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Steps to Breaking In Your New Portable Generator

Steps to Breaking In Your New Portable Generator

So your new portable generator has just been delivered. Yay! But before you start planning your next camping trip and backyard barbecue, you need to break in your generator.

Yep - you read that right. In fact, the first few hours of using your portable generator will have a huge impact on how long it’s lifespan will be. The thing though is, you have to do it correctly so you get the most out of your investment.

Before anything else, let’s quickly discuss the obvious question.  

“Why do I need to break in my portable generator? Can’t I just use it as soon as I get it? Won’t that be the same as breaking it in?” Top 6 Do’s and Don'ts When Using Caravan Generators 2

The answer to the last two questions are both NO. Here’s our answer to the first: Breaking in a petrol generator means letting it run a cycle for a certain amount of time and changing the oil after every cycle. Doing so allows the oil to run through all the moving parts in the engine and clean it. Essentially getting the engine ready for future use.

Also, breaking in your generator is important because - and this is something not many people know - when engines are new (new as in never used new), there is a good chance that tiny pieces of metal breaks off. These tiny metal fragments can cause significant damage to the engine over time.

Which brings us to the next question.  

“How do I break in my portable generator properly?”

The process does take about three hours. Don’t worry though, breaking in the engine is fairly easy. If you have done this before, great. If not, here are the most important steps to properly breaking in your brand spanking new portable camping generator.  

Step 1. Shop for gas, oil and oil conditioner.

Buy petrol fuel. Buy the engine oil brand recommended by the generator’s manufacturer. If you ordered your generator online, you can call the website’s customer service hotline and ask for their manufacturer-recommended oil brands.

You need to buy oil conditioners as these products help oil to stick to the engine cylinders. This keeps the engine well lubricated even if you are not using your generator for a long time.

The oil conditioner prevents dry starts. For those doing this the first time, a dry start is one of the major causes of damage, particularly in new engines.  

Step 2. Lubricate. Lubricate. Lubricate.

To avoid dry starts, you need to first lubricate the engine cylinders. Remove the spark plug. Then, using a funnel, pour a little bit of oil conditioner down the spark plug chamber. This ensures the engine cylinders are properly lubricated before you start yanking on the cord to start the generator.

Remember, DO NOT pull on the starter cord if you have not poured the oil conditioner yet. After pouring in some of the oil conditioner, the next thing to do is pull the starter cord SLOWLY. Do this for about 10 times. This is so the piston goes up and down the lubricated cylinder. Afterwards, you can put back the spark plug.  

Step 3. Add engine oil.

Using a funnel, pour the recommended amount of engine oil into your generator. Refer to the user’s manual beforehand or (if you ordered online) ask the manufacturer’s customer service representatives how much oil you should use.

Step 4. Add fuel.

Next, you need to fill up the generator’s tank with petrol. You can use high-octane fuel whenever possible.

Start up your petrol generator after the fuel has been added. Remember, it is normal if the generator does not start up right away after the first or second pull. Just keep trying until the engine starts.  

Step 5. Run the generator for one hour. Run your generator for one hour. Run it at the lowest speed setting. Do not connect anything to your generator yet.

Remember let the engine run for one hour with no load whatsoever.  

Step 6. First oil change.

After one hour, power down the generator. Drain and change the oil. Changing the oil is important as it gets rid of those tiny metal pieces that have broken off during the first hour run.

Remember it is important to get these fragments out to protect your generator’s engine from serious wear. After the first oil has all drained out, add a little more oil conditioner and fill it up with fresh engine oil.  

Step 7. Start the engine again. Let the engine run for another hour. Do not connect anything to the generator. Just let it run for another hour with no load.  

Step 8. Second oil change.

After the second-hour run, power down the generator and change the oil again. Drain the oil. At this point you will notice that the oil coming out of the engine is cleaner. You should see less metal fragments.

After all the oil has drained out, don’t forget to add a little more oil conditioner. Pour in fresh engine oil.  

Step 9. Final hour run.

Start up your generator for the third time. For this final hour run, you can load the generator between 500W to 1000W and let it run for one hour.  


A few things to remember:

While the first three hours of your portable generator is the most important, make sure that you maintain your generator on a regular basis.

Stick to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and products as stated in the user’s manual.  

And that is it. Pat yourself on the back.You have successfully broken in your portable generator. Now, you can start planning for that camping trip. Or was it a backyard barbecue?


Haven’t decided where to buy a portable generator yet? No need to look further. Outbax  is the best stop for award-winning generators and camping gear. Check them out today.