Generator Placement: Finding the Best Spot for Your Standby Generator
Proper placement of your generator is more than just throwing your equipment down in your yard and calling it good. Many factors can affect your safety, health, and wellbeing.
To start, the strategic placement of your generator requires close attention to regulations and requirements from:
- National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA)
- Power supply companies
- Local code authorities
- Manufacturer notes
There are also considerations to ensure you’re not inhaling the dangerous fumes generators put off.
Below we navigate the most important considerations when placing your generator and where to turn to for help if you’re unsure how to place your generator correctly.
Regulations and Requirements for Your Generator Placement
NFPA 37 is a highly detailed mandate for the installation of generators at your home. View the document below to understand the full scope of distant requirements:
The gas and electric company in your area will have specific clearance requirements for standby generators. For example, in particular counties of Connecticut, new installations must adhere to the following rules:
- Electric generators require all conduits need to placed a minimum of 18” below grade and left exposed for inspection
- Generators requiring gas pipes, underground piping must be a minimum of 12” below grade and left exposed for inspection
Every city and county will have different building codes and inspection requirements for the placement of your generator. But, across the board, you can expect to see governance on nuances like if your generator needs to sit on a concrete pad or not.
Even with extensive research on local codes in your area, finding reliable information can be a trick. To ensure you’re compliant, work with a professional who knows how to work with local building departments, and understands local building codes.
In addition to local or federal ordinances, there are standard regulations homeowners should follow. For example, most manufacturers will state that your generator should always be located outside and placed at least five feet from doors, windows, and vents, and flammable material.
If the distance requirements differ between your manufacturer and local guidelines, go with the greater measurement as a safety precaution.
Other Considerations for the Placement of Your Generator
Beyond mandated considerations, the strategic placement of your generator can help reduce installation costs, optimize your generator’s efficiency, and protect your health.
Odds are, you will need a professional to come in and create a power source for your standby generator. The location you select for your generator may have an impact on your overall installation costs.
If you can, install your generator near your gas meter so that you don’t need as much piping to fuel your generator. Not only will this improve the consistency of the fuel supply to your generator, but it will also reduce the material and labor required to install your generator.
Protecting your generator from the elements is one way to extend its lifetime, but will also play a role in how well you standby generator functions. For example, if you’re trying to use your generator in the thick of a snowstorm, but snowdrifts obstruct your generator, you may experience low performance. Other obstructions, like vegetation in your yard, can also impact the performance of your generator.
Finally, mind the fumes. If you live in a particularly windy area, strong gusts of wind can bring exhaust and fumes into our home. Protect your air quality by positioning your generator in a location that blows away from your home. Remember, generator exhaust contains carbon monoxide. So, placing your generator in an area that makes you vulnerable to its fumes can be more than a nuisance, it can be a health issue.
On the same note, it’s also important not to place your generator under casing like an awning, which can trap exhaust and create a buildup of fumes and exhaust.
Standby generators are typically noisy. By placing one near your bedroom, living room, or your neighbor’s house could become bothersome to your family and neighbors. Try placing your generator in an isolated location to reduce noise pollution.
Preparing the Site for Your Generator
After you’ve selected the best location for your generator, you’ll need to determine if you need construction and grounding to secure the machine.
In most cases, small, air-cooled generators will come with the necessary attachments to quickly and easily place your generator as a DIY project.
For larger, liquid-cooled machines, you’ll need to pour a concrete pad. If you know how to pour concrete, you can do this on your own. If not, it’s best to call in the pros to ensure you get the job done correctly the first time.
Here is a great video to watch if you need help preparing the foundation for your standby generator.
Risks of Improper Planning
Proper planning for the location of your generator helps you stay compliant with federal, state and local ordinances.
But, most importantly, it helps you keep your home and your family safe and comfortable. Because there are a number of hazards associated with a generator, double and triple check the placement of your generator, so you have a firm grasp on safety.