Types of Generator Transfer Switches
Generator Transfer Switches and Generator Panels: The Basics of Home Generators and Transfer Switches
Generator Transfer Switches
Electrical Question: Some transfer switches require a 2-pole breaker(60-100 amp) to be installed in the load center, while some transfer switches do not. Why is this so.
This electrical question came from: Tom, a Homeowner from Averill Park, New York.
Thanks for your electrical question about home generators Tom.
Understanding Generator Transfer Switches
Application: Installing a Generator and Transfer Switch
Skill Level: Advanced – Licensed Electrical Contractor, Not Recommended for Homeowners.
Tools Required: Electricians pouch of hand tools and the various power tools necessary for installing the generator and transfer switch.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type and size of the generator and transfer switch and the available access to the project area.
Precaution: Any existing electrical wiring within the immediate area that may interfere with the installation of the transfer switch may need to be relocated if necessary.
Important: Installing a generator and transfer switch must be well thought out and performed with a permit with all work being inspected.
Generator Transfer Switches and Generator Panels
- It all depends on the type of generator transfer switch that is installed.
- Some transfer switches do not have any circuit protection because the circuit protection or over current device is located at the electrical panel.
- All generators have their own circuit protection which is normally found at the power connection area, however the circuit cable wiring which connects the generator to the home electrical system must be protected as well and the location of this protection will depend on the method or type of transfer switch that is selected and the size of the circuit protection will depend on the size of the home generator.
- If a circuit breaker interlock device is used at the main electrical panel, then the circuit breakers that the interlock device is installed on will protect the incoming circuit from the generator.
- The concern here is especially critical when portable generators are used. It would be very dangerous if the transfer switch and circuit design is set up for one size generator which could be replaced by a different portable generator that has a different output rating.
In a perfect (electricians) world where everything is wired according to electrical code, connecting a different sized portable generator would not be possible due to incompatible connections. However based on my experience of seeing first hand and receiving countless emails and questions about how homeowners and others are connecting their generators I know that there are a lot of illegal generator installations that are not wired according to code and pose hazardous electrical conditions. My desire is to help prevent such hazardous conditions though information found on this website.
More about Home Generators and Transfer Switches
Home Generators and transfer Switches
- This series covers a wide variety of topics all about home generators including sizing, selecting, connecting and safely operating this all important addition to your home.
Electrical Wiring Protection using Circuit Breakers
- A guide to home electrical circuit breakers and how they work to protect your electrical wiring.
When properly installed, your home electrical wiring is protected by a circuit protection device.
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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