Installation Guide: Home Standby Generator for Emergency Backup Power

A Tutorial for Homeowners on Home Standby Emergency Backup Power:

You need a qualified highly skilled service professionals that understand stand-by power systems.

Home Standby Emergency Backup Power. The addition of a standby generator to your home is a large project that requires the skills of several trades. A careful, thoughtful approach is necessary to avoid missteps and issues, or even a costly disaster. The first essential steps are taken even before making a decision to purchase and install.

Emergency standby generators supply power during an outage. They are permanently connected appliances that operate automatically when the utility power supply is interrupted and begin to supply the home with power just seconds after the outage occurs. Most residential models operate on either natural gas or propane (LP Gas), but diesel-fueled units are available.

Standby generators represent a substantial investment and cutting corners to save a few dollars will probably end up costing many dollars in the long run. There’s no question you can find numerous online forums in which members will give you their expertise and detail how they cut corners and saved some money in the process. Such advice isn’t worth the liability or the few dollars it may save and you’ll rarely hear about the trouble they had later on with code violations and insurance issues.


Overview of Home Standby Emergency Backup Power Generators

A residential standby generator system consists of a generator with an electronic controller and an automatic transfer switch. The system monitors the incoming electrical supply lines and when power is lost, they begin a sequence of events that takes just a few seconds to complete.

To avoid starts during momentary outages, the generator has a predetermined delay time before starting. The delay is commonly ten seconds, but may be as little as two seconds or as much as 1500 seconds.

If power is not restored during the wait delay, the engine starts and is allowed to reach full speed. After warm-up—as little as five seconds—the generator signals the automatic transfer switch that it is ready to supply power. The warm-up time is necessary to allow the generator and engine to handle the full load of all the electrical circuits in operation at the time of the outage.

The automatic transfer switch disconnects the main utility lines and connects power from the generator when the generator is ready. In a whole house system, this includes the entire main service panel. Other configurations or transfer switches may only move specific circuits onto generator power. In either case, the incoming power lines arestandby power isolated from the power produced by the generator. This essential safety feature prevents the generator from energizing the utility lines and endangering line workers who may be working to restore the local power grid.

After the power outage until the standby generator system begins supplying power to the home averages about
fifteen seconds, but can be as little as seven seconds. (The actual elapsed time depends on the equipment and how it is set up.)

Choosing A Installation Site

Some units meet fire codes that allow installation as close as eighteen inches from a home, but talking to an expertNice home will ensure you will meet local codes and can adjust the position to ensure the building inspector does not object.

Ensure that this is an outdoor installation only. Standby generators produce carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can reach deadly concentrations in just minutes.

Do you have neighbors? Your installation will affect them with noise and exhaust. Minimizing these factors is important. At twenty feet, a quality air-cooled unit makes about as much noise as a central air conditioner. Avoid putting the generator any closer. Cummins Power to homes are a great solution delivering both economical use and quiet running.

Obtain the height and width of the generator from the manufacturer’s installation instructions and use them to determine the installation site.

    Some general guidelines which may vary by manufacturer or by local building codes include:

  • The top of the generator must be at least 60 inches from the roof that overhangs the house.
  • The rear corners must be at least 60 inches from any windows or doors that open.
  • The sides and front of the generator must be at least 36 inches from any obstruction.
  • Each manufacturer specifies the distance from the generator rear to the house.

Locate the generator as close to the gas supply as possible to minimize plumbing costs, but keep other considerations in mind such as exhaust and noise when choosing a site.


When it comes to purchase and delivery is important so that you can obtain your building permit and schedule the onan air cooled generatorcomplete install within the building permit’s required time frame.

Make your building permit application and have another conversation with the inspector. When you use a certified and qualified supplier and contractor, you can be certain that both you and the inspector will know that the project will be down right the first time and lend an air of professionalism  to your standby home solution.

Although most inspectors will not comment directly on any particular home backup generator provider, there will be hints when you mention Discovery Diesel Electric, and the long standing reputation with they have with Vancover Island, BC based inspectors.