Transfer Switch: A Peace of Mind During Power Outage

Posted by Tina Kassaeian on

If your neighbourhood experiences frequent power outages, you may already have a generator or inverter at home. You could also want the power backup to begin operating as soon as the power goes out in order to get the most out of such power backup alternatives. 

A backup generator likely comes to mind when you consider your home's or business's emergency power options. In these situations, your home can be disconnected from the utility power line and powered by a backup generator with the help of a transfer switch. You can return to using the utility line after the power is restored instead of the generator.

In this article, we will review the importance of transfer switches for your households during a storm or any harsh weather conditions that may cause the power outages. We will also review some of the best transfer switches available at Canada’s market, that enables you to decide which option can be an ultimate solution for you.

What is a Transfer Switch and why you need it?

An automatic transfer switch (ATS) is a device that it detects a breakdown or outage in the primary source. It automatically switches the power supply from the primary source to a backup generator until utility power is restored.

The ATS connects to both primary and backup power sources and acts as an electrical relay between the power sources and your building or equipment. When only one cord is used to connect equipment to a power source, an ATS can also serve as a redundant rack-mounted power supply.

According to the National Electrical Code (NEC), any power connection to a residence must include a transfer switch. Actually, the only secure method of directly connecting a generator to your home is by using an ATS. The power wires are cut off from your house by an automatic transfer switch. This avoids back-feed, which happens when power flows backward over utility lines.

In addition to potentially damaging the generator, backfeed can also ignite fires. Even worse, back-feed could electrocute utility power restoration employees while they are working on the power lines, resulting in serious damage or even death.

The quickest and safest way to connect a generator to your house is via a transfer switch. Especially during a power outage, running extension wires to and from appliances can be an uncomfortable and time-consuming headache. With the aid of a transfer switch, you may quickly and conveniently use your generator to power any appliance in your home's electrical system. 

A transfer switch is necessary to power certain appliances during a utility power outage since others, such as furnaces or well pumps, cannot be linked to a generator with an extension cord.

How Does a Transfer Switch work?

The transfer switch's main breaker changes the power source from your utility electricity to a backup generator. It is not possible to connect the building to utility power and the generator at the same time. Power is switched from one source to another by the main breaker. This stops utility electricity from back-feeding into the generator and generator power from back-feeding through utility lines.

Moreover, several circuits are also present in the transfer switch. Different circuits might be assigned loads to power various appliances or areas. Your generator might not be big enough to power everything you have on every circuit at once, depending on its size. In these circumstances, switching between various loads will be simple if you use a transfer switch. 

Let’s think about your laundry time as an example to understand the necessity of transfer switches in your house. During the laundry time, you may simply turn off the circuit running your AC or other appliance and then turn on the circuit powering your washing machine to utilize it during a power outage. You would perform the opposite after using the washing machine.

A transfer switch makes it simple to control your power usage during a power outage and aids in maximizing the efficiency of your generator.

Essential Functions of a Transfer Switch 

In a nutshell, a Transfer Switch carries out the following crucial tasks in order to keep your keep your home consistently powered:

  • Observes and monitors the utility company power that often runs the house.
  • Transmits the "utility power unavailable" signal to the backup house generator control when it detects a utility company power outage.
  • Detects the return of utility company electricity and signals the home generator control that "utility power is available."
  • Changes the home's power source to the house generator after receiving the transfer order from the house generator control.

How to choose a transfer switch? Which factors should you consider?

The great news is that choosing the transfer switches is way easier than other products like solar panels, standby generators, batteries, inverters and etc. This is because your transfer switches options are mostly tied to the model and brand of your standby or backup generators. Yet, when it comes to buy a transfer switch, like many other electrical devices, you need to know what factors are important in order to buy the best transfer switches in Canada. 

In the following, we will review the top three important factors when you are buying a transfer switch. For sure, there are many other features that that you need to have in your mind depends on the type of your usage; if you have heavy duty usage or only need power for sensitive and small appliances. Some of these factors are like inbuilt sine wave inverter, having compact construction, different certificates and many more.


The normal lifespan of an automatic transfer switch is 20 to 25 years. In some circumstances, the transfer switch's relays and contacts may fail earlier. It is crystal clear that you would want your automatic transfer switch to last as long as feasible, just like any other electrical part or appliance in your house. For transfer switches our experts in Volts Energies in Canada recommend to pick a brand that has at least 2 years of warranty.

Current Rating

It is crucial to examine the current rating of your automatic transfer switch to ensure that it can manage all of your electrical demands. You can choose between current levels of 50 amps, 60 amps, or even greater for the same application. A higher current rating is always recommended for heavy-duty use.

Time Delay

Transfer Switches should have a time delay to make sure that they only switches to the power backup option during a power outage and not during an electric surge. This time delay should set at 30 seconds to guarantee optimum safety while switching to your backup power source.

Best Transfer Switches in Canada

For picking the best transfer switches for your residential or business purposes, first you should consider your home Generators’ brand and model. If you havent decided about your generators, you can check our previous blog post which is a comprehensive guide to choose the best emergency or standby generators. 

Among all different brands and models such as Cummins, Generac, Xantrex of Transfer Switches, our team of expert recommends these three Transfer Switches from Cummins which are quite famous in Canada.

Cummins Onan RSS Automatic Transfer Switch

RSS Transfer Switches has two version of 100 and 200 Amp that you have the option to choose the size which fits your needs. This cost effective, compact cummins transfer switch has many functions such as Time Delay, Voltage sensing, Automatic Control, easy installation. 

This automatic transfer switches is the best option for Residential and small commercial applications and comes with 2 year limited warranty from cummins. This product is only compatible with two-wire auto-start control systems, but requires a 3rd conductor to supply DC voltage to the control.

Cummins RA Series Transfer Switches

The RA Automatic Transfer Switch is integrated with the RS series genset. These powerful and efficient automatic transfer switches are listed in accordance with UL 1008, the Transfer Switch Safety Standard. The switch and generator set are specially made for an easier, faster installation.

The RA automatic transfer Switches has many models and among them RA412N3 400Amp and A212N3 200Amp that you can picK based on the size of your power system. These product is only compatible with Cummins QuietConnect Series standby generators and Available operationally for 120/240V 1 Phg voltage.


In this article, we discussed about transfer switches and why they are crucial during power outages. Moreover, we discussed their features and introduce top picks of transfer switches based on our customers point of view and our experts in Volts Energies. If you have any questions or concerns, or you need cunsaltion regarding your installation, contact us and our specialists will assist you in this regard.

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