How Does an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) Work?

Learn more about the “brain” of electrical systems

Contrary to what many might believe, using a manual transfer switch that’s used with portable generators isn’t going to make your standby generator run - and merely plugging your standby into an outlet certainly won’t, either!

In fact, standby generators require an automatic transfer switch (ATS) in order to operate. The ATS will automatically prompt your generator to start providing the emergency backup power you need - no thinking on your end required.

But how exactly does an automatic transfer switch work?

Good question. An automatic transfer switch works by connecting your standby generator to your place of residence. Under normal circumstances, the electricity will travel from the utility to your home’s primary electrical panel where it provides power to all the circuits.

In a switchgear application, the automatic transfer switch performs as the brain or pivotal component of a complete electrical system. With an ATS installed, it will instantly detect the next power outage and actively make the switch from electricity coming from your utility, to provide automatic generator/backup power.

The ATS then is able to detect when the power has been restored and the outage has come to an end - automatically switching your home back to the utility power source.

Choosing the right type of automatic transfer switch for your system

There are varying types of automatic transfer switches that range from 50-400 amps, all depending on what it is that is requiring power. But which ATS is right for you and your home system?

First things first: you don’t want to be powering any appliances that you don’t need to - but you should determine what’s most important before you go through with installation. If you only require power for your home’s most basic or essential appliances, ATS known as “load center transfer switches” or “essential circuit switches” are most ideal for this - as they have the ability to power 8-16 critical circuits from your primary breaker panel.

On the other hand, if a 16-circuit load center limit is not sufficient for your needs, a service disconnect transfer switch can energize your complete breaker panel so that you can rest assured your whole house is backed up.

Purchasing the right ATS along with your home generator is important, as both components must be installed simultaneously.

For more information on types of automatic transfer switches for your home backup power system, or for any of your home backup power needs, our team of experts at T&T Power Group would be happy to assist you.

Contact us today to get started.


Posted by Clayton Taylor | Apr 12, 2021 | Categories: Power Distribution