Generators are invaluable in the event of a power outage, generating electricity that provides light and heat. But a generator is only useful if it’s ready to go when disaster strikes. One of the best ways to ensure a generator remains in tip-top operating condition is to protect it with a cover that will shield it from weather that can shorten its life, like rain and snow.
Generator covers consist of durable waterproof materials such as 600-denier polyester, vinyl, and tarpaulin. Some covers provide protection from the elements only while the generator is not in use, but others are designed to protect the generator when it’s operating.
This guide will uncover what characteristics are important to consider when shopping for the best generator cover while also reviewing some of the top models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: GenTent 10k Generator Tent Running Cover
- RUNNER UP: Leader Accessories Durable Universal Generator Cover
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Himal Weather/UV Resistant Generator Cover
- BEST STORAGE: Porch Shield Waterproof Universal Generator Cover
- BEST FOR SMALL GENERATORS: Champion Weather-Resistant Storage Cover
- BEST FOR LARGE GENERATORS: N-A Generator Cover Waterproof, Weather Resistant
- ALSO CONSIDER: Jorohiker Generator Cover Waterproof, Heavy Duty
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Generator Covers
When shopping for a generator cover, deciding whether to go with a simple storage cover or a more advanced model that protects the generator while it’s in operation is an important decision. Learn more about these two different types as well as other important factors, such as material, size, and functionality.
Types of Generator Covers
Generator covers come in a surprisingly wide variety of types. Choosing the right one is key to ensuring it protects the generator with which it’s paired without impeding its operation.
There are two basic types of generator covers.
- Storage covers, which are only for protecting the generator when it is not in use.
- Operational covers, which protect the generator while it’s running.
Both storage and operational covers are designed for either open-frame generators or closed-frame generators. Closed-frame generators have a housing that surrounds the generator motor and its other internal working parts, whereas an open-frame generator’s internal parts are exposed to the elements.
While most covers specify which type of generator they are compatible with, they also have unique characteristics that make them easy to tell apart. For example, most enclosed inverter generator covers are more form-fitting to accommodate the rounded shape unique to an inverter generator, whereas open-frame generator covers are typically boxier to fit around the cube-shaped frame that surrounds an open-frame generator. This style of cover typically has Velcro straps that hold the cover securely to the metal tubes that make up the generator’s frame.
Size and Coverage
Size is key to purchasing the right cover for a generator. A good cover will protect the generator without negatively impacting its operation. While a storage cover should
fit snugly to the generator, an operating cover should fit over the generator while also leaving enough space to allow for adequate airflow between the generator and the cover to prevent overheating. With this in mind, a generator cover should be 2 to 3 inches larger than the generator’s dimensions.
Coverage also varies with generator covers. A storage cover should enclose the entire generator from top to bottom to adequately protect it from the elements. An operating cover will function more like a tent that covers the generator while leaving a significant amount of space between the cover and generator to allow for airflow. This style of cover typically has a retractable skirt that stays in place when the generator is in storage and retracts to allow for adequate airflow for exhaust and intake while the generator is operating.
For a generator cover to be effective, it must consist of waterproof material that’s durable enough to hold up to the elements without tearing or blowing loose. Materials such as tarpaulin, polyester, nylon, and vinyl are good generator cover materials.
Many storage covers are made of 600-denier polyester, which resists tearing and can hold up to UV rays. Polyester storage covers are typically lined with PVC or some other water barrier that makes the cover waterproof. However, vinyl is an attractive option for operational covers as it has fire-retardant characteristics. Furthermore, tarpaulin is durable and naturally waterproof.
The generator’s frame material is crucial to how well the cover holds up to strong winds or even the weight of snow. The best generator covers use stainless steel poles that won’t rust or corrode and are strong enough to withstand foul weather.
Ventilation is key when it comes to an effective generator cover. An operational cover should have openings that allow air to flow around the generator and allow the engine’s intake and exhaust to work properly. The cover should protect but also provide enough ventilation to prevent the generator from overheating during operation or collecting condensation when in storage.
Many operational covers have skirts that can be pulled up when the generator is in operation and lowered for maximum protection when the generator is not operating. Storage covers should have vents that prevent condensation from forming inside the cover, which could cause corrosion and rust.
Installation and Functionality
Generator covers are used to protect the generator from foul weather. Many operational covers are designed to be permanently installed so that the user doesn’t have to worry about attaching the cover when inclement weather approaches. An operational cover should protect the generator, but it should also allow the user to operate it without removing the cover. This means the generator’s control panel should remain accessible while the cover is in place.
Most storage covers have plastic buckles that allow the user to install them in seconds. Many also feature flaps that open to allow access to the generator’s handle, enabling the user to move the generator without having to remove the cover.
Our Top Picks
The list below narrows the field to some of the top generator covers by size and type. Any of the generator covers below will help extend the life of a generator by protecting it from UV rays, rain, and wind.
Though this generator cover is an investment, its innovative design and durability make it one of the best options for providing comprehensive protection for a generator while in use or storage. The cover, which works with open-frame generators, consists of flame-retardant, marine-grade vinyl. A sturdy steel pole attaches to the generator’s frame via a set of clamps, making this cover strong enough to resist winds up to 70 miles per hour or 18 inches of snow.
Vents on the top of the cover along with a retractable skirt allow for plenty of ventilation while the generator is running or max protection when it’s dormant. The cover opens at the top, giving the operator full access to the generator’s controls and gas tank. At 36 inches long by 24 inches wide, the GenTent 10k fits most portable generators ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 watts.
With its multiple size options and durable construction, this generator cover from Leader Accessories suits a variety of different generator brands. The four size options for this cover range from 31 inches long by 29 inches wide by 28 inches high up to 38 inches long by 28 inches wide by 30 inches high. The cover has a box shape and extends all the way to the ground, providing complete coverage. This cover cannot be used while the generator is in operation.
It consists of 600-denier fabric with a waterproof PVC coating on the interior. Vents allow air to circulate under the cover, preventing condensation that can cause rust and corrosion. A strap that runs around the hem of the skirt holds the cover securely in place while a plastic buckle makes it easy to remove the cover when it’s time to fire up the generator.
Since a generator itself is such an investment, it’s good to know a cover to protect it doesn’t have to be as well. This affordable generator cover consists of durable 600-denier polyester with a PVC coating that makes it completely waterproof. Its box shape, which comes in three different size options that range from 25 inches long by 24 inches wide to 38 inches long by 28 inches wide, conforms to the generator for a secure fit.
With sides that extend all the way to the ground, this cover provides full coverage from sun, wind, snow, and rain. An elastic cord around the bottom hem of the cover ensures the cover won’t get blown off by high winds. This storage cover must be removed when operating the generator.
This cover uses 600-denier fabric with a waterproof underlayment to protect portable generators kept outdoors. The box-shaped cover, available in several different sizes, conforms to the generator with sides that run all the way to the ground, providing comprehensive protection.
An elastic hem and plastic buckles hold the cover securely in place even during high winds. A flap held in place with Velcro on the sides flips up to give the user access to the generator handle, allowing the operator to move it without having to remove the cover. With four color options—black, light tan, khaki, and gray—it’s easy to coordinate the cover with the exterior of the home. This cover is only to be used for storage.
With its small size, this closed-frame cover is ideal for protecting smaller inverter-style generators. It fits most 1,200 to 1,875-watt generators that are up to 18.9 inches long by 15.8 inches wide by 14.2 inches tall, though other sizes are also available. The cover consists of durable waterproof vinyl that conforms around the unit when in place and features a soft cotton lining on the inside that protects the generator from scratches.
An elastic drawstring around the bottom of the generator keeps the cover securely in place even in high winds or if transporting the generator in the back of a pickup truck. Champion’s generator cover is meant for use for storage only and should be removed when the generator is in operation.
At 38 inches long by 28 inches wide by 30 inches high, this roomy generator cover is large enough to support the biggest portable generators on the market. It consists of 420-denier oxford fabric with a waterproof coating and sealed seams that keep the generator dry while also protecting it from dust and damaging UV rays.
Velcro straps that attach to the generator’s frame and an elastic strap around the skirt keep the cover securely in place on windy days. Strategically placed vents keep condensation from forming inside the cover while also allowing airflow that prevents the cover from lofting in high winds. A flap on one side of the generator allows the user to access the handles to move the generator without having to remove the cover.
With more size options than most other manufacturers, Jorohiker offers a generator cover that can fit virtually any size generator. Its covers include five size options, ranging from 24 inches long by 17 inches wide by 18 inches high to its largest model, which is 38 inches long by 28 inches wide by 30 inches high.
Each cover consists of strong tear-resistant 600-denier polyester with a waterproof PU coating. Velcro tabs that attach to the generator’s metal frame keep it securely in place, while air vents prevent condensation from forming inside the cover. This generator cover also has a convenient flap that allows the user to access the handle to move the generator. Jorohiker’s generator cover should only be used for storage and needs to be removed when the generator is in use.
FAQs About Generator Covers
If you’re wondering if a generator cover is really necessary, or how to use one properly, then read on for some of the most commonly asked questions about these products.
Q. Do I really need a generator cover?
That depends. If you store your generator in a garage or shed when not in use, then a generator cover may not be necessary. However, if your generator lives outdoors, then a generator cover is necessary to protect it from rain that can cause rust and corrosion which could dramatically shorten its life.
Q. Do I need to cover my portable generator in storage?
Though not as crucial as covering a generator that lives outdoors, covering a portable generator that is stored in a shed or garage is still a good idea as it will protect it from dust and dirt that can potentially damage a generator.
Q. Can I cover a generator while running it?
Only if you purchase a generator cover that is specially designed to cover the generator while it is running. Do not attempt to put a storage cover on a generator that is running.
Q. Are generator-running covers a fire hazard?
That depends. A storage generator cover poses a fire hazard if it is put onto a generator that is in operation. An operational cover, which is designed for use while a generator is running, typically consists of fire-retardant materials and has a wide buffer between the cover material and the generator.