Congratulations on your choice for an automatic generator transfer switch. Of all the choices, this one is the easiest, to be sure! But it’s certainly not the cheapest!
A lot of Owners call me and ask why it’s so expensive to install an automatic transfer switch when they’re giving me the transfer switch to install. So, let me explain why it’s just as expensive for the electrician to install a manual transfer switch as it is for an automatic generator transfer switch.
I’m already putting more into this!
You’re absolutely correct. You are. You purchased the generator, the automatic transfer switch, the pad to permanently mount it to, and the winter package. Do not skimp on the winter package. It’s cold here and a cold engine doesn’t always start.
In order for your engine to run on it’s own, you’re also paying for a heating and cooling specialist to hook up gas to your generator. If not them, then a propane specialist to hook up the manifold.
Why isn’t the electrical cheaper?
The automatic generator package has more to hook up and it takes more time to bring it online and test it. It really is that simple. A manual generator has a power cord. That’s it. An automatic generator has power and controls.
Let’s walk through a semi-typical automatic transfer switch (ATS) installation.
Step 1: Connect power and from the meter to the switch
Take a look at that big conduit connecting the ATS to the meter. That contains two runs of power wires coming from and then going back to the switch. That’s the same as a manual transfer switch.
Step 2: Run power from the generator to the ATS
The larger conduit coming out of the Generac ATS is the power and runs from the ATS to the generator. This is also the same as a manual transfer switch.
Step 3: Run control wires and conduit from the generator to the ATS
Look at that second, smaller conduit coming out of the Generac ATS. That’s the control wires. There’s one for the start and stop sequence, the battery warmers, the batteries, and the rest of your winter package.
Step 4: Control Termination and Testing
The final part of the automatic generator transfer installation is the control termination and testing. We ensure:
- The voltage sensors are functioning correctly
- The engine is warming up
- The generator is transferring over within the 5 second time frame
- It’s transferring back to normal power correctly
- The engine cooldown time is correct.
- It’s connected to the Wi-Fi
If any of these are working incorrectly, it can greatly reduce the life of your engine.
It takes extra time to properly terminate these controls and to ensure your ATS is working properly.
What Can I Do To Make It Cheaper?
- Plan for your automatic transfer switch to be installed close to your meter or main panel and at least 5′ away from the gas main. The above picture could have been more cost effective had we been able to install the ATS to the right of the meter instead of to the left, for instance.
- Clear the area of debris or obstacles before we arrive for the installation.
- Be available during normal business hours for our electricians to install the manual transfer switch and switch power over.
- Understand that you will be without power for 1-4 hours. If this is an issue, coordinate with the front office when scheduling your appointment so we can coordinate with our electricians to make this power outage as efficient as possible.
- Be available for the start-up of your generator as we will need to call Generac to get it online.
Would It Be A Good Idea For Me To Buy The Materials?
You will be purchasing the transfer switch, generator, and the winter package. We recommend leaving the conduit, wire, boxes, and potential gutters to us.
Is the Investment worth it?
Automatic transfer switches take a lot of stress off of our shoulders. When the power goes out, our home simply works and the only thing we have to remember is that we can’t use our electric clothes dryer when we’re on generator power.
It really comes down to what you can afford comfortably. Automatic transfer switches and generator systems are a big investment. This is, however, an investment that adds equitable value to your home if it’s done right.