How to properly use a camping generator with an extension cord

Are you planning a camping trip and want to bring along some modern conveniences like a mini-fridge, lights, and maybe even a television? If so, you’ll need to bring a camping generator along with you. But what if the generator isn’t located near your campsite? That’s where using an extension cord comes in. In this article, we’ll show you how to properly use a camping generator with an extension cord, so you can enjoy all the comforts of home while out in the great outdoors.

Part 1: Choosing the Right Generator and Extension Cord

The first step in using a camping generator with an extension cord is to choose the right generator and extension cord for your needs. Here are some things to consider:


  • Power Output: The first thing to consider is the power output of the generator. Determine how much power you need to run the appliances and devices you plan to bring along, and make sure the generator you choose is rated for that amount of power.
  • Fuel Type: There are three main types of fuel that camping generators run on: gasoline, propane, and diesel. Gasoline generators are the most common, but propane generators are more fuel-efficient and produce less carbon monoxide. Diesel generators are the most fuel-efficient, but they are also the most expensive.
  • Size and Weight: Consider the size and weight of the generator, especially if you plan to transport it to your campsite. A smaller and lighter generator is easier to move around, but it may not have the power output you need.

Extension Cord:

  • Length: Choose an extension cord that is long enough to reach from the generator to your campsite, while still giving you some flexibility in placement.
  • Gauge: The gauge of an extension cord determines how much current it can safely carry. For a camping generator, choose an outdoor-rated extension cord with a gauge that matches the power output of your generator.
  • Outlets: Make sure the extension cord has the right type and number of outlets to accommodate the appliances and devices you plan to use.

Part 2: Preparing the Generator

Before you start using the generator, you need to prepare it properly. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Read the Manual: Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow all safety guidelines. Make sure you understand how to operate the generator and how to troubleshoot common issues.
  • Choose a Safe Location: Place the generator on a level, dry surface that is at least 20 feet away from your campsite and any flammable materials. This will prevent carbon monoxide from building up around your campsite, which can be deadly.
  • Fill the Fuel Tank: Fill the fuel tank with the appropriate type of fuel and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for starting the generator. Make sure the generator is in a well-ventilated area when you start it.

Part 3: Connecting the Extension Cord

Once the generator is up and running, you can connect the extension cord. Here’s how:

  • Turn off all Appliances: Turn off all the appliances and devices that will be connected to the generator before you start plugging them in.
  • Plug in the Extension Cord: Plug the extension cord into the generator’s outlet. Make sure the cord is securely connected.
  • Run the Extension Cord: Run the extension cord to the location where you will be using the appliances. Make sure the cord is not twisted or kinked, as this can damage the cord and cause it to overheat.
  • Use a Surge Protector: To protect your appliances from power surges, use a surge protector between the extension cord and your appliances. Make sure the surge protector is rated for outdoor use.

Part 4: Connecting the Appliances

Now that the extension cord is in place, you can connect your appliances and devices. Here’s what to do:

  • Plug in the Appliances: Plug each appliance or device into the extension cord. Make sure the plugs are securely connected and the cords are not twisted or kinked.
  • Turn on the Appliances: Turn on the appliances one at a time, starting with the smallest and working your way up to the largest. This will help prevent the generator from overloading and tripping the circuit breaker.

Part 5: Monitoring the Generator and Appliances

While you’re using the generator and appliances, you’ll need to keep an eye on them to make sure everything is running smoothly. Here’s what to do:

  • Check the Generator: Periodically check the generator to make sure it’s operating properly and doesn’t overheat. Look for any signs of damage or wear, such as frayed wires or loose connections.
  • Check the Extension Cord: Check the extension cord for signs of wear or damage, such as cuts or cracks in the insulation. If you notice any damage, replace the cord immediately.
  • Turn off the Appliances: When you’re finished using the appliances, turn them off and unplug them from the extension cord. This will prevent them from drawing power from the generator when they’re not in use.
  • Turn off the Generator: When you’re finished using the generator, turn it off and unplug the extension cord from the outlet. Allow the generator to cool down before storing it.

Part 6: Storing the Generator and Extension Cord

When you’re finished using the generator and extension cord, you’ll need to store them properly to ensure they last as long as possible. Here’s what to do:

  • Store the Generator: Store the generator in a secure, dry location that is protected from the elements. If you won’t be using the generator for an extended period of time, drain the fuel tank and store it with an empty tank.
  • Store the Extension Cord: Store the extension cord in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Coil the cord neatly and store it in a way that prevents kinks and twists.


Using a camping generator with an extension cord can be a great way to bring modern conveniences with you on your camping trip. However, it’s important to choose the right generator and extension cord, prepare the generator properly, connect the extension cord and appliances safely, and monitor everything while in use. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy all the comforts of home while out in the great outdoors.