Proper Gen-set Siting for Residential Applications

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The question has come up from several people regarding proper generator siting. It is a complex issue and there are no standard answers. All I can provide here is my own protocol, with an illustration from our house in the mountains.

The reader should primarily consult a licensed professional in her jurisdiction who will consider zoning regulations, local regulations regarding gen-sets, NFPA, NYS Building Code, NEC, and the manufacturer’s literature. This long list is not a cop-out, this is actually what a professional will do for you.

My own philosophy which is layered and additive to the above list of regs is based on the premise: accidents happen, be prepared.

1. A generator is an internal combustion engine. When these run on diesel it is one thing, but when they run on gas or propane, it is quite another. So assume at some point in life that engine will explode. Keep people and the spaces in which they live as far away as possible from that future explosion. You only have to read the recent press on accidents involving propane in Florida.

2. A generator is an internal combustion engine. When these run on any fuel, diesel, gas, or propane, the combustion gives off carbon monoxide. Need I say anything further on this subject? Rule 2., CO kills, keep people away.

3. A generator is an internal combustion engine. When these run, they make noise. Generac makes fine generators, and they train their installers remarkably well. Any one who is not certified by Generac should not be touching their generators. However, these babies are popular because the encasement is paper thin (read: cheap), both the alum. and the steel are. So if you don’t like noise, look at Kohler. This week Cummins announced a gen-set line for residential uses. Look at those too, Cummins is best of class when it comes to anything with gas motors.

Now back to the photo. Notice the object on the plateau on the right of the photo. That is my generator. It is a mere 8 kW. It rocks, but it is loud as a big lawn mower. No problem. Look how far away it is kept from the house garage.

The object center of photo just right of the Sube is the ATS. More on those if we have time next week.

Life is hazardous enough, why not control the little of it that we can.

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