After going through a harsh storm and losing power, it can spark a lot of people to go out and purchase a portable generator.
What they don't initially think about, however, is that they also needed to be purchasing a portable generator shelter to protect their new asset - both when they are, and when they aren't, using it.
Many people don't realize that the shelter isn't just for non-use periods, either. Since you can't operate a portable generator in any kind of enclosure due to potential carbon monoxide poisoning (not even with the doors open), it must be outside when being used, and approximately five feet from your home or structure.
For this reason, it's important to find a right covering that will not only provide great storage, but accessible, safe operation for the generator as well.
When it comes to choosing a shelter, you first must consider where you will be storing your generator.
If you are already storing it inside a building, for instance, you won't necessarily need a sturdy portable generator shelter to protect it while it's not in use, a simple cover may do (see brands and sizes).
If you are storing it outside, however, you may need an enclosure that's a little more study.
Snow and rain can sneak inside and cause corrosion, it can get damaged from the sun, dust and tree sap, and birds can really so a number on it as well. A portable generator shelter should be a covered on all sides for maximum protection, with accessible doors/openings and proper ventilation.
After you've determined where you will be storing your portable generator during non-use, you can decide what type of shelter you will need.
While being stored inside, covering it with just about anything will do, but you have to consider what will happen when you move it outside for use. Are you just going to take on a do-it-yourself project? Are you going to do this in advance?
It will not always be warm and sunny after that storm knocks out your power, especially if the storm knocks it out at the beginning of a 5-day weather frenzy. You still must protect your unit with something to keep wind-blown rain and other weather elements from wrecking your generator.
For this reason, you have to have a plan as to how you are going to protect your unit when it's operating in inclement weather. Your options then boil down to those which are outside for temporary use, and those which are outside for permanent use.
A permanent outside enclosure ends up being the best option for many people when necessity prevails. Hands-down, the best option is to simply have an outside portable generator shelter already set up, with your generator in it.
When you set your generator up with its own protective home, you never have to wonder what closet or part of the garage your generator is in, you won't have to try and dig it out behind everything else (probably in the dark, no less), and you won't forget to maintain it properly because it will always be accessible for oiling and maintenance.
It will always be ready for use, and with proper ventilation, it will be a safe place to operate your unit.
Now the question comes down to what kind of portable generator shelter you need, and what can you afford.
Portable generator shelters can range from a super cheap version of around $250, to $1000+, it all depends on your budget and whether or not aesthetic value or complete coverage is needed.
They can be made of a variety of materials, but the most recent and easiest to assemble shelters resemble a smaller version of a garden shed. Enclosed shelters must have a fan and ventilation system set up for the exhaust and to prevent fires, and a proper shelter will have all the safety features ready to go, with complete instructions on proper use.
Given that an expensive shelter may not immediately be in one's budget, you might try a do-it-yourself option while you save up your money.
If you are a handy person this could work out well, but creating a portable generator shelter without the proper ventilation is a huge fire hazard. There have also been cases of people using plastic pup tents to cover their units from the rain, but that inevitably leads to them melting near the exhaust and/or catching on fire.
It may be better to just place it under a carport temporarily or make a simple box with metal sheeting as a roof (leaving exhaust to the outside and plenty of ventilation, of course). You might also just get an old, large plastic barrel and cut it in half -- again, making sure to leave proper openings for exhaust and ventilation.
Whether you plan to spend a lot of money for an attractive portable generator shelter or not, one thing that is important is that you actually have one, because operating a portable generator in bad weather conditions can destroy your generator and leave you out in the cold with no power.
Check out all your options, and keep in mind that sometimes just buying a proper housing the first time around will save you from all the headaches of trying to build one .. and then having to buy one anyway.