Can I Use a Car Battery to Start My Generator?-Complete Guide

Most of the engines of the generators, especially the standby generator, are almost the same as the car engine. It works the same as the car engine works. Therefore one can start a generator to start or to jumpstart the generator. The car battery has enough power that can start up a generator.

To start a generator using the car battery is not difficult as long as you have some little knowledge on how to connect and use DC batteries or power. You need only to have jumper cables or have some good resistance power cables for the exercise. The only thing you have to put at the back of your mind is that the battery you are using is charged.

The article below will discuss using the car battery to start a generator or jumpstart a generator. It will discuss safety measures and precautions to connect and use the car battery. The process will be simple and easy when you have little knowledge of how to use a DC power supply.  

Using a car battery to start a generator

 The generator will not start when the battery is flat or drained out, like the car engine that will not start when the battery is low. The question that the car battery can start a generator is yes because the car battery’s power can start the generator without a problem.

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Steps to start a generator using a car battery

can i use a car battery to start my generator

Before starting the generator using a car battery, you must ensure that you use a 12v battery or any other possible automotive utility battery.

Follow the below steps to guide and help you start the generator safely and successfully.

1. Park the car

Since we are using the car battery mounted on the car, ensure that the car is parked with the handbrake. Ensure that the car is close enough to the generator. Make sure that you don’t put the generator on the car.

2. Remove the battery cover

On the generator’s battery, remove the cover that encloses it. The process will help you gain access to the battery’s terminals.

But there is a possibility that there might be another large cover closing the battery and the upper smaller cover. You will need to remove all these covers to access the battery.

3. Connect the jumper cables

In this step, connect one end of the jumper cable which is red into the terminal of the battery at the positive terminal. Since the generator’s battery is the one be started or jumpstarted, you need to begin connecting the cable into the terminals of the generator before connecting to the battery of the car.

4. Connect the positive terminals of the battery using the red jumper cable

The other end of the red cable of the jumper now connects it to the positive terminals of the functioning battery.

Ensure that you connect both the positive terminals of the batteries using the jumper cable before connecting the other negative terminals. The process will help you not to confuse the terminals.

5. Connect one end of the black jumper cable to the battery

Now connect one of the black ends of the jumper cables directly into the battery’s negative terminal that you want to use to start the generator.

It would be best if you started this by connecting the cable first into the functioning battery, that is, the car battery, instead of connecting it to the dead battery of the generator.

6. Connect the opposite of the jumper cables to the surface of the generator

Now attach and connect the opposite side of the black jumper cable to the surface of the generator (any metal surface of the generator you want to start or jump) to complete the circuit.

An important tip to note here is that you should ensure that you connect the terminal to the unpainted part of the generator so that the current can pass through. Some other options are connecting or attaching the cable to any portion of the car as well.

7. Start the generator

After all the connections are correct, start the generator as usual. But if you are not conversant on how to start the generator, you can use or follow the user manual provided by the manufacturer.

8. Remove the jumper cables

Immediately the generator starts, remove the jumper cable to avoid damaging the car’s function. Remember to remove them in the reverse order on how you connect them.

For easy references, follow the below simple steps.

i. Start with a black cable that you had earlier attached to the unpainted metal piece of the generator.

Remove the black cable of the jumper connected to the negative terminal of the functioning battery.

ii. Next, remove the other jumper cable attached to the car battery positive terminal that is red.

iii.  Finally, remove the jumper cable attached to the functional battery terminal that is red from the terminal of the car battery

9. Allow the generator to run for some time

Here is the last step to let the generator run for some time to ensure that it has started correctly. Let it run for a while to check if it has other problems. But if the generator could start at all, then there are some other more significant issues that you need to address and solve.

Things that drain the battery of the generator

Things that drain the battery of the generator

1. Time is one of the things that drains the battery. It is because leaving a battery without using it for an extended period will drain its power and make it unable to start the generator. The case is commonly seen in cars that have been left in for a given time without being used or started.

2. Cold is another factor that can drain the battery of a generator. Cold is directly draining the power of the battery but will make it unable to start and run the generator. The generator, therefore, should not be kept in a place with extreme temperatures.

3. The alternator of the generator. When the alternator of your battery is beginning to fail or malfunction, it will not recharge the battery as the generator is running. The problem with a failing alternator is that the battery is not being recharged and will drain quickly. One could use a Multimeter to check if the alternator is working or not.

4. Faulty voltage regulator. When the voltage regulator in the generator is faulty, beginning to fail, or damaged, the voltage sent into the battery is not enough or sufficient, making the battery quickly drain up.

5. The charger of the battery. When the battery charger is faulty, this means that when you are trying to charge the generator’s battery when it is at rest, the battery will not be charged in the process.

Recommended steps when starting a generator

Recommended steps when starting a generator

When dealing with and using electricity, you must take some safety measures and procedures when dealing with electricity. The precautions prevent the user from injuries and help in the longevity or lifespan of the battery. The following are some of the safety measures when trying to start the generator using the car battery.

1. Make sure that you put the car’s parking brake during the process when you are using it directly from the car.

2. When attaching the jumper cables, start with the dead battery first.

3. Make sure that you don’t connect the jumper cables directly to each other.

4. Ensure that the tips of the jumper cables should not touch each other.

5. Ensure that you don’t start a battery that has a crack.

6. Wear safety goggles during the process.

Frequently asked questions;

  • When I don’t use the generator regularly, will my battery die?

When the batteries are not used for an extended period, they slowly lose their strength when idle; therefore, they need to be charged regularly. But if the battery is left to self-discharge itself for a while, it may not be easy to recharge them when you want to recharge it.

  • When the generator is operating, will its battery recharge in the process?

When the engine states, it will use or drain the battery power in the process. Therefore the generator or the engine has to run for a while to replace the used power of the battery. When the generator is running, it is recharging the battery in the process; therefore, as long as the battery is in good condition, it will be recharged regularly when the generator is operating.

  • Do Doe batteries have a warranty?

Most of the batteries have warranties, but it depends on the manufacturers’ policies on providing services when the battery has some defects. When the battery is not operating correctly, you can call the company that sold the battery so that you can get your battery replaced if the agreed period of the warrant is not over.


Starting or jumpstarting a generator using a car battery is not a complicated process when you have all the necessary tools used in the process. It is possible to use a car battery to start a generator, but you only need to keep in mind that the battery you are using is charged. You should also ensure that you have correct jumper cables with minimal resistance to prevent any form of heating.

Before starting the generator, you have to make sure that the generator’s battery is functioning; it is not dead. Finally, remember to remove or disconnect the terminals immediately after the generator is up and running.    

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