How Does A Generator Transfer Switch Work

If you are in the process of planning a home generator installation, you will find that there are more factors than just seeing how big it can be. A generator transfer switch is one of the key components.

So you should know how a generator transfer switch works.

In this post, we will go over what a generator transfer switch is and how it works. We will also cover some other things to consider when installing your generator including what size and brand name make sense for your needs.

What is a generator transfer switch?

This is a switch that will connect your home’s wiring to the general power of the local utility grid or to your standby generator. In essence, it is the device that will cut your home off from local electric power and connect it to the backup generator in times of emergency.

What Is A Generator Transfer Switch?

It’s a safety device, built with protection against power surges and safe for the occupants of the house. It is designed for indoor use with minimal maintenance required other than a visual inspection from time to time.

How does a generator transfer switch work?

It uses two switches to cut your home off from local electric power and connect it to the backup generator. This can be accomplished in many different ways. The most common methods are manually operated with a handle or switch.

There are also automatic versions that could respond automatically in the instances of a power failure or surges. How they work is determined greatly by the type of installation as well as the number of circuits they will need to control.

Manual Transfer Switches and How they work

These are typically operated with a handle or switch that you can access outside your home. They are usually referred to as lever or switch-style manual transfer switches that can be set manually to connect your home’s circuits to the power of the local utility grid or your standby generator.

These are not your basic light switches. They are designed and built with heavy-duty switches that do not pose a fire hazard or shock hazard. They also come with a removable faceplate so you can access the switch without having to go through a wall or ceiling.

How Does A Generator Transfer Switch Work?

Automatic Transfer Switches and how they work

These types of transfer switches will start working on their own when certain conditions are met. This is usually triggered in the instance of a power failure or surges. Protect your home and save electricity in the event of a power failure.

How many circuits you need to transfer depends on how much energy you will be using from your backup generator.

You will need to know what the maximum capacity your generator will be producing and how many times in the day it will run (to determine the amount of time it would take for all the energy to be produced).

Generally speaking, you would use one circuit for common household circuits such as kitchen, laundry, bathroom, etc., and another one for lighting circuits in a single room. You could have other circuits as well depending on what devices you are already connected to.

Advantage of generator transfer switch

Advantage Of Generator Transfer Switch

The whole point of a backup generator is to protect your home’s electrical system from complete destruction caused by power outages. Off-grid living is where you would use the generator in the event that the grid goes down.

You want to make sure that no matter what happens, your house will still be safe. A generator transfer switch will allow you to do this safely and securely so that the only power going into or coming out of your house will be from backup sources.

You will also be protected against electric shock and fire hazards when using a generator in the event of a power outage.

Before considering becoming an off-grid homeowner, it is important that you understand the risks and hazards involved. While normal household appliances will be able to function without a power source, there are other things that you will need to consider in addition to the safety precautions.

These include things such as water heating systems, refrigerators (when using a backup cooling system), heating and cooling systems for the house, clothes dryers, ventilation fans and any appliance or system that requires electricity.

These are all aspects of living off-grid that would require extra care, knowledge and preparation before installing a generator. The good thing is that generators come with all the necessary information about them so you can get them installed properly.

How to use a generator transfer switch?

How To Use A Generator Transfer Switch?

Once you have determined the number of circuits you need to transfer and the capacity of your generator (in watts and maximum run time), you should look for a transfer switch that is able to accommodate this. You will want to make sure that it can handle the extra energy that your backup generator will be producing.

There are many factors that will affect the size and weight of your generator in addition to its actual dimensions.

These include but are not limited to: how much power you intend on running, where you have decided to put it, what type of fuel is recommended for your generator, how big or small it is in relation to other safety factors such as house and garage clearance.

You will also have to pay attention to the environment and conditions where you are planning on putting it, particularly if you are off-grid.


Going off-grid is a big and sometimes even dangerous step that will take preparation. When you are considering purchasing backup generators and putting them in your home, you should take into consideration the type of power output they can produce, the number of circuits they can run on, their size, weight and fuel type as well as the other safety precautions necessary for using them.

Given the fact that generators are so powerful, it is important to ensure that your home’s electrical system will be able to handle the extra energy without producing too much heat or killing electricity altogether.

 A generator transfer switch will allow you to control how energy is delivered from your backup generator into your electrical system at all times.

I hope this helps you to know How Does a Generator Transfer Switch Work.

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