Installing a natural gas standby generator is a fairly straightforward, but sometimes daunting task. Most people realize their need for some means of power backup when their utility power is gone for enough of a time to cause discomfort. Here are the facts about generator installation.


Generator Sizing

The first thing to consider when researching generators is to figure out what size generator you need, or want. If you want only your essential items such as sump pumps and refrigerators to be powered. The size of your generator will be much smaller than a generator needed to power your entire home.

These smaller generators, start at 7,000 watts, or 7kW. If you decide that you would like to have air conditioning in a power outage, then you would be looking at a generator usually close to a 20kW. All sizes of backup generators work with a transfer switch. An electronic monitor that will switch power from the utility to the generator, at the same time telling the generator to start.

Generator Placement

When installing a standby generator, the placement of the unit will determine the amount of work required to complete the installation. The most ideal location for generator placement is between the electric meter and the gas meter.

The further the gas or electric has to run, the trickier the install. If electric has to run far, it starts to experience voltage drop. Which will affect the electrical loads in your home.

That pressure experiences friction the farther it travels, and therefore loses pressure by the time it reaches the generator. The generator usually needs to be at least 5 feet from your lot line, and at least 18″ from the side of your home. According to manufacturer specifications and local ordinances, the generator must be 5 feet from any window or door.

Generator Installation

After the details have been ironed out, the installation moves forward. The generator is delivered and set on its decided location. The pad where the generator sits should be one of two things. Either a concrete pad, or a pad built of landscape timbers, filled with gravel. The generator is usually between 400 and 500 pounds.

Once the generator is set, the transfer switch is installed. This process varies according to the style of transfer switch that is chosen. Conductors and control wires are then run from the generator to the transfer switch, usually in separate conduits.  The gas is then run straight from the gas meter, if possible, to the generator. A shut-off and drip tee are installed before the generator for emergency stop and maintenance.
The final step is the process of activation. This is different for all generators.

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