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4 Things You Need to Know About Installing a Backup Generator


Nearly 3 years after super-storm Sandy, with scientists predicting more extreme weather conditions for the future, many cooperatives and condominium associations have started to consider the installation of a backup generator to provide basic electricity and water functions in case of a major natural disaster.

With generator installations costing between $200,000- $300,000, condo or co-op boards need to consider a few things before taking the plunge.

The first step is to commission a feasibility study. A good study can run between $7000 to $10,000, and will show whether or not it is financially viable to install a generator.

One of the main logistical issues is where to place the generator. The basement can be a good location, unless you’re in a flood zone, in which case it would have to be installed elsewhere. Rooftop installation is also a possibility, but comes with the extra costs of structural improvements and tying the generator into electrical systems on the lower floor.

Another important factor is venting. A lot of buildings with Con Edison steam heat don’t have the proper infrastructure for venting, and since creating one can be quite costly, it usually makes more sense, financially, not to install a generator.

Buildings that use a boiler to provide steam heat, however, make great candidates because of their larger chimney designs.

The third factor to consider is whether or not a generator runs on gas. If it does, the chimney may need to be lined in order to prevent gas leaks and fires, a costly endeavor. Noise cancellation and additional fuel storage are also additional costs that may come about.

Finally, the decision needs to be made whether to run the generator on natural gas or No. 2/Diesel oil. Diesel-run generators are usually recommended by professionals since the fuel is stored onsite and because they tend to be about 50% less expensive than natural gas generators.

To read a more about this visit Habitat Magazine. 

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