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Old 01-31-2011, 11:53 PM   #1
SLO VETTE
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Default Electricians in the house--transfer switch install costs?

Am looking at getting a transfer switch installed so I can run a portable generator in case things go to hell & a handbasket.

I have all new service & circuit panels installed (just within the past month), but we never discussed a TS as it wasn't really on the mind.

I'm looking at the parts and it looks like ~$300-400 or so for the switch itself. Is installation difficult, and about what would I expect to pay in terms of project cost (or would it be per hour)?
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Old 01-31-2011, 11:56 PM   #2
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Are you talking about an automatic transfer switch? How often would you need this, that you couldn't just hook it up when you needed it?
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:03 AM   #3
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no just manual. if power goes down i'll know it. then i figured i'd flip the transfer switch (unless it automatically shuts off incoming city power when it fails), and fire up the generator. one of the other questions is how many watts should i get for generator? i'm guessing several k +/-. it's a small house, 1 boiler, misc. appliances, etc.
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:14 AM   #4
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The reason I asked is there is a big difference in cost between an automatic transfer switch (that senses loss of power) and a manual switch, and an automatic switch is typically used for a permanent installation. You mentioned "portable" generator. I have used a portable generator several times (hurricanes), and I always just pull the meter once power has gone down and wire in the generator to be sure I don't put power on the utility side of the meter. If you don't frequently need a generator, and have some basic skill, you could skip the switch altogether. As to the size, you would need to estimate the load required, typically to run only those things essential. A generator large enough to run an entire house can be very costly to buy, and to operate for long periods of time.
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:16 AM   #5
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There are some new devices out that replace a breaker in your panel that allow you to legally use a hardwired standby generator. I don't have the data at home, you might do a search.

I think they are approved and don't cost nearly as much as a transfer switch. Partly because the are just sized for a small generator, not the entire house load a transfer switch is made for.

For example a 5 kw 230 volt generator is only 22 amps. So it could feed the house panel with only a 25 amp breaker. I don't think they are automatic, as you will have to turn off unnecessary circuits at the panel to keep from overloading your generator.

LJ
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:21 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by LarryMJones View Post
There are some new devices out that replace a breaker in your panel that allow you to legally use a hardwired standby generator. I don't have the data at home, you might do a search.
LJ
When using this, how do you prevent putting power onto the utility side of the panel? Open the main?
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:54 AM   #7
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Both Manual and Automatic transfer switches may be hardwired.

Manual are often used in conjunction with a generator receptacle to feed power into the house.

There are also small panels to intercept just a few circuits with manual transfer switches made by Gen-Tran.

Here is what is going to be the challenge:

If you do a full house Manual transfer switch that will end up having to be 200A or what ever size panel you have, to handle the power during non-generator times. That gets big and expensive and you must re-route the incoming lines thru the switch, also big and expensive, and now the switch needs a Service Entrance rating, more expensive.

If you do the Gen Tran, you only need to reroute the 15 or 20A individual circuits thru the switch.

It is easy to visualize any of this rapidly passing $2k unless you have an uncle electrician.

Also, the economical portable generators often have several 15 or 20A receptacles instead of one large one to feed a single transfer switch, so you might be out of luck on that end also.....
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:55 AM   #8
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I run a Honda 3000U when a storm hits. I open the main, start the genny and close the breaker to the panel. I only power one side of the a 200A panel and run just the important stuff like the TV and computers (oh and the fridge). Had an electrician install a box to plug the genny into and make a cable to connect the genny to the box. $200 or so.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:06 AM   #9
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This is what I have works great, watch the video tells you all you need to know..

They are all pretty good what I like about this one is, you can pick and choose what you what to run and when.. The others if I know what I am talking about you have dedicated breakers and can only use those.. Not sure about it maybe someone can set me straight on it..

http://www.interlockkit.com/

Last edited by jmc12; 02-01-2011 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:06 AM   #10
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I got this one, and put it in myself, with the help of the computer video...It really was easy. The hardest part was running the wire from the box to the barn. This link will tell you everything that you need to know, and give you your options....

http://www.reliancecontrols.com/Prod....aspx?31406CRK

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Old 02-01-2011, 09:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryMJones View Post
There are some new devices out that replace a breaker in your panel that allow you to legally use a hardwired standby generator. I don't have the data at home, you might do a search.


LJ
This is the newest LEGAL item that works ...it mounts on the panel cover ..top breaker
There is a special bar and lock that when you turn off the main it turns on a special breaker used for backfeeding the panel ..
$30-40.00..at the dealer that sells the panel ....10 minute install ..
Ans as always the guys that use a breaker and turn the main off ...it is not legal and can cost you a bunch if ther is a malfunction ...
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:30 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juiceman03070 View Post
This is the newest LEGAL item that works ...it mounts on the panel cover ..top breaker
There is a special bar and lock that when you turn off the main it turns on a special breaker used for backfeeding the panel ..
$30-40.00..at the dealer that sells the panel ....10 minute install ..
Ans as always the guys that use a breaker and turn the main off ...it is not legal and can cost you a bunch if ther is a malfunction ...
Naa. Might not be legal where you live, but here it is. Like I said, an electrician wired mine up for me.
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:35 AM   #13
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Great info. As I'm building a home now.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:09 AM   #14
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I picked up a kit on Amazon for about $300. Installed it myself. Got a 8 kW electric start generator at Sams Club for $1000.

Best insurance I ever bought, haven't had a power outage since.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:20 AM   #15
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Bought an 8500 start/5500 continuous Generator at Lowes about 6 years ago. $600. Bought a manual switch on Ebay for $125 and mounted it next to my service in the basement by Pro for $300. (added new service at the same time). Mounted and ran line from outside garage. We get strong thunderstorms in the Spring here that kills the power for anywhere from 1 hour to 2 days or fried Squirrels and Chipmunks during the Summer. One of the best investments I ever made. Now I can heat the house and flush at will. H2O heater and stove is gas.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:42 AM   #16
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GREAT ideas in here folks. I'm gonna print this out & hand it to our electrician.

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Old 02-01-2011, 10:50 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO VETTE View Post
GREAT ideas in here folks. I'm gonna print this out & hand it to our electrician.

All you need is this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/EMERGEN-SWITCH-M...item3a62dd6fc0

a receptacle and a generator.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:58 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO VETTE View Post
no just manual. if power goes down i'll know it. then i figured i'd flip the transfer switch (unless it automatically shuts off incoming city power when it fails), and fire up the generator. one of the other questions is how many watts should i get for generator? i'm guessing several k +/-. it's a small house, 1 boiler, misc. appliances, etc.

I have a system like you described. I use a portable generator that plugs in outside the garage. From there the wire runs to a transfer switch on the main electric panel that is USER operated. I have my primary circuits run through the switch, Furnace, refrig, kitchen outlets, well and lights . By hand controlling itís easy to do and makes the house livable. Itís far from perfect but much cheaper than whole house auto system. I have only had to use it for a max of 16 hours now, but with gas on hand I could use it for a heck of a long time if needed. I only run the generator (6,000W) as needed and keep it off unless we need the electric at that moment.


To be legal it needs to be electrician installed, you should easily get it done (switch & labor) for under $700. My transfer switch system is made by Protran and you can get different size systems to control different amounts of circuits.
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:24 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6spdC6 View Post
I have a system like you described. I use a portable generator that plugs in outside the garage. From there the wire runs to a transfer switch on the main electric panel that is USER operated. I have my primary circuits run through the switch, Furnace, refrig, kitchen outlets, well and lights . By hand controlling itís easy to do and makes the house livable. Itís far from perfect but much cheaper than whole house auto system. I have only had to use it for a max of 16 hours now, but with gas on hand I could use it for a heck of a long time if needed. I only run the generator (6,000W) as needed and keep it off unless we need the electric at that moment.


To be legal it needs to be electrician installed, you should easily get it done (switch & labor) for under $700. My transfer switch system is made by Protran and you can get different size systems to control different amounts of circuits.

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Old 02-01-2011, 11:43 AM   #20
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I would have the work done by a licensed electrician. Check to see if your city requires a permit and inspection. A good electrician will know that and can get the permits for you.

If there would ever be a problem like a short circuit that results in a fire, you insurance company may want to see proof of a proper and legal installation to include a signed permit.
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