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"My Generator Shuts Off After 20 Minutes" - Explained

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What you need to do

The benefits of generators are almost endless, whether it is improving your tailgating parties, camping, or powering your house in an emergency. 

If your generator keeps switching off after 20 minutes then it could just be an annoyance but it could also be dangerous. So, you will need to find out what is wrong, but the good thing is because it does run for a while it isn't likely to be a major fault. 

"My Generator Shuts Off After 20 Minutes" - Explained

These are the possible things to check, that when remedied will help with your shutting off problem:


The first thing you need to check is that your generator isn't being asked to power more devices than it can effectively manage. Operating too much equipment on a too-small generator can cause the generator to shut down to protect the appliances from overload.

Overloading the generator causes power outages, which can only be fixed by turning it off, lightening the load by unplugging unused appliances, and then turning the generator back on. If you need help determining the appropriate size of your generator, there are plenty of online calculators. 

Fuel cut off valve is closed

There is a fuel shutoff valve on a portable generator that should be used only when the unit is being stored for an extended period of time to prevent the excessive circulation of old fuel. You should check to see if this valve is still closed, which would cut off fuel to your engine.

To rectify this, just release the valve's pressure and turn on the generator again.

Insufficient gasoline

No gas means no generator. Sounds simple but you might only be putting enough fuel in to last a short amount of time. 

Make sure you have enough gas in the tank before you turn on your generator. Installing a generator that runs on utility-supplied natural gas or liquid propane is another option for those concerned about running out of fuel (disregarding extreme circumstances where the utility may fail).

Insufficient oil

A generator could fail due to low oil pressure. Even though a "low oil shutoff sensor" on newer types of generators will prevent the engine from starting if the oil level drops too low, older models will still start if there isn't enough oil. Several engine parts can be severely damaged or worn out by operating the engine with inadequate or no oil.

If your oil level is low, use the dipstick to check it. If you see that the oil is clear but the level is low, you should add more. If the oil is low and dirty, you need to have it changed.

There may be no problem with the oil pressure, yet your generator may still be giving you a low oil pressure warning. When this happens, it may be a sign that your oil pressure sensor is broken and needs to be replaced.

Insufficient water

Not having enough water in the radiator causes an extreme overheating that most generators can't handle. The engine, control panel, and voltage meter's most sensitive parts have a hard time functioning at high temperatures over extended periods of time.

Check spark plugs

If you have dirty or faulty spark plugs, your generator may make a crackling noise and shut down unexpectedly.

Replacing worn-out spark plugs with new ones is the most tried-and-true method of fixing this common problem. However, certain spark plugs can become dirty with use but still perform perfectly well after being removed, cleaned, and reinstalled.

Blocked air filter

For an engine to work, it needs to be fed clean air. When the air filter is blocked, it prevents the engine from getting enough fresh air.

There's an easy solution to this. You can get better airflow by either cleaning or replacing the air filter.

Choke valve open for too long

To turn on the generator, the choke must be in its fully choked position. After a few minutes, reduce it by half, and then, after a few more, increase it to closed.

Generators can fail after a few minutes of use if the choke is left in the fully choked position for too long.

Dirty fuel tank

The pressure in your gas tank may freeze, dust or debris may clog your lines, or pipes may become broken and leak. This makes it challenging to distribute the necessary amount of gasoline.

The first thing you should do when troubleshooting a faulty fuel system is inspect the fuel cap vent for blockage. If everything seems fine with the gasoline cap, check the tank for silt, bad fuel, etc.

If the fuel tank seems dirty, it's probably a good idea to clean it and adjust the gas level. Before each use, you should also inspect all the pipes and release the pressure from the gas tank.

Dirty carburetor

If there isn't enough gas in the tank, the volatile parts of the fuel will evaporate into the collected gas, leaving behind a thick, sticky combination that will cling to the inside of the carburetor and prevent fuel from flowing.

The quickest and easiest way to avoid this is to maintain a spotless carburetor. If a carburetor is neglected for too long without being cleaned, it may need to be replaced.

Mechanical failure

If you're just starting out as a generator owner, figuring out what's wrong with the engine could be tough. If you've already tried the usual things and your generator still won't run for very long, the problem could be with the engine.

If you think there may be a problem with the engine, you should have a professional come take a look at it.


If the exhaust system fails, the generator may stop working after only a few minutes because the accumulation of exhaust will destroy the noxious emission sensors.

It's a complex issue that requires the attention of an expert.


Trouble with your generator's electricity can originate in any of its circuits or wiring. Problems with electricity are not something that should be fixed by those without training.

This situation calls for the intervention of a professional technician or electrician.

Sensor issues

The newest versions of generators have numerous sensors. Sometimes, the failure of one sensor can cause a domino effect of issues with the rest. The sensors are the most costly part of a generator to repair or replace.

When a sensor stops working properly, it must be replaced. In order for the control panel to work properly after the sensor has been replaced, it may require reprogramming. A trained generator technician can help with any sensor repairs or reprogramming.

Issues with the batteries

It's common for battery issues to begin with your charger. It's possible the charger is broken, the installer accidentally wired it to the same circuit as the block heater, or the battery is faulty.

Verify the battery charger is functioning correctly. Maybe it needs to be adjusted. If the charger isn't broken, then perhaps the circuit is overloaded. Even if the charger is working and the circuits are not overloaded, you should still get a new battery. 

Block heater problems

The engine fluid is kept between 100 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit by the block heaters. That way, critical parts may be lubricated and started up quickly. In colder climates, a malfunctioning block heater can prevent your generator from starting because not enough fluid is being pumped through the system.

Only by replacing the block heater can this problem be fixed.


It's possible that small animals will make generators their homes. Also, when they're hungry, they'll bite on exposed cables and hoses, which can cause electrical and fluid leaks.

When dealing with a rodent infestation, it's important to get rid of the vermin and replace any wiring or hoses that were chewed on or damaged. You may also choose to place rodent traps to catch any future rodents that may decide to make your expensive generator their home. 


The manufacturer's warranty should allow you to send the generator back to them if you've exhausted all other options and the problem persists.

Best reliable generators

Of course if you buy a well made and reliable generator you are unlikely to have a lot of shutting down issues, so here are some of the most reliable generators on the market:

Honda EU2200i

Honda EU2200ITAN 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator with CO-Minder - 49-State

The Honda EU2200i inverter generator is one of most convenient options because it is one of the smallest and lightest overall. The generator's portability and compact size make it ideal for use in tight quarters and transport.

The EU2200i's housing helps hide the inverter electronics from outside noise, making it remarkably quiet. The generator reached a maximum sound level of 68.9 decibels under no load during testing. When we switched to "eco" mode, which reduces the engine's speed when extra power isn't required, the noise level dropped even further.

The sine wave of the generated current is smooth and symmetrical when viewed through an oscilloscope, suggesting "clean" power suitable for sensitive devices.

In addition to the immaculate exterior, this generator boasts a number of other notable advantages. The gas cap's vent can be sealed up to prevent gasoline or exhaust from leaking out. This is important if you are transporting it in your car, truck, or RV.

The gas shut off valve is also one of the best on the market. Ports for parallel use are built into the EU2200i as well. Connecting a second EU2200i with the right cable will raise power to 4400 peak and 3600 continuous watts. The EU2200i is ideal for camping and other outdoor activities where noise from a generator is not welcome.

Predator 9500

The huge Predator 9500 generator is capable of powering the essential circuits in a modestly sized home. For a generator of this size, the importance of its four wheels and sturdy, fold-out handle cannot be overstated.

No more than one person was needed to move it, but it took everyone to hoist it. It can get everything up and running including air conditioners, a portable heater, a table saw, and a planer. Despite the many devices it can power, the generator is so silent that we could have a discussion around it.

The Predator comes with two plug ends for 120-volt, 20-amp outlets and one 240-volt, 30-amp twist lock in case your cables don't match up or require conversion.

This is helpful in the event that you need to purchase the 9500 in a pinch, only to come home and realize that your plugs don't work with it. It's a lot of money, but $2,000 is reasonable for such a powerful generator.

Goal Zero Yeti 3000X

Goal Zero Yeti 3000X Portable Power Station, 2982Wh Portable Lithium Battery Emergency Power Station, 2000W Portable AC Inverter, Outdoor Portable Generator, Portable Solar Generator for Solar Panels

These solar-powered power plants evolve all the time. As technology has improved and costs have reduced, they have become a reliable source of portable electricity.

We've used smaller versions from Goal Zero on weekend camping trips where we used it to run lights, devices, and charge computers and phones in makeshift home offices. The 3000x, on the other hand, has more potential and possibilities.

Powered by a massive lithium-ion battery and a 2000-watt AC inverter, it can run many large appliances and a plethora of smaller ones for an entire weekend (with 3500-watt surge capabilities). Thus, it can be a practical option for use as a backup power source in a crisis.

We used a 60-watt light bulb, a radio, and a full-size refrigerator nonstop for 38 hours. Over the course of that time frame, we ran the toaster four times, charged an iPhone twice, and powered up a laptop once.

More or less everything you need to stay comfortable during a brief period without electricity. Goal Zero sells 200-watt solar panels that, depending on the environment, may do a full charge in roughly a day, and connecting the station into an outlet for recharging takes a very short amount of time.

It's more expensive than standard gas-powered portable generators, but it won't make a sound or pollute the air in your home, so it's a good option for quiet, long-term power needs.

Its compact, sturdy body and wheeled frame make it easy to transport and use whether overlanding, visiting a construction site, or rolling to any location requiring a great deal of power. Goal Zero's home integration kit can provide uninterrupted power to up to three of your house's electrical circuits.

Generac GP6500

Generac 7680 GP6500 6,500-Watt Gas-Powered Portable Generator,Orange/Black

Generac's GP6500 CoSense offers a powerful 8,125-watt starting capacity. This means the generator can take on initial loads from major appliances or tools that are twice or three times their normal operating watts.

Power outages necessitate this type of greater capacity generator. Without having to run individual extension cables from the generator to each appliance, a manual transfer switch may link the generator to the essential circuits of the home.

This gadget has the ability to deliver power to remote construction sites and large recreational vehicles with significant energy demands.

No matter where you use it, the CoSense technology developed by Generac ensures the safety of those in the vicinity. Rapid shutdown prevents carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning or death by turning off the unit as CO levels rise.

To test this function, I placed a large cardboard appliance box on top of the unit while it was on, and the machine turned off after only 16.5 seconds.

Sound levels observed at 83.3 dB under load and 25 feet away from the GP6500 demonstrate that it is not too noisy for a larger generator. When we hooked up an oscilloscope to observe the sine wave of the generated current, we saw some slight distortion, as is common for most AC generators.

However, this should serve as a reminder that if you must use a generator to power sensitive electronics, you should do so only after first installing a sturdy power strip with a surge protector.

The device won't need to be refueled frequently thanks to the large fuel tank that can hold approximately eight gallons and the fuel gauge incorporated into the top of the tank.

There's a digital hour meter on the front panel that can be utilized for this purpose; when it hits 100 hours and starts blinking, it's time to change the oil. Upkeep becomes necessary at the 200-hour mark. The GP6500 meets the standards set forth by all states' emission restrictions, including those in California.

Final thoughts

All of these power sources are reliable and affordable.

About Tom Bell

Hey, I’m Tom, the owner of Generator Reviews! I built this website to help you get the very most out of your generator and select the correct one for your personal circumstances. This site contains reviews of virtually every generator, detailed buying guides, as well as maintenance advice to help you keep yours in tip-top shape!


Generator.Reviews is an independent review business. I am not affiliated with any manufacturers and do not accept paid reviews. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission which helps me to maintain this website and keep the reviews coming your way!

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