How Far Should a Generator Be From The House?

While generators have become an indispensable part of our daily lives due to the advantages they offer during emergencies, they can be harmful if not installed at a safe distance.

Generators must never be kept within the house as they emit carbon monoxide which is extremely harmful if inhaled.

Now the question is what is the safe distance that must be maintained between the generator and the users?

How Far Should a Generator Be From The House

If you are curious to find out, you have come to the right place. In this guide, we have discussed how the safe distance to be maintained varies according to the type of the generator.

We would begin with the distance one should maintain in case of a portable generator and the factors that ought to be remembered.

How Far Should a Portable Generator Be from the House?

How Far Should a Portable Generator Be from the House

For the safety of the people, a portable generator must be placed at a distance of 20 feet away from the house. However, some municipalities allow people to keep it at a distance of only 10 feet.

Portable generators emit harmful carbon monoxide, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if inhaled. Make it a point to keep it away from the doors and windows as well, because winds can draw the harmful gas towards your home.  Therefore, it’s ideal to keep it as far away as possible.

Consider These Factors When Placing Your portable Generator

If you have bought a portable generator to be used during emergencies, you must keep the following things in mind while placing it.

The direction of its exhaust

Make sure its exhaust is placed in a direction opposite to the house. We have already mentioned how harmful carbon monoxide is released by portable generators.

You must ensure that the gas isn’t brought towards your home by winds. That’s why place the exhaust in an opposite direction and allow the gas to get blown away in the opposite direction.

Place it on a level surface

You might know that some models of generators have splash lubrication with crankshaft dippers that can splash the oil onto the moving components of the machine. This tends to happen if the machine works on an uneven surface. That’s why we ask users to place it on an even surface and avoid any mishap.

When you place the generator on an inclined plane, the dippers can’t reach the oil. Some parts of the generator therefore remain dry all through. This will undoubtedly cause a catastrophic failure. 

Limit cord length to prevent appliance damage

We know that generators are noisy in nature. Therefore place them as far away as possible to get rid of unwanted noises. But, remember that the length of the cord also has limitations. Never use a cord for more than 20 meters. In case of power drops or surges, it might affect the appliance motor and the compressor to burn. 

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How far can a standby generator be from the house?

How far can a standby generator be from the house

Apart from portable generators, there are stand-by generators that a lot of people use. These generators must be placed at a minimum distance of 5 feet from your house. Not just that, it should also be  5 feet away from your doors and windows.

You must place the exhaust away from the house. Keep a gap of 3 feet or 36 inches in front of the generator. The distance between your home and the generator must be at least 18 inches or 1.5 feet. 

Consider These Factors When Placing Your Standby Generator

When installing a standby generator, keep the following things in mind:

Fuel source

Make sure the machine isn’t too far away from the gas meter. The more the distance, the more piping will be required. This will increase your expenditure. Therefore, try to keep both of them closer.

The direction of its exhaust

Like portable generations, standby generators also emit carbon monoxide. Therefore, place the exhaust in a direction away from the house, so that the fumes and gasses do not blow towards your house.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Codes

Make sure you follow the safety codes while installing a standby generator. There are specific requirements and regulations in every jurisdiction. Make sure you are well aware of them and follow them while installation.

Sometimes, a permit is needed for the installation of a standby generator. You need to keep this in mind too.

Manufacturer’s requirements

Lastly, follow the instructions given by the manufacturer while installing a standby generator.

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How far should a whole house generator be from the house?

How far should a whole house generator be from the house

Like the other types of generators, one must place whole house generators at a distance of 1.5 feet away from the house. Also, a distance of at least 5 feet must be maintained from doors and windows. The final distance however depends on the safety codes and regulations of the locality.

Note: You are likely to wonder what’s the difference between standby generators and whole house generators. Well, the former is mostly used for small scale powering. Its capacity ranges from 9kw to 20 kw. Obviously, they have smaller, air cooled engines that are equipped to power items like sump pumps, air conditioners, and refrigerators. They aren’t suitable for powering large homes for a prolonged time period.

Whole house generators come with a capacity of 22 to 48 kw. The larger capacity allows you to power the entire house without having to decide which ones are most needed and which ones aren’t. If you intend to buy a whole house generator, go through the factors you ought to keep in mind when installing it. 

Consider These Factors When Placing Your Whole House Generator

Just like there are considerations you must keep in mind while buying portable and standby generators, you must also consider a few factors while buying a whole house generator. We have enlisted some of them below.

The manufacturer’s requirements

Some manufacturers give specific instructions for the installation of the machine. While installing it,you must keep that in mind.

The size of your generator

The size of the whole house generator will determine how much noise is expected to produce, how much fuel it will require. Accordingly, you will have to find a suitable place for its installation.

You also have to consider the size of the enclosure within which you are going to keep the generator. You must see if you can place it within your property. Usually, a bigger sized generator requires a large and thick concrete base.

Local noise ordinances

You must keep in mind the local noise ordinances of the area you reside in. You must also abide by Homeowners’ Association (HOA) rules while installing a whole house generator.

Now the rules vary from place to place. What’s acceptable in one region might not be so in another. Therefore, you must conduct a thorough research and understand the noise regulations that are applicable in the area you reside in. If your generator makes too loud noises, consider soundproofing it.

Applicable air quality regulations

Whole house generators usually require a permit before its installation. One can acquire a permit only if it’s proven that the individual has followed the air quality regulations. These rules are important to be maintained because generators release carbon monoxide and if it’s not restricted, it will undoubtedly affect one’s health. 

Storage tank requirements

If you have decided to use natural gas to power your whole house generator, you must consider the positions of the utility lines that are already existing. However, if you intend to use some other fuel, you have to use a storage tank, which is challenging in various ways.

Storage tanks are available in a variety of shapes and volumes, with varying capacities. Larger tanks have greater capacities but require larger spaces. No matter whether you place them above or under the ground, you must keep them away from the residing areas to prevent explosions or fires. 

Method of connection

You must know how to connect your generator to your home. It can be done either by extension cords or by a transfer switch. The best option to consider is automatic transfer switches, because you do not need multiple wires in that case. Thus there’s no hassle dragging multiple cables and connecting them to your home.

Local building codes

Apart from the air quality regulations and local noise ordinances, there are local building codes that also need to be maintained. The local building codes include residential needs, local soils, climate, etc. Therefore know what your construction regulators have to say before installing a generator.

The desired generator enclosure systems

It’s important for a whole house generator to be enclosed within a structure. Now the enclosure that you will construct might be subjected to its own set of regulations, rules which will affect the overall positioning and installation of the whole house generator.

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The Bottom Line

Before buying any kind of generator, you must weigh several aspects of the generator. Know the dangers associated, factors that affect the positioning of the generator, suitable place for its installation, and the safety standards that are to be followed. Only then decide the kind of generator you want to buy.

If you are unsure, always contact professionals. Get their advice and see if it matches yours. We would advise homeowners to rather spend the money on consulting professionals instead of repairing the machine later. Therefore make an informed decision as buying a generator is a long term investment.

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