Running a generator near your home isn’t as safe as you might think, mainly because of all of its fumes. Generators produce carbon monoxide, which is lethal in high concentrations.
While modern generators have the technology to reduce emissions, it’s still possible for these chemicals to drift around and invade your living space. The best and safest way to minimise that risk is by placing your backup unit as far away from your house (and yourself) as possible.
So, ensure you know the risks involved with having one on your property before using it in an emergency.
In this post, we’ll explain how far you should place your generator from your house and what factors you should consider as you do so.
5 Reasons Why a Generator Should Be Far Away From Your House
1. Healthy Concerns
Generators are lifesavers during power outages. However, if you’re going to install one, consider moving it outside. They are well known for producing a lot of carbon monoxide, which can cause nausea and headaches in high concentrations.
Carbon monoxide is also an odorless gas that can leak into a house, leading to long-term damage or even death if inhaled too much. Even better: If you can afford it, install CO alarms, so you know when something isn’t right.
2. Noise Pollution
When you’re trying to sleep, rest, or relax—generators can be incredibly loud. And depending on your surroundings and the location of your home, you may find yourself dealing with more than just an annoying hum.
Some studies have found that exposure to too much noise over time can cause hearing loss. Also, if you live close to other people or wildlife, you’ll probably cause them discomfort and annoyance.
3. Damage to Your House
The very nature of generators—internal combustion engines, which burn fuel to create energy—create heat. This can harm your home and property, resulting in reduced property values when it comes time to sell.
Moreover, fumes produced are corrosive, and over time they will weaken your house’s foundation. They can also eat away at your home’s siding, wiring, insulation, and other components over time. To protect your investment, ensure your generator is as far away from your house as possible.
4. Fuel Spills and Leaks
Like your car, generators have fuel tanks that can easily be punctured or damaged. Fuel spills can be dangerous, and when exposed, materials can cause a fire. So choose a location away from trees, shrubs and any other flammable objects.
In addition, fuel leaks or spills may contaminate water sources. Therefore, never place a generator in an area where fuel can seep into groundwater or pollute nearby water bodies.
So, How Far Should Generator Be From House
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, you should place your generators at least 20 feet away from your home to preserve a healthy environment (EPA). Also, keep exhaust fumes away from your home’s doors and windows. Your generator must also be correctly grounded to reduce noise and pollution, which are detrimental to the environment.
The 20-foot distance provides additional protection against electrical fire or explosion. It also lowers the risk of electricity lines sparking or shorting out when exposed to debris, which could result in a fire on your home.
However, if you can only put it 10 feet away, you are advised to wear protective gear like an air purifier or rubber boots with a water-dampened cloth over them. Be cautious not to stand directly underneath as the exhaust can send dangerous particles back down on top of you.
Factors to Consider When Placing a Generator from Your House
1. Wind direction
When picking out a location for your generator, think about the direction the wind is likely to blow. You want to avoid instances where wind can spew toxic fumes directly into your house. This means putting it upwind of your home and installing an exhaust pipe that leads far away from your house.
If you have no choice but to put it downwind, make sure nothing stands between you and it. An obstruction, such as a fence or a hill, will reduce the amount of fumes that reach your home, allowing adequate room for airflow around each part of your property.
Ensure you have enough liability insurance so that if anything goes wrong, including carbon monoxide poisoning or electrical fires, you are covered by insurance.
You will cover your assets and liabilities from lawsuits and debts. Please confirm with your state to see any limits on where you may put your generators.
3. Security and Safety of your generator
Your generator must be well-protected not only from theft but also from wild animals. Keeping it in an easily accessible location will make it less of a target. The last thing you want is for your costly generator to be destroyed or stolen before you can put it to use.
If you’re contemplating purchasing or constructing a generator shed, make sure it’s always locked. Also, ensure the outdoor storage spaces have a security system, such as CCTV cameras or motion lights.
Ensure it is easy and safe for service people such as paramedics to access your generator while still in use in case of an accident. The last thing you want is someone developing complications or dying due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
As a result, make sure to clear any obstacles that may restrict your generator’s path. Remember: Service people can save lives.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Far a Generator Should Be From the House
1. How far away should a portable generator be from your house?
To avoid harmful carbon monoxide (CO) from seeping into your home, keep your portable generator at least 20 feet away. The distance will also help to reduce noise levels within the house.
2. How far away should a standby generator be from your house?
Place your generator in an area that’s cool, dry and well-ventilated. Keep it at least 5 feet away from your house or other structures that could block airflow or catch fire when you start up your unit.
3. How far should a generator be from your window?
Generators should always be kept at least 5 feet away from any windows or doors. This is to prevent any fumes from entering your home, where they can accumulate and cause breathing issues in the long run or possibly cause a fire.
4. Where should I place my generator during a storm?
Place your generator in a well-ventilated area with plenty of clearance from surrounding trees and buildings during lousy weather. If you place your generator directly under an overhang, wind and rain could flood into it through gaps in its cover. Thus protect the fuel tanks with grates or cages.
5. Can you run an extension cord through a door or a window and up to your generator?
It’s technically possible but not advisable. Running an extension cord through a door or window limits where the heat can escape. Since doors and windows have frames, they do not flex at all. Therefore, any heat generated by electricity passing through either will have no choice but to dissipate into your house.
While having a generator near your house might sound convenient, it’s not. As we’ve seen in this article, generators can release poisonous gases and be quite loud when in use. And while they may be helpful in an emergency, they are too dangerous to have close.
When you consider all of the mentioned risks, it becomes evident that generators should be situated far away from residences. This way, you and your family will be able to enjoy convenience without any negative consequences.