How to Cool a Portable Generator

Portable generators, small scale electric generators powered by a gas, propane or diesel engine, are usually air cooled. The natural flow of air around the unit is adequate to cool the generator if it is in the open. However, some owners add structure or shelters around the generator to reduce the noise of the operation. In those cases additional cooling capacity is sometimes necessary

  1. Open up the area above the portable generator allow more air circulation. According to the Frequently Asked Questions segment of Generator Ace website portable generators cool themselves using the principle that hot air rises. If the air heated by the generator is allowed to rise cool air is pulled in around the base of the generator. If a top is necessary for a generator cover make sure to include a top that is removable during operations.
  2. Install grill work or other air ventilation fixtures around the base of the enclosure. Place window screen or similar material over the openings of outdoor generator housings. This prevents intrusions from insects or other animals. Keep the screens clear during the operation of the generator. Drill or cut openings in the bottom portion of any generator cover used indoors where insects are not a problem.
  3. Remove the cover over the portable generator to provide complete air circulation. This will increase the noise level but provides adequate cooling. Additionally, household fans can be set up and pointed at the portable generator to provide additional air movement and cooling.

Things You Will Need

  • Portable generators
  • Household fans


  • The owner's manual of the Generac line of portable generators suggests not placing any enclosure around the portable generator when the air temperature of the work site is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold weather operations include an open sided enclosure that shelters the generator from the wind.


  • The exhaust system of a portable generator reaches temperatures in excess of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintain a minimum of 2 feet of clearance between the generator and all objects that are combustible or block air movement.

About the Author

Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in "North Dakota Horizons" and "Cowboys and Indians" magazines.