How to Check Generator Output: Specific Steps and Recommendations

  • Last updatedLast updated: Aug 01, 2020
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If you own a portable generator, you must take it upon yourself to check the generator output from time to time. A portable generator can prove to be a necessity when you find yourself without an electricity supply. In order to make sure that the generator performs well when you need it to, you have to maintain it properly. Ensuring that your generator has the correct voltage can make a significant difference. If the voltage and output are not meeting your requirements, you will find that the generator might let you down. Checking the generator output is an easy process, and we will elucidate it further.

Why, and how often, you need to check your generator output

How to Check Generator Output: Specific Steps and Recommendations

The voltage offered by a generator will determine its ability to run different kinds of appliances. Nowadays, portable generators can be used for many heavy-duty purposes, for which they need to have a consistent power output at the correct voltage. Otherwise, your appliances might suffer damage because of overloading.

You should check the generator output once a month so that you are never taken by surprise during emergencies.

Safety comes first

Taking safety precautions is an essential step when you are handling electronic items. It is better to be safe than sorry, and you should take some protective steps before you use a voltmeter to measure the output of your generator.

  • It is advisable to step atop a rubber mat and wear shoes with non-conductive soles. As a result, you will be protected from any possible electric accidents. The shoes will ensure that your body does not suffer much physical damage in case the procedure goes wrong.
  • Make sure that you do not touch the wires irrespective of where they are located. The wires could give you an electric shock.
  • You should not touch the voltage regulator either because it will be passing electricity.


Measuring the generator output is not a tough task, but being cautious will help you avoid dangers and fatalities.

How to check your generator voltage output with a voltmeter

You do not have to invest in an expensive voltmeter to know your generator output. A cheap voltmeter will do the job just as well as long as you know how to use it. All you have to do is follow the steps mentioned below.

  • To begin with, you have to start your generator, and then you can switch on the voltmeter. Do not interchange these two tasks.
  • Set your voltmeter to the “AC Voltage” position so that you do not run the risk of blowing a fuse.
  • The next step would be to ground your meter. Make sure that you do use the black lead for this purpose. You have to connect the meter with the frame of the generator with the help of the lead clip.
  • The lead comes with an alligator clip that you must use when you are attaching the voltmeter with the engine frame. This will make the process convenient for you.
  • Now, you have to join the read lead to the output plug. Touch the red lead carefully to the point where you would plug in any appliance or tool. Do not let your hands come into contact with any wire during this process.
  • You will find that the voltmeter is displaying a figure. The reading will indicate the current-voltage output of the generator.

Your job is done!

How to Check Generator Output: Specific Steps and Recommendations

Fixing AVR issues

If you find that the voltage reading does not meet your expectations, you can take some steps by yourself to find out the cause. If your generator comes with an automatic voltage regulator (AVR), it can hinder the reading. It can give you lower readings than usual.

To solve the problem, you have to follow a systematic method. Firstly, you have to locate the AVR and then remove the two leads. You will find a red and a black lead connecting the AVR to the brush set. You can choose to cover the two leads with the help of electrical tape. As a result, the two leads will be unable to come into contact with each other or the housing.

Now you have to procure a 12-Volt DC power source along with alligator clips. You should be able to attach the clips to the brush set from which the leads have already been removed. You can set the battery by hooking the positive line that you connected to the brush set. Always ensure that the positive line is set in such a way that it faces the bearing. You do not have to do anything with the negative line just yet. Switch on the generator and let it run for ten seconds, after which you can hook the negative line as well.

With your voltmeter, test the two leads that you disconnected from the AVR. Try to set the reading to 60v. Usually, a 12- volt battery test can solve the problem for you because the residual magnetism is restored in the generator. However, if this test does not work, you will have to replace the AVR.

How to check your generator wattage output

The voltmeter will inform you about the voltage offered by your generator, but that will not suffice if you want to know the generator wattage output. Knowing the wattage output will allow you to decide which appliance you can power with the generator.

You should remember the formula: Watts = Volts * Amps.

This means that you can calculate the wattage by multiplying the voltage with the load capacity in amperage. After measuring the voltage, you will have to find out the amp so that you can evaluate the wattage through a simple calculation.

In conclusion

Now that you know how to check generator output, you should have no problem doing it by yourself. The key thing to remember is that you should handle wires and electricity with care and caution. As long as you follow the directions mentioned above, you should get the desired results. Do not skip the safety measures, or else you might suffer from an electric shock. We have also included some info on how to check generator wattage output so that you face no problem in determining the type of appliances you can power with the help of your generator.

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