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What to Expect in a Generator Installation

A regularly serviced generator can last a long time, but eventually the cost of repairs may outpace the cost to simply replace your unit entirely. Even if the cost of repairs isn’t prohibitive, you may no longer be able to source parts for older generators. Whether you’re installing a generator in a new building development or replacing old or broken equipment, the process follows a consistent series of steps from pre- to post-installation.

Pre-install considerations

First, you need to determine the size generator needed for your building. “Sometimes we can do a like-for-like which is straightforward,” explains, Corinne Rodriguez, Sales Operations Manager. “Other times there are two older units that we can replace with one, but we first need to know how much power is needed.”

One way to determine generator size is by implementing a load study. A load study involves putting a data meter on the electric meter for an extended period to measure which size generator is the best fit for a building. As soon as size and location are confirmed, the selection of a fuel source allows engineers to consider more technical logistics.

The most common fuel sources are either natural gas or diesel. If it’s diesel, engineers will assess the location to decide if you can use a remote day tank or if a belly tank is more appropriate. Other considerations may include – Is an enclosure needed? Will the generator be indoors or outdoors? Are there noise limits?

Finally, it’s important to ensure your generator will comply with current emissions standards from the SCAQMD or the air district which has permitting jurisdiction of your equipment location. As Patrick Tam of ProActive Consulting Group explains, “Each air district has authority to enact its own emission and permitting policy provided it is equivalent or more stringent than the State standard. For example, if you take a road trip from San Diego to San Francisco along PCH, you would have passed through four major air districts (SDAPCD, SCAQMD, SJVAPCD, BAAQMD). Each of the air districts has totally different emission requirements.” A certified permitting professional like Patrick can help you navigate regulations set forth by your air district.

From those specifications, the Sales Engineer compiles pricing for the equipment and any subcontracted vendors to create a proposal. Once the proposal is accepted, the equipment is ordered, and your engineer will receive a submittal from the manufacturer.

With the submittal in hand, a second visit to the jobsite is scheduled to take measurements and verify that what has been ordered will fit in the space allocated for the new equipment. This is also when a more detailed discussion around logistics is done, even if there’s a long lead time for delivery of the equipment.


There are many logistical considerations to discuss if you want to ensure a smooth and successful installation. For example, will the power be shut off? What day of the week can everyone be scheduled? Will building elevators be affected with the power out? If so, is a weekend available to reduce the impact on building employees? Once these questions have been answered and the equipment arrives, the site is then prepped for installation.

Site prep includes removing old equipment and, if it is a brand-new application, pouring a new concrete pad for the generator to sit on. Once the space is prepped, your team works with the crane company and generator delivery driver to drop it off at an ideal time. Crane set up is typically an hour ahead of generator delivery, as the crane can be used to both remove the old generator and install the new generator.

The electrical engineering element of installation includes wire anchoring and wiring the generator. When everything is secure and wired properly, a technician completes the commissioning and startup of the generator, which is the official start date of the warranty. Generator technicians typically work off an installation checklist to ensure quality work was completed and items such as weekly/biweekly exercising schedules are programmed to operate.

Post-Install considerations

Once a technician has signed off on the startup, then final inspections are scheduled with whichever jurisdictional agencies need to approve the project’s completion. From there, and to ensure your system is reliable, regular preventive maintenance should be scheduled and performed throughout the year.

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