Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on November 26, 2012
I'd been debating purchasing a transfer switch for two years now. Every time we had an outage in the past I'd have to drag out the generator and run extension cords to get things up and running. Usually this meant that we sat in the dark for longer than necessary because it was a lot of hassle if the power would be back on in 30 minutes. Two recent eight hour outages finally made me purchase two of these.

Some hints and tips for those deciding on this unit:

1. The power inlet is not prewired. You'll need to hook up the included plug to make it look just like the picture. I opted to replace the included plug with a Leviton 5278-C 15 Amp since I use a small Yamaha 2000 watt generator as well as a battery bank with an inverter as power options. Both of these output using standard household plugs instead of the twist lock that larger generators use. You'll need to tie both the hot wires (red and black) from the transfer switch to the single hot coming into the standard type plug. If you do something like this make sure you measure the loads for your circuits carefully since you won't be able to run everything at once. In our case we will need to cycle our loads manually, such a running the freezer for a couple hours while the fridge is off to keep things cool in both places. Also note that you can't run a 240V circuit in that kind of configuration either.

2. If you have a newer home you may have arc fault circuit breakers protecting your bedrooms. These do work with these transfer switches, but there is no documentation on it included. It's basically the same procedure as with the normal circuit breaker, but the catch is that when utility power comes back on your arc fault circuit breakers will trip. Therefore you will need to open your main panel and reset them once you're back on the grid. I figured this out because I tried to test my generator on bedroom circuits with the utility power on. Some Google research helped me to figure it out, and I was able to run my bedrooms over the transfer switch when I switched off the main breaker.

3. When my home was built I didn't anticipate putting in a transfer switch and ended up with a subpanel with extra breakers from my main panel. Unfortunately for me, there were "critical" circuits spread across both panels so I had to install two transfer switches. The good news is that it is definitely possible to install these in subpanels in addition to your main panel. You just need to make sure your subpanel is properly wired with separate ground and neutral bars.

4. If you're handy around the house and have done basic wiring before but aren't sure you can tackle this, I'd recommend watching this YouTube video that is a great refresher and learning tool about how your breaker panels work. Just search for "Breaker Boxes Explained" by Hofpodcast. It was a great refresher and answered some of my questions about this project.

5. This transfer switch only has two 20 amp breakers. You'll find in newer homes a lot of items like your microwave, dishwasher, and fridge might all have separate 20 amp circuit breakers. If you're worried this won't work for you, it's okay to run these on the 15 amp circuits in the transfer switch, since it will trip sooner than your panel circuit breaker would. You won't be able to run your toaster, coffee maker, and mixer at the same time but you will still be able to have everything hooked up and be smart about what you run when the power is out.

Of course, when in doubt, you can always hire a qualified electrician to do the work for you. But hopefully these pointers will help other do it yourself fans!
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