Blog posts of '2021' 'October'

Manual Changeover Switch -V- Automatic. What’s The Difference?

If you have an emergency generator the good thing is that every time there is a power blackout you can start up your generator and, literally, switch the lights back on.

The way that your generator is turned on can be either manual or automatic and it can be done using a changeover switch, also known as a transfer switch. In fact, it is a legal requirement that if you have a standby generator, you have to have a changeover switch.

This is for two main reasons. It separates the power from the two different sources. You can either have power from the mains or you can have power from the generator, but not both, at the same time.

If you did not have a changeover switch and you started your generator and then the mains came back on again while the generator was running it would almost certainly burn your generator out. The other way around, it prevents the generator feeding power back into the mains when electricity workers are trying to restore the power, which could endanger their lives.

What’s The Difference?

So, what is the difference between a manual changeover switch and an automatic one? Well. think of it as of the gearbox in your car. It can either be manual or automatic. If you have a manual gearbox, every time you want to change gear you have to depress the clutch, shift the gear lever, and let the clutch out again. If you have an automatic gearbox, it does all that for you.

A manual changeover switch means that you have to switch over by hand. You also have to start the generator, which is probably in the garden, and it could be pouring with rain! In fact, it very likely would be, because the power often goes down as the result of a storm.

An automatic changeover switch detects that the mains power has gone down, switches over, and starts the generator automatically.

You are far better off with an automatic changeover switch because there is no time delay. When the power goes down you will be back up and running in seconds. You don’t get wet in the pouring rain. It also works when you are away from home. If nobody is at home and you need the power on and have a manual switch, that power is going to stay off until you return.

There is only one advantage to having a manual switch and that is that it is cheaper to purchase. That aside, there is no contest.

Do You Need A Standby Generator?

The answer to that question is “it depends”. A emergency generator is not a cheap item, but if you have a power blackout it will kick in within seconds and bring power back into your home.

To some extent, whether or not you need an emergency generator is a matter of personal opinion. For some people, even suffering a single power outage can justify the expense, but if you live in an area where there are frequent blackouts or out in the country in a remote area, then a standby generator is more of a must. 

There is also the fact that we are heading towards the use of electric vehicles becoming far more common. While that may be a good thing for the environment, it also means that a lot more people will be charging up batteries. So, you could see a huge surge in the amount of power required at the end of the working day when people get home and plug in their car to charge it. That may well lead to more and more power outages.

What Is The Best Type Of Generator?

So, what is the best emergency power source in the UK? Well, there are two types of generator, those powered by diesel, or they can be powered by natural gas or LPG. They can also be air cooled or liquid cooled. Air cooled are generally less expensive, and smaller, but they are also louder than liquid cooled generators.

You also need to consider the size of generator that you require. A common mistake is to buy the biggest that you can in order to power the whole of the home. In many cases, it would be more sensible and less expensive to buy a generator that produces sufficient power to run the essential circuits in your home – lighting, heating, cooker, water heater, security system if you have one, and the TV and laptop. Also, your electric vehicle if you have one, so that you are not trapped at home.

When you are looking for the best emergency power source in the UK you need to calculate the anticipated electrical load, and you really need an experienced electrician in order to do this. You want a generator that will provide you with the power that you require, but you need to consider the expense involved since there is no point in having a generator that is too large.