Can You Run A Generator Overnight (And Is It Safe)

When you experience an area power outage, the last thing you want to do is spend the night navigating your way through your home by candlelight or with torches.

This is why generators are great as they’ll provide you your home with backup power in times of need so you can still carry on as normal and not have your day brought to a standstill.

However, what happens if you experience a power outage in the evening and it doesn’t return by the time you plan on going to sleep, can you run the generator overnight, and is it safe to do so?

Can You Run A Generator Overnight (And Is It Safe)

The answer to the question is yes, you can run a generator overnight however, it may depend on what kind of generator you have and you’ll also need to consider a handful of things before you run your generator overnight. 

Will My Generator Run Overnight?

The average generator will run continuously for around 8 hours, which should be enough to run overnight if you turn it on before you head to sleep.

However, there will be some generators that will have a lower run time and some that can run for days on end. 

However, it is not typically recommended to run your generator for days at a time unless the manufacturing instructions say it is safe to do so. 

A gas-powered generator is the most reliable to run overnight as they come with an automatic low gas shut-off for safety precautions and they are often the ones with the longest running time. 

Solar-powered or battery-powered generators are less reliable.

If you’ve been without sunny weather for some time, then your backup generator will not be powered enough to run overnight and as for battery-powered generators, if you’ve been without power for a long time then you may not have had the chance to charge up the batteries to use as backup power in your generator. 

Make sure you minimize the appliances and other electrical equipment that will be relying on the backup power from the generator to extend how long you can use it.

Try to switch off appliances that are not necessary to preserve as much as possible so the generator won’t run out in the middle of the night. 

What Needs To Be Considered?

Before deciding to run your generator overnight, you’ll need to make sure you consider a handful of things to minimize potential hazards and risks.

Make Sure You Secure It Properly

Place the generator on a flat surface, preferably on the ground the right way up so it cannot tip over when it’s running.

You’ll still need to make sure that the generator has plenty of airflow around it and is not stacked in with other objects that could potentially become a fire hazard. 

Generators, especially big expensive ones, are a target for thieves, so secure yours with a padlock somewhere in your home and if it has wheels then they should be locked in place, so it cannot be removed from your property. 

Ensure There Is No Incoming Extreme Weather

There may be times where extreme weather has caused your power to shut off which will mean your generator will come in handy. 

However, you shouldn’t run your generator whilst the extreme weather is ongoing.

If strong winds or even hurricanes are on the forecast, then you’ll have to resort to some candles and cooler bags for chilled food to manage through the night when the power is out. 

Strong winds could topple a generator or even cause parts of a building to collapse, causing a potential fire.

Minimize Risks

Generators and water are not meant to be friends, so to prevent accidents you’ll need to make sure there is no chance of water from leaks, rain, or snow getting near it.

Get your generator serviced frequently to check it’s in working condition so it doesn’t malfunction and become a hazard.

Don’t Refuel When The Generator Is Running Or Still Hot

If you’re running a gas generator, then do not consider refueling it when the generator is still running or whilst it’s still hot from running as the heat from engine parts of the generator could ignite the gas that you’re refueling with.

This is important if you live in an area that experiences regular power outages from weather, as you’ll need to make sure your generator is refueled before turning it on for the night or get a generator with a large enough tank size and the ability to run through the day and the night without refueling. 

Following The Manufacturer's Instructions

Not all generators will be capable or safe to run all night, so follow the instructions that come with your model to ensure ultimate safety. 

Installing CO Detectors In Your Home

Generators can emit carbon monoxide which can be deadly if levels rise too quickly within an enclosed space. 

To ensure the safety of everyone in your household when running your generator overnight, install CO detectors around your home and even in the bedrooms for reassurance, and check them regularly to make sure they still work. 

Find One With Safety Controls

An emergency shut-off control should be on most generators as this will automatically switch off the engine if the gas gets too low so it won’t damage your power source.

Otherwise, if your generator doesn’t have this safety function then you’ll need to get up every few hours in the night to check on it.

Will The Noise Be Disruptive?

If your generator is particularly noisy, then those in your household and nearby neighbors won’t appreciate it, especially when trying to catch some shut-eye through the night.

Try using noise mufflers to dampen the sound of your generator, or even upgrading your current model to a quieter one.

Try To Turn It Off Whenever You Can

Try to turn off your generator when possible as they are not built to run continuously.

If you have a power outage for days on end, then it may be a good idea to use alternative resources such as torches, candles, or cooler boxes to get by to give your generator a break. 

I'm an environment and energy blogger who teaches outdoor and energy enthusiasts how to be better informed when it comes to purchasing or maintaining a generator, solar panel system, or anything else related to your energy needs.