Power generators are a great investment when you live in an area that's prone to severe storms and power failures. They're also important if you have something in your home that demands a consistent power supply, like medical equipment. If you've recently decided to install one, you need to think about how you're going to handle the power switch-over when necessary. This is typically done through the use of an electric transfer switch. Before you make a choice, you should understand what these switches are and how to select the right one for your home.
What Are The Switch Options?
There are two different types of electric transfer switches that you'll likely consider. The first is a manual transfer switch. As the name suggests, it is designed for you to manually activate the generator and swap the power feed over either by pushing a button or flipping a breaker switch. If you're opting for a portable generator, a manual switch is typically the best option, so you can engage it only when you need it.
The other option is an automatic transfer switch. These are installed with a power supply sensor that detects any fluctuation in the incoming power line and automatically activates the generator for you when the power supply drops out. Automatic switches are usually best for standby generators or remote electric-start units.
How To Choose The Right Switch
There are several things you should think about when it comes to choosing a transfer switch for your generator. Here are some of the things you should think about:
Would being without power be hazardous or problematic in your home?
Is your home the community watch gathering point or part of the emergency response plan? In those situations, you have to be prepared for anything that could happen, and you need to be sure that your home is a safe refuge for anyone in the neighborhood who needs it. That means that you need to have an immediate fallback for power, which means an automatic transfer switch.
If a family member in your home relies on medical equipment for their safety and health, you need to know that the equipment will be powered no matter what happens. If you have young children, infants, or anyone whose health could be put at risk by a loss of power, those are also times when you'd want to choose an automatic switch over a manual one.
Do you just want to simplify things?
Whether you're just looking for the peace of mind of knowing that your generator system will engage no matter what or you're worried about not being there when the power goes out and a family member not knowing how to turn it on, you may find that an automatic switch is just one less thing to worry about.
In fact, some people opt for an automatic switch solely for the convenience factor. If you don't want to have to fumble around for the manual switch or go out in the weather to turn on the portable generator, an automatic switch can be a great investment. It's also a popular choice in areas where the power supply is unpredictable, as it saves you having to go back and forth to the manual switch frequently.
What Does Your Budget Allow?
The final part of the decision will center around your budget. An electric transfer switch can cost anywhere from $250–$1000, not including the installation cost. Since automatic switches are more complex, they'll cost more both in parts and installation labor. Make sure that you know exactly what your budget will support for the generator, the switch, and the installation of both before you make a choice.
To learn more about your options, contact companies like Enercon Engineering Inc.