You’re right to worry about sudden power outages with natural disasters becoming more rampant. Learning how to install a backup generator is, therefore, in order. But first, it begins with choosing the right generator. One that is the right size for your space and the right specification for your needs. Whether you’re installing a generator for your business place or your home, these four steps will help you get the job done safely.
How to Install a Backup Generator Step-by-Step?
Step 1 – Find an Installer
Installing a backup generator does not make for a great DIY project for several reasons. In the first place, the electricity could kill you if you don’t know what you’re doing. Secondly, if you try to wing it and you botch it, you would have voided your warranty. Lastly, most states consider it illegal, anyway. So, you’re better off leaving it to the pros.
Where Can You Find an Installer?
Most times, your seller would be able to help you with one. Ordinarily, this is your most convenient option as they’ll pretty much handle everything, including filing for your permit.
Yes, you do need a permit to install a backup generator. Some people skip this step and think they’ve gotten away with it. Well, that is, until they have to sell their home and they have to pay heavy fines for precisely that reason.
If you don’t want to go with an installer from your seller, you could walk with several installers to handle the different parts of the installation. So, for example, plumbers to work on the plumbing and electricians to work on the wiring.
Step 2 – Find a Good Spot for Your Generator
There are several requirements to check off when looking for a spot for your generator. A number of them are commonsensical. You’re, obviously, not going to put your generator in a place that is hard to reach or cramped up.
But more importantly, you want to ensure that you stay in line with the regulations for installing a generator in your locale. Common locations where people set up their generators are the basement and the rooftop. Both locations are great, although they each come with their conditions.
If your area is prone to flooding, then a basement might not be a good idea. A rooftop always works. However, you’d have to make some structural changes to your home.
Step 3 – Create a Slab for Your Generator
Your generator should not sit on the ground. You want it elevated and anchored down. This way, if the weather is bad, your generator remains in place.
There is the option of using a concrete slab. But two things. Concrete is quite expensive. Also, you can’t prepare a concrete slab if it’s the rainy season or during winter.
But there’s a less expensive, all-weather option. It’s called a pre-fab generator pad. To lay a pre-fab pad, you need to create a sturdy base first by placing bags of gravel on the spot where your generator is supposed to sit. You’d need four bags, at least.
Once you’ve created the base, then you can put the pre-fab pad on the gravel bags. Once you do that, the pad is ready. But one more thing about pre-fab bags. If you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, you want to make sure your pad is hurricane-rated.
Step 4 – Install the Transfer Switch
The transfer switch is what connects your generator to your home’s wiring as well as to your fuel source. Please, do not connect your generator to the transfer switch yourself. Leave that to your installer for your safety.
Now, once that is completed, you will have fully hooked up your generator. Your installer will carry out all necessary tests to ensure that everything works fine. And your generator is ready to use.
Factors You Need to Consider When Buying a Backup Generator
Learning how to install a backup generator is one thing. However, getting the right one that will give you what you want is a different matter altogether. Here are factors to consider when buying a generator:
1. The Size of the Generator
Make sure the generator you pick can provide your power needs, which means you need to know your needs. Do you want to power your entire building? Or do you want only a few essential appliances running on the generator?
If the former, then you would be in the market for a 20kW generator. But if the former, then a 7kW would do.
2. Transfer Switch Type
There are automatic transfer switches and manual transfer switches. With a manual transfer switch, you’d need someone on hand to turn on and turn off the generator as the need arises. Of course, this is inconvenient, which is why most people go for an automatic transfer switch.
With an automatic transfer switch, once there is a power outage, the automatic transfer switch gets the generator running immediately. And once the power comes back, the device turns the generator off.
You’d also need to hire a professional that will handle the maintenance and servicing of your generator.
The person should give you a proper maintenance and service plan so you can ensure that your generator is getting the best treatment. It is the only way to ensure that your generator serves you well for a long time.
Types of Generators
Generators differ based on the type of fuel they burn. The two most common fuel types are diesel and natural gas.
Which Generator Type Is Easier to Maintain?
More people use diesel because diesel is easier to manage. But keep in mind that you’d need to keep refueling a diesel generator for it to keep working. This means you’d need to have diesel reserves on hand in case of an emergency.
Generators that burn natural gas, on the other hand, though high-maintenance, are more convenient. Your generator will be connected to the pipeline. So, as long as you pay your bills, you will always have power.
Which Is Safer?
Diesel is much safer than natural gas because it is not very flammable. It is the least combustible of all fuel types. Plus, diesel is liquid with an odor. This means that if there’s an accidental leak, someone will pick up on it and handle the spill before something dangerous happens.
Natural gas, on the other hand, is highly flammable. It is also highly toxic when inhaled in large amounts. So, you’d need to be extremely careful if you decide to go with a natural gas generator. A tiny spark could cause an explosion.
What About Noise?
For all its safety, diesel generators are very noisy. This makes them an inconvenient choice in that regard. Natural gas generators, on the other hand, are a lot quieter. Whichever type you go for, though, you could build a sound-proof enclosure around the generator to help reduce the noise.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy and Install a Backup Generator?
The cost of a generator would depend on its power output. For a 7-kilowatt generator, expect to spend anything upward of $2000. A much larger unit, like a 20-kilowatt generator, for example, would cost more than twice that. Expect to spend about $6000 or more on a generator of that size.
As for installation, costs will always almost equal the cost of the generator unit. So, if you buy a generator worth $2000, you should spend about that amount installing it.
Do not forget that generators are a repository of pollutants. This is why you must follow all installation guidelines from the manual and your homeowners’ association strictly. No “How to Install a Backup Generator” guide will make you a qualified professional for the job. But, at least, you now know how it works and why you need professionals. We hope you found this helpful.