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Automatic Transfer Switches and Your Generator

Automatic Transfer Switches and Your Generator

  • Electrical
  • Generators
Automatic Transfer Switches

The automatic transfer switch is what connects your backup generator and your home. Being the lifeline between your generator and your home means that it’s a fairly important piece of technology, and that’s putting it lightly. In reality, there’s a lot to know about automatic transfer switches and their applications in your home.

How Automatic Transfer Switches Work

During normal situations, the switch is in the “utility” position. While in this position, the power is flowing directly from the electric utility. But when that utility goes down in the event of an emergency, the switch starts to go to work in channeling the power from the generator into your home. Essentially acting as a failsafe for when things go sideways, your generator starts to direct electricity to one, or a small number of circuits in your home, depending on how you’ve had it set up and the capacity of the generator you own.

Because safety is such an important factor in any electrical work, it’s vital that automatic transfer switches disconnect from the main electrical utility as soon as possible. This prevents the generator from channeling back into the utility lines, which could endanger your neighbors or emergency workers trying to restore normal power.

Automatic transfer switches’ main job is to supply power without any sort of human input, and just like generators, they come in a wide range of varitestes that serve different purposes for different homeowners’ unique needs.

Types of Automatic Transfer Switches

Switch Only

This is about the most basic type of ATS you can have, and for most people’s purposes, it works like a dream. A switch-only setup supplies power to your entire main service panel, or from a circuit breaker inside the main panel to a sub-panel. Either way, the only circuits getting powered during an outage are those connected directly to the ATS.

Power Management

One of the major headaches with generators during an outage is that certain appliances draw large amounts of power. Things like dishwashers, washing machines, and the like, leech a lot of electricity. While this is an avoidable issue for short-term outages, it becomes more problematic during extended periods without electricity. That’s where power management switches come in. These switches regulate the amount of power these energy vampires use as to conserve the reserves you have. Some products use a mechanism called load shedding that will turn off certain circuits to ensure others have adequate power. Another method imprints an appliance’s power requirements, then keeps the appliance from starting if there is not enough generator power available.

Service Entrance Rated

A service entrance is where the electrical utility enters your home. So a service entrance rated ATS is manufactured specifically to handle incoming connections from the power company and provides a way to shut off the power from that outside source. A generator bundled with service rated switch is great at supplying homes or small businesses  during a temporary outage.

Switch and Load

Simply put, a load center reduces the number of wires, cables and electrical boxes surrounding your generator. Once the power enters the ATS load center it is distributed to the breakers throughout the building.

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By Ryan Gath Electric

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