What is a Transfer Switch?

When you’re doing electrical work, there are many different pieces of equipment and corresponding terminology that you need to be familiar with. One example is a transfer switch, which is an electrical element that is essential to the safety of an electrical circuit. This article will help you understand what a transfer switch is, what it is used for, and the different types of transfer switches.

What is a Transfer Switch Used for?

A transfer switch is used to transfer electrical loads or the electrical component that actively consumes and uses electric power, from one power source to another. In this function, a transfer switch helps to safely connect or disconnect the power from different sources of electricity while protecting the electrical circuit from any safety risks. You might find yourself in need of a transfer switch if you live (or work) in an area that experiences frequent power outages due to extreme weather or other conditions. When the main power source for a residential house or building goes out due to a storm, you can use a transfer switch to transition the load to a different backup power source, such as a generator. This will allow the building to continue to function with its electrical load and needs despite the main power source being down. In a similar situation, large industrial buildings or organizations, such as a university campus, might actually switch to their own individual power plant to use as an electrical source. Many electrical codes require you to install a transfer switch if a building has multiple sources of power that could potentially be used. This is because the transfer switch will be able to change power sources without putting the house at risk of ruining the circuit.

Different Transfer Switch Applications

Transfer switches can be applied in many different ways and locations. Since they’re installed between any power distribution system and the local power source, they can be a versatile safety feature for electrical work. They can be applied in residential homes, small businesses, large industrial areas, hospitals, commercial industry buildings, data centers, treatment plants, tech facilities, and more. Transfer switches can be used for utility-to-generator transfers, utility-to-utility transfers, generator-to-generator transfers, and more. Depending on the size of the electrical circuit and the load that will need to be switched, there are different types of transfer switches that should be used and installed.

Types of Transfer Switches

Many transfer switches are automatic, such as a load center automatic transfer switch. This makes the power transfer easy, safe, and efficient. These switches are self-governed and designed to detect when a power outage occurs and transfer to a different power source accordingly. You can also buy manual transfer switches, which can allow you to manually switch the power to a different source by using a switch or lever. These types of transfer switches are usually cheaper and more reliable than automatic switches, but they are prohibited in certain uses to prevent any safety risks. Similarly, non-automatic transfer switches use a push button switch to transfer to a different power source. The buttons use an electrically operated system to switch the power to a different source but still must be manually pushed. The convenience of a non-automatic transfer switch is that you don’t have to locate the transfer button on the actual transfer switch itself if you have an easier-to-reach location that you’d prefer.

So, next time you’re wondering what a transfer switch is used for, remember the details in this article. Transfer switches will help you to safely switch the electrical load between different power sources, which is especially important if you live in a storm-prone area. Knowing how to use transfer switches can help you to be a more successful professional in the electrical field.

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