With summer kicking in soon in Northern Arizona, we can also expect the monsoon season to bring in some intermittent weather hazards.
From excessive heat and dust storms to flash floods and lightning strikes, these unpredictable weather patterns should be something every Arizona resident prepares for.
Your power systems and appliances are especially vulnerable during these times. Power losses and electrical malfunctions can cause issues to homes and businesses across Arizona.
Aside from installing a whole-house surge protector, how can you keep your electricity working even through the monsoon season?
Having a generator with a manual transfer switch will be your lifesaver to ensure that your home or business keeps a fast, safe, and reliable backup power supply!
Read on to know more about how to prepare for this year’s monsoon season with manual transfer switches for your generator!
[Related: How Much Do Home Generators Cost in Arizona?]
What You Need To Know About Your Generators During A Monsoon
Lightning strikes and heavy rains cause power lines to malfunction. In these events, having a backup power supply in the form of a generator comes in handy.
Generators should be used with utmost caution. When mishandled, generator problems can cause electrical shocks and carbon monoxide poisoning which are life-threatening.
It’s important to be aware of the basic safety precautions to take when firing up a generator.
[Related: How Do Generators Work Without Electricity?]
3 Most Important Generator Safety Tips
1. Store your generator in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide emissions.
Carbon monoxide can leak from your generators without you noticing it. Inhaling this gas can kill you within minutes.
We always recommend putting your generators outside a home. Make sure they’re also located away from your windows and doors.
2. Switch your generator off and cool for 15-20 minutes before adding fuel.
Be careful when pouring gasoline into your generator. Fueling up a hot generator can cause a fire.
3. Install a manual transfer switch to avoid back feeding.
Back-feeding can cause serious injury or death. Having a manual transfer switch installed to your portable generator ensures safety for you, your neighbors, and utility workers
Why Install a Manual Transfer Switch to your Portable Generator?
During a power outage, many homes and businesses in Arizona rely on generators.
Plenty of people think that generators are simple DIY projects and opt to simply connect their generators to an extension cord, without taking safety measures.
While it is technically possible to hook up a portable generator to a house using an extension cord without a transfer switch, doing so can do your home more harm than good.
Connecting a portable generator to a house without a transfer switch can be a dangerous affair.
In such a case, if you hook up a portable unit via an extension cord and turn it on during the power outage, it will keep running even when the power is restored in the grid.
The power would then go back down the line to the generator resulting in the back feed.
What Do Generator Transfer Switches Do
If you want to install a generator, expert electricians will always recommend getting a transfer switch as well.
The transfer switch trades and transmits your home or business’s power supply from the power company to your backup power.
It separates and isolates the electricity coming from the generator and the power lines to protect utility repairmen from power surges caused by back feeding.
As a piece of essential safety equipment, transfer switches are required to be installed for every standby generator in the US.
How to Choose the Right Generator Transfer Switch?
Transfer switches come in two forms: automatic or manual.
Automatic transfer switches turn on immediately when the power goes out and signals the generator to start up.
On the other hand, a manual transfer switch fires up only when you turn it on yourself. It also requires manually connecting the generator to your home’s electrical system.
For most homeowners in Arizona, a manual transfer switch is the best choice. It costs less, is simple to have installed, and is easier to maintain than the automatic version.
However, if you own a business that needs a continuous power supply, it may be worth it to invest in an automatic transfer switch instead.
Benefits of Manual Transfer Switches
- Most suitable for portable generators
- Low cost. Manual transfer switches cost a fraction of the price compared to automatic ones.
- Installation is quick and easy. Unlike automatic switches, the manual switches take no time for a professional electrician to install.
- You are in control. After installation, your electrician will show you how simple it is to activate your switch and generator to provide power when you need it!
Factors To Consider
Different transfer switches are made to fit varying types of portable generators. Before investing in one, make sure to check out these two factors:
Check the rated wattage of your generator. You should buy a transfer switch that’s able to handle the rated wattage of your portable generator.
Make sure it has complete accessories
Most manufacturers sell the transfer switches complete with all accessories needed for their installation. This eliminates the need to purchase any additional parts.
However, some may have missing parts that are essential to complete the installation.
To be sure you’re making the right choice, discuss your options with a licensed electrician.
Have A Professional Electrician Install Your Manual Transfer Switches for You
If you want your backup power to run smoothly and without the unneeded risks, transfer switches are the way to go.
Monsoon season is coming! Consider installing a manual transfer switch to be prepared.
Unless you are a skilled electrician who knows exactly what you’re doing, we strongly advise against doing the installation yourself.
Do not attempt to use a portable generator to run your household without a transfer switch. This could not only damage the generator and your household appliances but also cause fire or electrocution.
As with any electrical project, it’s best to consult your local, licensed electrician for the best recommendation of which switch is right for you.
Feel prepared for this year’s monsoon season?
Leave us a comment below with how you have prepared your home, or ask a question.
Jeff Brandlin is the founder of Assurance Electrical Services, LLC. He started in the electrical industry when he was 21 and had worked in several electrical firms before founding Assurance Electrical. Jeff is dedicated to providing the best quality service to his clients and always puts their needs first. Outside work, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife and children.