Generator Installation, August 19-28, 2014

After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I promised Jane I would look into a generator. Finally in May, I talked to Scott of SGHAC and we signed a contract for a whole house back up generator. Since we have 240 V, 100 Amp service (= 24 kW), we decided on a 20 kW Kohler.  The plan was to run it on propane from our existing, above ground, 500 gallon propane tank.

Then we had a discussion with Amerigas, our propane company and decided we really needed a bigger tank. Unfortunately the set back rules for a 1000 gallon tank (or two 500 gallon tanks) are pretty onerous. For example, an above ground 1000 gallon tank must be 25 ft from the property line. This would place it pretty far into the yard. So we decided to bury the tank in which case it only needed to be 10 ft from the line (about where the existing tank was). And, as a bonus, only a small dome is visible above ground.

Once this was all decided, we had to fill out forms for permits. It took the township quite a while to grant the permits. Then we had to work around our travel schedule and the schedules of the 4 entities involved: SGHAC doing the actual generator install and electrical work, Amerigas for the propane work, Dustin’s Mechanical and Excavating for the digging, and Hopewell Township for a plumbing inspection before the propane line could be connected to the generator. And, PSE&G had to come out and unlock the meter.

Work started on August 19 and finished on August 28. Then we threw the switch disconnecting line power. Ten seconds later, the generator started up and 10 seconds after that, the house was on generator power!

In case you’re wondering about the discrepancy between 24 kW service and a 20 kW generator, I’m pretty sure we never actually run at 24 kW; nevertheless, the transfer switch is connected to our existing heating and air conditioning and will shed the air conditioner compressors if we get close to the generator capacity.

We took a few photos along the way and they are included below. Clicking on a photo brings up a larger version. If you play the slide show, it seems to work better if you double click on “Play Slideshow.”