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How to use a Mains Power to Generator transfer switch

What is a transfer switch?

A transfer switch is an electrical device that is installed next to your electrical panel in your home. It connects to the circuits in your electrical panel that you wish to power during an electrical outage. This allows you to power these circuits by connecting a Generator to the transfer switch, instead of having to run extension cords to various items.

To enable a hard-wired connection of a standby Generator to your home or business an electrician will need to wire the connection to your switch board.

Firstly, you must have –

  • An electric starting Generator
  • Auto-start capability
  • A transfer switch system 

Why do I need a transfer switch?

  • A transfer switch is required by law for any connection of power to a home.
  • A transfer switch is the only safe way to directly connect a Generator to your home.
  • A transfer switch isolates selected circuits in your home from the power lines. This prevents back-feed, which occurs when power goes back down the utility lines.
  • Back-feed can not only damage the Generator, but has the potential to cause a fire.
  • Even worse, back-feed could electrocute any technicians who are working on the lines – causing injury or even death.
  • A transfer switch is the easiest way to power your home during an outage.

Running extension cords to and from appliances can be awkward and time consuming. A transfer switch lets you use your home's wiring system to power any appliance in your home with your Generator quickly and easily.

How does a transfer switch work?

A licensed electrician will install the transfer switch into your home and connect it with the main breaker box.

The main breaker in the transfer switch switches the power source from utility to Generator. The house cannot be connected to both the Generator and utility power at the same time – the main breaker transfers power from one source to the other.

This prevents the Generator power from back-feeding through the utility lines, as well as preventing utility power from back-feeding into the generator.

The transfer switch also contains a number of circuits. You can instruct the electrician to assign each circuit to a different load. For example, you might want to power the furnace, well pump, refrigerator, and some lights. You can assign different circuits to power each appliance or room.

You may have more items on different circuits than the Generator is capable of powering at the same time. However, using a transfer switch will make it easy to switch between different loads. Just turn one circuit off, and the other on.

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