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Home Generators: What You Need to Know

If you’ve ever been left in the dark after a hurricane whipped through your neighborhood (ahem, Irma), you know the sinking feeling we’re talking about. No power means no refrigeration, no light, and no air conditioning. Worst of all, you have no idea when your power will be restored.

Given the growing number of hurricanes to brush along the South Florida coast (or worse!), installing stand-alone generators has become a popular option for homeowners. Before you rush out to get one, however, there are some important guidelines you need to be aware of. Many are safety related, and others are guided by your city or municipality’s regulations. Here is what you need to know if you plan on installing a generator to your South Florida home.

What to Know About Home Generators

Safety risks – If not attended to properly, serious safety hazards can occur. Namely, it’s critical to ensure you have the required transfer switches and that fuel pressure tests are regularly conducted. Without a transfer switch, electricity from the generator can be sent through the meter base and into the distribution lines causing serious harm for anyone in the vicinity of a downed power line. Likewise, when power is restored, electricity can flow back into the home and destroy the generator.

Approval and installation process – Permits are required to install a home generator, and prior to applying for the permit, homeowners are required to secure an approval letter from their homeowner’s association. The permit application requires you to have notarized signatures, a completed electrical fee sheet, a site plan, as well as plans showing your compliance with all additional electrical, plumbing, and other engineering needs.

City/municipality guidelines – Important guidelines set forth by cities and municipalities are designed to meet safety as well as aesthetic guidelines. Be sure to check with your specific municipality and association before proceeding with an

installation plan. While guidelines vary, most require the generator to be

screened with plants, located at least 10 feet off the property line, and set five to 10 feet from the side of the home. Additional fencing, hedging, or adding a wall or opaque screen may also be required.

In addition to these guidelines, homeowners should take precautionary steps to ensure ongoing maintenance checks. While being left in the dark is no fun, being left in the dark with a generator that could cause potentially life-threatening hazards is much worse. If you have questions about safety issues related to home generators, give me a call at 786-732-0342.

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