Whole-home or standby generators are a great way to protect yourself against blackouts. If your power ever goes out, the generator will automatically kick in and start providing electricity to your home for as long as it takes for the power to come back on. When installing a standby generator, it is vital that you carefully consider the location for several important reasons. With that in mind, let’s look at the various regulations and recommendations.
Fire Code Requirements for Standby Generators
There is technically no limit in terms of how far a whole-home generator can be from your house. If you have a large lot, you could mount the generator 100 feet or more away from your house since the electrical wiring can be run as far as needed. That being said, there are very specific requirements in terms of how close the generator can be to a building.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code requires that whole-home generators are installed at least 1.5 feet away from the home. The generator also needs to be at least this same distance from any sheds or other outbuildings.
The NFPA code also mandates that generators cannot be located within 5 feet of any windows and doors, and there cannot be any vegetation taller than 12 inches within 3 feet of the unit. When mounting the generator, the code also states that it must be positioned so that the exhaust faces away from the home.
Manufacturer’s Recommendations and Local Regulations
Although 1.5 feet is the minimum distance required by code, most generator manufacturers have their own specific recommendations. Most say that the generator needs to be at least 5 feet from any occupied building. Whatever the manufacturer recommends, this is what you should do. If not, you could potentially void the warranty on your generator.
Many states and local municipalities also have specific requirements for standby generators. Most local codes specify that the generator cannot be within 5 feet of your property line. Some locations also require that generators are located no closer than 20 feet from any building. In this case, the generator not only needs to be 20 feet from your home but also at least 20 feet from your neighbor’s house.
Choosing the Best Location for Your Generator
There are a number of different factors that you’ll want to consider when choosing where to install a whole-home generator. One of the biggest factors is the exhaust. All generators produce carbon monoxide, so it is essential that you make sure the exhaust can’t flow back towards your home.
If you live in a particularly windy area, you should always place the generator further away from the home and in a place where it is sheltered from the wind if at all possible. If not, then you may need to keep your doors and windows closed when the generator is running to prevent carbon monoxide and exhaust fumes from potentially being blown inside the home.
Noise is another important thing to consider since generators are quite loud. If you’re concerned about noise being an issue, we would recommend you place it at least 20 feet from your home. That being said, you also don’t want it too close to your neighbor’s home either since this could violate local noise ordinances.
In North Carolina, the state dictates that the noise level 10 feet away from the generator cannot exceed 85 decibels. This usually won’t be an issue if you place the generator in the middle of a large yard away from any neighbors. However, if the generator is within 10 feet of the property line, you may need to take measures to dampen the sound so that you don’t violate this ordinance.
One other factor is the proximity to the fuel source. If you’re connecting the generator to your home’s natural gas supply, we recommend that you choose a location that is fairly close to your gas meter. The further away the generator is, the more gas line you’ll have to run and the higher the installation cost will be.
The final factor to consider is the concrete pad that the generator needs to sit on. Whole-home generators are heavy and require a large concrete pad to support all that weight. Soil composition may ultimately dictate where the generator can and can’t be since not all soil types can support the weight. The same is also true if any areas on your property are prone to flooding.
If you’re considering a whole-home generator, the team at Dawson's Electric can evaluate your property and help you choose the best location. We install and service standby generators as well as whole-home surge protection systems. Our licensed electricians also specialize in lighting, electrical panels and electrical repairs for residents in the Fuquay-Varina area. For more information on standby generators or any of our other services, contact Dawson's Electric today!