Let’s looks at generators in a sectional title scheme.

Our power generation system has made the term “load-shedding” a part of our national vocabulary, and something likely to continue for the foreseeable future. This raises the very important question from a sectional title perspective regarding the installation of generators in a scheme and the resolutions that are required.

Generally, the installation of a single immovable generator that serves the entire scheme is the preferred option. However, this depends on the financial circumstances and needs of each individual development, which would, in turn, determine the kind of resolutions required.

Key factors to consider in this respect would be:

  • Whether the generator is considered a necessity or “nice to have”.
  • Whether the item will be paid for from the existing budget or whether a special levy or a loan is needed.

Let’s look at the installation of individual, free-standing generators in a scheme.

Due to various reasons, a body corporate may want to allow unit owners to install their own individual generators.

In these cases, it would be prudent to make certain provisions in the conduct rules of the scheme, subject to the final approval and consent of the trustees:

  • The placement of the generator.
  • The type of generator.
  • Confirmation that the installation complies with National Standards and safety requirements regarding wiring.
  • The times of the day or night the generator may be used.
  • Confirmation that the maintenance and repair of the generator will be the responsibility of the unit owner.
  • Confirmation that insurance of the generator will be the unit owner’s responsibility.
  • Approval as to where fuel will be stored and the amounts of fuel that may be stored.

With load shedding and severe cold weather in full swing, the use of residential generators is once again in the spotlight.

Most importantly, any generator installation must comply with the South African National Standard (SANS 10142-1:2003) for the wiring of the premises. This applies to both portable and permanent installations. It is therefore critical that the electrical connections are carried out by a qualified electrician and an Electrical Compliance Certificate (“COC”) is issued. This is a legal requirement and failure to comply with these requirements could possibly nullify your insurance, should it be established that a fire or injury was caused because of the incorrect connection of the generator. It is very important that you inform your broker and insurer that you have installed a generator. This will be noted on your policy and the following safety practices must then be complied with, ensuring full cover for damages caused by generators:

  • The generator is installed in a well-ventilated position, with an electrical COC stating the connection has been issued.
  • A 4.5 kg DCP fire extinguisher is installed near to the generator.
  • Any spare fuel is stored in steel containers and in a safe place. No more than 50 litres of petrol or 200 litres of diesel (other than the fuel in the tank of the generator) will be stored inside the building.

Let’s look at electrical hazards associated with the use of portable and standby generators.

The following safety tips are simple ways to help you stay safe and prevent injury or damage:

Generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially if they are operated in wet conditions. Operate the generator under a well ventilated open, canopy like structure on a dry surface where water cannot reach it or puddle or drain under it.

  • Dry your hands, if wet, before touching the generator.
  • If you are using a portable generator which has not been wired into your premises by a qualified electrician, use only heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use.
  • Use extension cords that are long enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and far away from windows, doors, and vents to the home or to other structures that could be occupied.
  • Check that the entire length of each cord is free of cuts or tears.
  • Protect the cord from getting pinched or crushed if it passes through a window or doorway.

Never try to power the house by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “back feeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents a possible electrocution risk to external workers and neighbours served by the same transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.

For stationary or standby generators, a licensed electrician or registered electrical contractor must carry out the installation. Once the electrician has completed the installation, an Electrical Certificate of Compliance must be issued. Failure to obtain such a certificate could invalidate any insurance claims arising from electrical faults or accidents.

Article courtesy of Marina Constas and Karen Bleijs, Demystifying Sectional Title and CIA.

How to insure your generator:

  1. The insurer must be informed of the generator on the premisses.
  2. There is a non-standard improvement document that can be requested from Insure City. This document must be completed and sent back to Insure City. We will then confirm the additional monthly premium.
  3. A Copy of the COC (Certificate of Compliance) must also be handed in.