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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just like any appliance in your home, maintaining your generator helps prevent it from breaking down or needing untimely repairs. The more attention you give your generator, the longer it will last, and the better it will function. In fact, did you know that a properly maintained generator lasts twice as long as one without annual routine maintenance?
To maintain a high level of efficiency, consider these six tips for maintaining your generator.
One of the most important ways to maintain your generator is to change its oil regularly. How often you need to change the oil will depend on several variables, including:
Industry experts recommend changing the oil every 50 to 200 hours of operation based on the above factors. For instance, newer, state-of-the-art models may require fewer oil changes because they burn cleaner than older models. But, if your generator operates in an environment with a lot of dust or contaminants that can mix with your oil, you may need to increase the number of times you change the oil.
Need to know how to change the oil in your generator? Watch this video to see the process:
Additionally, if your generator is brand new, it’s common for manufacturers to recommend an oil change after the first eight hours of use. By changing the oil immediately, you can ensure your generator is free from contaminants that may have gotten into your system during manufacturing or shipping.
A generator works from the rotor and stator, two parts located inside your generator, working together to create electricity. When in operation, it’s typical for rotors and stators to collect dust, debris, and other contaminants.
If you allow your generator to build up too much grime, your rotor and stator can won’t generate energy as efficiently as possible. It’s also likely you’ll burn the two parts out faster than average.
To eliminate debris, you must clean the air filters in your generator. And, regardless of how often you use your generator, it’s recommended to check the air filter for dust weekly.
If you live in a particularly dusty area increase the number of times you check your generator. These precautions will ensure you’re generator is ready to use when you need it most.
Most times, generators are a backup precaution, which means you could go months or years without needing to fire it up. But, what happens when you need your generator, and it doesn’t work?
Don’t let yourself get in this situation. Instead, every month, start your generator up to:
But most importantly, to make sure that the generator works and that you have access to power when you need it most.
The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has created a set of standards homeowners can follow when it comes to testing their generators. For non-critical generators, like those that homeowners use for a charge during an occasional power outage, should follow NFPA 70.
NFPA 70 states that generators should be tested at 30% to 50% of their maximum load, for 30-minutes at least once per month.
Most homeowners may not realize they should empty the fuel from their generator’s tank after each use. Cleaning out the tank ensures that you’re running clean, efficient fuel, and also protects your equipment from erosion and damage.
Need to know how to drain gas from your generator? Watch this YouTube video demonstrating the process:
Instead of relying on old fuel, purchase a generator that’s easy to fill on-demand. For example, generators that run on propane can utilize home-delivered services, so that in the event of an emergency, you have access to resources, without having to scour for fuel.
To extend the life of your portable generator, you’ll need to take a few precautions after each use. In addition to emptying the fuel tank, double-check that the fuel lines are also empty. Store your equipment in a cool, dry place to decrease rusting, and extend its life.
For additional protection, homeowners can consider purchasing accessories like:
Each of these tools helps store and protect your portable generator so that you can ward off untimely repairs.
In most cases, generator maintenance can be done on your own, as long as you follow the checklist:
However, generators should also go through routine, yearly maintenance to ensure they operate smoothly over the long haul. For an annual checkup, it’s wise to call in professional technicians that perform a 17-point tune-up on portable generators.
During an annual checkup, licensed professionals can take a more technical look at your equipment. For example, a pro can:
These items require specialized tools and skills to accurately assess. By bringing in an expert, you can rest easy knowing that your generator is ready to rock when you need it most.
Natural disasters and emergencies can strike at any time — during any season. To protect yourself from a sudden loss of power, having a generator on hand is essential. But to keep your home up and running, you’ll need to pay special attention to the fuel that powers your generator.
In this article, we’ll go over the types of generators available on the market, how powerful your generator should be, and how much fuel you can expect to use.
The most common types of generators for homeowners are:
With the exception of the inverter generator, which uses an engine and an alternator to create AC power, most generators run off these four fuels:
You might also consider bi-fuel or tri-fuel generators that run on gasoline or liquid propane (or natural gas for a tri-fuel.)
The exact amount of fuel you’ll use with vary based on the number of appliances you have connected to your generator. To start customizing your calculations, learn how much energy each of your home appliances requires.
Analyze the chart below to get a baseline for the size of the generator you’ll need, which will help us solve the amount of fuel you’ll need.
Coffee maker (2 cups)
Electric Range (medium size)
Living Room Lights
Television (new technology)
By adding the watts of the appliances you’ll most often use, you’ll have a better understanding of what size generator you need.
Cheat Sheet: The average homeowner will most likely use a generator between 3,000 and 6,500 watts to effectively run their home appliances, which is a 3-6.5 kilowatt generator.
The next step to learning how much gas your generator will use is to assess how each type of generator burns fuel at different rates.
Here is a rough estimate of how much it will cost to fuel a generator, by varied fuel types:
Regardless of the type of fuel you use for your generator, there are several ways you can cut your fuel costs:
From thunderstorms, flash floods and snowstorms to hurricanes and tornadoes, natural disasters could happen in Connecticut during any season.
Having a generator on standby — in the event of a power outage — is essential for keeping your home up and running. However, the size of generator you’ll need to purchase will depend on how you use it.
In this article, we’ll discuss the various types of generators, how to calculate the size of generator you need for your home, and what’s required to maintain your generator so you can prolong its life expectancy.
There are three primary types of generators that will work to power different appliances in your home.
This type of generator is most often powered by fuel (either gas or diesel). Portable generators can put off quite a bit of power. They can be used to run large appliances like televisions and refrigerators but only as a temporary fix. For prolonged power outages, you’ll need a more powerful generator to keep up.
Even though portable generators are quite powerful, hard-wired appliances like AC units cannot be powered by a portable generator without a manual transfer switch. To add a manual transfer switch, you’ll likely need to bring in a professional.
The average cost of a portable generator is roughly $2,000.
An inverter generator uses an engine and an alternator to create AC power. You can also use a rectifier to convert your AC power into DC power. This type of generator is usually very small, and could easily fit inside your car for convenient, portable charges. Inverter generators are best used for quick charge needs, like juicing up a car battery or giving your laptop power. It wouldn’t be the best option for powering the appliances in your home.
The average cost of an inverter generator is roughly $300.
Standby generators are best used for emergency backup when you need your home at peak performance. They are also great for prolonged blackouts, where you need a backup source of energy for more than just a few hours. Commercially, hospitals have standby generators on deck to ensure their machinery will function in the event of an emergency.
The average cost of a standby generator is roughly $3,000.
Which is better for a backup power source: a portable generator or standby generator?
As the name implies, portables generators are great because you can take them anywhere. You can easily take them with you to power an RV on a quick weekend getaway, or bring onto your boat for a day of fun. They also carry enough of a charge to energize your home for a while, if needed.
However, if you think your home will need power for more than just a few hours, a standby generator is best for you. Keeping a portable generator running for long periods of time requires a lot of fuel. And, as noted above, it requires help from a professional to add a manual transfer switch if you need air conditioning or heat, which can add to the cost of a portable charger.
Regardless of the type of generator you select, you’ll need to find the appropriate size to fit your energy needs. Generators are sized based on their electrical output, which is usually measured in watts.
The three varieties of generators range in size from 700 watts to 18,000 watts (the latter size is used for commercial, job-site needs).
The best way to pick your appropriate generator is to determine which appliances you’ll connect to it. Then, simply add the wattage of each device to know how much power your generator needs.
Here’s a quick chart to show what size generator you need for your house based on the average watt calculations for common household appliances:
|Coffee maker (2 cups)||600|
|Electric Range (medium size)||1800|
|Living Room Lights||60|
|Television (new technology)||80|
Let’s put the following data into a real situation. If the power goes at your home, maybe you’ll need a generator to power the following:
AC unit (3500W) + Living room lights (60W)+ Television (80W) + Refrigerator (780W) = 4,420W
To provide energy to these four appliances, you’ll need a generator that can handle at least 4,420W.
If you’re a light energy user, maybe you’ll only need to power a few appliances:
Coffee maker (600W) + refrigerator (780W) = 1,380W
If this scenario sounds more like you, then you can get by with a smaller generator (maybe even a portable option) that puts out 1,380W.
Most homeowners, however, will use a generator somewhere between 3,000 and 6,500 watts.
You might also consider how prone your home is to power outages. If you live in an area extra susceptible to power loss, you should be more conservative with your estimate. That way, you can ensure you’re protected in the event of a prolonged power outage.
Sizing your generator should not be taken lightly.
If you choose a generator that is too small, your essential appliances will not work during a power outage. Overloading your generator with appliances that require more energy than your generator can provide will break your generator. Worse still, overloading your generator can also damage the devices connected to it.
On the other hand, if you choose a generator that is too big, you might be wasting your money. Excessively large generators cost more to purchase and to install and fuel.
Like all systems in your home, annual maintenance for your generator is recommended. By giving your generator a little TLC, you can ensure that it will function properly when you need it most.
To give your generator a proper check-up, consider the following tips: