’ve seen these. I think the simple answer is that you get it going when it’s not raining or when there’s a lull in the storm and then you can leave it running in the case where it starts raining again. There’s no way I’d be out in an active rain event trying to do the initial hookup of a generator. We had this problem once when we were out of power for a few days. At the time, we had a tarp over a boat in such a way that it provided some cover so we tucked the generator there. This would be handy, but conditions would have to be right, especially at the start.
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Old 03-07-2019, 05:00 PM   #3
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Seems unnecessary if you have a sufficiently beefy generator, the three phase 20kw one we used for our Burning Man camp ran fine in rain, dust storms, etc.. For the tiny 2-4kw ones I guess it could help? Our small ones were inside our art car so they were relatively protected from direct wind and rain. We've refueled in extreme conditions but it certainly isn't preferred and I wouldn't want to be messing with a little tent in weather that was so bad it was needed...
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Old 03-07-2019, 05:45 PM   #4
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To get electrocuted, you need to be in contact with the live circuit. Just touching the case of the generator won't be harmful, as it is grounded.

It's no different than the metal street light pole being safe to touch in a rain. If there is a short of the internal wiring to the light pole itself, then you will get electrocuted when touching it, even when it is not raining.

In real life, if a live wire is shorted to the light pole with its foot in the ground, it will cause a fuse or breaker to pop due to heavy current getting shunted to ground. Wet soil conducts better than dry soil, and buried metal objects are grounded even better.
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Old 03-07-2019, 06:16 PM   #5
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The energized components of a generator are no more or less hazardous in wet weather as they are in dry as they simply are not exposed to the operator. Follow the manual's instructions and you'll be safe operating a name brand generator.

I retired from the electric company. Worked on energized lines in severe weather as well as fair and it doesn't make any difference wet or dry. The safety protocols are the same for any condition.
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Old 03-07-2019, 06:59 PM   #6
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Thank you everyone. If it helps to clarify the generator I use is a Honda EX4500, a "super quiet" model that is 20 years old and has only been used for home standby power when we had a power outage. Until a week ago it had only been used once in 16 years, more often when we lived in the D.C. area. While it does not have an hour meter on it I doubt it has more than 50 hours on it, 75 at most.

It is rated at 4kw, 4.5 surge, so not a whole lot but enough to run a gas furnace, TV, computer, refrigerator, and a few lights.
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Old 03-08-2019, 05:53 AM   #7
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Looks like it's only worth it if you need to wheel it in and out while keeping it dry, because garden sheds at Home Depot start at about the same price range, and adding ventilation shouldn't add significantly to the cost.
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Old 03-08-2019, 12:52 PM   #8
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I've noticed that. There are a bunch of youtube videos on converting/ventilating those plastic sheds, and I'd wager they're a lot more durable too.
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Old 03-08-2019, 03:00 PM   #9
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Wow, I followed the link in the OP just now, and this little tent is so pricey. I am sure one can do something a lot cheaper and more permanent.
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