What Does an Automatic Transfer Do, and Do I Need One for My Generator?

September 1, 2020 11:07 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Are power outages in your area a fairly frequent occurrence? Perhaps you live right in the path of violent storms or wildfires. In such situations, having a portable generator on hand is a good idea to make sure you’re able to keep power when the grid goes down (or when there are planned outages, such as we’ve seen recently with PG&E). The best way you can ensure reliable and continuous delivery of that power from your generator is to have a transfer switch installed.

Here’s an overview of what you should know about automatic transfer switches. Contact a reliable electrician in Oakdale, CA for more information.

What do they do?

Portable generators are highly beneficial for ensuring your comfort, security and safety during storms, wildfires, other emergencies and outages. So long as they are installed properly, they will give you the power you need and afford you some much-needed protection.

However, failure to properly install a portable generator could result in you voiding your homeowner’s insurance policy if an accident or injury occurs. This is where the transfer switch comes in.

A transfer switch is a crucial element when it comes to safely and conveniently operating your portable generator when you lose power from the municipal grid. It isolates circuits in your home that are using generator power, thereby eliminating the risk of back-feeding the electrical utility coming into your home. Back-feeding has a significant risk of injury to people working on the electrical grid and could result in property damage, so using the transfer switch to avoid this phenomenon is crucial.

Installing a transfer switch at the breaker box and connecting it to a portable generator will allow you to continue running certain important appliances safely even during the outage, such as your furnace, well pump, refrigerator, sump pump, oven or computer. You’ll find that a lot of portable generators won’t be able to provide you the power you need to run all these items at once, so the transfer switch helps you manually transfer the load of powering these circuits separately as needed.

Installing the generator and switch safely

As you can see, it is very important that you use a transfer switch if you are going to be relying on a portable generator to power your home. This means you must understand how to set up the generator and switch safely. Here’s a quick overview of some of the most important tips for you to follow as you do so:

  • Always make sure you install the generator in a well-ventilated outdoor area, as it will create exhaust that could cause illness in an unventilated space.
  • Never operate the portable generator in an enclosed area due to those fumes.
  • Never connect a generator directly to an electrical panel, as this could result in serious injury or damage to your home if the main power comes back on while the generator is in operation.
  • Always use a UL-listed transfer switch between the panel and generator.
  • Test the generator and transfer switch once a month to ensure proper operation when you need it.

For more information, contact the reliable electricians in Oakdale, CA at Wilkinson Electric Inc. today.

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