Buying a generator for your house is a great way to ensure power to your property in the event of a power outage. Generators can provide peace of mind and the right generator can provide power to the whole house.
Can you place a generator in your house? The short answer, no. You should never place a generator inside a house. Particularly in living areas, but also not even in a room that’s not lived in, for example a garage or basement.
The reason being is the highest generator related injury, and sadly deaths, is caused by the deadly carbon monoxide a generator can produce. Placing a generator in your home, even with windows open, runs a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Ideally, generator placement should be outside the home, in a well ventilated area away from the house. Most manufacturers will have manufacturer’s recommendations on generator placement. A minimum distance from any building will be recommended at 5 – 20 feet away depending on the type of generator.
Throughout this article we look at where you should place a generator, how you can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and what measures you can take to ensure you run your generator correctly and safely.
What do I need to consider when deciding where to put a generator?
Generator placement depends on a few factors. Firstly the type of generator you have, how much space around the building there is for placement, how close it is to the neighbour’s house, how it’s connected to a fuel supply, and any local building codes.
Let’s look a little closer at what you need to consider when choosing where to place your generator.
Above all else you want to ensure you are operating your generator safely. You need to place your generator a safe distance away from the house, away from doors and windows.
Generators produce harmful carbon monoxide from their exhaust. When placing the generator make sure you have the exhaust facing away from yours and any neighbouring properties.
Use the manufacturer’s recommendations to determine how many feet away your generator needs to be before installing it and have it in an isolated location.
You also need to ensure any fuel for the generator is stored in a secure location, ideally a locked outbuilding, well ventilated and away from a source of ignition to prevent hazards such as fire and toxic fumes.
Generators are pretty noisy, so you need to consider the noise your generator will be producing.
Busy construction sites are one thing, but if you’re running a generator at home the noise caused by the engine will not make you popular with the neighbours.
A standby generator or whole house generator should come with its own housing. When you install a house generator the manufacturer may supply housing with it, or you will need to buy this separately.
If you have a portable generator you may want to consider building a structure to keep the generator in. Make sure this structure is within the guidelines for distance from the property and is well ventilated.
As well as helping with the noise it will help with the overall safety of the generator, and protect the generator from rain, dust, and debris.
You can also purchase and install an exhaust muffler. This is a popular way of muffling the sound from the generator exhaust and a worthy investment if you want to keep in the neighbours good books. Once installed you should notice a significant difference.
We would definitely recommend installing an exhaust muffler if your location is in a particularly windy area, as this will carry the sound further.
Type of generator
Of course everything depends on the type of generator you buy. Whether it’s a standby generator, portable generator, or whole house generator, each generator comes with safety recommendations from the manufacturer and installation advice.
No matter what type, generators need to be installed or placed a safe distance from your house, doors, and windows at all times to ensure they don’t affect the air quality in your home.
What is the best location for a generator at home?
When it comes to choosing the best location for your home generator you need to check the manufacturer guidelines on placement as wells as local ordinances, this will be the law issued by your local government.
There are a few factors to consider before you install your generator depending on the type you have.
Portable generators are a more popular choice if you need ad-hoc power needs. The right portable generator can power an entire house, or can be used to run equipment such as sump pumps if the property suffers from flooding.
Being portable, portable generators can be moved to various locations depending on what you’re using it for, using the necessary attachments to supply the power you need.
They are more often powered by a fuel source such as petrol or diesel and use extension cords to run power to devices, appliances, and equipment. To note, you must buy a proper extension cord specifically for a generator, you can’t just use any regular extension cord.
Because of their movability there is no installation process, so you have to be mindful each time you use your generator that you’ve placed it far enough from the house and away from doors and windows.
Standby generators are a popular choice for people who suffer from regular power cuts or run equipment such as medical equipment that relies on a constant power supply.
Often, standby generators will run off the natural gas supply to the house and your gas meter will control the gas supply to the generator as well as your home.
Before a standby generator is installed, you’ll need a hard flat surface for it to stand on. It’s recommended to pour concrete to create a concrete pad for the generator to sit on.
This concrete pad will also protect the standby generator from any surface water damage and keep it level.
Installation of standby generators should be done by a professional who can connect you to the gas supply and fit a transfer switch. The transfer switch is what recognises power has been lost to the home and switches over, automatically in some cases, to the generator.
Can I use a shelter/ outhouse to keep a generator in?
It’s a good idea to provide shelter to help keep the generator from getting wet, dusty, and clogged up with debris, this will help extend the lifespan of your generator.
It’s still important to ensure your generator is well ventilated though, so often just a roof to keep the elements off will suffice. If you use an outhouse make sure it is unoccupied and well ventilated.
Generators should never by run inside your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious risk to health and life. Always ensure you check recommended guidelines before installing and running your generator, and fit CO alarms in your property just to be extra safe.
If you’d like any further advice or would like to discuss the right generator for your needs, get in touch with us here at Solent Power, we’d be happy to help.