Everything You Need to Know About Manual Transfer Switches

It is no secret that California’s power outages can be unpredictable, unsafe, and inconvenient. To prepare for potential outages, many homes and businesses rely on backup generators. Bonney often installs high-tech generator systems with automatic transfer switches to ensure that power is never lost. But what about homes with less demanding power needs? To accommodate all homes and businesses, Bonney also offers portable generators with manual transfer switches—providing both safe and affordable backup power.

When you are in the middle of an outage, quick energy restoration is essential. Here is a closer look at manual transfer switches and how they can help keep you protected during power lapses. 

What is a Manual Transfer Switch?

Portable generators are known for being accessible and reliable—but they are not always known for their ease of use. These affordable systems rely on manual connections from appliances to generators. This is often done by threading extension cords to backup power units. Once the lights go out, the rush to transfer major appliances over to generator power begins. 

Manual transfer switches are designed to make this process safer and easier. These units serve as a connection between your home’s electrical circuits and your backup generator. Manual transfer switches eliminate the need to run extension cords from main appliances to your backup power supply. Instead, these switches seamlessly transition your home from electrical energy to generator power.

How Manual Transfer Switches Work

Manual transfer switches act as a middleman between your generator and your home’s electrical network. The manual transfer switch first connects to your main electrical panel. An expert wires this panel to your power inlet box (a small electrical power box that sits on the side of your building). Your generator is also plugged into this box when the power goes out. Collectively, this creates a power transfer system that will channel energy from your generator into your home’s circuits. You will simply need to connect these power cords at the onset of an outage. 

Benefits of Manual Transfer Switches

Many homeowners invest in backup generators to avoid the negative impacts of power lapses. Manual transfer switches support this effort by providing key benefits:

  • Affordable Generator Options: Manual transfer switches offer you quick, easy, and reliable generator power at a more affordable price than automatic generator systems. 
  • Keeping the Lights On: Without a manual transfer switch, only certain appliances can be connected to portable generators. This does not support other essential power needs, such as your lights. Manual transfer switches extend the power supply to the entirety of your home’s main circuits.
  • Seamless Transitions: Backup generators are designed to provide convenience in addition to safety. However, inconvenient setup processes can undermine portable generator convenience. Transfer switches take the extra labor out of using your generator.
  • Safer Backup Power: Generators prevent safety issues that can accompany power loss, but they also present their own set of risks. When operated improperly, portable generators can cause everything from electrical hazards to carbon monoxide concerns. Manual transfer switches prevent these safety concerns.

Safety of Manual Transfer Switches

When using a generator, safety is always the top priority. These units contain concentrated power, which can cause electrical hazards if connected or used improperly. Despite their name, ‘manual’ transfer switches lead to less portable generator intervention. Rather than running extension cords and plugging outlets directly into your portable generator, manual transfer switches require you to simply connect a few cords. This reduces both the risk of safety concerns and generator damage from improper operation. 

Considerations of Manual Transfer Switches

Unlike automatic generators, these systems will still cause you to lose power for a short interval of time. If your home is powering any essential devices, such as a ventilator, you may need an automatic generator system (thankfully, Bonney offers these as well). Manual systems will also not protect your home if you are out of town or at the office when the power goes out. 

Unlike automatic systems, portable generators do require some effort from you—even with the transfer switch. It is important to ensure that you are prepared to operate these generator transfers and that your system is professionally installed. Reliable experts (such as those at Bonney) will ensure safe and proper configuration. They will also walk you through the operation process so that you can enjoy worry-free backup power. 

Transfer Switch Installation and Operation

 Due to the powerful nature of transfer switches and generators, these systems require expert installation. While we cannot speak for other businesses, the professionals at Bonney begin this process with a consultation to calculate your transfer switch and generator needs. If you already have a Bonney generator, we will work with you to determine the size and wattage of your transfer switch. Our professionals give you in-depth guidance on safely operating both your transfer switch and generator. Bonney also offers electrical repairs, inspections, and maintenance to keep your investment protected. 

Bonney Generator Installation in Sacramento

When it comes to your home’s power, you need professionals that you can trust. The electricians at Bonney go above and beyond to ensure excellent generator service and industry-leading safety. Bonney proudly serves the generator needs of the greater Sacramento area, including Folsom, Rocklin, Natomas, Lincoln, Galt, Stockton, Roseville, Vacaville, Loomis, Newcastle, Orangevale, Placerville, Davis, Auburn, and beyond. Make an appointment with our local electricians to get started today!