Check HOA Rules before Your Automatic Generator Installation is Scheduled
Whether or not your neighborhood has homeowner’s association rules governing your automatic generator installation depends on your HOA policies, although most HOAs have base-level regulations in place at the very least.
First and foremost, check your HOA policies. Take a good look at your neighborhood’s covenants, conditions, restrictions, and bylaws, which usually state which modifications are prohibited, if any. You’ll eventually stumble across information about exterior alterations, utility structures, noise restrictions, and architectural review committee guidelines.
Additionally, your HOA board or management company can clarify any specific rules on home backup generators and guide you through the approval process.
There are pros and cons to HOAs. While they set and enforce community rules, protect property values, provide services and offer self-governance, they also impose fees and assessments, maintain restrictive regulations, and may be managed by leaders who don’t have the confidence of their neighborhood. “Individual HOAs have different levels of legal powers, depending on how they were designed,” states an explainer on Investopedia.com. “However, HOAs generally have the legal authority to create and enforce community policies.”
The placement, fuel type, noise level, aesthetics, and approval process could all be regulated by your HOA policies, which would include requirements regarding property line distance, propane versus natural gas, sound-level decibels, landscaping features, and committee review paperwork and processing.
Potential Automatic Generator Installation Placement Rules
Oftentimes when planning an automatic generator installation, there’s a minimum distance a generator must be placed from your property line, the house itself, and any other structures, called “setback requirements.” Neighbors and community space are kept safe from your home generator’s noise and any potential hazards.
It’s possible generators may not be allowed in specific areas, such as front yards, common areas, or too close to swimming pools, due to aesthetic, safety, or noise issues. In fact, your homeowner’s association may expressly intend for generators to only be installed in certain areas to appear less intrusive, called “a designated zone.”
Some HOAs require generators to be screened from view with fences, landscaping, or other visually appealing landscaping. To ensure it blends in with the surrounding environment and architectural style, there may be color and exterior material restrictions.
Decibel-level noise restrictions are almost always status quo. Also, depending on the HOA, sometimes generators are restricted to turning on during select hours in the day or evening to minimize noise disturbances.
Above all, your HOA may require your generator to be grounded, ventilated, and built with proper fuel storage capacity. An architectural review committee must approve your placement plans and specifications beforehand to ensure compliance with rules and minimize potential conflict.
Source of Fuel, Environmental Concerns, Safety, and Risks
Before planning your automatic generator installation, find out whether your homeowner’s association only allows certain fuels based on safety risks, emissions, or noise levels. Due to their cleaner burning nature and readily available infrastructure, natural gas and propane are often preferred.
In some HOAs, specific fuels might be explicitly banned because of environmental concerns or potential health risks. For instance, solar or wind-powered backup systems might be restricted if they cause visual clutter, and diesel generators might be banned for their higher emissions.
To minimize air pollution, there may be a minimum-emission standard for certain fuels, which incentivizes cleaner-burning options like natural gas or propane. Also, depending on the decibel level limitations, certain fuel sources might be deemed too loud. When testing or maintaining generators, noise concerns can be a big deal for neighbors.
Also, fuel storage might be regulated, such as requiring above-ground propane tanks to be enclosed or buried, or limiting the amount of gasoline allowed onsite. Aside from minimizing fire hazards, these rules are intended to protect the environment. Because of installation and maintenance considerations, some HOAs only permit generators that use natural gas or propane.
HOAs may also restrict certain fuel sources if the equipment, such as a propane tank, is deemed unattractive or disturbs the architectural harmony of the neighborhood. Regardless of fuel source, there could also be safety regulations regarding generator installation, including professional installation, regular maintenance, and electrical code compliance.
Plan the Noise Level Before Your Automatic Generator Installation
Homeowner’s associations usually have decibel limits on generator noise. This is for regular use and testing periods, which you should examine before your automatic generator installation. Regulatory ranges can vary. You can typically expect daytime limits between 55 and 65 decibels. And you can typically expect nighttime limits between 50 and 60 decibels.
Generator usage can also be restricted to specific times during the day or night, limiting testing periods to certain weekends or days. When you do test your generator, there may be testing duration limitations. Plus, HOA guidance on maintenance may be in your policy to ensure efficient operation for reducing noise pollution.
Noise meters are used by some HOAs to make sure decibel levels are enforced, with some boards investigating and taking corrective action if neighbors report excessive generator sound levels. The governing documents of your HOA could also impose fines or other penalties for non-compliance.
However, be encouraged, as some homeowners install enclosures or insulated housing units to soundproof their generators. For homeowners who purchase models below a certain sound-decibel threshold, your HOA may offer a rebate or reduced fee.
HOA Committee Review, Approval, and Your Local Codes
Before an automatic generator installation, a homeowner must submit plans to the homeowners association showing the generator model, intended location, fuel source, and any screening or enclosure details. Plans will be reviewed by the HOA board or a designated committee in accordance with safety and other regulations.
The architectural review committee usually reviews plans and discusses them with the homeowner. To ensure compliance with aesthetic guidelines, the committee may provide feedback, suggest modifications, or request additional information. If the proposed generator complies with all established regulations, the committee will most likely approve the application.
Local authorities usually require homeowners to obtain permits and certifications for electrical work, fuel storage, and other safety requirements. To ensure proper safety and compliance with electrical codes, some HOAs require licensed and qualified professionals to install your generator. Before final approval is granted, an inspection might be conducted to verify compliance with the approved plans.
To encourage backup power preparedness, some HOAs in areas prone to frequent power outages may streamline your approval process. Generator regulations and approval criteria will be determined by the HOA’s focus on emergency preparedness, balanced by noise control, aesthetics, and safety rules.
“The very nature of shared living and HOAs means there is bound to be neighborly disagreements from time to time,” according to a resource website published by the National Association of Realtors. “Make sure your HOA rules are clear and applied evenly. Rules also need to be reasonable, and many states have laws on the books preventing unreasonable and unenforceable laws.”
Remember, despite the absence of specific generator rules in your HOA, the community may still have authority to enforce general provisions when it comes to aesthetics, noise, and safety. To avoid conflicts or fines, follow your HOA’s rules and seek approval before the installation.
W. Danley Electrical
At W. Danley Electrical, we assist you throughout the entire process. This means helping you prepare for installation, repair, and maintenance. It also means anything else surrounding your automatic generator installation, as well as obtaining permits, inspections, and much more. We help you optimize and fine-tune your situation. This way you get the most out of your investment, as well as determine the correct generator size.