Blog posts of '2021' 'December'

Manual Changeover Switch Or Automatic? Which Is Best?

If you are considering buying a standby generator for your home, which in the light of recent events in the north many homeowners are looking at, there are a number of things to consider.

The first thing is to buy a generator which does what you want, because generators come in different sizes. One answer is to buy the largest size available in order to power the entire home, and if money is no object that could be one solution. However, if you want to buy a generator which only covers the essentials in order to keep costs down, then you will need to make an assessment of your home to purchase a generator which will cover only the essential electrical circuits.

However, sizing generators is not just a question of saying that your home is “x” square feet, so you need an “x” size generator. The complexity of your home’s electrical system also needs to be taken into account, especially if it has air conditioning. You will need an experienced electrician to calculate the electrical loads of your home and recommend he right size of generator.

Once you know this, you can then buy the generator and install it. However, there is also another issue, and that is how the generator starts when the power goes down. When this happens, it is necessary to switch from mains power to generator and it can be done using a manual changeover switch or an automatic one.

With a manual changeover switch you have to physically start the generator, and then when it is up and running one needs to switch from the mains to the generator. This means that there will be a delay while you do this. It also means that if the power goes down when you are not at home there will still be no power until you get back again. This may, or may not matter, depending upon what systems and equipment you use.

However, you can also get an automatic transfer switch. This is more expensive, but the way that it works is that when the power goes down the switch will send a signal to the generator telling it to start up. When the generator is running it will send a signal to the ATS telling it to switch over. When the mains power is restored, the ATS will switch off the generator and transfer back to the mains.  

Storm Arwen Caused Havoc in the North

Investing in a standby generator for your home is not going to be cheap, but in the light of recent events there will no doubt be many homeowners who would never have considered it before but are now studying the market to find a generator that will cover them for a power outage.

Storm Arwen - only the first named storm of this season – has caused havoc for people in the north, some of whom have been without power for 11 days. Many of them have had no lighting and no TV, so not only have they had no power but have not been able to keep up with the news and see when (if ever!) their power is going to be restored. The worst part of it for those people is that in most cases they have had no heating either – in the freezing conditions caused by the storm.

It is bad enough having a power outage in your home, but in other situations it can literally be a matter of life or death. In a hospital, for instance, the loss of power for even a few seconds can be a catastrophe. So, under those circumstances, the installation of a standby generator is not an option, but an essential.

Then there is the matter of how the generator kicks in when the power goes down. This is taken care of by a transfer switch, and it can either be manual or an automatic transfer switch.

With a manual transfer switch, as you might imagine, you have to start the generator yourself and then when it is up and running switch over from the mains input to the generator. This means that there will be a time gap between the power going down and the generator producing power again. It also means that if you are not at home or on the premises, the power will be down until someone can start the generator.

An automatic transfer switch, however, does the job for you. It senses when the power has gone down and sends a signal to the generator to start up. When the generator is running it will send a signal back to the automatic transfer switch which will then switch over from the mains to the generator. When the power returns from the mains, the switch will turn off the generator and return to mains power again.