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Why Does My Generator Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping? – Reasons

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

why does my generator circuit breaker keep tripping

Are you here because you’re wondering, why does my generator circuit breaker keep tripping? In a majority of tripping cases involving a generator’s breaker, people predominantly end up discovering they’re only dealing with an electrical overload or a power leak/ ground fault.

Secondly, a faulty breaker may be to blame. Lastly, don’t overlook the possibility that there may be something wrong with its circuitry, particularly a loose connection. Read on to learn why these issues happen and the best steps you should take to address them.

Why Overloads and Short Circuits Commonly Plague Generator Breakers


Every generator and its corresponding circuit breaker has a maximum load capacity. For example, your portable Generac generator breaker keeps tripping probably because you’re not entirely aware of the generator’s load capacity.

Try looking back to when the trip occurred. Did you turn on more appliances and gadgets than usual? Did you add a new appliance to the circuit? Chances are, it may be drawing more amps than you anticipated, and that’s the only reason why the generator keeps tripping the breaker.

If that’s the case, then you only need to reduce the load. Incidentally, people share this common issue because they’re not mindful of load capacities. If you rely a lot on your generator because you’re outdoors a lot (i.e. sailing or camping), you may have to closely watch out for when you’re pushing the limit from now on.

Don’t Forget About the GFCI Side of Things, Too

When tripping circuit breakers are concerned, GFCI breakers tend to come into play, too. After all, most generators integrate only these two types of breakers.

If your generator’s GFCI keeps tripping, it’s not usually because of an overload. It’s most likely performing the specific function it’s designed for, which is to trip when a power leak or a ground fault happens.

Think of these “leaks” as electric currents that have gone awry. They’re more inclined to follow a different circuit than the one that’s connected to the generator. GFCI breakers keep track of these electrical anomalies and will shut down the power once they do.

Is that the only reason why GFCI breakers of generators trip? Not really.

  • We can’t totally rule out the possibility of an electrical overload being behind it.
  • Be wary of the presence of moisture near the GFCI breaker. It may have built up to the point that it’s beginning to cause the usual “generator circuit breaker keeps tripping” problem. These are rare in portable generators, though, for they’re naturally equipped with better protection against the elements.

Frequent Tripping Has Always Been a Tell-Tale Sign of a Bad Breaker


Next, we need to consider the possibility that you’re dealing with a breaker that’s on its last legs. Regardless of what power source you’re using, a breaker that needs replacing will start showing this sign. This is especially true if the generator to the breaker trips without load.

However, that’s rarely the only symptom you’ll see. The breaker itself may be short-circuiting and gets damaged in the process. You’ll see signs and odors resulting from the damage, like a smoky smell or blackened spots around the breaker.

Don’t delay replacing the breaker once you confirm that it’s no longer functioning. You won’t be able to use your generator properly and safely without it.

Are Faulty Wires and Loose Connections Possible Culprits?

We can’t rule out the odds of them affecting the generator breaker. After all, there’s not much difference between a home circuit breaker and a generator circuit breaker. Although, I admit that they’re not as common as the other problems mentioned here.

However, we can’t deny that almost every breaker is designed to trip if it’s sensing there’s something wrong with its wiring. This is why I give the benefit of doubt and check the screws of setting the wires in place when diagnosing generator circuit breaker problems. A little tightening could very well solve the issue outright.

Here’s a fine demonstration of it:


So to sum up the answers to “why does my generator circuit breaker keep tripping?” I recommend you remember these pointers:

  • The power draw of the appliance/s exceeds the load capacity of the breaker so
  • Electrical leakages and ground faults will keep tripping the GFCI breaker until you address the issue of moisture or faulty wiring.
  • Breakers that are about to go tend to trip a lot.
  • Don’t overlook loose connections.
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