Can You Jump Start A Generator Battery?

Can you jump start a generator battery

Have you ever wondered how to jump start a dead generator battery?

Look no more, we´ve got you covered.

Generators are great for portable power when traveling, camping, or when your house’s power is out. For that reason, if your generator has a battery and that battery goes dead, it is frustrating.

So can you jump start a dead generator battery? Yes, it is possible to jump start most generator batteries, much in the same way you could jump start a car battery.

What Drains a Generator Battery?

👉 Time- Sometimes leaving a battery without using it for an extended period of time can drain its power and make it difficult to start.

You will likely have seen this with cars that have been left for months at a time without being driven.

👉 Cold- Though it does not truly drain the battery, it can make it more difficult to start your generator engine.

To help combat this, you may need to select a different viscosity for the oil in your generator.

You can also adjust the choke in order to start your generator in the cold.

👉 Alternator- If the alternator on your generator is beginning to fail, it will not recharge the battery as the battery runs.

This means your battery is not being recharged during usage, and it will quickly drain. You can use a multimeter test to determine if the alternator is at fault.

👉 Voltage Regulator- If the voltage regulator on your generator is faulty, damaged, or beginning to fail, then the voltage sent to your battery will not be sufficient, and your battery will quickly drain.

👉 Battery Charger- If you charge your generator during its “rest” period and your battery cannot remain charged, you may have a faulty battery charger.

Read also: How to Fix Fault Code 14 on Onan Generator (Always Works!)

How Does Jump Starting a Battery Work?

Jump starting is a simple way to get a battery running after its power has been drained or depleted. It is accomplished by connecting a dead battery to a functional battery.

The electrons flowing between the batteries help with the transfer of power from the functional battery to the dead battery.

Safety Steps When Jump Starting a Generator

Whenever you work with electricity, it is crucial to use proper safety procedures to avoid injury. These precautions will also help protect the health and longevity of the battery.

Remember each of these safety precautions:

  • If you are using a car to jump start your battery, make sure to put the parking brake on.
  • When attaching the jumper cables, start with the dead battery first.
  • Watch for ice or other signals that the battery may have frozen. If the battery has frozen, let it thaw before attempting to jump start it.  
  • Do not smoke while jump starting any battery.
  • Do not attempt to jump start a battery that has cracked.
  • If you have them, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Put on the rubber gloves before beginning the jump starting process.
  • Safety goggles are another fantastic precaution to help ensure your safety.
  • Do not connect the jumper cables to each other.
  • Do not let the jumper cable tips touch.

Following these safety precautions will help keep you safe when using electricity.

Read also: How to Use a Generator with a Travel Trailer: Complete Guide

How to Jump Start a Generator

When restarting most generators, you will want to use a 12 Volt automotive or other utility battery.

Follow the safety precautions listed above to keep yourself and those around you safe:


If you are using a car, be sure to park the car close to the generator. Do not place the generator on the car, though.


Remove the cover from the generator’s battery. You need to be able to gain access to the battery terminals.

There may be a large cover over the entire battery in addition to smaller covers over the battery terminals. All of these will need to be removed.


Connect one end of the red side of the jumper cables to the positive post on the generator’s battery.

Since you are jump starting the battery of the generator, it is important to remember to begin by connecting to the generator (not the utility or automotive battery) first.


Connect the other end of the red clamp of the jumper cables to the positive terminal on your functional battery.

Be sure to connect both positive terminals before connecting the jumper cable to the negative terminals.


Attach one of the black ends of the jumper cables to the negative terminal of the functional battery.

For this portion, you will start by attaching to the automotive or utility battery, rather than to the dead battery of the generator.


Connect the other end of the black jumper cable to any metal surface within one foot of the generator battery that you are jumping.

Note: you will want to use metal that is unpainted. Options may include portions of the car or any other surrounding metal.


Start the generator as normal. Follow the directions in the user’s manual if you are unsure of any of the steps.


As soon as the engine starts, remove the jumper cables in the reverse order of how you attached them.

For reference, this means you will release them in the following order:

1.Black jumper cable end that is attached to an unpainted metal piece located within one foot of the generator battery.

2. Black jumper end cable that is attached to the negative terminal of the functional battery.

3. Red jumper cable end that is attached to the positive terminal of the functional battery.

4. Red jumper cable end that is attached to the positive terminal of the generator battery.


Let the generator run for a while to ensure that it has started properly. If your generator battery does not respond to jump starting, you likely have a larger issue to then address.

Check the video below to see how to start a generator with a dead battery?

Maintaining a Generator Battery for Longevity

Maintaining the health of your generator’s battery is crucial if you want to enhance the lifespan of your generator.

Following these steps will help keep your generator battery running at its best capacity for as long as possible.

  • Charge your battery. Every several months, you should charge your generator’s battery during its “rest” time. “Rest” time is a period when you are not actively using your generator to power your RV, house, or other electronics.
  • Replace your battery when necessary. Sometimes, despite the good care that you take to ensure the longevity of your generator’s battery, it will still need to be replaced every few years. When you replace the battery, always test to make sure that your generator is still running well.
  • Leave the terminals of the battery covered to help prevent corrosion.
  • If the battery terminals do appear to corrode (this may happen if you live in a particularly humid client), you can buy battery terminal cleaners to help remove the corrosion.

Generators are fantastic when you need power on-the-go. They are crucial for any RV camping trips and for powering your electronics during power outages.

If your generator will not start, the battery may be at fault. If the battery is dead, it can be jump started with the same process you would use to jump start a car.

Be sure to follow safety precautions and careful steps to protect yourself. When your generator is up and running again, be sure to maintain its health to keep it running when you need it again.

How to Select Battery for Generator

How To Choose: Generators, Batteries and Power – Tips To Power Your Campsite. >> Check out the video below:

Best Portable RV Generator

I’m sure there are lots of good portable RV generator and I haven’t done a head-to-head test or anything, but the one I ended up buying is this Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 and I’m happy with it.

Purchase: If you are interested in this Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 then just follow the link to Amazon where you can see current pricing.

Best Portable Power Bank Charger

The best portable power bank charger i recommend is the Boost Pro GB150 3000 Amp 12-Volt UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter Box.

I really like this Power charger Bank charger It’s not terribly expensive but gets amazing reviews.

Just follow the link to Amazon where you can see current pricing.

Best Battery Jumper Cables

You’ll definitely want a battery jumper cables to charge your dead generator.  

I recommend this Jumper Cables 16 Feet 6 Gauge Heavy Duty Booster Cable like this one on Amazon for easy electrical conductivity and power transfer.  

It’s not a huge expense by any means, and really helps.


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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