How To Install A Whole House Generator

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Hurricanes, winter storms, overwhelmed electrical grids – power outages are starting to seem like a part of normal, everyday life. When images of Texans powering their homes through a storm with hybrid Ford F-150s went viral last winter it got more people thinking about installing a whole house generator.

Whole House Generator Alternatives

If you’re one of those people, this post is for you.

How Installing a Whole House Generator Affects Home Value

This is a quick overview of all the basics including what a whole house generator does, who might want to install one and alternatives that could be a better fit.

When the electricity goes out, a whole house generator provides power with natural gas or liquid propane.

How a Whole House Generator Works

Unlike a portable gas-powered generator, a whole house generator is connected to a gas supply so it’s always ready to go. The whole house generator is also tied into the electrical system. A whole house generator has two primary parts: the generator and the automatic transfer switch (ATS).

The generator does the grunt work of converting gas into electric power, but the ATS is crucial. The ATS sensor can detect power outages and start up the generator automatically.

No person is needed to intervene or be there to start the generator.

Step 3.: Drill or find the conduit hole

But what about power surges if the electric power kicks back on when the generator is going? The ATS takes care of that too. Once the generator is able to supply the house with power the automatic transfer switch cuts power from the electric grid.

Step 4.: Installation of the power input box

This helps prevent power surges and circuit overload. Installing a whole house generator is a serious investment, but is it one that will pay off?

That’s the million dollar question. Actually it’s the $7,500-$15,000 question, because that’s how much it costs to install a whole house generator in the average home.

Step 5.: Glue conduit and test fit

In addition to the generator itself, the other major costs include:. Electric lines (6’). There’s a huge range in the cost of this project because there are a lot of variables.

Step 6.: Wire the generator input connector

The size of the generator is one of the most significant factors. The larger the generator is the more it will cost and the more expensive it will be to install.

Other factors include where you live and your energy needs. Overall, Consumer Reports estimates that installing a whole house generator can add 5% to the value of a home.

Step 7.: Push the wiring in

Remodeling Magazine has been tracking the cost vs. value ratio of whole house generators since 2007. During that time the return has ranged from 47.5% to 67.5%.

That’s actually a fairly decent return compared to other home projects. How much of a return you’ll see on your investment largely depends on location.

Step 8.: Prepare the cable switch box

People in the Gulf Coast who face the possibility of long-term outages every hurricane season see the value in a whole house generator.

Like everything else in real estate, how much value a whole house generator adds mostly comes down to supply and demand.

Step 9.: Create an open space for switches

For some families the cost of a whole house generator is still worth it even if there isn’t a 100% return. If someone in the household relies on a medical device or medications that must be refrigerated, having a whole house generator is a safety issue.

If the last section gave you a little sticker shock you may be interested in knowing there are alternatives to a whole house generator, but they too have their pros and cons.

Step 10.: Installation of switches and cables for the generator

There are two other options: portable gas generators and solar panel systems.

Portable gas generators are much less expensive, but they don’t come with the ease of use and constant power supply.

Step 11.: Install the hold switch

They also don’t power on automatically and you won’t see any return when you sell your home.

Step 12.: Install the interlock on the control panel cover

Another significant drawback is power output. Portable generators are rarely capable of powering the average size house, but they can keep key equipment like the refrigerator up and running.

A solar panel system is another alternative, but it’s not a good one for all situations. For example, if the power is out due to a winter storm the reduced sun exposure might not be enough to power the home.

For this reason, solar power can only be considered a backup power supply. Solar panel systems are also just as expensive as a whole house generator, if not more.

How to hook up a portable generator to a house

However, the cost is offset by tax credits, increased home value and reduced energy expenses. When you need a reliable electricity plan you can count on Spark Energy.

We give you options for powering your home with electricity, natural gas and renewable resources.

Check to see which Spark Energy plans are currently offered in your area. Install whole house generator is an excellent way to deal with power outages. A whole house generator, if sized correctly, can power your entire house (including heavy appliances) without any fluctuations.

How to connect a generator to a house without a transfer switch

A standby generator is usually tagged as a whole house generator. On the other hand, portable generators are small in size and production capacity compared to standby generators.

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They can also be treated as whole house units for people with less power requirement.

Once you have selected the generator, the next step is its installation. In this article, we will discuss the right way to install the whole house generator and what things you need to consider while installing the unit.

Before we begin, let’s look at some of the things you need to consider before buying the generator. These considerations are important for installing the generator and ensure its proper working in the long run.

The most important thing before buying a generator is the generator capacity. To successfully size your generator, you need to list all the appliances you need to run on your generator.

When you buy a whole house generator, all the fixtures, appliances, and machines are included in the power calculation.

Once the starting and running wattages of all the appliances have been calculated, you will have an exact figure with you.

It will tell you about your power needs. Another important thing to consider is the fuel type. A majority of the whole house generators run on diesel, natural gas, or propane.

Connect the generator to a house through dryer outlet

Whole house generators running on gasoline are very few. You must select the fuel type according to your convenience.

Make sure that local laws and your homeowners’ association will approve the project. Make sure you don’t purchase the generator or any other equipment unless the building department issues a permit.

Don’t proceed until you verify with the building inspector that the generator (brand and model) is okay and will pass the inspection.

How to Install the Whole House Generator in the Best Way. Installing a standby generator in your home is not a run-of-the-mill DIY project. It requires advanced electrical knowledge, managing natural gas plumbing, making propane connections, and setting up transfer switches and other equipment.

If these things are not taken care of, unfortunate events can take place.

How to a powerhouse with a portable generator

You can get electrocuted or damage the costly generator. While picking the installation site, the most important thing is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation and the local laws.

However, some general instructions must be followed at all times while installing a standby generator.

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These instructions are given below. Standby generators must be installed outdoors.

They produce carbon monoxide, which is harmful to health. Make sure you maintain a safe distance of 20-30 feet from your neighbors.

A standby generator produces around 60-85 dBA noise levels. Keep this in mind while picking the installation site. Your generator must be at least 5-6 feet away from the overhanging roof, windows and doors, and other vents or openings.

How to wire a generator to a breaker box

It must be 3-4 feet away from all other obstructions such as walls, trash bins, or garage walls. This is to ensure space for heat emission and proper ventilation.

Choose concrete or gravel to make a generator pad. Never leave your generator without a roof overhead. Place your generator near propane tanks or natural gas supply to minimize the installation costs.

However, you must also consider the points mentioned above. A DIY standby generator installation requires in-depth knowledge and experience in electrical connection, plumbing, and generator management.

You also need advanced-level tools for it. A majority of homeowners are not prepared to perform the actions successfully.

This is the reason why a lot of states don’t allow DIY installation for standby generators. On the other hand, contractors are licensed by states for generator installation.

They have all the experience, knowledge, and machinery to complete the installation.

They can also help you get permits and deal with inspection visits. It is important to select a state-approved and well-reputed contractor, so the inspection team does not reject your project.

Once you have decided that you will hire a contractor for the installation, it is now time to choose the best contractor. Follow the guidelines given below while selecting the contractor.

Check the permit/license of the contractor and confirm that they are aware of the local codes for generator installation.

How to connect a portable generator to an electrical panel

Always choose certified electricians and plumbers for making electrical/gas connections.

Your home’s safety depends on it, so be careful here. Get price quotes from at least 3 contractors.

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Make sure you ask for previous work history and references for finished projects. Don’t forget to read genuine user reviews from Google or Facebook pages.

Always settle with a company that is insured, bonded, and has a good reputation.

Don’t agree on upfront payments.

How to wire a generator transfer switch

Make small milestones of the project and pay in terms.

Bargain a little with contractors but don’t settle for low-quality items. Always ask for itemized billing to have an idea about the quality and price of equipment and materials being used by the contractor.

If the contractor is employing workers on your property, don’t forget to check worker compensation and insurance proof.

If a worker gets injured on your property, he can sue you for damages.

If the contractor is working alone, then you don’t need this proof.

Ask for a written lien waiver. It will protect you from a lien placed on your home after the work is done.

Keep Reading How To Install Generator To House (Step By Step) for more info.

Professional and well-respected contractors won’t have any issue in providing this.

Ask for a guarantee statement about the equipment and materials bought by the contractors. Make sure that any problem will be fixed free of cost and how long the warranty will last.

Good contractors don’t have any issue providing warranties. One of the most important aspects of standby generator installation is dealing with the inspection team.

The general perception about inspectors is not good, and they don’t cooperate with the public. It is their job not to “cooperate” with you by allowing mistakes in the installation.

A trivial error or mistake can lead to a big mishap in the near future. The best way to ensure that the inspectors will not reject your project is to make the inspectors a part of the process. There is zero room for mistakes here.

You must start consulting with the inspectors before buying a generator. Discuss the brand and model with them and ask that it is allowed to be installed.

Some states have certain requirements for generators, like CARB certification for generators to run in California.

Once they approve the unit, invite them to visit and discuss the installation spot, materials, and all other aspects. If everything is done in the right way, there will be no chance of rejection here.

A whole house generator is a great way to keep you and your family safe, relaxed, and tension-less during an outage.

Back feeding generator

To make it function properly, you need to make sure that its installation is done correctly and the machine is regularly maintained and operated according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Turn off main breakers in the circuit breaker box panel.

Generator operation should be done far from the house.

Turn off all appliances and lights

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Place one cord into 120 v wall outlet you intend to use for back feeding and the other into the 120 V outlet of the generator and start the generator and begin testing with a lamp to find any that works. Click here to learn about the generator deal online.

Note: Read carefully the manual’s instructions of your generator and ask the help from an expert if you are not sure. You can find the most reputable generator brands’ manuals here.