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People have ideas, all kinds of ideas, concerning the best placement of their new generator. Often, “best” is best for them according to their concerns about noise, aesthetics, mowing inconvenience, etc., rather than such things as safety, stability, servicing, and fuel and electrical connections.

I have pondered generator placement for my own home many times. The propane tanks and the electrical service happen to be at opposite corners of my house, perhaps by design, but not my design. I have the perfect spot to split the difference; it’s level, dry, and relatively out-of-the-way. It’s also right below the bathroom window and a couple of feet from the dryer vent, so unless I want to turn the bathroom into a sunless bunker and move the dryer into the living room, I can’t stick it there. You see, there are RULES.

I know there are rules about everything, and a lot of them are (or at least seem) inane and pointlessly burdensome, but the rules about generator installation are actually reasonable, simple to understand, and help to avoid DEATH. Death for you, your family, your pets, and the escaped convict that’s been hiding in your attic for the past couple of weeks. You don’t want that on your conscience.

Generators produce energy in several different forms but they also produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide will poison and kill you. I once got carbon monoxide poisoning from a kerosene heater that I was using to heat the garage. I didn’t realize I was poisoned until I was told so at the hospital, where they were stapling my scalp back together because I passed out and smashed a toilet tank with my head. Gruesome, but true. So, the generator must be placed at least 5 feet from any window, door, or vent in your home and at least 1.5 feet away from the home itself. Just say NO to CO.

There are other rules that might sound like SUGGESTIONS to you, but they aren’t frivolous. Put a base down for your generator. It could be poured concrete or gravel but make sure it’s a few inches in depth and level. Generators are heavy and will sink into the ground pretty easily. Worse, the weight of a generator is not necessarily distributed evenly and sometimes one end will sink significantly deeper than the other end. So the old story about building on stone rather than sand applies here.

Home standby generators need lots of fresh air. There are homeowners who get the idea that it would be great protection for the generator to install it in a shed or some other type of outbuilding. The generator’s enclosure is all it needs for protection. A home standby generator installed in a building, no matter how well ventilated, will not run efficiently or be cooled effectively and will cause, at the very least, premature controller failure. We’ve seen catastrophic engine failure that can be attributed to this, as well.

I have a few other guidelines that aren’t rules but rather authentic suggestions. Leave sufficient space around it for servicing. Some people want to fence it in, either for security reasons or they want it hidden because they think it’s ugly. (Most modern generators are attractively styled, although there are a few that would fail to throw a puddle of vomit into sharp relief. I won’t tell you which ones they are.) Just make sure that the fenced-in area is spacious enough for a large technician to do his wrenchy thing. Generator technicians aren’t all large, but most end up that way.

Don’t stick it under a deck, please. I know that a lot of people think it’s a brilliant idea, but it’s not. Just take my word for it.

Flower beds seem to be another relatively popular idea for hiding the generator. Flowers beds are fine as long they aren’t too close to the generator itself and you’re okay with you dog trampling the flowers every time he has to pee, because he will pee on your generator. A dog will race past a dozen fire hydrants to pee on your generator. Watch his face if you want to know what BLISS looks like.

The final piece of advice for today is GET A PROFESSIONAL to install it. Somebody fully familiar with the local codes and what is required to not kill somebody who is working on the utility power lines, etc. It’s the same story with the fuel supply; you want somebody who will install the piping that’s appropriately sized, has as few corners as possible, and is up to local codes.

If you have any questions or suggestions about generator installation/placement you may contact us at 570-980-2421.