The last time you went without power you promised yourself it would never happen again. The decision was made and now you’ve taken action by ordering a new standby generator from Norwall Power Systems. What happens next?
Your delivery driver will drive up to your driveway entrance and unload the standby generator. He’s not going to move it any further than that. Drivers have schedules to meet and transport companies have liabilities to worry about. Even if you have a long driveway, curbside delivery means at the curb or entrance. Often this is close to your mailbox. Don’t count on the driver to help you move the unit, you’ll need other arrangements for that.
Plan to be at home when the delivery is scheduled and inspect the unit before signing off and accepting the delivery. If the packaging or unit has damage, do not accept delivery.
Moving the Generator
You will need some help moving the generator unless you happen to own a truck with a crane on it. Standby generators are heavy and air-cooled units can ship weighing more than 500 pounds. Most standby generators have carry holes what allow you to insert two lengths of iron pipe through them to give four or more people to carry the unit. Get it off your driveway entrance and move it near the final installation location. Cover it with a tarp until it is installed.
Site Selection and Preparation
You should already have spoken to your homeowners association and the local building code enforcement department about your installation requirements and understand their rules. The local building code department is usually the Authority Having Jurisdiction and their rules regarding placement may conflict with manufacturer requirements. The AHJ always takes precedence over manufacturer minimum requirements. Either have assurance in writing that a building permit will be issued, or have the permit before you order.
Ideally, choose a site close to the electric utility meter and transfer switch, which is the utility service entrance for your home. Other placement options are less ideal, but still possible. Horizontal clearance includes 36 inches in front of, and to either side of the generator. Check the installation manual for minimum distance to the home siding, then check your building code rules. Have the installation manual in hand while speaking to the inspector about your installation so you can point out what the manufacturer requires if there is a conflict. Inspectors are sometimes flexible if there is a good reason or safety is not compromised.
No windows, doors or vents within five feet horizontally of either generator end. There must be 60 inches between the top of the generator and the eaves of the home. Don’t install where water accumulates, comes off the roof, or otherwise affects the generator. Plan on a windbreak to keep leaves and other flammables, or blowing snow, from accumulating next to or on the generator.
Gravel beds start with a five-inch-deep rectangle dugout that is six inches longer and wider than the standby generator footprint. Cover the soil with weed-blocking landscape cloth and fill with pea gravel or crushed stone. Level the filler and compact it. Instead of stone, a concrete pad at least four inches deep is also a good installation base. Again, check your local codes for requirements.
The building’s natural gas or LP gas supply will require extension to the installation site, and some natural gas meters will require an upgrade. There is also some fairly extensive wiring for the transfer switch and generator. Unless you’re a qualified DIY plumber and electrician, installation is a job for an experienced professional. If you plan to do the job yourself, your building inspector will want assurance that you know what you’re doing―plan to answer questions and submit a detailed installation plan before they will issue a permit.
Ordering a standby generator is just the beginning. Getting it from the curb to your home and then having it installed is the real work. Do your homework, be prepared, and the entire process will happen smoothly.