Charge With A Generator

Can You Charge An EV With A Generator?

Yes, you can charge an EV with a generator. However, it's essential to ensure the generator's output matches the EV charger's requirements, and proper safety measures are observed. While feasible, it might not be the most efficient or eco-friendly method.

charge ev with generator

When it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), one of the most frequent inquiries we get at Chicago EV, especially from those new to the EV world or those considering an EV for business purposes, is: “Can you charge an EV with a generator?”

As the leading provider of commercial EV chargers in the Chicagoland area, with a proud preferred partnership with Enel X, we thought it’s time we shed some light on this question.

Understanding the Basics

The world of electric vehicles is one that marries innovation with sustainability. But as with any groundbreaking technology, there’s a learning curve involved. Let’s start by understanding some of the foundational concepts associated with EVs and generators.

EV Chargers

These pieces of equipment are pivotal in the EV ecosystem. They convert the alternating current (AC) from our power sources to the direct current (DC) that an EV’s battery needs. This process is meticulous and requires precision, ensuring that your vehicle’s battery is charged safely and efficiently.


Think of generators as portable power stations. They convert fuel – like gasoline, propane, or diesel – into electricity. This electricity is often in the form of AC power, just like the kind you’d find in household outlets. Generators come in various sizes and capacities, designed for different tasks, from powering a single appliance during a camping trip to running multiple heavy-duty machines at a construction site.


So, Can You Charge an EV with a Generator?

Charging an EV seems straightforward when you’re plugging it into a designated EV charger or a home outlet. But what about situations outside of this norm, like using a generator? Let’s delve into the complexities and considerations of this approach.

Efficiency & Cost

Generators typically produce electricity by burning fossil fuels. This process may not be as efficient or cost-effective as charging directly from the grid or renewable sources. So while it’s feasible, it might not be the greenest or cheapest method.

Output Capacity

Not all generators are created equal. To effectively charge an EV, you’d need a generator with sufficient output capacity. For example, if you’re using a Level 2 charger that draws about 7.2kW, you’d need a generator that can consistently provide at least that much power.


Charging an EV from a generator requires proper grounding and connection to prevent electrical hazards. Using an unstable or low-quality generator can risk damage to the EV’s battery or the charger itself.

Noise & Emissions

Generators can be noisy and produce emissions. If you’re considering this route, you might want to look into inverter generators that are quieter and more fuel-efficient than traditional ones.

When Would This Be Practical?

It’s a futuristic image – an electric vehicle being powered by a traditional generator. While it’s not the most common method, there are indeed times when this setup could be a lifesaver or merely practical. Let’s explore some scenarios where a generator might come in handy for EV charging.

  • Emergency Situations: Imagine a scenario where there’s been a prolonged power outage due to extreme weather events. Your home and nearby EV stations are out of power. In such cases, having a generator can ensure that you have a mode of transportation available. This could be particularly crucial for emergency travels or to access essential services.
  • Remote Locations: For those adventurous souls who like to take their EVs off the beaten track, remote locations might not always have EV charging stations. Whether you’re at a remote cabin, campsite, or merely in an area where EV infrastructure hasn’t caught up, a generator can bridge that gap. It ensures that you can return to a more populated area without range anxiety.
  • Backup during Travel: If you’re traveling long distances and are unsure about the availability of EV charging stations on your route, having a generator as a backup can be reassuring. This doesn’t mean you’ll always use it, but it’s a safety net, ensuring that you’re never stranded because of an empty battery.

The Evolution of Portable EV Chargers

As the world of electric vehicles expands, the tools and technology associated with them evolve too. Portable EV chargers, distinct from the traditional fixed EV charging stations, represent an exciting frontier in the charging landscape. Here’s a glimpse into their development and potential implications for the future.

  • From Fixed to Flexible: Initially, EV chargers were primarily stationary, requiring dedicated installation spots. The advent of portable chargers has made it possible for EV owners to charge virtually anywhere there’s an appropriate power source, offering unparalleled flexibility.
  • Lightweight and Efficient: Modern portable EV chargers are not only compact but also highly efficient. Their designs ensure that they provide the same safe and efficient charging experience as their stationary counterparts.
  • Adaptable Connectors: One of the advantages of portable EV chargers is the array of connectors they come with, making them adaptable to various power sources. Whether it’s a household socket or a more industrial connection, these chargers can often handle it all.
  • Smart Charging On-the-Go: Advanced portable chargers now come equipped with smart features. From adjusting the amperage based on available power to integrating with smartphone apps for monitoring, the future of portable charging is smart and user-centric.
  • Reducing Range Anxiety: With a portable charger in the trunk, EV owners can have increased confidence in their vehicle’s range. Whether it’s an unplanned trip or an unexpected detour, having a charger on hand can alleviate potential charging concerns.
  • Looking Forward: As the demand for EVs grows, it’s likely that the technology behind portable chargers will continue to advance, becoming even more compact, efficient, and feature-rich.

Safety Tips for Charging EVs with Generators

While the idea of charging your EV with a generator is intriguing and, at times, practical, safety is paramount. Incorrect methods can jeopardize the longevity of your EV, the generator, and even pose personal safety risks. Here’s a concise guide to ensure that you proceed with the utmost care.

  • Grounding is Crucial: Just as you would with any significant electrical equipment, make sure your generator is properly grounded. This helps prevent any electrical mishaps or surges that could harm the vehicle or the charger.
  • Monitor Wattage and Amperage: Ensure that your generator’s output matches the requirements of your EV charger. Overloading a generator can lead to inefficiencies, potential damage, or even hazardous conditions.
  • Avoid Extension Cords: If possible, charge your EV directly from the generator using the charger’s cable. If you must use an extension, ensure it’s of high quality, rated for the required power, and is as short as possible to reduce voltage drop.
  • Place Generator in a Well-Ventilated Area: Generators produce emissions. Ensure they are placed outdoors or in well-ventilated areas to prevent harmful fumes from accumulating.
  • Regularly Check Equipment: Before each use, inspect your EV’s charging cable, the generator, and all connecting devices for any signs of wear or damage. Address any issues before proceeding with charging.
  • Keep an Eye on Temperature: Generators can overheat, especially when operating at their maximum capacity for extended periods. Regularly check the generator and ensure it’s not getting too hot. If it is, give it a break to cool down before resuming charging.

Embrace the Future with Chicago EV

At Chicago EV, while we acknowledge the feasibility of charging EVs with generators, our mission is to promote cleaner, more efficient, and state-of-the-art charging solutions. Our partnership with Enel X ensures that we bring the best in EV charging technology to the Chicagoland area, ensuring safety, efficiency, and reliability.

If you’re considering installing a commercial EV charger, or if you have any more questions about EVs and charging solutions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our expert team at Chicago EV. Together, we can pave the way for a greener, more electric future.