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A transfer switch is an electrical device that allows you to safely connect a generator to your household wiring. It is permanently installed near the service panel in your home to make using a generator as safe and easy as operating a light switch.
 

During a power outage, there are two ways to use a portable generator for power. The first is to run extension cords from the generator to your lights and appliances. However, this is inconvenient and does not allow you to operate some of your critical circuits like the furnace fan or well pump. The second way to use a generator is to connect it directly into your household wiring. Using only one cord, you can now power several or all of your most important household circuits, including the furnace fan and well pump. To do this, the National Electrical Code requires a transfer switch. Direct connection without a transfer switch can result in damage to your home and generator and great harm to utility workers.
 

A transfer switch prevents the utility power and the generator power from powering your household circuits at the same time. When the utility power goes out, you simply plug your generator into the transfer switch, start it up, and flip the transfer switch or switches from the UTILITY position to the GENERATOR position. The most important circuits in you home are now powered by the generator.
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