How Solid Is the Foundation Beneath Your Power Generation Equipment?
Most operators of power generation equipment tend to position their equipment in a permanent location. Whether it’s in a dedicated room, or outside a structure, it is imperative that the equipment is placed on a solid foundation. In fact, the National Electric Code, local building codes, and industry-specific regulations require a solid foundation for both safety and practical reasons. If your foundation doesn’t comply with the overseeing authority of jurisdiction, you could face fines, and worse, suffer catastrophic damage to your system. At Gen-Tech, we strongly recommend checking these requirements whether you have a mobile generator or a fixed standby generator system.
Types of Standby Generator Foundations
Pre-Cast Concrete – This is one of the most popular types of foundations due to its low cost and ease of installation. Some generator manufacturers offer 3- to 4-inch thick pre-cast pads designed to meet the needs of specific genset. These pads are delivered fully cured and ready for installation. If choosing a pre-cast pad, don’t forget to properly prepare the soil so that it is firm, compact, dry, and most importantly, level.
Poured In-Situ – Another popular option is to pour your own concrete pad. This is ideal if there isn’t a pre-cast option and if your generator is of irregular size. When pouring on-site, it is crucial that the pad is poured on a compacted sand/gravel base, and that any rebar is properly set within the frame. It is also vital to wait several days to a week to allow the concrete to properly cure.
Pedestal – Many standby generators are purchased for use in areas where hurricanes and flooding are common. If floodwaters are an inherent hazard, then a pedestal base may be the best option. The pedestal should be built on a solid foundation, and of sufficient height to protect the generator against the expected water level. This is difficult to predict, but a quick examination of previous floods can give you a good estimate of the required height. When building a pedestal, ensure that it is properly anchored to the underlying foundation. This will help keep the unit stable as water rises around it.
Rooftop – Rooftop installation of power generation equipment requires careful attention to vibration isolation and loading. You will also want to design a containment curb system should fuel, oil, or coolant leaks occur. Many rooftop installations require welding extra supports beneath the generator, and because each building is different you will want to hire the services of a qualified structural engineer to custom design a mounting and support system designed for your building and your specific generator equipment.
Finally, regardless of the type of foundation you choose, always incorporate foundation inspections into your regular maintenance plans. Prompt attention to cracks, damage, and subsidence can go a long way toward protecting your power generation equipment!
We’re happy to tell you more about the foundations we recommend for standby generator systems. We invite you to contact the power generation professionals at Gen-Tech by calling (800) 625-8324.