Updated: November 2017
Generator Transfer Switch Reviews:When I moved into my current home in the Portland Oregon area the real estate agent pointed out the box on the wall in the garage and described it as a 'transfer switch' used for powering the house in case of a power outage. She mentioned using a standby generator and the transfer switch would power up my most of my house while the outage was going on. Growing up on California the power went out periodically but nothing too bad, so I was not used to things like backup generators or 'transfer switches'. Apparently, in some states, having a generator is a normal part of life and having a transfer switch built into your home is a good idea. We have never had to use it so far, but I must say that it is a nice feeling knowing that in case of a dire emergency we would still be able to use a generator and transfer power to the houses electrical system.
Choosing a transfer switch for generators - Transfer switches range in price from $100 to $1500. The transfer switch kits they sell will run basics like a furnace or your entire house. You'll see them offered for 6, 8, and 10 circuits with 30 amps, 50 amps, even up to 200 amps. The power inlet box varies as well with some handling up to 15000 watt generators - the majority are good with 7500 watt generators. How much do you need? Do you have a small cabin? 3000 Square Foot House? Will you need to run all your appliances or just some of them? An electrician can usually offer up advise on how much power is needed to run things like furnaces, refrigerators, small appliances, etc. Installing a transfer switch is something that only a certified electrician should do. The wiring needs to be done correctly. A transfer switch will either be manual or automatic. Many people prefer the automatic transfer switch vs manual simply because the ATS will start up the generator automatically when the power from the utility grid goes offline. The electric utility to the home is disconnected and at the same time the generator is connected to the houses main electrical power system/panel. You'll find that small businesses may use a transfer switch so that power is not lost when the electrical grid shuts down. Not all backup generators are designed to connect to a transfer switch so check with the manufacturers before implementing anything. You can browse the best selling transfer switches online here.