Generator transfer switches are usually installed in homes to power electrical needs during a power outage. So if you own a generator or have used one in the past, you might know about the transfer switch.
These devices allow homeowners to easily switch from grid-connected electricity to backup generator power and vice versa. This is an important safety measure and a legal requirement.
A generator transfer switch is an important part of the electrical system in your home. This heavy-duty switch will turn switching power between your portable generator and power grid a breeze for you.
A transfer switch can also be used when adding loads to your existing electrical service. (Which might come from solar panels.)
These are usually installed near main electrical panels to allow you to control the power supply conveniently. It is not safe to run a generator without a transfer switch. Plus, you will limit the devices that your generator can power.
They usually come in two types. Manual transfer switch and automatic transfer switch. More on that later.
But, how does a generator transfer switch works? we will discuss the key insights with you here.
How Does The Generator Transfer Switch Works?
The installation process of a transfer switch is quite easy. You would have to buy a rugged generator cord and have to insert one end into the generator and the other end into a dedicated box connected to the transfer switch.
The transfer switch is usually installed right next to the main electrical panel. The switch has its own circuit breakers, which you have to turn off and on depending on the source of power.
Your electric power can come from your utility company or your generator. But, you can’t use both at the same time. Understood? You source the power from the generator when you turn off the sub-circuit breakers on the transfer switch and reverse the process when you want to source the power from the grid.
A transfer switch allows you to power up just the appliances you can’t live without when the power goes off. For example, your refrigerator and furnace or boiler.
Why Do We Need A Generator Transfer Switch?
If you connect your portable generator to the electrical service panel without a transfer switch, it could fry all the appliances. This practice is known as backfeeding, and is illegal in many countries.
By backfeeding, you not only endanger the life of utility workers who might be working on power lines but also you can severely damage your generator.
Some countries have laws that limit the use of 5000 watts generators without transfer switches. If you have money, invest in standby generators as they have a built-in transfer switch that triggers immediately when the power goes off.
The Benefit of using a Transfer Switch:
A transfer switch is an essential home electrical device for anyone who uses a remotely connected power source as a backup, whether it be solar panels or a backup generator.
The benefit of having the switch is that it enables you to switch the power from the electric grid to generator when there’s a blackout, and connect it back again the power goes back on. By doing so, it allows you to eliminate risk of backfeeding, and as a result, the frustrating legal troubles.
Without a transfer switch, you risk the life of the technician working on the power grid. Also, the switch prevent the chances of short circuit in critical devices.
Also, anytime you’re running devices off a generator that are hardwired through extension cord into your house, there’s always an exposure to risk if you have loose connection points or too much voltage between the two points. Plus, there is a risk of tripping over wires.
It takes one one mistake on your side to lead to a disaster. A transfer switch eliminates the need of extension cords, and allows you to use applainces directly plugged into outlets.
It also makes it easier and cheaper to run two different generators in case one has a large home.
In a nutshell, A transfer switch is a device that enables the use, and electricity from a backup source to be managed more efficiently.
What Size Generator Transfer Switch For Me?
To be on the safe side, the transfer switch should be rated a little more than the maximum power your generator can deliver.
We suggest consulting with an electrician or an electrical distribution engineer to determine the best size transfer switch for your particular circumstances.
Usually, transfer switches with 10 circuit breakers are more than enough for small homes. However, there can be no one-size-fits-all solution for it.
Final Words On How Does A Generator Transfer Switch Works?
A generator transfer switch is a mechanism that automates the process of switching to your backup power source. If the primary electric power supply is lost, it automatically switches to the secondary source (e.g., power generator or other utility).
It must be installed by both a licensed electrician and inspected by the city’s building inspector for compliance with local and national electrical code requirements. If you are using a generator, installing a transfer switch is a legal requirement.
Generator size matters when selecting your generator transfer switch because they are designed for different wattages of generators. As long as your transfer switch is compatible with the generator wattage,