How Quickly Can You Install a Generator in an Emergency?

When disaster strikes or an emergency event occurs, many businesses turn to a power source that also has a backup system. Unfortunately, due to a wide variety of factors, such as a faulty part or damage from a natural disaster, the backup power system can also fail.

In these instances, installing a generator can help businesses recover more quickly and reopen their doors in a timely fashion. It is important to note that every installation is unique. In fact, the time it will take to get a new generator up and running will depend on the following factors.


When Does Installation Begin?

Typically, installation would mean the time it takes to set up, test and approve a generator or genset upon delivery. However, in an emergency, the word installation takes on a broader meaning. It can be thought about as all the time between power going down and power being restored.

With this wider definition, installation also incorporates discussions with generator providers and their response times (our rental and service divisions truly are 24/7), site preparation, acquiring permits if necessary and delivery times. Several factors in this broader installation process can affect the time it takes to get a generator up and running again.


Type of Generator

The type of generator installed during an emergency will depend on a number of factors – if it will be used as part of a genset, its application (i.e. is it being used in an office building, at a government facility, at a hospital, or in a commercial or industrial capacity), and its required level of dependability.

For example, data centers require generators that are incredibly dependable, while hospitals require generators that will provide the power needed during emergency situations to save lives.

In addition, the type of generator installed during an emergency will also depend on sound reduction, water cooling, starting equipment, foundations, vibration damping, and cost.

As a rule, the lower the kW, the easier it is to install the generator. Larger generators require more time and, typically, are more expensive to install.



Depending on their size, generators can typically be transported by car or truck. The most important factor to consider is how easily the generator will be loaded into the car or truck for safe and easy transportation.

During emergency situations, portability is a key factor to consider when transporting any type of generator to a remote location. For example, while some generators can be hauled in a regular consumer truck, others will require 16 wheelers. In short, the size of the generator and its intended location will greatly influence the time it will take to deliver and install.


The Generator Site

When calculating the time it will take to install a generator during an emergency, it is important to remember that different sites will require varying amounts of site planning and preparation. In this vein, some factors that must be considered include:

  • The physical location of the generator (enough space must be left between the building and fuel supply to allow maintenance).
  • The access point of the fuel supply (is it easily accessible to the fuel truck).
  • The security (such as a fence or surrounding wall) required for the generator.
  • If you will be using buried or above ground fuel, as well as the electrical services needed.

It is important to note that it is against many building codes to place a generator set directly onto gravel. As such, platforms or slabs must be constructed to hold the generator, while keeping it secure and level during operation.

Additionally, if the generator site is inside of the building it will typically require a self-contained system. In these instances clearance, a facility lifting device, and the unloading procedures must all be carefully considered when choosing the generator site.

If, however, the generator site is outside, then you will have to consider a wide array of natural conditions. For example, if the generator is at a high altitude, then it must be derated. Conversely, if the generator is in a flood area, then it will require a raised platform or mounted base, which will take additional time to prepare. Finally, the temperature must be factored into the time it will take to prepare the site. For example, cold temperatures will require the installation of additional accessories, such as an electric water jacket or heater.


Generator Installation Steps

Once the site has been properly prepared, it will be time to actually install the generator. The following steps are completed to install a generator in a timely fashion:

  1. Preparation of the installation pad (either inside or outside, depending on the chosen site and type of generator).
  2. All permits are obtained and the installation site and type of generator are in compliance with local and national building codes.
  3. The generator is placed on the installation pad.
  4. Necessary connections are completed (including connecting the fuel line, installing the transfer switch, making electrical connections, completing any required security fencing, and adding required accessories).
  5. The generator is tested to ensure that it is operating properly after installation.
  6. All packaging materials, tools, and equipment are properly removed and the site area is cleaned.

In conclusion, the time it takes to install a generator during an emergency will vary depending on the above factors. However, when the above conditions are carefully considered, and the right company is chosen, the time to install can be greatly reduced.