The process of replacing an existing back-up emergency generator or having a new unit installed can be a complicated, frustrating and costly endeavor or one that goes smoothly, happens on time and within budget.
As with many things, the key to success is proper preparation and development of a solid plan. It is this preparation that paves the way for a competitively bid, successful installation and one that minimizes unexpected costs from rearing their ugly head.
The first step is to get the basic scope of work outlined and communicated to an engineering firm capable of doing the designs that will
include, electrical, structural, architectural, civil, and possibly others.
Engineer should site walk with customer to determine generator location, fuel source location, electrical room location, any electrical upgrades that may be needed or that are being done as part of the project, identify other pertinent issues, etc.
It's pretty obvious that the key pieces of equipment are the generator and ATS.
But what size do you need? If you just size your generator to the size of your electrical panel, you are likely over-sizing (and overpaying)
for your generator and ATS.
A 30 day load study on the circuits you want backed up is the best way to determine what your load requirements are. Further, many engineers won't do the design work without this information. And, without an engineered design package that includes a load study, many cities will not issue the permits.
If you plan to back up the entire building, your electrical utility company can provide a month by month summary of the kW usage with peak kW used at any one time during each month. This information should allow the engineer to properly size the generator. However, this may or may not be acceptable to the city planning department and they may or may not issue permits without a full load study. It varies by the city.
The next step is to have the architectural and engineering designs done for the install.
There are dramatic differences in the code requirements imposed by the local cities and fire departments that can mean a cost difference of tens of thousands of dollars. Some of these are emissions limitations, fuel containment, shading or structural enclosures, civil improvements, sizing limitations or requirements, zoning issues, etc.
Using an engineering design firm familiar with the local codes helps to reduce the overall cost of the project by expediting the permitting process, reducing change orders for items missed, reducing time delays due to inspection failures, etc. And, having engineered plans allows you to put out a comprehensive bid package to potential installers.
With a completed set of plans, you can now put your project out for bid. Most electrical contractors and some general contractors are capable of performing this work and/or "project managing" the job and any necessary sub-contractors.
You may want to consider bidding out the generator and ATS separately from the installation portion of the project:
Power Plus is affiliated with several generator manufacturers and can procure equipment at competitive prices, anywhere in the country.
Installation contractors may or may not have these relationships, nor the buying power and would be sourcing the equipment from a local "dealer" (or from Power Plus) which adds another layer of margin to their quote amount.
Power Plus is also currently working on expanding its engineering and contractor relationships to be able to "turnkey" these projects in more regions of the U.S. Right now, we do this in CA, NV, AZ.
Typically your request for quotes are out and bids are coming in while the project is in plan check with the City and Air Boards, in order to minimize time delays. If the City or Air Board requires modifications or changes to the plans, it could mean change orders from the contractor.
Once a contractor has been selected, they will apply for and secure the necessary permits and complete the install.
Define scope of work and site walk with engineer - 1 week
Load study with report - 5 weeks
Designs/plans completed - 6-8 weeks
Request for quotes / selection of contractor - (concurrent with #5,6)
Municipality/Fire Department plan check & approval - 3-4+ weeks (avg)
Air Quality District Approval (if required, follows city approval) - 6-8 weeks
Order generator and ATS - 8-12 weeks
Installation, start-up commissioning, final municipal sign off - 3-4 weeks
Total 20-42+ weeks
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