Where to Install Whole-House Generators
There were another two articles on the web this weekend pertaining to fires started by people using generators to power their home. Here are some whole-house generator installation tips.
The first article appears to be about a propane whole-house generator which was mounted directly adjacent to a home in Swansea MA. Flames spread from the generator housing to vinyl siding, then moving to the interior of the home. Though the owner had not moved into the home yet, there were workers present who escaped unharmed.
The second report is from Sandy Utah where gasoline powered generators were housed in a shed attached to the home. It appears one of the home occupants refilled a portable generator and when he restarted the generator, the fuel refill can caught fire.
Auxiliary whole-home generators must be installed and used in a safe fashion.
Auxiliary generators are best installed away from living structures.
Distance reduces the chances of habitation poisoning by carbon monoxide.
“Every year, at least 430 people die in the U. S. from accidental CO poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning. You can take steps to help protect yourself and your household from CO poisoning. Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.“The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.” (Center for Disease Control)
“Portable, gasoline-powered generators are a common source of unintentional CO poisoning after power outages. The devices are used increasingly to provide electricity during temporary outages resulting from adverse weather events, but the CO produced during their operation can be a serious health hazard. The exhaust produced by the typical 5.5 kW generator contains as much CO as that of six idling automobiles. When used indoors or in close proximity to residential dwellings, this exhaust can quickly infiltrate living spaces and incapacitate occupants.” (Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Hurricane-Associated Use of Portable Generators — Florida, 2004)
“New research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that to prevent potentially dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, users may need to keep generators farther from the house than previously believed—perhaps as much as 25 feet.
“Up to half of the incidents of non-fatal carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning reported in the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons involved generators run within 7 feet of the home, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Carbon monoxide can enter a house through a number of airflow paths, such as a door or window left open to accommodate the extension cord that brings power from the generator into the house. While some guidance recommends 10 feet from open windows as a safe operating distance, NIST researcher Steven Emmerich says the “safe” operating distance depends on the house, the weather conditions and the unit. A generator’s carbon monoxide output is usually higher than an automobile’s, he says, because most generators do not have the sophisticated emission controls that cars do.“We found that for the house modeled in this study,” researcher Leon Wang says, “a generator position 15 feet away from open windows was not far enough to prevent carbon monoxide entry into the house.
“Winds perpendicular to the open window resulted in more carbon monoxide entry than winds at an angle, and lower wind speeds generally allowed more carbon monoxide in the house. “Slow, stagnant wind seems to be the worst case because it leads to the carbon monoxide lingering by the windows,” Wang explains. Researchers determined that placing the generator outside of the airflow recirculation regions near the open windows reduced carbon monoxide entry. (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
Diesel vs. Gasoline vs. Liquid Petroleum/Natural Gas
Fuel: Combustible or flammable?
The photo here shows an Aurora Generator installation that is off the house. Note that there is no enclosure to capture fumes or impair cooling. The metal roof keeps snow and light rainfall off the equipment. IMO, this is a good clean installation! 😉