If you live in an area with frequent power blackouts, you will need a generator. However, owning a generator alone is not enough. You will need a transfer switch, which is an electrical device that connects the electrical panel’s circuit breaker to the generator. The big question is: What is the average cost to install a generator transfer switch?
The average cost of the installation ranges from $400 to $2000. The total cost will largely depend of the type of switch to install. Manual transfer switches, which are ideal for portable generators, will cost an average of $400 to $1300. Automatic switches, which are ideal for standby generators, will cost you an average of $600 to $2000. These costs include the labor costs, as well as the cost of materials.
What Factors Affect the Cost of Generator Transfer Switch Installation?
As stated above, the average cost of installing a generator transfer switch ranges from $400 to $2000. This cost covers many aspects that include labor and materials. To fully understand the exact amount of money you will need for your installation, you should know the individual factors that affect the overall cost.
Some of these factors include:
1. Cost of Labor
The cost of labor for installation work will cost you between $200 and $400. The amount you will pay will be influenced by the number of hours taken by the electrician, which is typically 2 to 4 hours. However, labor costs may vary based on the complexity of your home’s design and the type of switch you want to install, among other things.
2. Cost of Materials
The overall cost of materials for transfer switch installation will range from $200 to $2000.
The various models, brands, and capacities of materials available in the market have different prices. The overall cost will depend on your choice of materials to use and the type of switch to use.
It’s worth noting that your electrical panel’s main breaker and transfer switch amps should match. If this is not the case, your electrician should adjust the power switch’s size in line with the power requirements.
The table below shows a cost comparison of various transfer switch amps.
|Amps||Manual Transfer Switch Cost ($)||Automatic Transfer Switch Cost ($)|
3. Other Accessories in the Kit
A generator transfer switch kit comes with various items to facilitate its installation and use. Depending on the seller you’re buying from, these accessories may be included or excluded from the purchase. As such, you should look out for sellers that include such items when selling a transfer switch. This way, you will not have to incur additional costs to buy these items.
Please note that a complete transfer switch kit has all that you need to facilitate the installation. This will save you on money that would otherwise be used to buy them.
4. The Cost of Authorization in your Region
The cost of authorization of electrical installation works will cost you anything from $10 to $500.
Please note that most regions will require you to have certain permits when you want to modify electrical systems. In some cases, it might be difficult for local authorities to give such permits to individuals. You will have to seek a licensed electrician to obtain them.
Additionally, your house might have to undergo inspection before the permit is given. If this is the case, the cost of installation might rise by around $100 to $500.
5. Transfer Switch Wattage
A generator’s capacity ranges from about 5000 watts to over 7500 watts.
The capacity of your transfer switch should match the size of your generator for efficient operation. You have to check your generator’s size to know the suitable transfer switch to buy for it. For example, if your generator has a capacity of 7500 watts, the transfer switch should support 8000 watts.
If you have a generator will less than 5000 watts, usually a portable generator, you should use a 6-circuit switch that costs around $250 t0 $300. If your generator is between 5000 watts and 1Kw, you will need a 10-circuit switch that costs around $350 to $450.
6. Type of Transfer Switch
As stated above, 6-circuit switch and 10-circuit switch play a role in the cost of transfer switch installation. The type of switch you will use, whether automatic or manual switch, will similarly affect installation costs. The cost of buying them also varies.
Let’s consider the two types of transfer switches below.
Manual Transfer Switch
Other than costing less compared to automatic switches, it is easy to set up a manual switch. The result will be lower labor costs as the electrician will spend less time setting it up.
In the event of a power outage, you will have to switch physically to your generator. The manual switch also comes in handy when you want to connect your house to your portable generator. As such, a manual switch is both logical and cheap.
Automatic Transfer Switch
Automatic switching is much more expensive than manual switching. The difficulty of setting it up adds to the total cost of its installation. The figure could go to as high as $1000.
Despite its high cost, automatic switching is efficient. It involves switching from utility power supply to generator power supply without any physical interventions. In the event of frequent power blackouts, automatic switching ensures you have a continuous power supply that covers large spaces.
Is a Transfer Switch Installation Necessary?
Yes, it is necessary. Judging from the high cost of generator transfer switch installation, you might be undecided on whether or not to install it in your home. Is it really necessary?
First off, the National Electrical Code requires all homeowners to install transfer switches to cover all power connections to their homes. From a safety perspective, it makes sense to install an automatic transfer switch that connects your generator to your home.
Installing an automatic transfer switch has the following benefits:
- Your home is isolated from the utility power lines thus preventing back-feed in the event of power blackouts
- There will be fewer chances of fires in your home due to the prevention of back-feed
- Utility power line workers will be protected from injuries or death caused by electrocution
Other than being safe, it is also easy to install a transfer switch to your home. You don’t have to waste a lot of time running extensions to your electrical appliances in the event of an outage. You can easily and quickly connect your generator to your home appliances, thanks to the transfer switch. The connection can also extend to other items like well pumps and furnaces when you experience utility power outages.
This article has effectively covered the cost of installing a generator transfer switch in your home. The total costs have been broken down into the individual components and processes to arrive at the final cost.
Please note that the installation of a generator transfer is a safe and legally accepted method of reducing cases of back-feeding. Failure to install one in your home may lead to fires, injuries, or death. It is also a perfect alternative to interlocking.
If you have a small home, opting for a portable generator, which uses a manual transfer switch is a cheaper option. This will help you to keep electrical costs at bay.
Additionally, you should only hire trusted, licensed electricians for the best results. This will not only guarantee quality work but also help you to avoid possible problems with the relevant authorities, as well as your insurer.
Faqs About Installing Transfer Switch
How Much Does an Electrician Charge to Install a Generator Transfer Switch?
An electrician will charge between $200 and $400 for your installation works. This cost translates to 2-4 hours’ work. Generally, it costs less to install a transfer switch that involves a manual generator as opposed to an automatic generator. The overall cost may, however, be higher if you have a complicated house design.
Can a Homeowner Install a Generator Transfer Switch?
Yes, a homeowner can install a manual generator switch. You have to be confident of your skills and experience to operate live terminals. Failure to do this may put you at great risk of electrocution. However, you will need to hire a professional electrician if the installation involves automatic generators.
How Long Does it Take to Install a Generator Transfer Switch?
An electrician will take about 2-4 hours to install a generator transfer switch. It might take a bit longer if you have a complex house design or if your electrician is not well experienced. It will also take much time if a homeowner makes the installations.
How Much Does it Cost to Install a 10 Transfer Switch?
It will cost you between $750 and $1950 to install a 10 transfer switch. The average cost of buying a transfer switch is $400, whereas the labor cost is about $350 to $400. As such the average cost of installation is between $750 and $800. This cost may rise to between $1000 and $1950 if you’re looking for luxury standards. The high luxury installation cost is due to the $500 to $950 labor cost and $500 to $950 material (transfer switch) cost.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Whole House Generator Installed?
It will cost you an average of about $4000 to install a whole generator in your house without including the cost of maintenance and repairs. The main cost determinant is the price of the generator, which will vary based on the size of your home. Your home’s size will determine the ideal capacity to look for in the generator to use. This cost will be much higher if you plan to cover vast areas.
Should you turn Off Main Breaker When Running the Generator?
Yes, you should turn off the main breaker when running your generator for safety reasons. Turning off the main breaker, which leads to the shutting off of the utility power, ensures that your generator will not blow off in case the utility power comes back. It is also necessary when you want to install a new circuit breaker or when you have difficulties identifying the correct circuit breaker branches when conducting a repair. When doing this, you should follow the manual instructions to limit the effects of carbon monoxide emissions.
How Much Does it Cost to Wire a Portable Generator to a House?
It costs an average of about $22750 to $2865 to install a portable generator in your home. The major cost involves an 800-watt generator, suitable for a standard-sized home, that costs between $1400 and $1700. Other costs include the transfer switch that costs between $600 and $800, propane and propane tanks that cost between $175 and $$165. Considering that the work will take approximately one hour, you will have to pay between $100 and $200 in labor fees.
Which is Better Transfer Switch or Interlock?
A transfer switches system in way better than the interlock system. Despite having the same role in various applications, the interlock and transfer switch operate differently. Whereas an interlock is suitable for residential places that have frequent power outages, a transfer switch is suitable for commercial and industrial places. Both of them are a necessity if you don’t want to face the effects of power blackouts. However, commercial buildings must have a transfer switch in compliance with legal requirements.
Can you Run a Generator Without a Transfer Switch?
Yes you can. However, doing so will pose a great risk both to your home, its occupants, and utility power line workers. This is because of back-feed that can cause fires or electrocution leading to injuries or death. A transfer switch isolates your home from the utility power lines, thus, reducing these risks. Additionally, the installation of a transfer switch is a legal requirement in certain areas or buildings.
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