When weather is unpredictable and can cause your home power to go out, having a generator will keep you warm and power your home. Home generators need transfer switches to be safe and effective. There are automatic transfer switches and manual transfer switches to choose from. There are also stationary generators for power backup and portable generators for emergency power generation. Budget and other considerations will drive a homeowner’s choice.
What is a Transfer Switch?
Just what is a transfer switch? A transfer switch makes using a home power generator easier and safer. This is a device that lets the homeowner manually or automatically change the home’s power source from the power grid to the generator during emergencies when the power grid goes down. Deciding which type of transfer switch to purchase will depend on the type of generator you have and what size it is.
How Much of a Generator and What size of a Transfer Switch Should You Buy?
Purchasing a home generator and transfer switch is not like buying a new toaster oven. You need to study the electricity needs of your house and take budget availability into consideration. There are generator sizing tools that power and generator sales companies offer for your use. Companies such as Alltime Power have these guides and can also give you a list of the generator and transfer switch dealers near you.
Correct sizing is important. Too large a unit wastes money and fuel. A too-small unit will be ineffective and not replace the electricity lost from the power grid. Some generators are good for longer periods of time while others are only good for hours or days at a time. It is also important to consider how often there are power outages in your area.
Automatic Transfer Switches
If you have the money and the need, stationary backup generators are the most effective and convenient power generation option. They are hooked up to the home’s electrical system by a licensed electrician. This type of generator includes an automatic transfer switch in its installation. The setup provides a more consistent energy supply for longer periods of time. This automatic transfer switch transfers the home’s power source from the electric grid to the generator without you having to do anything. This option is more costly but offers the peace of mind and convenience that many homeowners want.
Portable or Manual Transfer Switches
When a homeowner chooses the less expensive portable home generator, a manual transfer switch will be needed. Portable generators are stored in a garage or outbuilding when not in use, then brought out when there is a power outage. These generators are not hooked up to the home’s power source. They must be set up and connected to the home’s electrical circuitry with a manual transfer switch.
Portable generators and transfer switches have limited capabilities and require more work from the homeowner. The generator must be plugged into the inlet box and then the transfer switch needs to be turned on. After the outage is over, the generator must be unplugged and the transfer switch turned off.
It is up to the homeowner to decide which type of generator and transfer switch will work in their circumstances.