All You Need To Know About Generator Transfer Switches

What is a generator transfer switch? Is it necessary to ensure the safety of your home and workplace? Do you need a specific skill to install generator transfer switches? A generator transfer switch has a great role to protect your family from an unpredictable situation. These switches are designed to cut off a generator from the utility system where you install a generator.

The transfer switch is needed for a backup generator including the portable models. The portable models normally use an extension cord to provide supply to a lamp, microwave, or refrigerator. If you are using a backup generator for your home or office, then it is important to install a generator transfer switch to make the transfer safe and convenient.

Types of Generator Transfer Switches:

There are two types of generator transfer switches available in the current market. These are automatic and manual.

Manual transfer switches:

Manual transfer switches can be used both for stationary and portable generators. These are very sophisticated in operation and design. These switches can be a part of a panel to supply multiple circuits or they can be used to send power to a single circuit.

The manual transfer switches are affordable and least complicated to install. However, you need to physically operate these switches. You will need someone to be on site to start and to shut down the generator. Any ignorance can cause a life-threatening condition. These switches are available in different configurations and different sizes to suit the specific applications of the buyers.

Automatic transfer switches:

Automatic transfer switches are a bit expensive. The home standby generators normally require automatic transfer switches. These switches are designed to monitor the power supplies and to switch it automatically from the utility supply over to the generator supplied power when there is a power outage. The system is complex. It cannot be installed without professional help. There are many alarm features and controls to start and stop the generator on a programmed maintenance schedule.

Things To Consider While Buying Generator Transfer Switches:

One thing common in all the backup generator systems is that they need a medium to transfer the power from the utility to the backup generator. If you are looking for a simple configuration, you can buy a portable and inexpensive generator. These are comparatively safe. They deliver the power through an extension cord directly to some appliances including a portable room heater, microwave, freezer, and lamps.

The benefit of this installation is that it is affordable and flexible. The downside is that you will need a large surge of power to get the required amount supplied to some permanently connected electrical devices such as water heater, heat lamp, or your furnace. For all these, you should install a sophisticated and developed permanent backup generator wiring system.

In addition, there are many sizes and types of backup generators. Each size comes with a specific wiring connection requirement. While buying your transfer switch, you should first focus on the voltage as well as the amperage of the electoral loads.

If you are unable to choose the right size, you can take the help of retail outlets to know which size will be appropriate for your home. Some common 120-volt loads are 75 watt – one lamp, 1,500 watt – refrigerator, and 1,500 watt – microwave. You should know which things will be connected to your generator and then you can calculate them to choose the right generator and transfer switch.

How To Install These Switches:

For the automatic transfer switches, you will have to hire a licensed electrical contractor. They will make the installation proper and safe. The last thing any homeowner might want to have a dangerous possibility of the back-feeding. It will happen when your backup generator will be directly connected to your home wiring without using a generator transfer switch. Therefore, it is always essential to utilize a transfer switch for your home generator. You can buy either automatic or manual transfer switches depending on the budget and your specific requirements. For the automatic switches, you will need professional installations for sure. These are programmed and can be managed by following the given instructions. Manual switches can be installed more easily. But it demands more caution while starting or stopping the generator.

Install Process And Requirements:

For small portable generators, a multi-circuit manual transfer switch is a perfect choice. The portable generators are typically 5 kilowatts. The installation will be simple compared to other transfer switches. It will only demand minimal changes in your existing wiring system. Moreover, the interruption to your home electrical power supply will be minimal during the installation. These switches come in six, seven, and eight circuit models. These can be installed anywhere on the wall surface or on your wall next to the service panel. They will have the pre-wired wiring harness to connect to the existing panel. All you need to do is to join the given harness into any existing circuits to get back up from your backup generator.

Automatic transfer switches are available in two sizes. These are 100 amp and 200 amps. With a 200-amp main breaker, you should buy a 200-amp automatic transfer switch. This switch will be compatible with all four, 20, 25, 35 & 45 kW, house generator systems.

You will need a 100-amp automatic transfer switch for the 100-amp main breaker. You can buy a 20-kilowatt version to get 100-amp of power.

Final Thoughts:

It does not matter what size and type of generator transfer switch you are buying, you need to take extra caution for installation. It is always recommended to hire licensed electricians for installation regardless of type. Even if you have an idea about the installation, you should always ignore the urge of doing it yourself. It can harm your life as well as the life of your family. Safety is the first and foremost requirement while installing generator transfer switches.