Updated November 12, 2023

How to Properly Use Choke on Your Generator in (5) Steps

Using a portable generator can be a great way to ensure you have power when you need it, whether you’re camping, tailgating, or experiencing a power outage at home. However, it’s important to know how to use your generator safely and effectively to avoid potential hazards.

One key component of a portable generator is the choke, which helps start the engine. In this post, we’ll explain what a generator choke is, how it works, and how to use a choke on your generator.

How To Use Choke On your Generator

What Is Choke On Generator?

A choke on a portable generator is a mechanical device that helps regulate the air-fuel mixture going into the engine’s combustion chamber.

It is typically located near the carburetor and is used during the starting process, particularly when the engine is cold or hasn’t been used for a while. The choke restricts the airflow to the engine, reducing the amount of air entering the carburetor.

This action creates a richer fuel-to-air ratio, which is necessary for easier starting when the engine is cold. By enriching the fuel mixture, the choke compensates for the lower vaporization of fuel in cold conditions, improving the engine’s ability to ignite and run smoothly.

What Does a Choke Do On an Engine?

The choke controls the air-fuel mixture by adjusting the amount of air entering the engine. It enriches the mixture during cold starts or when additional fuel is required, and it gradually reduces the fuel concentration as the engine warms up.

By regulating the air-fuel mixture, the choke helps ensure proper engine operation, efficient combustion, and smooth starting in various operating conditions.

So, How to Use Choke On Your Generator? (5 Steps)

Quick Jump: Find your generator choke lever; it’s located on top of the carburetor. Place the choke lever in the opposite “Off” position, and then start the generator. weight a few sections and release at the choke “On” position.

Read the manufacturer’s manual to understand the specific instructions and location of the choke lever or knob on your generator. The choke mechanism can vary depending on the model and brand.

Using Generator Choke Position in (5) Steps

1. Locate the Choke Lever

Typically, the choke lever is located on top of the carburetor, close to the engine and air filter box. It can be a lever or a knob labeled “Choke”.

2. Set the Choke Lever

If the generator has been sitting idle or the engine is cold, you will need to engage the choke. Move the choke lever or knob to the “Of” position. This setting restricts the air supply and enriches the fuel mixture.

3. Start the Generator

Once the choke is engaged, follow the starting procedure recommended by the manufacturer. Typically, this involves turning on the fuel valve (if applicable), switching on the ignition, and pulling the starter cord or pressing the electric start button.

4. Warm Up the Engine

Allow the generator to run for a few seconds with the choke in the “Of” position. This helps warm up the engine and stabilize its operation. If you have a portable generator, this warm-up procedure is either fast or a manufacturer recommendation.

5. Slowly Release the Choke

After the engine has warmed up for a few seconds, slowly move the choke lever or knob to the “Run” or “Open” position. This gradually increases the air supply and reduces the richness of the fuel mixture. The engine should stabilize and run smoothly.

Note: Remember that the specific steps for using the choke on a portable generator may vary depending on the model and manufacturer. Always consult the generator’s manual for detailed instructions and safety guidelines relevant to your specific generator.

Monitor the Generator

Keep an eye on the generator to ensure it continues to run smoothly. If it starts to sputter or stall, it might require adjusting the choke or troubleshooting for other issues. Once the engine runs smoothly, you can use your generator to power your devices or appliances.

Choke Usage for Different Types of Generator

Different types of generators may have variations in their choke systems and starting procedures. Understanding how to use the choke effectively for each generator type ensures proper operation.

Choke Usage Based on Generator Types

  • Traditional Carbureted Generators
  • Fuel-Injected Generators
  • Inverter Generator
  • Dual-Fuel Generators

Traditional Carbureted Generators

Cold Start: Set the choke to the closed position. Pull the starter cord or engage the electric starter. Gradually open the choke as the engine warms up. Once the engine reaches operating temperature, fully open the choke.

Warm Start: Assess the engine’s temperature. If warm, leave the choke fully open or disengaged. If the engine is slightly warm, use the choke only if needed. In this procedure, apply all types of generators.

Fuel-Injected Generators

Cold Start: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cold starting. Some fuel-injected generators may not have a traditional choke mechanism. Instead, they rely on the engine control unit ECU to adjust the air-fuel mixture automatically.

Inverter Generators

Cold Start: Similar to open-frame generators, set the choke to the closed position. Start the generator and gradually open the choke as the engine warms up. Fully open the choke once the engine reaches operating temperature.

Dual-Fuel Generators

Cold Start: For generators that can run on both gasoline and propane, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for proper choke usage based on the chosen fuel type. The choke operation may differ depending on the fuel being used.

Troubleshooting Choke Issue Common Problems

One of the common issues that users may encounter when using the choke on a portable generator is a choke lever or switch that is difficult to move. This can hinder the smooth operation of the choke and make it challenging to engage or disengage it as needed.

It is advised to oil the choke mechanism with an appropriate lubricant to solve this issue. This can help reduce friction and make it easier to move the choke lever or switch.

Additionally, cleaning up any debris or dirt that may have accumulated around the choke mechanism can also improve its movement. It’s important to inspect the choke assembly for any loose or damaged parts that may require repair or replacement.

Another problem that may arise is when the choke becomes stuck in the closed position. This may make the engine perform poorly or prevent it from starting.

If you encounter this issue, gently tapping the choke lever or switch can sometimes free it from sticking. Applying a penetrating oil or lubricant to the choke mechanism can help loosen it.

It is also essential to inspect the choke assembly for any obstructions or blockages that may be preventing it from moving freely.

Furthermore, improper choke usage can lead to engine stalling or rough running. To address this problem, it is recommended to adjust the choke gradually while the engine is running to find the optimal position.

Related: Can You Run Portable Generators Continuously?

Advice For Working Hard to Successfully Choke Usage

Slow adjustment: When starting a cold generator, gradually open the choke as the engine warms up. This allows for a smooth transition and prevents flooding or stalling.

Continuity during warm-up: If the generator is already warm, resist the temptation to engage the choke immediately. Assess the engine’s temperature and use the choke only if necessary.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: Consult the generator’s manual or manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions on using the choke. Different generator models may have unique requirements.

Maintenance and cleaning: Regularly inspect and clean the choke mechanism to ensure proper operation. Remove any dirt, debris, or buildup that may interfere with its functionality.

Seek professional help if needed. If you encounter persistent issues with the choke despite troubleshooting, it may be beneficial to consult a qualified technician or contact the generator manufacturer for assistance.

Practice and observation: With time and experience, you will become familiar with the optimal choke usage for your specific generator model. Observe the engine’s behavior and adjust the choke accordingly to achieve optimal performance.

How Choke Affects Fuel Consumption

The operation of the choke on a portable generator can have a significant impact on fuel consumption. Understanding how the choke affects fuel usage can help users optimize their generator’s performance and minimize fuel consumption.

Closed choke: When the choke is fully closed during the starting process, it restricts the airflow into the engine, creating a richer fuel mixture. This rich mixture provides the engine with the necessary fuel concentration for combustion during cold starts.

However, running the generator with the choke fully closed for an extended period of time can lead to excessive fuel consumption. The engine receives more fuel than required, which can result in inefficient combustion and higher fuel usage.

Partially open choke: As the engine starts and begins to warm up, the choke is gradually opened or partially opened to allow more air into the engine. This adjustment balances the air-fuel mixture and helps optimize fuel consumption.

Running the generator with the choke partially open allows for efficient combustion while still providing the engine with the necessary fuel. It helps prevent fuel waste and excessive fuel consumption.

Fully open choke: Once the engine has reached its operating temperature, the choke is fully open or disengaged. At this point, the air-fuel mixture is balanced, providing the optimal fuel-to-air ratio for combustion.

Running the generator with the choke fully open ensures efficient fuel consumption, as the engine is receiving the required amount of air and fuel for smooth operation.

It’s important to note that using the choke longer than necessary or operating the generator with the choke partially closed when it’s not needed can result in increased fuel consumption. Therefore, it’s recommended to adjust the choke gradually and according to the manufacturer’s guidelines to achieve the right balance between fuel efficiency and starting performance.

Additionally, factors such as load demand, ambient temperature, and altitude can also influence fuel consumption. Higher loads or extreme temperatures may require the choke to be adjusted accordingly.

Monitoring and adjusting the choke as needed based on these factors can help optimize fuel consumption and overall generator performance.


Using the choke effectively on a portable generator is crucial for successful starting and fuel efficiency. By avoiding common mistakes, following tips for proper usage, and understanding the impact on fuel consumption, users can optimize their generator’s performance.

Consult the manual or manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions based on the generator type. Prioritize safety and regular maintenance, and seek professional help when needed. With proper choke usage, your portable generator will provide reliable power when required.

FAQs: About Using Choke on Generators

Can I use the choke to adjust the engine’s speed?

No, the choke is not designed to adjust the engine’s speed. It is solely intended to regulate the air-fuel mixture during startup or specific operating conditions.

What should I do if the choke is difficult to move?

If the choke is stiff or difficult to move, check for any obstructions or debris that may be hindering its movement. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, lubricate and clean the choke mechanism.

Should I adjust the choke quickly or gradually?

It is important to adjust the choke gradually. Abruptly opening or closing the choke can disrupt the air-fuel mixture balance and result in engine stalling or rough running. Be patient and introduce changes gradually.

Can using the choke incorrectly damage the generator?

While using the choke incorrectly may not directly damage the generator, it can lead to starting issues, poor performance, and increased fuel consumption. It’s important to follow proper choke usage guidelines to ensure optimal generator operation.

What if I’m still having trouble starting the generator even with the choke?

If you’re experiencing difficulty starting the generator despite using the choke correctly, there may be underlying issues. Check the fuel supply, spark plug, and other components. If problems persist, consult a qualified technician for assistance.

About Saad Ahmed
Hi am Saad Ahmed and as you can see that i have been a generator mechanic for the past 12 years of experience in this industry. But now i am Full time digital marketer and affiliate blogger.