In the past few days, we’ve discussed what a few winter electrical remodels you can do on your home or home-based business, and I mentioned that the number one electrical remodel request we receive is to install a generator transfer switch. We went over a few of the basics on the automatic, manual, and interlock generator transfer switches and included the process on how to use each of them.
It’s time to talk about the pill that’s hard to swallow. These things are expensive. What makes them expensive and why should you make this investment into your home?
What Makes the Manual Transfer Switch Expensive?
I’m in the numbers almost daily, deciphering the hours, verifying labor rates, burden rates, and material costs for all of our jobs, ensuring that we’re continually fair to all of our customers and still able to pay the bills and keep our own lights on. So, here is a breakdown of the biggest costs when it comes to your manual transfer switch:
The Generator Transfer Switch
Depending on the time of the year, the cost of the transfer switch can vary greatly. In the spring, when demand is low, manual generator transfer switches can be very cost effective and they’re easy to get. In the winter, supply is low and prices are high. At one point every winter, these transfer switches are completely wiped out with the remaining few ranging in the thousands of dollars.
The Conduit and Wire
Depending on how far away your transfer switch is going to be from your meter or main panel, this part of the estimate can be cost effective or quite expensive. It’s cheaper to install your manual transfer switch as close to the meter or main panel as possible. The further away from either of these locations, the more expensive your manual transfer switch installation is going to be.
This is the most expensive part of your estimate. It takes time for a qualified electrician with years of experience to come to your home, install your manual transfer switch, connect it to your meter or main panel, tie everything in safely and per Code, and get you up and running again.
What Can I Do To Make It Cheaper?
- Plan for your manual transfer switch to be installed close to your meter or main panel and located outside.
- 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.
Would It Be A Good Idea For Me To Buy The Materials?
We get a handful of customers who try to save the mark-up we put on our materials by purchasing it themselves. In most cases, we’re unable to use most of it. If you would like to purchase the manual transfer switch, coordinate with our estimator or manager to ensure you’re getting the correct one. We are unable to use large portions of the materials procured by most Owners. The Code has a lot of rules that are needed and the varying conditions of each location can alter what materials are needed.
Is the Investment worth it?
We rely on electricity to keep our families warm, fed, dry, clean. Being able to turn on your generator and run the portions of your house that matter the most is incredibly important.
But, look. If it’s going to put your family in a bad financial place, don’t do it right away. Save up. Look into financing. Your family’s safety – your safety matters most and that includes financial stability and freedom. Heating is important, but there are ways to stay warm until the power comes back on. There are places you can go if the power doesn’t come on for hours or days or sometimes weeks.
Whatever you decide, though, we’re here to help.