It only takes getting caught in one lengthy power outage or disaster to realize that you never want to go without electricity if you don't have to. You may spent a lot of time researching your options for a home generator; once you know what type you want, and the size of home generator needed, it's time to figure out where to get it installed.
This is Not a DIY Job
I went with a standby generator, because I wanted things to be easy when the power went out, and I didn’t want to have to brave the storm to hook up a generator. There's something to be said about the peace of mind I get knowing that I'll always have a backup plan in place for our energy needs.
The great thing about a standby generator is that it has the necessary capacity to get us through a few days of an outage, which is typically all we need before the power company is on top of things after a storm. However, the installation process is not even remotely a do it yourself job.
Unlike portable generators, standby generators get installed permanently outside of your house. They need a cement pad underneath them and a connection to your house's electrical system. Due to the complexity of this process, a professional's help is needed install the generator.
In general, you need to choose a space that is at least five to six feet from any of the entry points of your house, as well as five feet from materials that could catch on fire. I wasn't going to be able to plant decorative bushes to hide this generator away, so I worked with the installer to find a place that made sense for my backyard plan.
The installer also needs to handle a transfer switch installation, which is the equipment that allows my house to switch back and forth between the generator and the utility power system. They will connect the generator to a fuel source, such as your home’s natural gas line, which can impact the available location for it.
Be Aware of Local Ordinances
If you're out in the middle of nowhere like I am, you probably won't run into a problem with noise ordinances and other local laws. On the other hand, if you're in the middle of a densely populated urban area, you probably need to pay close attention to the safety requirements and noise levels.
The typical standby generator isn't the loudest thing in the world, but they can be noisy if you have no way to break up the sound or mask it. Of course, the neighbor that's complaining today certainly wouldn't care about the noise when it's the middle of winter and I'm the only one with working electricity and heat. However, the generator also starts up and runs every week on its own to test whether it’s in working condition.
Safety is a Priority
I needed to make sure that my family stayed safe while the generator is running, and I also wanted to confirm that no problems happened when the power turns back on and the generator switches off.
The professional that installs the generator uses a transfer
Anything that's remotely flammable needs to be far away from the generator. We made sure there weren't any nearby bushes, our firewood was stacked well away from the area and we kept the kids from letting their toys go all over the place in that part of the yard.
We also have a safe space to store fuel for the generator, so that we have plenty to get us through any sort of emergency. The easiest way to use a standby generator safely is to consult with professionals before you start the process.