Natural Gas Setup for Your Generator

If I was asked what are the top ten questions I get from emails or phone calls, I would have to say this has to be number one. "How can I connect natural gas from my house to my generator?"

"What if I already have a NG outlet setup for my BBQ grill? Can I use it to supply NG to my generator?"

We need to back up for a minute and think on a technical level before we jump too far ahead. These are the questions YOU need to ask yourself before proceeding. 

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Number 1.) What size metal pipe is running into your home from the NG meter to all of your gas appliances? Is it 1" inch, 3/4" inch, 1/2" inch, 3/8" or 1/4" inch?

Number 2.) Already have NG outlet for your BBQ grill? What size is the pipe and fitting? Is it 1" inch, 3/4" inch, 1/2" inch, 3/8" or 1/4" inch?

Number 3.) How many gas appliances are being shared on one NG pipe going to your NG outlet? 

Number 4.) Does the NG meter have enough output capacity "BTU" to supply both the generator and every other gas appliance in the home?

Number 5.) How far from the home will the generator be placed?

Number 6.) Will you be running two generators from one NG outlet?

Number 7.) Is your NG system set to 0.25psi? Which is "4 ounces of pressure per square inch" or 7 WC "inches of water column"

Number 8.) On what elevation is your home located? 5000ft above sea level, or below? 

Number 9.) In your area, has the NG supply been consistent with no outages? 

Number 10.) How often will you be using your generator on any occasion? 

As you can see the above list, it's not easy answer for a typical consumer figure out, nor is it a straight forward reply when I get questions about NG hookup

This is why there are very little DIY videos on YouTube for NG hookup. That's because of liability concerns and the technical "Know How" is very high. Meaning you almost have to be a plumber just to understand fitting size, pipe size, and proper equipment hookup. 

Why so may questions?  

Q1.) What size metal pipe is running into your home from the NG meter to all of your gas appliances? Is it 1" inch, 3/4" inch, 1/2" inch, 3/8" or 1/4" inch?

A.) If your pipes start off large and get reduced down to 3/8" or smaller, your not going to have enough volume of fuel flow for your generator. Think of it like running a marathon while breathing threw a straw. You won’t get very far if your ill-equipped. 

Q2.) Already have NG outlet for your BBQ grill? what size is the pipe and fitting? Is it 1" inch, 3/4" inch, 1/2" inch, 3/8" or 1/4" inch?

A.) Most outlet sizes for BBQ grill connection is 1/4" inch. Which is way too small and restrictive for generator use. We recommend a minimum of 3/8" outlet fitting or ideally 1/2" inch. 1/2" inch gas outlet will allow more fuel flow for generators that are 3000watt or higher. 

Q3.) How many gas appliances are being shared on one NG pipe going to your NG outlet? 

A.) DO NOT tap the natural gas line off the hot water tank heater or furnace heater. Whenever these two appliances come on, they will take away large amounts of fuel from your generator thus reducing power output, causing the generator to run rough or surge. I recommend tapping the fuel line at the gas meter or anywhere upstream before any appliance. *See photo below

Q4.) Does the NG meter have enough output capacity "BTU" to supply both the generator and every other gas appliance in the home?

A.) You can find this rating on the label of the gas meter. If not, it is best to consult your gas company. To find how much BTU the generator consumes, the average rating is 10,000 BTU for every 1 horsepower.

Q5.) How far from the home will the generator be placed?

A.) You can use 3/8" ID hose up to 10ft, any longer will require 1/2" ID hose to keep the volume of fuel flow consistent. 

Q6.) Will you be running two generators from one NG outlet?

A.) Pipe and fitting will need to be sized accordingly to allow enough capacity of fuel flow for both generators. 

Q7.) Is your NG system set to 0.25psi? Which is "4 ounces of pressure per square inch" or 7 WC "inches of water column"

A.) The demand regulator and fuel adjustment settings are set for 0.25~0.50PSI of pressure. Any more than this will cause generator performance issues or damage to the demand regulator. Call your local plumber to inspect your meter. 

Q8.) On what elevation is your home located? 5000ft above sea level, or below?

A.) For every 1000ft above sea level, there will be a 4% loss in engine horsepower. Be aware for locations at 5000ft air is much thinner resulting in reduced engine output. For this we recommend using Propane as your main fuel source since the BTU content is much higher resulting in better performance. 

Q9.) In your area, has the NG supply been consistent with no outages?

A.) During the colder season, natural gas will be in high demand in your neighborhood which can cause a slight volume or pressure loss of NG to your generator. This will affect power output and engine performance of the generator. If you notice your generator not maintaining peak performance during those times, propane will only be your solution. At worst, gasoline is always an option during an emergency.

Q10.) How often will you be using your generator on any occasion? 

A.) If there is no existing NG outlet, initial work will need to be done to run NG correctly and efficiently. You will need to have a contractor or certified gas technician issue a permit from the town or city to modify any utilities outside of the home before work can be started. Total labor cost can range between $300 to $1000 dollars and includes permit and inspection. You will need to beware of the initial costs to run NG vs. LPG which is the cheaper solution.