Understanding the Two Types of Transfer Switches

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What do you need to know about the two types of transfer switches?

  1. The significant difference between manual and automatic transfer switches
  2. Advantages and disadvantages of manual transfer switches
  3. Advantages and disadvantages of automatic transfer switches


As a top electrical supplier in Metro Manila, we know more than a thing or two about transfer switches. For starters, they are necessary for homes or establishments that have more than one power source. Combined with these alternative power sources, they can save you from having to suffer through or lose revenue over blackouts and power outages.

You can pretty much guess what a transfer switch does based on its name: it’s a switch that transfers your electrical line from one power source to another – from the commercial power grid to a generator or backup battery for example. This continuous supply of power ensures smooth functions and high productivity in different organizations and industries. For households, it saves you from the devastating effects of losing power and not having access to your devices.

There are many kinds of transfer switches, but the two main ones are the manual and automatic transfer switches. Each one functions differently, offers a different set of advantages, and comes with their own disadvantages. To find out more and achieve a complete understanding of these types, simply continue reading below!

Transfer Switch

Source: meijielectric.ph

The Significant Difference Between Manual and Automatic Transfer Switches

Although both exist for the same purpose, the way they achieve their goal is quite different.

Manual transfer switches are the more basic of the two and rely on manual effort to function. As its name suggests, you, the owner, have to manually flip the switch if you want or need to change power sources. So, in the event of a blackout, you will completely lose power until after you get up, grab a flashlight, head over to where the switch is, and flip or push it. You also need to manually switch it back the instance your main power supply comes back on.

Automatic transfer switches, on the other hand, are more advanced and have additional features. They can monitor the power supplied by your main source and detect issues such as fluctuations and irregularities, which are signs of an upcoming power outage. These things prompt the transfer switch to start up the generator and redirect your power line to it as soon as it becomes stable. What this means is that there is little lag time between losing power and changing sources, meaning you only lose power for a second or two – sometimes not at all.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Manual Transfer Switches

Now that we’ve discussed the difference between the two, we need to talk about each one’s advantages and disadvantages so you can figure out which is the right one for you, and we’ll start with the manual transfer switches.

The main reason some people prefer manual transfer switches over automatic transfer switches is that they’re much cheaper than the automatic ones. They are also small in size and can fit anywhere, making them beneficial to establishments that have limited space. Moreover, installation can be done by almost anyone who has basic skills and can properly follow instructions.

Of course, they also have downsides, with the most obvious and prominent one being the fact that you have to manually flip the switch. It’s nothing but a slight inconvenience for households but a few seconds of downtime can be detrimental for some businesses. For this reason, manual transfer switches are usually used by homeowners or by small businesses who aren’t troubled by brief power losses.

Automatic Transfer Switch

Source: indiamart.com

Advantages and Disadvantages of Automatic Transfer Switches

Likewise, automatic transfer switches also have their own advantages and disadvantages.

The biggest advantage of using an automatic transfer switch is simply the fact that everything is done automatically and no manual labor is needed. Before the outage even begins, the transfer switch will start working and prepare your backup power supply for use.

By the time the outage rolls in, your power supply would have already been transferred to your backup and not a single moment is lost. Large businesses are the ones that benefit the most from this as they won’t lag behind or lose money the moment the commercial power grid fails.

As for its disadvantages, the main one is its price. Since they’re so high-tech and advanced, they naturally cost way more than manual transfer switches. Another reason is size; if manual transfer switches are small, automatic transfer switches are large and require a lot of space. Lastly, installation is complex and a professional is required to accomplish it, which costs extra money.

Key Takeaway

All this information should be enough to make you decide on whether or not you need transfer switches and what kind to get. In general, there is no better one among the two. However, if you take into account your business’ or household’s needs and capabilities, you should be able to see that one is the more practical choice.

Once you’ve arrived at a decision, don’t hesitate to head to an electrical supplier in Metro Manila and purchase your very own transfer switch. You may even want to ask them to install it for you in order to guarantee proper and safe installation!

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