When it comes to having backup power for your home during electric interruptions, generators would probably be the first that will come to mind. And if you’re looking in the market to buy a generator, either to serve as standby or as a power source for your off-grid home, you may have come across the term transfer switch.
Do you need one? Should you purchase a manual transfer switch or an automatic one? We’ll answer those questions in this article and we will particularly go more in-depth about manual transfer switches. If you want to know more about automatic transfer switches, make sure to read our next article about it!
Why do you need a transfer switch?
Preparing your home for power outages is more than just purchasing a generator. You also have to also do some planning and think about some considerations, such as how you will bring the power from the generator into your house. The easiest and safest way that you can do this is through a transfer switch.
A transfer switch is a device that safely connects or disconnects different electric sources to an electric load. To quickly explain how it works, in case of a power interruption, the transfer switch allows you to switch from the local grid to the power supplied by your generator. You can think of it as a mini version of the breaker panel, which, instead of drawing power from the local grid, your circuits draw power from the generator.
There are two types of transfer switches: manual and automatic transfer switch. An automatic transfer switch automatically transfers the power from one source to another during an electric outage, while a manual transfer switch needs an operator to start it and turn it off–but we’ll get more into that later.
Now, to answer the question, “Why do you need a transfer switch?” Firstly, if you own a standby generator you would always need one for convenience and safety reasons. Especially if you have a generator that’s over 5,000W, you would need a regulator to prevent surges and back-feeding the grid. Also, legally speaking, almost every state requires the use of a transfer switch if you’re using a standby generator to power appliances in your home.
Do you need a transfer switch for portable generators? You don't have to because you can move the generator around, but it is still a good idea to do so. You don’t want to use extension cords to supply electricity to your appliances in case of a blackout, do you? Yes, extension cords are a good temporary *but not absolutely safe* option, but without a transfer switch, it will be impossible for you to power devices that are hardwired to your circuit (e.g. water heater, AC, ceiling fans, etc.).
More About Manual Transfer Switch
Automatic or manual transfer switch, which one should you buy? The best way to help you make a decision is to help you understand how each one works. And as promised, we’ll cover more about the manual transfer switch, and discuss the automatic transfer switch in another article.
How does a manual transfer switch work?
The main job of a manual transfer switch is to link a generator to the main circuits of your home so you can continue to run them using backup power in the event of an outage. Basically, you can supply power to any appliance that is connected to your circuit through the transfer switch.
Usually, the manual transfer switch is mounted near your home’s main circuit breaker panel. There are five components required to connect the transfer switch to your main panel, these are: 1. transfer switch; 2. generator; 3. electric panel; 4. power cord; and 5. power inlet.
Looking at the transfer switch, you will see switches whose purpose is to isolate the circuits you want to power in case of a power interruption. Using these switches, you can either choose to use power from the generator or the grid line or turn it off. While the system may seem simple, these switches make it extremely safe for you to connect and disconnect from the grid to your generator (and vice versa).
What are the advantages of using a manual transfer switch?
If you’re looking for a more cost-effective solution, then a manual transfer switch is the right option. Compared to automatic, manual transfer switches cost less (including installation expenses), and they are also easier to install and maintain. In addition, they come in smaller sizes than their automatic counterparts.
Comparing the automatic and manual transfer switches, they both have the same transfer switch function. The huge difference, however, is that someone must be present to operate the generator, to turn it on and off.
Top Options for Manual Transfer Switch
If you’re searching for the best manual transfer switches in the market, look no further. Here at Nature’s Generator, we have three types of Power Transfer Kits to match your needs; these are the Power Transfer Switch Kit, Power Transfer Switch Elite Kit, and Power Transfer Switch Powerhouse Kit. We also have a Transfer Switch Flush Mount that makes installation easier.
We designed our manual transfer switch ideally for homes and small businesses. They are completely pre-wired, which makes installation convenient (but should be performed by a qualified electrician). They come in four or six circuits (depending on the model), so you can supply backup power to your lights, essential appliances, big items such as refrigerators, and even garage doors.
You are also assured that our transfer switches are code compliant and will isolate the power from your generator and the utility power at all times. This means you won’t have to worry about back feeding and your household’s safety is not compromised.
For off-grid living, you can use our Power Transfer Switch with our Nature’s Generator Gold System or Nature’s Generator Platinum System so you can also use it not only during electric outages. And while our transfer switches are compatible with our generators, they also work with other battery or gasoline-powered generators.
Although a transfer switch is a device you can add to your generator, we would argue that this is a necessity rather than an accessory. Especially if safety is paramount in your household, you want to make sure that you use a transfer switch, whether manual or automatic, so that you can seamlessly supply backup power to your devices during an electric interruption.
If you have more questions about Nature’s Generator systems and transfer switches, you can reach out to our team and we’ll be happy to assist.
* We want to give credit where credit is due. Professional writer, Ishna Sablaya, contributed research and content to this blog titled: Manual Transfer Switch Thank you, Ishna, for your contributions!