What’s the first thing to expect when we’re faced with a terrible and powerful storm? A power cut, of course! There’s just no telling whether or not the lights will still be up amidst all that rain and thunder.
Studies show that power outages during storms have doubled in the US over the last twenty years. I don’t know about you, but I think that is definitely something to worry about. In fact, forty states have consistently experienced more power outages than the rest of the country. So it goes without saying that buying a generator is in the best interest of you and your family.
However, buying a generator and installing it in the wrong place will only increase your problems rather than solve them.
You have to bear in mind safety protocols when picking a spot for your home generator. So I guess that leaves us with the question, how far can a standby generator be from the house?
How to Find the Best Spot for A Generator
Although standby generators are seen as a wonderful solution to our problems, we shouldn’t forget the many risks involved. That’s why we must ensure that we understand and follow all the safety regulations while installing one.
Why is this important to talk about? Well, because generators can be dangerous and, in some cases, even fatal if installed in the wrong location.
Most companies won’t say this out loud, but it is indeed a fact that gas-powered generators have the potential to release tons of poisonous carbon monoxide. Some studies show that a single generator can release more gas than a car’s exhaust. Now that is something we shouldn’t take lightly.
If a generator is installed too close to your home, these harmful gasses can enter inside through the windows and cause a slew of major health problems for you and your family. And it doesn’t help that these gasses are completely odorless; you could be inhaling tons of poison without even realizing it until it’s too late.
Many families made the mistake of installing their generators too close to their homes and suffered immeasurable consequences.
I’m not making this up; this actually happened during the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005. Studies revealed that most cases of whole house generator carbon monoxide poisonings happened because the device was installed within 7 feet of the home.
Needless to say, this prompted authorities to ask the question, are families aware of the safety guidelines when it comes to generators?
The answer is no; most people are completely clueless when it comes to generators, and believe me, I was one of them!
That’s why, in this article, I will guide you through the ins and outs of generator installment and answer the fundamental question, how far from a house should a generator be.
How Far Can a Standby Generator Be from The House
On a general scale, all generators should maintain a minimum distance of at least 5 feet away from your lot line. Moreover, it should be at least 5 feet away from any windows or doors and at least 18 inches away from the sides of your home.
This obviously goes without saying; all generator installments should adhere to the generator placement codes for safety purposes. But the question is, where are these safety codes, and how do you find them?
Don’t worry; I’ve already compiled a list of safety regulations that are in accordance with most guidelines in the country.
Fair warning, different authorities have different guidelines, so it’s really up to us to ensure that we’re following all the relevant codes within our area. Take a look ahead to learn more.
NFPA Safety Regulations to Consider
- To start off, don’t install the generator opposite any windows or doors. The rules clearly state that no windows will be permitted within 5 feet from any generator point.
- You should always maintain a minimum distance of 18 inches from the generator to the wall. This is to ensure that you and your family are beyond the range of being exposed to any harmful gasses or similar elements.
- If there are any windows along the wall (not opposite to the generator), those windows should be at least 60 inches from the generator. Again, this ensures maximum distance between you and the harmful gasses released from the generator.
- Clear the area behind the generator of any miscellaneous objects or items, such as shrubs, bushes, plants, or vegetation for a minimum distance of 36 inches. Doing this will eliminate the chances of any fire that might break out due to the generator’s heat production.
- Be sure that you maintain a clearance space of at least 48 inches above the generator. That means you can’t place any structures, objects, or miscellaneous items above the generator.
- Whatever you do, don’t place the generator in a closed or tight space where there is limited airflow. The regulations clearly state that a generator should not be placed under a deck or any other closed space. And besides, storing the generator in a tight spot is only a quick way to guarantee a dangerous fire.
Utility Codes to Consider
It is important to know that the gas and electricity companies around your neighborhood might have different requirements when it comes to generator installments. It’s always a good idea to consult them on the matter to make sure you aren’t involuntarily ignoring any guidelines.
For example, residents of specific areas in the state of Connecticut have to follow certain rules that people in other parts might not have to.
One of the regulations states that all conduits for electric generators should be kept at a minimum level of 18 inches below grade. Also, these parts should be left exposed so that the proper authority can do a full inspection to determine the overall safety of the installation.
People using gas pipe generators are subject to a different set of regulations. For example, all underground piping for such generators should be done at a minimum level of 12 inches below grade. Moreover, such elements should be left exposed so that the proper authorities and regulars inspect them.
Local Codes to Consider
What local codes you should follow while installing your generator depends on the city and county you live in. A typical example is whether or not you should place the generator on a concrete pad.
But of course, there will be a set of rules and regulations that are universal regardless of where you come from. It’s just that there might be some small distinctions when it comes to a specific county or city.
Since finding each and every regulation for every area can be a time-consuming and overwhelming process, the best thing to do here is to hire a professional.
Professional technicians are always up to date regarding the many legal codes that are enforced in different areas. What’s more, they’re already familiar with the ins and outs of working with every type of housing structure.
Some Other Considerations to Make While Installing a Generator
I’ve found in my research that there are many considerations to make while installing a generator that are separate from the governmental mandates. While these considerations aren’t necessary, they will help reduce factors such as the cost of installations.
Moreover, I’ve found that making these considerations increased my generator’s overall efficiency and functionality. So I figured, why not share these tips with you guys!
Watch out For the Weather
The first thing you should consider while deciding where to put your generator is the kind of weather you normally see in your area.
It’s common sense that you should protect your generator from harmful elements so that it doesn’t break down, but it’s also important to do so because it will affect the overall functionality of your device.
If you live in a cold and snowy area with regular thick snowstorms, you definitely want to place the generator in a spot protected from such elements.
Being exposed to the cold and snow will not only overwhelm your generator but also reduce the overall efficiency and power of the device, resulting in unsatisfactory performance. Simply put, your generator might not be able to produce the minimum standard of power that it’s supposed to.
If you live in a windy area, you ought to be very careful and selective about where you install the generator.
Strong and overpowering gusts of wind will cause nothing but trouble for your generator and increase the chances of harm. That’s because the wind can drive the fumes and exhaust produced by the generator straight into your home.
Obviously, this is going to mess with the air quality in your home and possibly even infect your lungs with toxic fumes. And the worst thing is, you won’t even realize what’s happening until it’s already too late and you’re coughing and wheezing all over the place. It’s a serious health issue, you guys.
You want to position your generator in a location such that even if there is a strong gust of wind, the fumes will blow AWAY from your home.
Stay Close to The Fuel Source
I hope this goes without saying; the closer you install your generator to the gas meter, the more efficient it will be for your device.
Besides, having the generator close to your gas meter will actually reduce the amount of piping required to fuel the device in the first place. Doing this will help you save out on installation charges and material costs and improve the fuel supply’s overall consistency.
Be Mindful of The Noise
As we all know, generators are noisy, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Maybe we’ll have the privilege of using silent generators in the near future, but as for now, we just have to deal with the deafening noise that shoots out of these things.
So it goes without saying that we should be mindful of the noise while choosing a place to install the generator.
Placing the device in the backyard opposite the storeroom would be the perfect choice for any home.
You definitely don’t want to place it near your living room or bedroom unless you want to deal with the constant noise while you try to sleep. Oh and also, don’t place it near your neighbor’s house, unless you want to get into a nasty argument.
What if The Standby Generator Is Too Far from The House
I’ve talked about how important it is to keep your generator at a considerable distance away from your home. Doing so will prevent a slew of health hazards and increase your family’s overall safety.
But what happens when the generator is placed too far from the house?
Well, the first thing I want to say is that you won’t be faced with anything drastic or dangerous. However, it is important to note that it might hamper the overall functionality of your generator.
Having a long and drawn-out cord isn’t really a great option for you. It increases the chances of weak spots that might develop over time. What’s more, a long cord is more likely to get accidentally cut or damaged.
Also, placing your generator too far away from your home might reduce its overall power capacity. That’s because electricity gets weaker over long distances, ultimately resulting in a weaker output.
Another thing to note is that having the generator far away from your home will make it more difficult for you to hear it if it starts struggling. You’ll generally get used to ignoring it and won’t realize if anything goes wrong.
How Far Can a Standby Generator Be from The Transfer Switch?
Maintaining a distance of 60 to 70 feet away from the transfer switch would be considered safe and ideal.
What if The Standby Generator Is Too Close to The House?
Having a generator too close to the house exposes you and your family to harmful carbon monoxide fumes that might result in serious health problems and even death.
Are Standby Generators Necessary for American Homes
As the climate gets more and more unpredictable, safe and efficient management of power grids becomes difficult to achieve. In other words, it doesn’t look like America’s power outage problem is going to get fixed anytime soon.
So what can we as average citizens do to protect ourselves from power cuts during these storms? Well, we can use a standby generator!
Standby generators have helped hundreds of thousands of American families access uninterrupted power for their homes during emergencies. They are the only solution we can rely on when everything else fails.
It’s not just the average home that benefits from these devices. In fact, standby generators have helped businesses, factories, and other commercial buildings maintain power during a scary thunderstorm. And the best thing? These generators can provide power for days and even weeks!
Considering all these factors, one would assume that almost every American would be marching to the store to get their hands on a generator. So imagine my surprise when I found out that only a mere 5 % of American homes actually have a generator installed.
This sounds completely baffling, especially when I think about the 4.5 million homes in Texas that had to go through a total power shut down because of the winter outbreak back in February 2021.
I mean, for crying out loud, it was a billion-dollar disaster that killed at least 200 people, with some sources claiming that the number was close to 700.
Need any more reasons? How about when Hurricane Ida DESTROYED huge portions of Mississippi and Louisiana back in August of last year?
If I’m not mistaken, close to a million homes were left without any form of electricity or power in their homes for days. I hope you can see the pattern here.
Does It Make Sense to Get a Standby Generator
Before you jump to any conclusions, this isn’t an article about whether or not you should buy a standby generator. That discussion, to me, is as clear as crystal, and I think recent events already give you enough reasons to think about investing in one.
And of course, there’s also the price factor; with most home generators costing anywhere between $ 2000 to $ 6000, I agree it can get a little on the expensive side.
But if you ask me to choose between spending a buck and risking the safety of my home, my family, and myself, I’ll choose to spend that extra buck any day of the week.
The real question here isn’t whether or not we should get a standby generator; that’s a total no-brainer. The question that I’m actually concerned about is, where should we install the standby generator?
With so many factors to consider, installing a generator can be a tricky and overwhelming process. The best thing for you to do is seek professional help and hire technicians who are already familiar with the process and the many mandates and regulations.