Installation of a House Generator

Collect estimates from multiple contractors to get the most accurate generator size and installation cost. Find contractors with experience building pad foundations and working with outdoor gas lines.

Installing a home generator can prevent costly repairs and loss of productivity during an outage. But the project is not without its risks. A misstep during the site preparation, pouring the pad, or plumbing could result in electrical shock or carbon monoxide exposure.


A generator can power essential systems and appliances in the event of a power outage. It can also keep food in the freezer from spoiling and help avoid water damage caused by flooded basements. Home generators are useful in areas prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, derechos, and blizzards that can knock down power lines and cause lengthy outages.

Portable generators run on propane, gas, or diesel and can be used in any outdoor location. Partial and whole-house generators (also known as standby) are more permanent installations that sit outside of the house and are hardwired into the electrical system. They need to be located in a safe area, away from windows and entry points to the house to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. It is best to install a generator at least five feet from any window or doorway, and soffit vents.

A professional electrician Boca Raton will know the specific requirements for locating your generator and can guide you in choosing an ideal spot. Ideally, the unit should be located near the electric and gas meter to reduce the distance the fuel line must travel. This helps cut down on installation costs and makes it easier to maintain the unit over time.

A permit is usually required for installing a generator, and the professional installer will take care of obtaining this for you. The permit fees will be included in the total cost of installation. The installer will also need to pour a concrete pad for the generator, which can add an additional $500 to $3000 to the overall cost of the project.

Electrical Connection

If you want to hook up a generator to your home, you’ll need to install a transfer switch. This device sits next to your circuit breaker box and switches off your home electrical system to your generator during a power outage. The transfer switch also lets you decide which rooms, outlets and appliances should be energized by the generator. This installation will need to be done by a licensed electrician.

Your contractor should have a permit for this project and work with your local utility to secure the necessary permits as well. Make sure the contractor has experience with this type of work as mistakes can result in electrical shock or carbon monoxide exposure. It’s important to ask for references as well.

When installing a generator, it’s essential to have the proper size unit for your home. The contractor should use a guide that will help you add up the power requirements of the appliances in your home and match that to the correct generator capacity. For example, if you only need the generator to power your heating and cooling systems, a 20kW air-cooled generator will be enough for most homes.

It’s also essential to have your contractors pour a pad for the generator and ensure it’s level. You don’t want the generator to shift or move after it’s fueled and turned on, as this could cause damage.

You can connect the generator to your home through a subpanel or directly to the main panel. It’s important to shut off the main breaker before working on the generator, as this will eliminate the risk of shocking yourself. Once you have the main breaker off, find the copper wire that runs from the generator to the subpanel or your house. This will have a red stripe and will be marked “GEN”. If you’re connecting the generator directly to your main panel, it must have a manual transfer switch with an interlock that comprises slide plates.

A transfer switch allows you to select which appliances are connected to the generator, and it will also disconnect your home from the power grid during a power outage. It can then reconnect your house to the generator within 10 to 30 seconds and switch off when the grid power is restored.

Transfer Switches

A transfer switch is an electrical device installed next to your main circuit breaker panel that allows you to connect specific circuits in your home or business to generator power during a power outage. This eliminates the need for you to run multiple extension cords from your generator to individual appliances and equipment, which can be dangerous if done improperly. It also prevents backfeeding, which can electrocute utility linemen working to restore the power grid during an outage. The switch is triggered when your generator starts up and automatically disconnects the utility line from the devices you have connected to it.

It’s important to note that you should never connect your generator directly to a home or business without a properly installed transfer switch and interlock kit, which is required by most local electrical codes. This practice is known as “backfeeding” and can result in serious injuries to those using the generator or even fires and electric shock to those inside the house or business. An electrician can help you determine which circuits in your home or business will need to be powered during an outage and install the appropriate transfer switch for your needs.

Transfer switches are available in two basic flavors: manual and automatic. A manual transfer switch requires you to flip the breakers to the “generator” position when your generator is ready to take over power, and then to the “line” position when the generator is no longer needed. This type of switch can be purchased for a single appliance or for an entire home or business, depending on the load it will need to support during an outage.

An automatic transfer switch monitors incoming voltage from the utility lines around the clock and, when it senses that the power has been interrupted, shuts off the utilities and opens the generator power line. This process is seamless and takes place within seconds of the utility line being cut, providing you with emergency power in almost no time at all. Both types of transfer switches are available in fused or with breakers, and can be configured to have open or closed transitions as well as changeable start and stop delay times.

Fuel Tank

Home generators can be powered by a variety of fuel sources. These include propane (LP Gas), natural gas, or diesel fuel from an on-site storage tank. Propane is typically the preferred choice as it is a cleaner, renewable fuel and also comes in tanks that can be refilled with ease. Diesel generators are usually used for longer run times and can power more electrical equipment than the other two fuel options. However, these fuels require different piping and a special gas supply system that can be more expensive.

Once you decide which generator to install, a qualified and licensed plumber and electrician will be needed to perform the work. Both tradesmen should be experienced with installing standby generators and transfer switches. They should be familiar with local building codes as well. It is important that the generator be properly sized to meet your basic electrical needs during a power outage and have excess capacity built in. Otherwise, it will overheat and shut off when running too hard.

The generator will be encased in a sound deadening protective enclosure that is located outside your house. The exhaust from this large engine will be vented from the enclosure and away from your house to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning during an outage.

These larger engines are liquid cooled, like your car, which allows them to operate in much hotter temperatures than portable generators that use small, air-cooled motors. They are also able to run for much longer when compared to their smaller counterparts.

When the generator is turned on, the fuel will flow through a fuel pump and into the injectors via a set of fuel lines. The fuel injectors are regulated by a pressure regulator to ensure the proper flow rates at all times. A fuel filter is normally positioned between the fuel pump and fuel injectors to remove any debris that could clog them. Any fuel that is not used or exceeds the specified pressure rate is returned to the fuel tank.

Since these large machines consume a lot of fuel, it is essential that the generator have enough on-site storage to run for days or even weeks. The generator will need to be refilled when the fuel level gets low. Talk to your contractor about how much fuel will be needed to run your particular generator and what size storage tank to get.

Collect estimates from multiple contractors to get the most accurate generator size and installation cost. Find contractors with experience building pad foundations and working with outdoor gas lines. Installing a home generator can prevent costly repairs and loss of productivity during an outage. But the project is not without its risks. A misstep during the…