Consider a Manual Transfer Switch When Buying a New Generator

Benefits of Using a Manual Transfer Switch

While automatic transfer switches provide hands-off power switching, they require a much more complex installation. Manual models offer some distinct advantages that may better suit your needs:

Lower Upfront Cost

Manual transfer switches are far more affordable, starting from just £519 for most residential and small commercial installations.

Easier Installation

A manual transfer switch is designed for easier DIY installation if you’re comfortable working with electrical wiring. Just mount it adjacent to your main breaker box/panel.

Flexibility in Connecting Circuits

Manual transfer switches allow you to strategically connect your generator to prioritised home circuits like heating, lighting, and refrigeration while leaving others inactive. This can help prevent overloading a smaller generator by only running essential circuits.

Overall Simplicity and Less to Go Wrong

Manual switches simply require you to be present to make the transfer, reducing the potential points of failure.

While both automatic and manual switches get the job done, the simplicity and lower costs of manual models make them very attractive for homes and small businesses buying new generators for sale in the UK.

Safety First – Why Transfer Switches Are Required by Law

Whether automatic or manual, installing a transfer switch is essential for the safe operation of any permanently installed or portable generator. Here’s why:

Connecting a generator directly to your home’s electrical panel without a transfer switch creates a deadly “back feed” hazard for utility workers. Your generator’s power can flow back through the utility lines and energise them, putting crews at extreme risk working on lines they assume are de-energised.

Backfeeding also risks damaging your generator, property wiring, and any attached appliances or electronics. This happens because the generator’s output and utility power will continuously clash and conflict with each other in a dangerous feedback loop.

These hazards are exactly why electrical codes prohibit connecting generators directly to electrical panels. A transfer switch acts as the vital safety switching gear to protect both you and utility crews. You legally cannot operate a generator in parallel with the utility power supply without one.

Choosing Between Entry Level or More Robust Manual Transfer Switches

While these switches are simpler and more affordable than automatic models, they’re not all created equal. Higher-end manual units offer enhanced safety and convenience compared to basic entry-level switches.

Entry Level Manual Transfer Switches

  • Made of lightweight plastic or metal housings
  • Provide basic switch mechanisms to disconnect from the utility and connect a generator
  • Limited options like switching control position only (on generator or utility), some lack a clear viewing window
  • May require additional accessory power inlets or generator cord connections

Higher-End Manual Transfer Switches

  • More robust all-metal construction
  • Clear viewing windows confirm power source connection (grid/generator)
  • Often include power inlet box(es) to hardwire generator cables
  • Offer more connection points and versatility for prioritising circuits
  • May include voltage metering and diagnostic functions.

For most typical residential backup applications, the basic entry-level transfer switch gets the job done safely for a very affordable price. But premium models add worthwhile safety features, durability, and more flexibility for managing loads if you’re willing to spend more upfront.

The Installation Process: What to Expect

The installation of a switch is relatively straightforward for both portable and standby generators. But it should only be completed by someone comfortable working with electricity and home wiring.

Generator Installation With Manual Transfer Switch

  1. First ensure both utility and generator are de-energised (switched off)
  2. Mount the transfer switch enclosure adjacent to the main electrical panel
  3. Pull conductors from the main panel into the transfer switch enclosure per instructions
  4. Connect utility power input cables into labelled lugs on one side of the transfer switch
  5. Wire generator output cables into the other side of the transfer switch enclosure
  6. Install appropriate inlet box or cord connection for generator cables
  7. Make all wiring connections snug, re-install covers and doors
  8. Closely follow all included installation manuals and diagrams

Once installed and wired properly, operating the manual transfer switch is simply a matter of moving the main switch or lever. This simultaneously disconnects your circuits from the utility power while transferring them to the generator supply.

Always follow lockout/tagout procedures to prevent accidental re-energizing and never work on the switch while either power source is live. Take any questions or uncertainties to a professional electrician for guidance.

Tips for Ideal Placement and Cable Management

Where you situate the transfer switch and generator plays a big role in how practical they’ll be to use. Here are some tips to maximise safety and convenience:

House Transfer Switch Accessibly Near Main Panel

Mount the transfer switch as close as possible to your main electric service panel while allowing room for cable bending/connections. This minimises wiring runs while keeping the switch within easy reach when needed.

Route Generator Cables Away From Traffic

When running cables from your generator outside, route them up off the ground and away from any vehicle paths. You don’t want to trip over or risk driving over live cables during use. Consider cable management tools like ramps.

Get Long Generator Cables If Using a Portable

Get extra-long new generators for sale in the UK output cables if you plan to move the unit around your property. The further from the transfer switch the better to reduce noise or exhaust entering living spaces. At least 50-100 ft of cable length is ideal.

With some smart placement and cable routing, you can ensure safe and efficient operation when transitioning to new generatorbackup using a manual transfer switch.

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