When the power goes out at home, having a backup generator is invaluable. You can use emergency electricity to keep the refrigerator running, operate medical devices, and ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in your home.
With a transfer switch, you can power your home with a generator during temporary or prolonged periods without traditional utility electricity. At Shop Solar Kits, we specialize in continuous, off-grid power solutions, so we developed this guide for everything you need to know about transfer switches for generators.
What is a Transfer Switch for Generators?
A transfer switch is an electrical switch that switches the electrical load between two sources. In homes and businesses, you can use transfer switches to toggle between utility-fed electricity and a backup power supply from a generator.
Modern transfer switches come in many types and capabilities, but you can generally categorize them into two operating modes: manual and automatic. Automatic transfer switches seamlessly switch to generator power when utility electricity is lost, while manual switches require users to physically switch the home’s source of power.
Residential transfer switches are popular in areas that experience frequent electrical brownouts or blackouts from weather, unreliable infrastructure, and more.
Do I Need a Transfer Switch for My Generator?
Not always, but they are becoming more and more popular, especially if you plan to run your home’s lights and appliances without utility power and/or extension cords. Transfer switches can work for both traditional gas generators as well as solar-powered generators (aka portable power stations).
For gas generators that need to operate outdoors at a safe distance away from people, a transfer switch is necessary to efficiently use the electricity generated from the gas generator in your home. Manual gas generators may require you to go outside and battle the elements in potentially dangerous conditions and often require a hole drilled in the side of your home during installation.
Conversely, solar generators do not emit harmful fumes, so they can be safely run as a portable source of power in your home. With this in mind, the energy from solar generators does not necessarily have to go through a transfer switch to be helpful; however, having the power to operate the appliances in your home is incredibly convenient, making transfer switches very valuable.
Can I Install a Transfer Switch for a Generator Myself?
You can; however, we do not recommend this. We highly suggest consulting a licensed electrician. Transfer switches are high-powered electrical devices that should only be installed by a professional. Not only can you be harmed while incorrectly setting up a transfer switch, but a professionally installed device is the only way to ensure that you will continue to have power when you need it most during a utility blackout.
For the safety of you, your family, and your home, we do not recommend installing a transfer switch without the help of a licensed electrician.
Do I Need a Permit to Install a Generator Transfer Switch?
Yes, you will usually need a permit when you install a transfer switch for a generator, which is another reason why a licensed electrician is necessary. As a physical and electrical modification to your home, any legally existing transfer switch must be permitted by a licensed electrician and approved by local regulators.
Technically, it is possible to install a transfer switch yourself, but most parts of the world require a licensed electrician to approve the safety of your installation before its use. Failure to obtain a permit can result in fines and other civil penalties.
Generator Transfer Switch Installation
If you’re ready to install your transfer switch for a generator, we break down the basic steps below. Today, many transfer switches come with a manual and installation instructions, which should be followed very carefully if available. If not, take the following steps:
How to Use Your Transfer Switch
Once installed, transfer switches for generators are typically straightforward to use. After installation, label each switch and breaker as to what part of the home they power. You can then simply flip each switch to the generator mode to send electricity to each location.
With all of the switches are off, connect the generator to the transfer switch using the generator’s power cord. Be sure that your cord is both long enough to reach your generator (on the ground or raised) and the correct gauge to withstand your intended electrical loads. Once connected, check that your main power line is off before testing your home appliances with generator power.
The Best Transfer Switches for Generators
For homes and cabins, it can be overwhelming to decide which transfer switch to purchase. Not only do they require high-level electrical knowledge, but there are also many transfer switches on the market today from a wide variety of manufacturers. To make it easy for you, below, we highlight a few of the best transfer switches for generators available today.
Reliance Controls is one of the most well-known names in transfer switch manufacturing with over 100 years in the business. The Reliance Controls Corporation creates many high-quality automatic transfer switches with automatic and manual models of many different capacities.
The company has a wide range of options available, including indoor and outdoor models and many useful accessories. To get an idea of which switch may be best suited for your generator and electrical demand, you can use the brand's product selector.
Next, the Goal Zero Yeti Home Integration Kit is a popular transfer switch for homeowners with a generator from the same manufacturer. Goal Zero produces its integration kit to work specifically alongside its large capacity generators, such as the Goal Zero Yeti 3000X (see our full review for this product here).
Although the functionality and user design of Goal Zero’s Home integration kit are quite good, the device is not universally compatible with solar generators from other brands. Another downside is this product has a 15-amp max generator output with a max of 1,875 watts. While this is enough to power, say, your fridge, it's not enough to power your fridge and other appliances simultaneously.
Features & Battery Data
- Connects to indoor breaker panel
- Use during power loss or as main source of power transfer
- Product dimensions: 7.75 x 11.25 x 4.5 in
- Weight out of box: 9.5 lbs.
- Transfer Switch Circuits: 15A 120V
- Compatible with Yeti X and Yeti Lithium Power Stations 1000W and up
Lastly, our manual transfer switch, originally designed for the Nature’s Generator, is a universal device for most high-powered solar generators. Despite only being 12 lbs, this transfer switch can handle large electrical loads among the four breakers.
This transfer switch works great for both homes and RVs in need of backup power.
Features & Battery Data
- Connects to indoor breaker panel
- Use during power loss or as main source of power transfer
- Product dimensions: 8 x 4.75 x 13.25 in.
- Weight out of box: 12 lbs
- Operating temperature: 32-104 °F (0-40 °C)
- Storage temperature: 23–111 °F (-5–45 °C)
- Warranty: 12 Months
Are you shopping for a backup solar generator to use with your transfer switch? Consider checking out our custom home integration kits linked below that actually include the transfer switch already!
Top 5 Solar Generators for Power Transfer Switches
If you’re still trying to decide on the best generator is for your home’s backup power, we’d like to recommend our top five solar generators.
1. The Titan Solar Generator - $3,895
When it comes to power, few solar generators can top the Titan Solar Generator from Point Zero. The Titan absolutely crushes any naysayers who will tell you that you need a gas generator as a backup emergency source of power.
Titan Solar Generator Specs:
- Battery: 2000wH Lithium-Ion
- Inverter: 3000W / 7700W Surge
- 2 MPPT Charge Controllers
- Charging Options: Solar panels, AC, & DC
- Outputs: 6 AC wall outlets, 4 DC (12V) ports, 1 RV Plug (30amp), and 8 total USB ports
- Shelf Life: 3-6 Months
- 2-Year Warranty
- Weight: ~35 lbs. (plus batteries)
Titan Solar Generator Pros:
With a transfer switch, the Titan can supply up to 3000W of electricity to your home, enough power to run all of your appliances (maybe not simultaneously) without having to make too many sacrifices.
The Titan features a stackable battery system that allows for an essentially unlimited amount of power storage. With multiple ways to charge the batteries, the Titan can power a home through a transfer switch during both short and ongoing electrical outages.
Titan Solar Generator Cons:
Unfortunately, the Titan’s high-powered system comes at a substantial upfront cost. While it may not be worth it to invest in the Titan for backup for emergencies only, small homes can use the Titan and a few solar panels with a transfer switch to practically eliminate all grid reliance and ongoing electricity costs.
Beyond this, users may find the hefty unit a bit difficult to move around. However, once in place, the Titan is built to last, with an included two-year warranty.
What Can the Titan Solar Generator Actually Power? (Per battery pack)
- Smartphones (5-7 watts): 330+ hours
- Tablets (25-40 watts): 66+ hours
- Laptops (50 watts): 40+ hours
- Electric Blanket (Queen Size, 75 watts): 26+ hours
- 50" LED LCD TV* (65 watts) : 30 hours
- Refrigerator (55 watts): 36+ hours
- Chainable USB LED Lights (6 watts): 330+ hours
- CPAP Machine (30 watts): 66+ hours
Click Here: Titan Solar Generator 500 Watt Kit
2. EcoFlow Delta 1800 Solar Generator Quad Kit - $1,709
Next up is the EcoFlow Delta, a great portable power generator that you can use at home with a transfer switch. The lightweight, compact design makes it great for small homes or RVs looking to utilize clean energy in existing electrical systems.
EcoFlow Delta 1800W / 1300wH Solar Generator Specs:
- [Newest Model]: DELTA 1800
- [100% More Battery Capacity]: 1260Wh (350Ah,3.7V)
- [Compact Design] Dimensions: 15.7 x 8.3 x 10.6in (40 x 21 x 27cm)
- [Light Weight]: 30.9lbs (14kg)
- [Works in all Weather] Charge Temperature: 32-113℉ (0-45℃)
- [Discharge In Freezing Temperatures]: -4 -113℉ (-20-45℃)
- [Testing and Certifications]: UL, CE, FCC, RoHS, PSE
- [Cell Chemistry]: Lithium-ion
- [Shelf Life]: 1 Year (after fully charged)
What can the EcoFlow Delta 1800 Actually Power?
- Large Fridge 15-18+ Hours
- Lights (10W) 36+ Hours
- Coffee Maker 50+ Cups
- Circular Saw 1+ Hours
- Laptop 27+ Recharges
- Electric Vehicle 3-5 miles (5-8 km)
- CPAP Machine 20+ Hours
- Air Conditioning 0.8+ Hours
- Electric Blanket 25+ Hours
EcoFlow Delta Solar Generator Pros:
There are many great advantages of the EcoFlow Delta. For one, it is very affordable. Secondly, it charges with traditional AC power in less than two hours. And third, it has a shelf life of up to one year.
With these pros in mind, the EcoFlow Delta makes it incredibly easy to purchase a generator, charge it, and retain a source of backup electricity. Plus, it can discharge in freezing temperatures, which is critical in blackouts from winter storms.
EcoFlow Delta Solar Generator Cons:
Of course, as a lightweight and affordable option, the EcoFlow Delta may not be able to power all of the items in your home for extended periods. In addition to its relatively low battery capacity (1300Wh), the Delta is limited by its 1800W inverter, which may not be able to handle a sump pump, heating system, and other large demand devices all at once.
Click Here: EcoFlow Delta Quad Kit
3. Bluetti AC200P Solar Generator Hex Kit - $2,897
Third up is the Bluetti AC200P, a reliable solar generator for emergency power with a transfer switch. The AC200P is one of the highest capability devices from a reputable brand name.
Bluetti AC200P Solar Generator Specs:
- 2,000wh High Capacity Lithium Battery (LiFePO4)
- 2000W Inverter for Continuous AC Power
- 6 x AC (Wall) Outlets
- 1 x 60W PD 2.0 USB-C
- 4 x 5V/3A USB-A
- 1 x PV 35-150V/12A
- 1 x 12V/25A Output
- LG premium electric-vehicle battery cell
- 3500+ Charge Cycles
- MPPT Charge Controller
- 2*15W Wireless charging pads
- Intelligent temperature-controlled cooling fan
- Smart touchable LCD control panel
- 24-Month Warranty
Bluetti AC200P Solar Generator Pros:
With 2000W of continuous electricity, the Bluetti AC200P has a slightly larger capacity than the EcoFlow Delta and can run many high-demand devices simultaneously. Additionally, the Bluetti's 2000Wh capacity battery is rated at 3,500 charge cycles, giving consumers the security of both long runtimes and lifecycles for years of emergency or ongoing power.
Bluetti AC200P Solar Generator Cons:
Although it cannot store or output as much energy as the Titan, there are not many drawbacks to this well-designed generator. The Bluetti AC200P is a bit heavy for some users, but overall works great as a home’s partial source of electricity with a transfer switch.
What Can the Bluetti AC200P Actually Power?
- A cellphone (6 W): 250+ Hours
- Light (10 W): 150+ Hours
- GoPro (18 W): 90+ Hours
- Camera (25 W): 60+ Hours
- Laptop (50 W): 30+ Hours
- CPAP Machine (60 W): 25+ Hours
- Flat Screen TV (110 W): 13+ Hours
- Large Fridge (150 W): 10+ Hours
- Coffee Maker (600 W): 2+ Hours
- Electric Grill (1650 W): About 1 Hour
- And more
Click Here: Bluetti AC200P Hex Kit
4. Lion Safari ME Solar Generator [GOLD Kit] - $3,995
Next, the Lion Safari ME solar generator is a versatile device great for transfer switching and taking on the go. If you need a backup source of power with the option of hitting the road, the Lion Safari ME’s modular design makes it the perfect solar generator for the job.
Lion Safari ME Solar Generator Specs:
- Output - AC [Standard Wall Plugs]: 2 (Easily split these with a surge protector or extension cable)
- Output - USB: 2 USB-A & 2 USB-C
- Rated Battery Capacity: 922wH + 2,048wH = 2,970 watt hours
- Battery Type: Lithium
- Inverter: 2000 Watt Continuous / 4000 Watt Surge - Pure Sine
- Fastest Solar Recharge Time: Under 2 hours
- Lifecycles: 2,000
Lion Safari ME Solar Generator Pros:
The Lion Safari ME comes standard with a 2000W inverter (the same size as the Bluetti AC200P) for massive amounts of power for your devices. Much like the Titan, the Safari ME comes with modular batteries that you can recharge and swap for endless power. One battery alone allows you to store nearly 3,000Wh to power lights, fridges, and other electronics for hours on end.
Lion Safari ME Cons:
Much like with other high-powered solar generators, the biggest drawbacks of the Lion Safari ME are weight and upfront costs. As the base unit only has a battery capacity of 922 Wh, you need to purchase an additional battery pack to meet the electrical demands of a home.
What Can The Lion Safari ME Solar Generator Gold Kit Actually Power?
- Full Size Fridge (120W) - 25+ Hours
- Phone Charging (5W) - Charge up to 200+ times
- Laptop Charging (56W) - Charge up to 50+ times
- 55" LCD T.V (75W) - 38+ Hours
- LED Reading Lamp (4W) - 720+ Hours
- Hot Plate (500W) - 5.8+ Hours
- Air Conditioner (500W) - 5.8+ Hours
- House Fan - (50W) - 60+ Hours
- Microwave - (1k) - 3+ Hours
- Electric Blanket (50W) - 60+ Hours
- CPAP Machine (90W) - 28+ Hours
Click Here: Lion Safari ME Gold Kit
5. Bluetti EB240 Solar Generator Quad Kit - $2,297
Finally, we recommend the Bluetti EB240 as a great solar generator for a home transfer switch application. The EB240 is a lightweight and affordable device, designed to output small amounts of electricity over long periods of time.
Bluetti EB240 Solar Generator Specs:
- Battery Capacity: 2400Wh (Watt Hours)
- Battery Chemistry: LG Li-ion battery cells (Lithium)
- AC Input: 7.9 x 0.9mm DC, 42V/160W (Wall Charger)
- Open Circuit Voltage: 16V~60V /Max. 10A (For Solar Panel Charging)
- AC Output: 110V, Max. 1000 Watts (Pure Sine Inverter)
- CarPort (Cigarette Lighter): DC 12V/9A
- USB Ports: 1 x 45W USB-C (5-20V) & 4 x 5V, 3A USB-A
- Solar Charge Input/Mode: MPPT Charge Controller
- Efficiency: 99.5%
- Exact Size of Generator (Dimensions): 19.4 x 6.5 x 14.4 inches
- Weight: 48.5lb
- Warranty: 2-Years
Bluetti EB240 Solar Generator Pros:
In the EB240, 2400Wh of battery capacity provides tons of electricity storage to be sent through your home’s transfer switch. With solar, the EB240 can also be charged very efficiently, making it possible to power small homes continuously.
Bluetti EB240 Solar Generator Cons:
The biggest drawback of the Bluetti EB240 is its 1000W inverter capacity. Compared to the other generators on this list (as well as gas generators), 1000W is very limiting when trying to run large home appliances like AC or heating.
However, if you only plan to use your transfer switch in an emergency, the Bluetti EB240 can still run most energy-efficient devices.
What Can the Bluetti EB240 Solar Generator Actually Power?
- Fridge/Freezer (100 watts): 24+ hours
- 50" TV (65 watts) : 37 hours
- LED Lights (6 watts): 400 hours
- House Fan (50 watts): 48 hours
- Smartphones (5-7 watts): 400+ hours
- Tablets (25-40 watts): 80+ hours
- Laptops (50 watts): 48+ hours
- Electric Blanket (Queen Size, 75 watts): 32 hours
- CPAP Machine (30 watts): 80+ hours
Click Here: Bluetti EB240 Quad Kit
We hope this in-depth transfer switch guide helped shed some light on how to install a generator transfer switch and what sort of things you must consider before doing so.
A transfer switch for your generator makes for an extremely convenient experience if and when you lose power, so it makes sense why transfer switches are becoming so popular.
If you still have questions, don't hesitate to reach out or give us a call at 877-242-2792.