can you put generator under deck

Generator Under or on a Deck? What You Need to Know

Generators produce the kind of power you need for extra electronics and power outages. They’re incredibly helpful but can also be a bit loud. If you’ve thought about whether or not a generator should be placed under or on a deck, you’re not alone. However, there are some things to know before making your decision.  

Generators can only be placed under a deck that’s well ventilated and meets the minimum distance requirements from structural pieces. Also, the deck needs to be made or coated with fire retardant materials if the generator is within five feet of the deck.

Generators are a godsend when you need them for your extra electricity. However, most generators that can get the job done are powered by fuel and emit fumes, heat, and even sparks in rare cases. However, if you’re trying to weigh your options for a generator under or on a deck, this guide will help you make the safest possible decision.

Can you Put a Generator UNDER a Deck? 

Decks that are made from wood and are enclosed can be especially deadly if you plan to store a generator under it. Having said that, the National Fire Protection Association has strict guidelines about how and where to store your fuel-powered generator.

Generators shouldn’t be placed in any structure that isn’t well ventilated. This is because the lack of airflow can cause a deadly buildup of noxious fumes from the burning fuel that is powering the generator motor. Any deck with limited airflow shouldn’t be used to store a running generator.

Generators must also be placed a minimum distance from all building materials and structures that could potentially be flammable. If the deck is made from a material other than those materials that have a fire-resistance rating of one hour, the generator must be kept at least five feet away from all surfaces. 

The structure enclosing the generator must also be shown, either by a full-scale fire test or calculations. You need to be sure that, if the structure ignites, it won’t ignite other combustible or flammable materials around it. Eighteen inches of clearance is required in the back from any materials. Also, to provide adequate airflow, four feet of clearance is required with three feet of space from the ends.

Can you Put a Generator ON a Deck? 

Suppose your deck does not meet the specific requirements of the fire marshal or the National Fire Protection Association. In that case, you may be wondering if it would be okay to put your generator on top of your deck. The problems that arise from putting a generator on a deck need to be understood and not taken lightly.

One thing to keep in mind is that generators must be away from air intakes on air conditions, fans, or other intakes and away from any open windows. A noxious gas called carbon monoxide is a fume that is released while running your generator. If this gas enters a building and accumulates, it can cause unconsciousness and even death from asphyxiation.

Also, it is important to recognize that your generator will be sitting near your home. If your deck isn’t large enough to keep its exhaust away from air intakes or windows, you shouldn’t run the generator on the deck. If you can keep the generator away from air intakes and windows and at least ten feet away from your home at all times, you can use it on your deck.

Other Safety Tips for Running Your Generator on the Deck

Running your generator on your deck can help you keep the lights on in times of need when there’s a blackout or emergency. If you’re keeping the generator outside on the deck, there are several safety considerations you should make while running and storing your generator. 

Gasoline Safety

The fuel used to power many portable generators is gasoline, which is a highly combustible fuel. Some safety tips to keep in mind for using gasoline in your generator while it is running on your deck are listed below: 

  • Don’t overfill the gas tank: Overfilling the gas tank can actually cause spilling when the generator is running, ruin your deck wood, and even cause a fire or explosion. 
  • Do not smoke or cook near the generator: Any activity that involves fire should be done far away from your generator to avoid explosion or fire. 
  • Be careful with hot generators: generators that have been running tend to heat up. You could burn yourself if you’re on the deck around the generator and brush into it. Also, allow the generator to cool down after you turn it off so you can move it safely. 

Electric Shock Safety

Although generators are great for providing you with the power needed to keep living your life the way you want, if misused, they can be deadly and cause injury to you, your family, your neighbors, or even service workers a distance away. Always be careful with your electrical hookups to generators and follow these simple safety tips:

  • Don’t wire your home directly to your generator: Direct wiring your home’s electricity to your generator can cause backfeed, which can damage your generator, go into your neighbor’s home, or even out into the street. Backfeed has real potential to injure or kill people around your home.
  • Keep it off if nothing is connected: To avoid shorting or surges, keep the generator off if there are no electrical connections connected to it. 
  • Don’t operate generators in the rain or snow: If your deck isn’t protected, you may want to invest in a canopy of some kind. Rain and snow or any type of moisture can accumulate on or around the generator and cause electric shocks that could be harmful or even fatal. 
  • Use appropriate power and extension cords: Outdoor cords are necessary if you’ll be running your generator out on your deck. You also need to have power cords that are not frayed or damaged in any way to avoid the risk of shock or fire. 

The Under and Over

Generators are one of the most useful home tools you can have. However, there are many dangers to running such a powerful machine that is close to your home. Follow the guidelines of organizations like the National Fire Protection Association, so you can be sure to place your generator correctly around your home and deck to maximize safety while still giving you all the power you need. 

Storing a generator under your deck is probably not a very good idea unless there’s a lot of airflow. Even if you have the space for the airflow, the deck itself needs to be designed with enough clearance away from the generator in the case of fire or explosion. Placing the generator on your deck is probably the best choice of the two options. It can be done safely by following the guidelines I outlined in this article.

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