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How to Reset Generator Circuit Breaker? – The Most Effective Way

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how to reset generator circuit breaker

Is your generator’s circuit breaker blown, but you have no idea how to reset it? I’ll teach you how to reset generator circuit breaker minus the usual hassles here. Do keep in mind that since generators are made by different brands, they may have their own unique buttons for resetting, usually denoted by color codes.

That being said, I will teach you a more general way to reset your generator’s circuit breaker. The procedure starts by shutting down the generator, then decreasing its load by turning off appliances, followed by the actual resetting of the breaker, and restarting the generator afterward.

It applies to most generators used in boats and RVs. I will also give some tips on what to do if you encounter issues, such as the breaker not resetting and overloading.

Tools to Prepare


Other than the circuit breaker and the integrated generator reset button, you won’t need to prepare any specialized tool for this job. You won’t be touching any live wires, after all. I seldom advise boat and RV owners to do their own wiring, should the need arise, because it’s work that’s best left to a professional electrician.

The steps I’ve laid out here are concerned with resetting the circuit breaker and addressing issues that are related to the said topic. Expect these problems to be more concerned with breakers that won’t reset after tripping and the like. I have no other alternatives when resetting a generator breaker to suggest since these steps are standard procedures.

The Ideal Way to Reset Generator Circuit Breakers


Compared to home circuit breakers, there’s not much difference when resetting a generator’s breaker. It still involves “cycling” the breaker switch.

I’m assuming your issue is as follows. You started up an appliance in your RV or boat, let’s say the AC. After a few seconds, you decide you could use a snack so you turn on the microwave. You plug it in then it doesn’t take long for you to hear a pop and everything shuts down. Classic generator overload, in short.

Here’s what you’ll need to do if that happens.

1. Reduce the load by unplugging most, if not all, of the appliances in the circuit

We want to rule out the possibility of the breaker malfunctioning or a short happening. We’re only assuming that an overload occurred. This is why you should first decrease the load being put on the circuit and the breaker by turning off and unplugging most of the appliances first.

There may be some cases when you don’t need to shut down the power supply or reduce the load anymore. But since most generator breaker trips are caused by overloads, it’s better to do this before resetting.

2. Power down the generator then perform the toggle cycle

This is the actual resetting part. Remember, you have to find the generator’s reset switch after you’ve shut the generator off. In some cases, it may be hidden from view by wiring or pumps or is too small to be readily visible. It should look like a normal switch or toggle.

You reset or cycle it by toggling it to the ‘Off’ position then switching it to ‘On’. A tell-tale click sound should be produced by the said action. Otherwise, it’s more than likely that it hasn’t properly reset. Some generators may not produce this clicking sound, so you just have to make sure that the toggle is pushed all the way to the said conditions.

Note: Some reset switches or buttons require a bit more force actually to make them click or engage. You may want to try this first before coming to the conclusion that the breaker needs to be replaced.

3. Start the generator again.

Did you get to reset it correctly? Good! Now, all you need to do is to fire up the generator again. Assuming it was only an overload problem, you should be able to start using appliances again.

Keep in mind the total ampacity of your generator’s circuit breaker next time, so you’re less likely to encounter tripping issues related to electrical overloads again. If you want to make sure, you can check out the information printed on the label of your generator’s power circuit breaker.

Want to know how specific generators like those made by Onan can be reset? Please watch this video to see how:

Common Generator Circuit Breaker-Related Issues and How to Deal with Them

A couple of RV and boat owners’ problems tend not to end even after trying the reset procedure I’ve explained above. What should you do if the generator circuit breaker will not reset or if you encounter a generator overload with nothing plugged in? These are some of the common problems encountered by a lot of folks who like to spend time outdoors.

  • For the first problem, you are probably dealing with a short circuit problem or the breaker itself may already need replacing. For either of these two dilemmas, you have no other option but to call an electrician. One of your gadgets or appliances may be responsible for it.
  • Incidentally, faulty appliances can also cause an overload issue. If that’s your specific scenario, then you need to rule out the appliance that’s causing it. Once you do, you may still be able to reset the generator circuit breaker. Just make sure you refrain from plugging that broken appliance back in.
  • If it’s a short circuit problem, don’t even bother to run anything until you’ve contacted a licensed electrician to handle it for you.
  • As for the second one involving the generator overloading, even if there’s no appliance plugged in and running, it could be due to the generator running on inadequately low loads for a long period of time.

You can try these steps if this is the case:

  • Turn off the generator then turn it back on using the power switch. This action should reset the overload button.
  • Afterward, you need to look for the standard button intended for circuit protection then reset it by pushing it. You also need to push the overload reset button after doing so.

Doing these should automatically run the generator and restore power to the RV or boat.

If these steps did not solve the problem, you can try doing these other steps:

  • If the generator comes with a GFCI (ground fault interrupter) circuit breaker, you need to check if it has tripped. It may have been overloaded, as I’ve said that it’s a relatively common occurrence. You’ll only need to reset the generator’s main breakers again if this is the case. Check the GFCI’s capacity to make sure that it won’t happen again.
  • If none of these steps worked, the best step to take from here on is to ask your generator’s manufacturer or refer to its maintenance manual. You won’t get a better set of instructions than from the one who developed the generator, after all.


How did you like the guide on how to reset generator circuit breaker I prepared? I recommend only the standard way to reset a generator circuit breaker because, well, it’s standardized. You won’t go wrong with it because it’s the sole way breakers are designed to be reset.

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