In a power outage or another emergency situation, a generator transfer switch directs the power where it needs to go. Once you flip the switch towards the generator position, the line that typically carries power into electrical system is shut off and power is instead carried from the generator to the home. This prevents the power from running backwards into the utility line while the generator is powering your home.
The National Electrical Code, or NEC, requires every home generator to have a three position transfer switch. Therefore, if your home has a permanently installed generator, it does have an associated transfer switch. Older systems typically have a manual transfer switch, which has to be activated by someone in the household. This can be an issue if the power goes out while you aren’t home. If you aren’t aware that there is a power outage, your home could be without power for hours, long enough to ruin any perishable items in the fridge or freezer. This is one of the reasons many homeowners prefer an automatic transfer switch. An automatic transfer switch is built to automatically sense the drop in voltage along the electrical line when a power outage occurs. The switch then triggers the generator to turn on and provide power to the home. Once power is restored to the normal electrical line, an automatic transfer switch is sophisticated enough to sense the change in voltage and turn the generator off
If your home currently has a manual transfer switch and you are hoping to upgrade, a licensed electrician or construction service should be called to ensure that the job is done properly. An experienced professional can also show you how the generator transfer switch works, ensuring safe operation for the years to come.
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