November 14, 2023

The Role of Transfer Switches in Backup Generators

What is a Generator Transfer Switch?

A generator transfer switch is an electromechanical device that safely transitions power to your backup generator. When an outage occurs, the transfer switch isolates your home or business from the grid and shifts the electrical load to your generator. This mechanism prevents electrical hazards and allows your generator to operate efficiently, powering essential appliances and equipment until power is restored.

Why is a Transfer Switch Necessary?

Operating a generator without a transfer switch is risky business. When a generator is directly connected to a home’s electrical system without a transfer switch, electricity can flow back into the grid. This “backfeeding” could prove fatal for utility workers fixing the grid. A transfer switch eliminates this risk by ensuring your generator and the grid are never connected simultaneously.

A transfer switch also protects your generator. Without one, the incoming electricity could damage your investment the moment power is restored. A transfer switch isolates the two power sources, preserving your generator’s integrity and longevity.

Manual Transfer Switches

A manual transfer switch requires you to manually change the power source from the utility grid to your generator. It’s the most cost-effective solution for non-critical residential and small business applications. While simple and affordable, manual switches require you to be present during an outage to initiate the transfer.

In this setup, the transfer switch is located near your main electrical panel and connected to both the utility grid and the generator. You must engage the switch controls to manually change the power source when an outage occurs. The switch contains interlocking mechanisms and circuit breakers to make the transition smooth and safe.

Automatic Transfer Switches

An automatic transfer switch does all the work for you. The device automatically senses when the utility grid goes down and activates the generator. Automatic transfer switches are particularly useful for critical operations where even a momentary power loss can be detrimental.

The transfer switch continually monitors the utility power supply. Upon detecting a power loss, it starts the generator, waits for it to operate at a stable output, and switches the power source to the generator. When utility power returns, the switch automatically reverts to the grid after a brief observational period and shuts down the generator.

Install a Manual or Automatic Transfer Switch

No matter which style of transfer switch you choose, Seidel Electric Inc. can install it for you. With experience dating back to 1944, you can trust our legacy of excellent customer service and generator expertise. We are an authorized reseller of Generac generators, meaning our knowledgeable and experienced electricians deliver the very best generator services. For more information about transfer switches or to schedule an installation in the Tri-State Area, please contact us at (908) 362-6191.