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How Far from a House Should You Place a Generator?

Written on: December 18, 2023

You’ve got Questions, We’ve Got Answers About Backup Power for Your Texas Home

generators Carlsbad, NM The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a mild-to-normal winter for Texas, thanks to an El Nino weather pattern. But if you’ve spent the past few years here, you know that “normal” now means colder cold snaps and longer heat waves that can really challenge our grid. And you know that while losing power for two or three hours is annoying, an outage lasting any longer starts to be expensive, not to mention dangerous. More and more of our customers are looking for ways to be prepared for outages, and we tell them one of the best ways to protect your home and property is with a backup or standby generator.

Here’s everything you need to know about how a backup generator can keep your home and family safe during a power emergency.

What is a standby generator?

A standby or backup generator is propane-fueled power source that is directly wired to your home’s systems so that it comes on within seconds of a power failure to keep your lights on and your refrigerator, furnace and a/c running until the utilities get the lines back up. Propane generators are quiet, extremely efficient and clean-burning, with low emissions.

How long will a standby generator run?

It depends on the size of your generator—and the size of your propane tank.
Most homes have storage tanks that are 100 to 500 gallons. The average 5000-watt whole-house generator will run for one to two days on a 100-gallon tank. A 500-gallon tank would keep the same generator running for 7 to 10 days.

Bigger generators will run more appliances and equipment, but they will use more propane: Typically, 5,000-watt whole-house generators use about two gallons of propane per hour. The most powerful, 9000-watt generators use three gallons per hour.

What size do I need?

There are a wide variety of size options, from “essential power” models that will run key equipment such as your refrigerator, heat and lights, to true whole-house generators that can manage the demands of most extra-large homes, even during extended outages. Pico’s team of experts can work with you to determine the best size generator for your home and needs.

How far should I place my generator from my home?

Unlike a portable generator, which needs to be set up at least 20 feet away from your home and connected with cords when you need it, a standby generator is positioned closer to your house, and directly connected to your home, similar to the placement of the condenser for your cooling system. It should be at least 5 feet from windows or doors.

Is a standby generator expensive?

While a portable generator is less expensive out of the box, it can cost you a lot more in the long run. Just the cost of keeping it full during an extended outage will add up quickly, not to mention potentially having to wait on long lines for more gasoline.

On the other hand, having a standby generator can help you save money even before the power goes out. Many insurance plans will offer discounts on your homeowner’s insurance plan if you install a standby generator. That’s because, like a security system, a generator helps protect your property. Speaking of security systems, a standby generator will keep yours operating during an outage, protecting your home if you are away.

Is a standby generator safe?

With a standby generator, there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. There’s also no need to wrestle the unit out of the garage and get it set up and started, while messing with fuel, possibly in the dark or in treacherous conditions.

Not only is it safer to operate, because it comes on instantly, people who rely on medical equipment are protected.

Is a standby generator a good investment?

Peace of mind is priceless. But when you do the math, a standby generator usually comes on top when it comes to dealing with the expense (and hassle) of a power outage. By keeping even just your essential systems running, a standby generator can help you avoid the cost of replacing spoiled food, the cost of a hotel room—if you can find one, and if the outage is in winter, prevent pipes from bursting.

Another thing: According to Consumer Reports, a properly installed whole-house generator can increase the value of your home by as much as 5%. That’s a great return on your investment, even before you even need to use it.

Have More Questions?

The pros at Pico can answer all your questions and show you the benefits of a standby generator. We have the experience and training to install your generator correctly and connect the lines to your propane tank, so it powers up your home without damaging your home’s electronic equipment or appliances. (And we can provide you with safe and reliable propane delivery, too.)

Contact us today for more information.