Generator transfer switches are an essential part of a functioning back-up generator system. A generator can be used in a home or a business to provide back-up power when the electricity goes out. This can be important in order to allow your heating system to continue to function during a power outage, and to give you the ability to continue cooking, lighting your home and otherwise using electricity when you do not have access to it through a conventional power-line hookup. When you have a backup generator in a home or a business, however, you may need a generator transfer switch in order for that generator to kick on and begin providing the power you need.
Normally, the power in your home or your business is provided by your wired connection to power lines. The power from the power lines, produced by the power company, comes into your home through a junction box and is distributed by your electrical wiring throughout your house to power your HVAC system, your appliances, and your televisions, lights, computers and other consumer electronics. However, when power is no longer entering your home due to an outage, the generator will then need to be turned on and notified that it has to produce all of this power that you need to operate the home.
This is where generator transfer switches come in. A generator transfer switch will close off the power line coming from your electric provider (your “utility” power line) and will switch instead to your home generator. The transfer switch does this when the power goes out and power from the outside source is not available. When the power from the utility transfer is turned back on and you begin to get power coming into your home again, the generator transfer switch will reverse the process by shutting off the access to the generator and switching to he utility power line.
In addition to being able to switch which power source is being used easily, a generator transfer switch serves a very important function: it stops backfeeding. Backfeeding happens when power leaves your house and runs through the utility line or transfer, and it can cause problems since electricity is only supposed to come in on this line and not leave your home.
Transfer switches are hard wired into the home’s electrical system. In most cases, code requirements indicate that they must be installed by licensed electricians to ensure that proper installation procedures are followed. The switches also come with a three-position switch, as required by the natural electrical code.
When a power outage occurs, the generator then switches among its three positions: line-off-generator. It moves first from line, which is the mode when the utility is providing power, into off, and then finally to generator or back. This way, there’s no chance for accidental backfeeding to occur since the system has to first go to off before a change can be made from the generator to the utility line or vice versa.
This feature helps to keep you and your home safe.