Standby Power Systems: Pre-Installation Planning Ensures Optimal Operating Conditions

Standby generators have three separate classifications under applicable code regulations. They are designed to provide power to your building when main power is not available. Systems can be implemented to meet legal requirements, for emergency purposes, or as an optional secondary electrical source. The National Electric Code (NEC) uses these three classifications for setting installation standards.


Emergency systems are defined as being necessary for safety and are required by government regulations. They must be installed to kick on within ten seconds of power failure. Legally specified systems are typically seen in firefighting, hospital, rescue, or other types of operational facilities. Response time for these generators is increased to a maximum time of sixty seconds.


Optional generators can be implemented when human safety is not an issue. They operate as a secondary source of power for commercial, residential, and industrial buildings. Loads are selected based on the needs of each building. For example, manufacturing plants often divert the load to important equipment or processes that cannot be halted in the facility. The type of standby power system being used by your business determines how a secondary source will need to be installed.

Emergency Power Generation: Items Evaluated Before Installation

Emergency power generation installations vary greatly depending on how the backup system will be used. The most common applications are for safety and property protection.  A Prime Power technician will need to know a few details before an installation plan can be derived. These items directly affect how your generator will be put in place:

  • Generator Type
  • Revolutions Per Minute Frequency
  • Installation Location
  • Efficiency Rating
  • Power Factor
  • Switchgear and Controls
  • Transfer Switching Data
  • Starting Conditions

Large power system installations include increased costs because they must be placed on a specific foundation. Vibration damping, noise reduction, and additional considerations cause the expense surge. The base used to mount the system must be level. It supports the generators weight, maintains system alignment, and isolates vibration to a single location.

Surface characteristics must be considered to be certain they support the implemented foundation. An insufficient match will lead to settling, which can directly affect the performance of your generator. Most foundations are either concrete or steel based. The chosen foundation will greatly depend on the size of your generator, in addition to the support of the underlying foundation. Vibration isolating methods may need to be implemented to reduce the effects of operational pulsation.

Ventilation openings must be appropriate to allow clean air to be forced through the generator for proper cooling and air circulation. Setup should not allow air to recirculate and must meet the generator size volume specifications. The NEC requires three feet at a minimum to be left for general servicing and the promotion of free flowing air. Many other aspects are involved with installation of any emergency power generation source.

Our technicians have thorough knowledge of all NEC standards and can ensure your installation promotes optimal performance. Environmental elements, the placement location, sun exposure, fuel source, and many other factors are included in pre-installation planning. Call us today to receive professional advice concerning the standby power systems being considered for your building.

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