The Role of a Transfer Switch

The Role Of A Transfer Switch For Portable & Standby Generators

You already know having a generator for your home or business is a great way to ensure the necessary backup power when you need it most, especially when here in Nanaimo we are prone to power outages.

One of the most important items needed to ensure smooth transfer from your hydro provider to your generator is a generator is a transfer switch. This small piece of added equipment makes the backup power process seamless and helps ensure overall safety. Here is a brief primer into the role that transfer switches play and why it is important to have one.

It’s not only less safe to run a generator without a transfer switch, but you’ll limit the devices that your generator can power. A transfer switch will let you power things on your circuit breaker panel, including hardwired appliances like a water heater or well pump.


What Does The Transfer Switch Do?
In simple terms, a transfer switch is a permanent switch that connects to your power box that changes the power load between two sources.

For permanent sources of backup power, this happens automatically when the first source of power becomes unavailable. This is ideal because it seamlessly keeps the energy flowing with minimal delay. Ideal if you are away from your property for a period of time and need power.

In the case of a generator for residential whole-house power use, the generator is plugged into the transfer switch located on the circuit panel. When the generator is turned on, the transfer switch changes the load from grid power to the generator. We can install a system that automatically turns on the generator, giving you peace of mind.


What Generators Need A Transfer Switch?
Standby generators for homes and businesses almost always need one. Since they are always waiting for when the power goes down, it is important to have this extra piece of equipment to keep the power flowing without downtime.

The biggest benefit of having a transfer switch in a residential setting is that you gain the ability to power things up via your circuit breaker panel instead of having to use extension cords. This includes hardwired devices, such as your dishwasher, hot water heater, air conditioning, and ceiling fans. All you have to do is plug the portable generator into the transfer switch and you’re good to go!


Risks Of Not Using A Transfer Switch
There are many risks of not using a transfer switch that go beyond simple convenience. In some cases, going without a transfer switch can jeopardize the safety of your family or even workers.

The main scenario where this becomes a problem is referred to as back feeding the grid. This means that when you’re using your generator without a proper transfer switch and the main power source comes on, there are then two currents feeding your home. This surge can cause problems in the line, which may put utility workers at risk. It can also cause fires in your home or business. And that’s why having a transfer switch is so important.

Now, let’s be clear that we are specifically talking about standby generators that are wired to your panel in your home or office. If you’re using a portable generator and just plugging in a few lamps or other items directly into the generator, this is not deemed a problem.

Unsure then please reach out to us for an initial conversation.

Vancouver Island Electrician

Your Mid Island Full Service Electrical Contractor
(Ladysmith – Nanaimo – Parksville – Qualicum)
Dependable - Family owned - Experienced - Fair prices - Reputable


3049 B McCauley Dr
Nanaimo, BC
V9T 1V7

TSBC Licence # 0202887

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