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Everything is cool, and there’s no power outage, but all of a sudden your Generac generator is turned on for no reason.
At times, it might even turn on at weird times, like at midnight, when you aren’t at home, causing your neighbor to be annoyed or worried.
While experiencing this issue, it can be shocking at first, but it’s something you shouldn’t be worried about as there are simple methods to follow to stop your generator from turning on for no reason.
Generac generators usually start for no reason as a result of low battery voltage, a faulty automatic transfer switch, a power surge or voltage spike in the generator, or the control board malfunctioning.
To understand why all this happens to your Generac generator, in this blog post, I’ll explore further and deeply explain the causes of generators turning on unexpectedly and provide you with troubleshooting tips and preventive measures to help avoid this issue in the future.
Common Causes of Generac Generators Turning On for No Reason
At the beginning of this blog post, I have already listed the common cause of why your Generac generator turned on for no reason.
In my opinion, I know you might be confused about what caused this issue and how you can identify the real cause of why the generator is turning on automatically.
Therefore, here are the common causes of why Generac generators turn on for no reason:
1. Low battery voltage
A Generac generator comes with a battery that powers the control panel, starting system, and other electrical parts.
If the voltage of the battery drops below a certain level, it may trigger the generator to turn on unexpectedly, even if there is no power outage.
This happens because the control panel interprets the low battery voltage as a fault or error and starts the generator to fix the problem.
Sometimes, the generator may even start automatically without any input from the user if the battery voltage drops critically.
After the generator starts, it will produce electricity and charge the battery, which may eventually restore the battery voltage to a normal level.
However, if there is no actual power outage, the generator may continue to run unnecessarily until the battery is fully charged or until the user manually turns it off.
2. Faulty Automatic Transfer Switch
An automatic transfer switch (ATS) connects a Generac generator to a building’s electrical system and automatically switches the power source from the utility grid to the generator during a power outage.
However, if the ATS is faulty or malfunctions, it can cause the generator to turn on for no reason. This happens because the ATS is designed to monitor the electrical supply from the utility grid and switch to the generator when it detects a power outage.
But if the ATS is faulty, it may mistakenly interpret normal variations in the electrical supply as a power outage and send a signal to the generator to start up.
As a result, the generator may continue to run unnecessarily until the ATS can correctly detect the status of the power supply and switch back to the grid, or until the generator is manually turned off.
In some cases, a faulty ATS may also cause the generator to turn on and off repeatedly as it struggles to detect the correct status of the power supply.
3. Power surges or voltage spikes
The occurrence of power surges or voltage spikes in a power system can cause damage to electronic devices and appliances.
In the case of Generac generators, these surges can cause them to turn on for no reason. Generac generators are equipped with sensors that detect changes in the voltage of the electrical system.
A sudden power surge or voltage spike can trigger the generator to turn on automatically, and it will continue to run until it detects a stable power supply or until it is manually shut down.
However, if the generator is turning on due to a power surge or voltage spike, there may not be an outage or unstable electrical supply, and the generator will run for no reason.
It’s important to note that sustained surges can cause damage to the generator’s electrical parts, leading to more instances of the generator turning on for no reason.
4. Malfunctioning Control Board
The control board, also known as the control panel, is an important component of a Generac generator as it monitors and controls its operation.
If the control board develops a fault, it can cause the generator to turn on unnecessarily. This can happen in several ways:
Firstly, the control board is responsible for monitoring the generator’s status and controlling its operation, but if it develops a fault, it may misinterpret signals from the generator’s sensors, resulting in the generator turning on even if there is no power outage.
Secondly, the control board may send false signals to the generator’s starter motor, causing it to start the generator when there is no power outage.
Once the generator starts, it will keep running until the control board correctly detects the status of the power supply and switches the generator off, or until it is manually turned off.
Furthermore, a malfunctioning control board can cause the generator to turn on and off repeatedly as it struggles to correctly detect the status of the power supply or if there’s a button issue on the control board that makes it malfunction.
So, if your generator is turning on unexpectedly, what are the things you can do to identify the issue?
- Check the battery voltage. As mentioned earlier, low battery voltage is a common cause of the generator turning on unexpectedly. You can use a multimeter to check the battery voltage. If it’s below a certain level, you may need to recharge or replace the battery.
- Inspect the ATS: The automatic transfer switch (ATS) is responsible for transferring the electrical load to the generator during a power outage. A faulty ATS can cause the generator to turn on unexpectedly. To inspect the ATS, turn off the generator and check the connections and wiring. Look for signs of damage or wear and tear. If you notice any issues, you may need to replace the ATS.
- Test the control board: The control board regulates the generator’s functions, and a malfunctioning control board can cause the generator to turn on at random times. To test the control board, turn off the generator and remove the control panel. Use a multimeter to check the resistance of the wires. If there’s no resistance, the control board may be faulty and need replacement.
- Consider other factors: If none of the above steps have identified the issue, consider other factors that may be causing the generator to turn on unexpectedly. For instance, power surges or voltage spikes can trigger the generator to turn on. You can install surge protectors to prevent this from happening.
Preventive Measures to Avoid the Issue
- Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule: Generac generators come with a recommended maintenance schedule that includes changing the oil, replacing the air filter, and inspecting the spark plug. Follow this schedule to ensure your generator is in top working condition and reduce the risk of it unexpectedly turning on.
- Conduct regular inspections: Regular inspections of your generator can help you identify potential issues before they escalate. Inspect the generator for any signs of wear and tear, such as frayed wires, loose connections, and corrosion. Address any issues you find immediately to prevent them from causing unexpected turn-ons in the future.
- Keep the battery charged. A low battery is a common cause of unexpected generators turning on. Make sure to keep the battery charged to the level recommended by the manufacturer. You can use a battery charger or a solar panel to keep the battery charged.
- Keep the generator clean and dry. Dust and moisture can affect your generator’s parts, leading to unexpected turning on. Keep the generator clean and dry by wiping it down regularly and storing it in a dry place.
- Test the generator regularly: Last but not least, regularly testing your generator can help you identify any issues and ensure that it’s functioning correctly. Run the generator for a few minutes every month to keep it in good condition and to make sure it turns on and off correctly.
If your Generac generator is turning on for no reason, it can be frustrating and concerning. However, some common causes and solutions can help you identify and solve the issue.
By understanding the common causes and taking preventive measures, you can avoid this issue in the future. If you’re unsure of how to troubleshoot or repair your generator, seek professional help.