It’s somewhat inconvenient to rely on heaps of extension cords to plug in your appliances to the bulky generator outside your house. Using several extension cords means making sure they pass through windows and doors too. Of course, leaving doors and windows open is not advisable for security purposes.
But with a manual transfer switch, you can bypass all these inconveniences. It will hook up your electrical circuits without the threat of open doors or tangled cables. A transfer switch is safer, more convenient, can power larger appliances, and even hook up entire circuits and panels to your generator.
But how exactly does it work?
The transfer switch hooks up the circuits and systems of your house to the generator. Such switches are rated by the National Electrical Manufacturer Association (NEMA) and will specify if they are best for being installed outdoors or indoors.
The number of systems that can be hooked up will depend on your generator’s output. The power output will be measured in watts. For example, generators that go up to 5,000 watts can accommodate six circuits or so. There are bigger generators that can do ten circuits.
Installing the Manual Transfer Switch
The transfer switch has to be connected to the electrical circuit panels, usually found in the home basement. It is then connected to the power inlet box, typically located outside the house. When the power goes out, the generator gets plugged into the inlet box.
However, some houses have their main panel in the garage. In this case, you can forego the inlet box and pass the transfer switch through the garage door.
Once connected, the transfer switch, generator, main panel, inlet box, and power cord all make up your power transfer system. It is best done with professional help to get you through the complicated wiring.
What’s the Right Switch Size To Buy?
To choose the right size, you have to check the biggest outlet of your generator. The number you see there in amperes will be an exact match to the switch you should buy.
Transfer switches usually have their own wattage meters to help you measure the wattage of your appliances. Pay attention to these to ensure your generator does not get overloaded.
Installation instructions can usually be found in the accompanying user manual. However, here are the main steps for connecting the transfer switch if your power has gone out.
Make sure all transfer switch circuits are turned off.
Hook up the generator to the transfer switch via the gen cord.
Turn on the generator outside and give it a few minutes to warm up.
Once warmed, flip the transfer switch to “Generator.”
Slowly turn on the circuit systems you need to power. Do this one at a time to ensure there is no overloading.
Make sure power has returned.
Flip the switch back to “Line.”
Switch off the generator.
Remove the gen cord and any extra cords.
We hope you feel more confident in installing your manual transfer switch. For more information, instruction, and assistance, contact your local electrical professional.