What Causes Generator Tripping?

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What Causes Generator Tripping?

If you follow these articles closely, you know that Merts Heating & Air Conditioning is a big believer in the value of a backup generator. A whole-house generator by Briggs & Stratton is the best way to keep life normal when power outages hit Illinois or Northwest Indiana. That doesn’t mean the system always operates flawlessly.


Sometimes frustration will set in because a generator starts tripping, meaning it shuts down. Just like your home’s electrical system, a generator is protected by one or more circuit breakers. These will switch the generator off whenever an electrical overload or surge is detected. This prevents damage to the generator and the appliances it is powering. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating for the homeowner who’s depending on the generator to keep the lights on during an outage.


Most of the time this “tripping” scenario can be prevented when a generator is properly installed and receives regular maintenance. Let’s take a closer look at some reasons your generator might trip and steps to correct the problem.

  • OVERLOADS—When a whole-house generator is professionally installed it should be able to meet the electrical demands for all the household circuits it’s linked to. If new appliances are added to a circuit, or an appliance is malfunctioning, the electrical load can exceed the generator’s capability. 
  • RESETTING THE BREAKER—Many times a circuit breaker trips because of a one-time event. Try resetting the breaker and see if the generator will operate normally. If it does trip again you need to call for professional help to find out why.
  • GFCI OUTLET(S) TRIPPING—This can happen with portable generators designed to power just a few household appliances and maybe some lights. They are often equipped with GFCI outlets which will shut down if any short circuits are detected.
  • CHECK YOUR EXTENSION CORDS—If you have a portable generator chances are good that you’re using extension cords to power things like refrigerators, freezers, TVs, and computers. A faulty extension cord can cause a GFCI outlet to trip. Try checking the cords by plugging them in one at a time to determine which one is causing the problem. Again, if the problem continues the only safe thing to do is get professional help.


Regular maintenance is the best way to make sure your generator is ready to operate flawlessly when the power does go out in Steger, IL or Crown Point, IN. Problems that could cause your generator to start tripping off can be identified and fixed by the expert technicians from Merts Heating & Air Conditioning. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more great information like this.