Generator transfer switch installation

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Generator transfer switch installation

Okay, we can all agree that power outages stink, but there's no reason to sit in the dark and feel helpless. You can run your home's most critical electrical circuits with the aid of a portable generator and an electrical device called a transfer switch. PopMech has been talking about generators a lot this year, but a transfer switch is a good alternative to a standby generatorone that will allow you to power up only the most important items.

A transfer switch is a compact breaker box that is installed inside the home, right beside the main electrical panel. The switch is wired into the main panel and connected to the most critical circuits, such as the furnace, water heater, refrigerator, range, well pump, and interior lights.

A power inlet box, which is essentially an electrical outlet, is mounted to the exterior of the house. An electrical cable runs from the inlet box directly into the transfer switch. Sometimes the cable runs to a junction box installed near the transfer switch and then a power cord with a plug is wired into the box.

When the electricity goes out, you set up a portable generator outside and plug it into the power inlet box. If the inlet-box cable runs to a junction box with power cord, plug the power cord into the transfer switch. Be sure all the toggle switches on the transfer switch are in the off position.

Then go outside and start the generator. Caution: Gas-powered generators exhaust deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Never run a generator indoors, near an open window or door, or in an enclosed area, such as a garage or carport. Now that the generator is running, you can pick and choose which appliances and electrical circuits to electrify by simply flipping up the switches on the transfer switch.

Note that in most cases, the transfer switch will be connected to more circuits than the generator can accommodate all at once, so keep track of which circuits are on and be careful not to overload the system. Read the owner's manual that comes with the transfer switch.

You'll find detailed instructions on the proper operating procedure. Transfer switches come in various sizes to match common-size generators. The total cost of installing a transfer switch is significant, but it'll be well worth the investment the next time the power goes out and you're not left sitting in the dark.

Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories. Can Sugar Destroy a Car's Engine?Make a list of the materials you intend to use for your manual transfer switch installation.

generator transfer switch installation

You will need the list to apply for the building permit, and having a list will limit returning to the store for more parts while performing the installation.

A manual transfer switch is the safest way to power your home with a portable generator. The manual transfer switch that you select will depend on several factors. The primary consideration is the amount of power the portable generator can supply and the available power outlets on the generator. Typically, a portable generator that supplies a house will have a single volt receptacle rated at amperes or amperes.

Some transfer switches only supply a single load. These control a sub-panel that distributes power to selected circuits by switching the sub-panel from utility power fed from the main service panel to portable generator power from the inlet box. Other transfer switches have the sub-panel built into them. The concept is almost the same however.

Power fed from the main service panel is switched to power from the generator. Yet another possibility is a manual transfer switch at the service entrance that allows a portable generator to feed the main service panel. The manual transfer switch installation guide will usually specify the current rating of the transfer switch circuit breaker installed in the main service panel—usually a double-pole, volt breaker.

This breaker protects the wiring between switch and the main panel from overloads. The current rating of this breaker is matched to the current-carrying capacity of the wires between the transfer switch and main panel.

National Electrical Code NEC rules specify that wires that carry current must be protected by a circuit breaker matched to the current-carrying capacity of the wires. It is acceptable for the wire ampacity to exceed the breaker current rating, but the breaker current rating must never exceed the wire current-carrying capacity. For example, gauge copper wire may carry up to the 30 amperes and must be protected by a ampere or smaller circuit breaker.

A gauge wire may only carry 20 amperes. You can use gauge wire with a ampere breaker, but never use gauge wire with a ampere breaker. The wires that connect the inlet box to the transfer switch are protected by a circuit breaker on the generator, and must follow the same rules for the wires that connect the transfer switch to the service panel. The circuit breaker also protects the generator from overloads and will be sized accordingly to the maximum output the generator can handle continuously.

Note: Most inlet boxes have a receptacle rated at 30 amp, which would allow connection to a generator that supplies 30 amps. Even if your generator supplies less than 30 amperes, safety and NEC codes still require the use of 10 AWG wire or larger wire. Note: Branch circuit wires follow the same rules. The smallest size wire allowed is 14 gauge wire with a maximum circuit breaker size of 15 amps.

PVC Conduit is easy to install and suitable for use in most single-family homes less than three stories high. Electrical codes limit the number of wires inside a conduit, depending on the wire gauge and conduit diameter. The wires may only use up to 30 percent of the space inside the conduit.

For example: The wires between the transfer switch and main distribution panel include four 6-gauge wires, four gauge wires, and four gauge wires. Each installation is different. Consult the NEC conduit fill charts in a wiring guide to help you choose the correct size conduit.If you are installing a standby generator in order to have some electrical power to your home in the event of a utility power outage, it is important that you understand how to properly install a transfer switch.

The transfer switch is the device that transfers the power from the utilities power to the standby generators power, as shown in Figure 1. Very few homeowners can afford or consider it necessary to supply power to all of the homes electrical devices, fixtures and appliances in the event of a power failure.

Because the generator chosen can only supply power to a limited number of items, it is necessary to decide which circuits will be powered by the standby generator in the event of a utility power outage. In each case, manual or automatic transfer, the circuitry is the same. In the case of the manual transfer switch, it requires that someone recognizes that the utility power has failed and must intervene to start the generator and then transfer the desired circuits to the generators power output.

Install a Transfer Switch and Beat the Next Blackout

A manual transfer switch does not operate if there is no one at home. In the case of an automatic transfer switch ATSthe switch has the intelligence to sense when the utility is no longer delivering power and automatically starting the generator and then transferring the circuits to the generator.

The automatic transfer switch also recognizes when the utility power is back online, transfers the circuits back to the utility and turns the generator off. A basic home electrical service looks like this grounding circuits and wires have been left out in order to make the drawings less cluttered :.

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The meter is fed from the utility via an overhead or underground conduit as shown in Figure 2. The electrical service main disconnect and electrical distribution panel are shown as 2 separate items, however newer circuit breaker load centers distribution panels have the main disconnect located at the top of the electrical distribution panel high amperage circuit breaker.

The circuits that you want to be powered by both the electrical utility and the standby generator are transferred to the generator electrical distribution panel.

The generators electrical distribution panel should be fed from a double 2-pole breaker in the main load center distribution panel. Simplified inner workings of the transfer switch are shown in Figures 4 and 5. For clarity they have been shown with a manual lever.

If you have an automatic transfer switch the electrical switching function works in the same manner as the manual switch:. Many systems do not switch the neutral wire and tie the three neutral wires together. Verify the method of wiring with your transfer switch and generator before installation. When utility power is functioning the wires from the circuit breaker in the main electrical distribution panel are connected to the generator sub-panel.

If utility power fails, the switch connects the generator's power to the circuits in the generator sub-panel.Generac is one of the United State's leading producers of generators and other back-up power supplies. In addition to building the power supplies, Generac also manufactures accessories such as transfer switches. An automatic transfer switch automatically swaps to a back-up power supply when the electricity to the home is not functioning correctly.

Most Generac automatic standby generators come with a pre-wired automatic transfer switch.

generator transfer switch installation

This means the only wiring necessary will be to connect the transfer switch to your home. Call your local codes office to make sure it is legal for you to install your own transfer switch. Some locations require the work be done by a professional or require an inspection after the installation. After you are sure you can complete the task legally and safely, call your power provider.

They will need to disconnect the service to your home and remove your meter. Place the generator in its permanent location, outside and near the electrical meter.

Mount the transfer switch box to the wall using the supplied screws and pre-drilled holes in the metal.

How to Install a Whole House Generator Transfer Switch!

Remove the cover to your meter base with your hand or by prying with a screwdriver. You will see a wire that runs from your home to the base, supplying electricity to your home. Unplug this wire from the base. Look in the space where the meter used to be and locate the knockout. This is a square or rectangular piece of metal with holes in it. Unscrew the screws holding the knockout in place.

Use the wire disconnected earlier. Run it through the hole on the knockout and connect it to the commercial output conduit on the Generac automatic transfer switch. Replace the knockout and secure it back into place with the screws. Locate the wire connected to the automatic transfer switch's commercial input conduit. Run this wire back to the commercial output conduit on the meter base. Close and secure the cover of the meter base. Ensure the pre-wired connection on the generator is still connected to the accessory input conduit on the Generac automatic transfer switch.

Call your local building codes office for inspection if required by law and then you can have your electricity re-connected. Working with electricity can be very dangerous. If you are not comfortable and somewhat knowledgeable about electrical wiring, installing an automatic transfer switch is best left to a professional.

Leah Newman has been a professional writer sincewriting about fine arts both in print and online.A portable generator transfer switch will transfer power to selected circuits in the event of a power outage. Everything in the new circuit box—or portable generator transfer switch—will run.

However, novices should get experienced help before attempting to install a portable generator transfer switch because of the serious dangers involved in working with electricity. Before installing a portable generator transfer switch you need to know what size generator to buy. How much do you really need to run during a power outage?

generator transfer switch installation

Look at the wattage of your appliances and buy a generator that allows for a comfortable margin above this to accommodate potential spikes in energy consumption. Shut off power to the main breaker panel and remove the cover to expose the insides. Remember that the main disconnect at the top will still be hot so avoid approaching it. Remove it and put in a threaded nipple securing it with the proper nuts. Attach the new box the same way at the other end of the nipple.

Use heavy screws to anchor the new box to the wall next to your main circuit panel. Now attach the grounding bus to the wall of the new panel. Select ahead specific circuits that will be needed during an outage such as lighting, water pump, and appliances. The goal is to attach those specific circuits to new circuit breakers inside the new panel so that if there is a power outage, the main breaker in the new panel can be switched over so that all three lines from the main panel are cut off and isolated from those selected circuits which are then connected and supplied directly from the generator output.

You can then remove the black and red wires from each of the breakers feeding the selected circuits and the corresponding neutral and ground wires from their busbars, and pull them out from the main panel, then transfer them over into the new transfer switch panel.

Use an insulated screwdriver for this. Insert a 30 Amps Volts circuit breaker in one of the newly created spots in the main panel.

generator transfer switch installation

Connect the white and green wires to the appropriate buses in the main panel. Those same wires now need to be connected in the transfer switch panel, connecting each of the Black, Red, and White neutral wires to three different breakers, each one identifying the wire color assigned to it. With this done, the ground wire must be connected to its busbar, and another ground wire must connect the two panels together.

Those breakers are stacked side by side and mechanically connected together and also to three more breakers exactly opposite altogether forming a six-packso if switched one way or the other, all six breakers switch at once.Installing process is easy that you can try it yourself or get someone to help you out.

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Choosing a transfer switch installment means you can safely and simply switch incoming power from your major panel to any compact generator in the event of a power cut down. However, if you have completely no knowledge about electricity and how to handle electronics, things become tricky.

I am going to break down one of the easiest processes on how to install the whole house generator transfer switch. You need to have some of the essentials parts to get your transfer switch correctly installed.

This is not a very long list of breaking your bank. You can simply get a complete set or kit from online shops or your nearest home improvement store. I will suggest you get a complete kit from online merchants. Some of the good quality kits are not available in local stores. Most of the kits already count every little thing you will need for a proper transfer switch installment.

However, if you still choose to get everything separately then here are some of the most important ones. This is very obvious but I still want to tell you something about the point. Some generators will not support transfer switches which is a big issue. So you need to be cautious. Then there are some generators that will only support certain models of switches. You need to be aware of these little things. There are quite a few models available in the market these days that can give you excellent power supply servicing.

There are two types of configuration for transfer services available. One includes manual configuration and the other will support automatic system setup. If you already own a generator make sure the transfer switch you are going to buy supports its version.A manual transfer switch is installed next to the main service panel to override the normal electrical service with power from a backup generator during a power outage.

Manual transfer switches require an operator to change the power source, while automatic switches detect the loss of power, start the back-up generator, and switch over to the backup power feed. Before you purchase a backup generator, determine which loads you will want to power from your generator in the event of a power loss. Generally you will want to power your refrigerator, freezer, and maybe a few lights.

Add up the running wattage ratings of the appliances you will power up to determine how large your backup generator needs to be. Here are some approximate running wattage guidelines use this MS Excel Spreadsheet for calculating electrical loads :.

Add the wattage values of all the loads you want to power, and multiply the sum by 1. This will give you the minimum wattage your generator must produce. Portable standby generators typically output 5, to 7, watts. Most larger, stationary generators can output 10, to 20, watts 10 to 20 kilowatts. Turn off the main power breaker in your electrical service panel. Determine which household circuits are critical for emergency usage during a power outage.

Typically this will include the refrigerator, freezer, furnace, and at least one light or small appliance circuit.

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Match your critical circuits with circuit inlet on your pre- wired transfer switch. Try to balance the load as best you can in the transfer switch: For example, if your refrigerator is on the leftmost switch circuit, connect your freezer to the circuit farthest to the right. Double-pole volt circuits will require two volt circuit connections.

Also make sure that amp and amp circuits are not mismatched with one another. Select and remove a knockout at the bottom of the main service panel box. Make sure to choose a knockout that is sized to match the connector on the flexible conduit coming from the transfer switch. Feed the wires from the transfer switch into the knockout holetaking care not to damage the insulation. You will note that each wire is labeled according to which circuit in the switch box it feeds.

Secure the flexible conduit from the switch box to the main service panel using a locknut and a bushing where required. Attach the transfer switch box to the wall so the closer edge is about 18 inches aways from the center of the main service panel. Use whichever connectors make sense for your wall type. Remove the breaker for the first critical circuit from the main service panel box, and disconnect the hot wire lead from the lug on the breaker.

Locate the black wire from the same transfer switch circuitand twist it together with the old feed wire, using a yellow wire connector. Tuck the wires neatly out of the way at the edges of the box. If any of your critical circuits are volt circuits, attach the red leads from the two transfer switch circuits to the double-pole breaker.

The two circuits originating in the transfer switch should be next to one another, and their switches should be connected with a handle tie. If you have no volt circuits you may remove the preattached handle tie and use the circuits individually. Once you have made all circuit connections, attach the white neutral wire from the transfer switch to an opening in the neutral bus bar of the main service panel.

Attach the green ground wire from the transfer switch to an open port on the grounding bar in your main service panel. This should complete the installation of the transfer switch. Replace the cover on the service panel box, and make sure to fill in the circuit map on your switch box.

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Begin testing the transfer switch by making sure all of the switches on it are set to the LINE setting. The power should still be OFF at the main panel breakers. Make sure your standby generator is operating properly and has been installed professionally.

Before turning your generator on, attach the power cord from the generator to the switch box.

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Never attach or detach a generator cord with the generator running. Turn your standby power generator on, and let it run for a minute or two.


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