Where to Install an Industrial Generator?

The demand for industrial generators, both as a primary and backup power source, spans numerous industries. Because of their reliability and overall ease-of-use, generators are vital to keeping sites operational. Yet, depending on the size and type, the proper location is essential. Choosing the ideal site and preparing it is an important step in the installation process. To plan for the generator installation, consider a few key aspects of the site that are essential.

Generator installation site


Why Is the Installation Site Important?

The selection of the ideal location for any type of generator is critical for several reasons. First, all location selections should focus on meeting local, state, and national regulations to ensure compliance. Then, consider the functionality of the system. A poor location can reduce the efficiency of the system. It can disrupt the workflow of the location or create instances of potential failure or poor performance when the operation needs support. The ideal site for a diesel or natural gas generator is one that streamlines the operations and enhances the functionality of the location.


Key Consideration – Indoors vs Outdoors

Options exist for locating the generator both indoors and outdoors, but that doesn’t mean either option is beneficial to your location. Consider, for example, the available space. Locating a generator indoors positions it close to the area of use, but it also takes up valuable floor space that may be better used for other needs. You also must consider the clearance around all areas of the machinery and the generator. Is there enough space not just to place the generator but also to walk around it? Additionally, the area itself must meet specific guidelines required by the generator manufacturer. This includes airflow requirements within the space. It must consider safety aspects and security.

Outdoor generators have specific requirements as well. This includes, for example, sound and vibration limitations, clearance factors, and environmental factors such as wind. Accessibility of the location can play a role in some applications as well.


Key Consideration – Generator Type

There are three generator types (in general). Each one requires careful selection of an installation area.

A permanent enclosed generator is one that is fixed to a specific area and enclosed in its own housing. That is, it is generally placed outdoors, requiring it to have ample space dedicated to the generator. A portable enclosed unit is one that is portable enough to move from one area to the next within a plant or location but is enclosed to allow it to function safely outdoors. These kind of generators are popular in the rental market within many industries due to their ease of movement. In this type of generator, it becomes critical to choose a space with ample ability to move or adjust the system. As well as the potential site matching the type of generator, it also works the other way round – the enclosure has to meet the requirements of the proposed site. This means the type of enclosure (soundproof, weather-protective or a custom model) and the generator site need to augment one another. A third option is a generator located within a facility – which is usually a primary or secondary power system fixed to a specific area within the operation.

In each situation, the manufacturer will provide specific requirements for the positioning, installation, and use of the generator. These are not optional requirements. Look to usage documentation for clarification on any concerning aspect. However, all systems need clearance on all sizes, proper ventilation, and stability.


A Good Site for Permanent Enclosed Generators

A permanent enclosed generator remains stationary. As a result, it tends to require the most accessible of locations. For example, the fuel truck for the generator must be able to access it, which makes placing it close to the roadway beneficial. The area should always be secured and be able to handle any type of unwanted event, such as flooding or spillages. Most will be enclosed by at least a fence for protection and security.

A concrete pad is generally the most desirable surface to place under it to overcome any type of risk from soils. That pad must be designed to accommodate the weight of the generator. Commonly, the pad itself should extend beyond the footprint of the generator, typically extending one and a half times the size of the generator overall.


A Good Site for Portable Enclosed Generators

The prep for a portable enclosed generator is less worrisome since the generator itself can be picked up and moved from place to place. Nevertheless, consult with the manufacturer to learn about the proper procedure for positioning, using, and storing these generators.

Some of the smallest versions fit within a van or truck whereas larger varieties need a larger vehicle to move them. The accommodations for such a vehicle are important. Nevertheless, these systems will require routine fuel filling, which means easy access to the roadway tends to be a critical factor when choosing a location for the generator.

Most of these generators are still very heavy. This means any surface holding it – from storage areas to a truck – must be able to hold up to the weight of the generator itself. Any lifting must be done by an approved system capable of handling the weight. Also, there should be side and head clearance for the generator when it is in transit as well as when used onsite. Anything less than this limits functionality and safety.


A Good Site for Generators Located Inside a Facility

In-facility generators may be the most difficult to plan for if space is already limited. Yet, proper consideration for these diesel or natural gas generators is essential. In all cases, the generator requires room – headroom above it and side clearance for access. It should sit on a stable surface, generally a concrete pad capable of withstanding its weight without limit.

The positioning of the concrete pad, as well as the generator itself, must allow for professionals to access all components of it – for maintenance, use, and emergencies. It must also be positioned in a way to allow for compliance requirements to be met.

Indoors, there is a higher priority for proper airflow within the space. The air supply should be reliable, especially when the generator is working. And, fuel supply must be done properly to minimize risks. In some situations, piping the fuel to the generator under the floor level is desired. This needs proper protection to be in place as well, usually with grating. Along with air supply, the generator needs a reliable exhaust system to avoid dangerous fume buildup. Building exhaust systems must be installed and designed specifically for the generator’s needs, based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.