Generator Care Rules & Regulations

Where Should You Place a Standby Generator?

A standby generator is a solution during emergencies and power outages. It will help keep your family safe and prevent your food in the refrigerator from going bad when the main power goes off. If you decide to get one, though, you will have to know how far a standby generator should be from the house before you can install it.

Typically, a standby generator must be installed 1.5-feet from the house, 5-feet away from the house windows, doors, and crawl space vent openings, and minimally 3.5 feet away from a power company meter front. The nearest vinyl, block, or brick foundation exterior should be between 1.5-feet and 2-feet.

However, all these might change depending on the local generator installation codes and regulations. As you can see, there is a lot you have to know concerning generator placement. I will be taking you through the topic to make sure you install your standby generator at the right spot. So, be sure to read along.

How Far Can Your Standby Generator be from Your House?

As you might already know, proper backup generator placement is always crucial; you cannot install it anywhere in your yard. The placement is being determined by few factors that I will discuss in the next section of this post.

However, I do have some basic metrics that I found common among many city’s local building and generator installation codes, not forgetting the manufacturer recommendations:

  • A standby generator should be 1.5 feet away from the house.
  • It should be 5-feet clear of all the doors, windows, crawl space vent openings, and laundry.
  • The nearest vinyl, block, and brick sidings of your foundation must be 1.5 – 2 feet away.
  • The company meter base must be 3.5 meters away from the generator.
  • If you have a fence, deck, or shrubbery, the need to be 3-feet clear from the front and all sides to allow enough intake and exhaust clearance, not forgetting the generator servicing and repairs.

Important Standby Generator Placement Considerations

Now you know the numbers on how far the standby generator should be from your house. But do you know why they matter? Surprise! It’s for your safety and convenience of using the generator.

The clearance from your home helps prevent any accidents from reaching your house, limiting the noise and Carbon Dioxide poisoning.

Of course, you have the freedom of installing the generator anywhere else in your compound so long as you meet the distance metrics discussed above.

But before you call it a day, you might want to know some factors that affect where and how far you place your standby generator from your house.

Noise Level

Like any other generator, a standby generator comes with an engine that makes noise during operation. And even though standby models come with a noise-proofing case, it’s not enough to make it utterly silent like an inverter generator. You will still get some noise, especially at night.

That’s why the spot you pick has to be far enough not to keep you awake or disturb you at night. Apart from meeting the 1.5 distance from your house, it’s crucially important to make sure it’s some distance from your bedroom, study room, and any other room in your house that needs silence.

And if you invested in an ultra-silent standby generator, you don’t have to worry much as most of these models produce around 65 and 70 dB(A) at their average speed.

Wiring

Even though the distance is determined for you by the local fire protection and building codes, you can decide to install the generator far away in the yard. But you still have to think about the cost of wiring and the possible wire length you can use.

Generator wiring has limited – the longer the wire, the higher the resistance. When the generator runs, it can result in overheating of the generator wire.

The ideal wire length depends on the generator power output, the wire gauge, the quality of the cable, and how much you draw through it.

Another thing, if your ideal generator placement spot is near the mains electrical panel, the electrical wire required for connecting the generator to it will be shorter, and the labor work will also reduce. That will save you a few bucks.

Regulations and Requirements

Before you can point on the spot in your yard, here are few generator installation regulations and requirements you have to keep in mind:

1) NFPA Fire Protection Codes

The first one is the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that regulates the distance from the house.

According to NFPA Code 37, installing and using a stationary combustion engine or gas turbine should be 5-feet clear of any home wall openings such as doors and windows. What’s more, the distance is the same as any combustible walls.

It’d be best to verify the local and state codes in your area with an electrician before installing your standby generator.

2) Local & Utility Codes

Utility codes from Electricity and Gas Company in your region are another set of regulations you must consider while installing your standby generator. You might be required to get a permanent generator installing permit before installing the standby generator.

Other states like Connecticut have codes requiring electric generator conduits to be placed 18-inches below the grade and exposed for inspection. What more, some state laws require generators requiring any underground gas pipes to be 12-inches below grade and exposed for inspection.

Before you can install your standby generator, do extensive research on the local codes in your area. You can work with a certified electrician who understands local building codes and knows where the local building departments are located.

3) Manufacturer Requirements

Apart from federal and local ordinances, you still have to consider some homeowners’ standard regulations set by the manufacturer.

The manufacturer will mostly give guidelines to how far from the generator should be, where it should be installed, and the material to use as the base for the installation.

All these, though, will differ with your manufacturer.

Extra Standby Generator Placement Tips

  • Never place a standby generator in a breezeway, under an overhang, or in recesses blocked by shrubs, trees, or other vegetation.
  • Avoid any areas that are subjected to snow drifts
  • Protect your generator from pets, animals, people, and traffic.
  • Never place your standby generator on a spot that might allow exhaust fumes to accumulate inside a building or under a roof.

Related Questions

Does a whole house generator add value to your home?

Yes, but you have to install your whole house generator “legally” for it to increase the home resale value even by 3-5%. According to a 2014 report published by Remodeling Magazine, installing a standby generator can give you a 150% investment return.

Do you need a permit to install a transfer switch?

Yes. A transfer switch is a permanent fixture required by law if you’re connecting a backup generator to your home. And since it’s a permanent added fixture, you need to check with your local authorities and the utility company on the permit required for such an addition.

Better Generator Placement for Safer, Convenient Use

Every regulation set on how far a standby generator should be from your house ensures you get the best service from it while also giving your safety a high priority. Keeping it at an ideal distance from your house, away from all the wall openings, can save you from an accidental fire originating from the generator and ensure you avoid carbon dioxide poisoning.

About the author

Sharif Gen

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