4 Best Transfer Switches

While many of the products we review here are readily available to purchase and operate without a license, we always recommend hiring a qualified electrician to install and demonstrate their use.

In some cases, improper use and installation may result in a breach of insurance. Even worse, you could be putting yourself or your family at risk as an incorrectly installed electrical device could start a fire. So, don’t risk it - seek the services of a fully licensed electrician instead.

Power outages are a nightmare, aren’t they? The fiddling around for candles or wheeling your generator out and pulling at cables in the dark is a situation we would all rather avoid. But how?

Well, here come transfer switches to save the day! After some installation and the flick of a switch, your generator will power your home or appliances, ensuring your coffee can be boiled and your refrigerator powered!

4 Best transfer switches

Transfer switches are vital pieces of equipment you don’t want to be without. But which to purchase? There are so many on the market and with such a range in price, deciding what transfer switch to buy can be difficult. 

Thankfully, we have got you covered! We have found the 4 best transfer switches on the market, with one to suit every budget! Keep reading for our excellent choices and our buyer’s guide and FAQ section, so you can leave here today a transfer switch expert! 

In a hurry? Check out our top pick to grab your transfer switch and go!

OUR TOP PICK

Reliance Controls offers a reasonably priced all in one kit, allowing you to transfer the power from your generator to your home with ease! 

The transfer switch comes in a kit with a pre-wired transfer switch with wattage meters, a 30A power inlet box, wire connectors, a 20A plug end, and a 10-foot power cord! Everything you could need to get your home up and running. 

The patented built-in junction box saves time and cost when it comes to installing it! It is also made from durable steel, designed to stand the test of time! 

Reliance Controls switch can handle a maximum running generator watts of 7,500. This will suit most portable generators, but be sure to check your running watts before purchasing! 

The switch features clearly labeled circuit wires, which allow for a quick load and center connection. The color-coded cables will allow you to position your switch quickly and easily! 

Three large toggles allow you to control your appliances. In the case of a power outage, toggle the switches to the ‘Gen’ position, and your generator will do the rest! 

The switch comes with an impressive 5-year warranty so you can power your home worry-free! It is also cUL 1008 listed, ensuring that your home and electricals are safe! 

Customers were impressed with these switches, finding them easy to use. They also found customer support very helpful with any queries or concerns they had about the transfer switch.

Great for those first time switch users who may need a little extra help installing their new transfer switch! 

Some customers found the instructions a little tricky to follow. Be sure to take your time if you have never used a transfer switch before, or consult online tutorials for further help. 

There is no better option for those after an easy to use and install transfer switch than Reliance Controls transfer switch! 

Pros:

  • 5-year warranty 
  • All-in-one kit 
  • cUL1008 listed
  • Maximum running watts of 7,500. 
  • 10-foot power cord included 

Con:

  • Some customers found the instructions a little tricky to follow.

EDITORS CHOICE

Another excellent option from Reliance Controls is this 10-circuit transfer switch! It is a fantastic option for those with a more powerful generator!

This transfer switch has a maximum running watt of 12,500, excellent for those with larger generators and appliances they want to run! 

This amount of power will be more than capable of powering your home and an AC unit! It is also still an excellent option for those with less powerful generators too!

The switch itself is easy to install and should take no time at all, whether you are installing at home or businesses. The kit comes with an 18-inch flexible conduit whip, which easily attaches to the load center. 

The switch is sealed in a powder-coated steel cabinet, featuring six combination knockouts, resettable branch rated circuit breakers, and non-defeatable double-throw switches.

You have a maximum of ten single-pole circuits and five double-pole circuits too, what more could you possibly need? 

Reliance Controls switch comes with a two-year warranty, so you can install the switch and use it worry-free!

Some customers found the metal conduit stiff to use and replaced it with a PVC to overcome this issue. However, this was not a widely reported issue, so you should have no trouble! 

Customers were impressed with the transfer switch, finding the instructions clear and easy to follow. They also praised its construction; the steel box provides excellent durability.  

If you are after a transfer switch capable of handling some serious power, then it’s this one from Reliance Controls for you! 

Pros:

  • Fast and easy to install
  • 2-year warranty 
  • Maximum running watts of 12,500
  • Durable powder-coated steel box 
  • Range of single-pole and double-pole circuits 

Con:

  • Some customers found the metal conduit stiff to use. 

BEST VALUE

For those after a transfer switch that is perfect for portable generators, Connecticut’s transfer switch is the one for you! 

Connecticut’s manual transfer switch has a maximum running watt of 7,500, suitable for most portable generators on the market!

Remember to check your generator’s running watts, not peak, when purchasing your transfer switch! 

What’s great about this generator is that it can be used both indoors and outdoors! Thanks to its NEMA 3R rainproof rating, you can install the switch either inside or outside, at a convenient location! 

The transfer switch can run two-pole circuits, allowing for 240-volt circuits to be run! It’s excellent for those wanting to use it for well or water pumping purposes.

You can even remove the tie bar to allow for two single pole circuits instead if you wish, allowing you to customize the switch to your needs.

Connecticut’s transfer switch is easy to install and comes with easy to follow instructions to help you get set up quickly! Customers praised how easy the instructions were to follow and how straightforward it was to install the switch. 

The switch is also compatible with load centers, including Challenger, Cutler-Hammer, Home line, Siemens, Square D, GE, and Westinghouse load centers! The double throw rocker also offers power surge protection! 

It removes the chance of any power back-feeding into the utility like or generator when power is restored to provide you with safe access to power. 

The UL listed switch comes with a one-year warranty, so you can install and use it worry free! It is also ETL listed, along with all of Connecticut’s electrical products, allowing you to use them safely and with ease. 

Some customers noted that the wires going to the main box from this panel were on the shorter side and would have liked about a foot more of length. This issue was not widely reported, so you should not experience any problems.

It is worth placing the box closer to the panel, if possible, to avoid similar issues.  

Customers were impressed with this transfer switch’s safety, with many not requiring an electrician to install it safely. They also praised its excellent value for money. 

If you are after a transfer switch that can be used indoors and outdoors, then this from Connecticut is the one for you! 

Pros:

  • Great for portable generators
  • 1-year warranty 
  • Maximum running watts of 7,500
  • UL and ETL listed  
  • Great for indoor or outdoor use 

Con:

  • Some customers found the wires entering the main box were longer. 

RUNNER UP

Go Power’s automatic transfer switch is an excellent option to consider! The transfer switch is reasonably priced and capable of handling power from two 30amps sources simultaneously! 

The automatic transfer switch is suitable for inverters, shore power, or generators, making it incredibly diverse! The switch operates on 120V to provide an automatic power transfer between two separate 120V AC input sources.

There is a delay when the power switches of approximately 45 seconds, but this is very minimal! An automatic power switch such as this from Go Power saves you the trouble of fiddling with switches in the dark! You can simply sit back and wait for the power to kick in.

Customers noted that this power switch delay was often non-existent, especially when switching from a generator back to an inverter they saw instant power! Customers praised the switch’s longevity, too, with some using it for a few years with flawless performance. 

Customers found the switch capable of running 3,000W generators smoothly, although no maximum running wattage is provided in the product description. If you have any concerns about its running power, be sure to contact Go Power for more information! 

It is also effortless to install, leaving you with a professional installation and minimal fuss. The easy-to-follow diagram located on the transfer switch can be used to install it, or you can use the included instruction manual if you prefer! 

Some customers found the box a little large and bulky compared to other transfer switches on the market. Depending on where you place the box, this should not be much of an issue for you. 

If you are after a reasonably priced transfer switch, then Go Power’s switch is the one for you! 

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced 
  • Great for inverters, shore power, or generators 
  • Easy and professional installation 
  • Can handle two sources of 30amps simultaneously
  • 120V 

Con:

  • Some customers found the box itself a little large and bulky.

Best Transfer Switches Buying Guide

Not too sure what to look for in a transfer switch? Our buyer’s guide can help you there!

Types

When it comes to transfer switches, there are two types: manual and automatic, which we shall look at now.

Manual transfer switches allow you to change the power sauce manually, simply with the flick of a switch! You can switch from grid to generator power easily. Manual switches tend to be cheaper than automatic transfer switches.

These switches must be flipped during a power outage too, which does not need to be done with automatic switches. Manual switches are easy to set up as there is no programming and fewer parts than their automatic counterparts.

With manual switches, you can control the loads to ensure that your generator does not overload. They are a popular choice with many people; just be sure to flip the switch in an outage!

Automatic transfer switches allow you to switch your power from the grid to a generator automatically. These are more convenient and can be programmed to power the highest priority circuits during a blackout, so there’s no running around flipping switches!

These convenient switches are more expensive than manual switches. They usually have a higher maximum wattage, an excellent choice for those after higher power.

To kit or not to kit?

When purchasing your transfer switch, it's always a good idea to opt for a comprehensive kit. These kits will ensure that the installation is quick and easy, usually with all the parts included.

These days, most transfer switches are sold as a kit. Be sure to check before purchasing so you can ensure your switch can be installed once it has been purchased!

What watt? 

When selecting your transfer switch, be sure to check the number of running watts it can support before purchasing. You will need to work out which circuits you want to be powered through your transfer switch and the total number of watts it will take to run them.

Selecting a transfer switch that cannot support watts’ amount can lead to complications down the line, with the switch being overloaded and possibly blowing!

Most transfer switches will operate on and with 120V, so be sure not to overload the voltage too! Keep an eye out for more powerful transfer switches that can also handle 240V if you need the extra voltage!

Warranty

Always check the warranty of the transfer switch before purchasing, as you would with any electrical item! As a general rule, you will usually see a 2-year warranty on transfer switches. A warranty will provide you with peace of mind as you use your switch and ensure you are protected should anything happen!

Be sure to keep the warranty documentation and user manual close by in case you have any issues. Alternatively, these days most manuals are online. Simply type in the name and model of your switch, and a downloadable manual should appear!

Certifications

When purchasing any electrical item, you want to know that it is safe for use in your home or business. Look out for transfer switches that come with UL/CUL certifications to ensure your switch is up to code.

Most transfer switches should come with these certifications and should be listed in their product descriptions.

How much?

When it comes to transfer switches, the price can vary dramatically, leaving you wondering just how much you should be spending on your new switch. Despite the price range, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get an excellent quality transfer switch!

Be sure to set a clear budget and stick to it as closely as possible. You may want to consider what you want from your transfer switch to help you set this budget.

For example, do you want a waterproof switch that can be used outdoors? Are you willing to pay more for a more extended warranty period? Considerations like this will help you narrow down your choice and set a realistic budget.

Remember, you don’t need to conduct a bank heist for your new transfer switch; there is one suitable for every budget!

Frequently Asked Questions

Get your last-minute queries answered here!

Do I need a transfer switch for my generator?

Transfer switches aren’t always necessary, but you must use a transfer switch when it comes to using a portable generator in the home. The National Electric Code requires you to have a correctly installed transfer switch when using a portable generator to power appliances in your home. 

If you want to sell your home, this is essential. Poorly installed switches, or none at all or a code violation, can land you in some hot water! Not worth the risk! 

Transfer switches are also easy ways to power your home in a power outage, as you will simply switch over to a generator without the need to fiddle about with cords in the dark! 

It is also safer than using extension cords, which can back-feed power, increasing fire or electrocution risk. Installing a transfer switch can avoid all of these and provide a less stressful experience in a power outage! 

How do transfer switches work?

Transfer switches stop your utility power and generator power from operating at the same time. In a power outage, plug your generator into the transfer switch and turn on the generator.

Once powered up, flip the transfer switch to the generator position, and the generator will power your essential circuits. 

Usually, you can select which circuits should be powered too for complete control! A transfer switch works to provide safe power to your home in the case of power outages or extreme weather. 

What is grounding?

Grounding refers to the electrical circuit being connected to the earth. Grounding provides internal insulation for any electrical failures in circuits that can cause dangerous voltage levels, which can cause fuses to fail. 

It also reduces the build-up of static electricity, but this is more so in large telegraph or power transmission circuits than your smaller transfer switch. Grounding is often an activity best left to an electrician to ensure it is done correctly and safely. 

However, if you do want to do it yourself, you can follow the steps below. Remember that these are just a guide and if you are unsure, consult a professional electrician. 

  1. Locate the panel box and select where you want to mount your switch. It is best to do this near your panel box for an easy installation. 
  2. Mount the transfer switch to the wall, ensuring it is secure and free from any obstructions. 
  3. Locate the main electrical panel and turn off the power. Check the power is off by testing with an appliance. 
  4. Connect the wires from the transfer to the breakers you want to control in the panel box. 
  5. Using a drill bit, drill a hole through the house wall from the outside. You can feed the wires through this hole. We would recommend a 1 ½ inch drill bit to do this. 
  6. Install the included electrical box above the hole outside. 
  7. Run the electrical cable from the electrical box, through the hole you made, to the transfer switch. 
  8. Use the electrical receptacle included with your switch and connect it to the outdoor box’s electrical cable. You can mount the electrical receptacle to the box following the instructions your kit came with. 
  9. Connect the other end of the same electrical cable to the transfer switch inside your home. 
  10. Ensure your generator is working before testing your work! Be sure to check the oil and fuel levels too. 
  11. To test, leave your mains power off and plug your generator into the outdoor electrical receptacle. 
  12. Flip your transfer switch from line to generator. Check the connected circuits are receiving adequate power from the generator. 
  13. If everything works, your installation has been successful! If not, you may need to make some adjustments, check all the connections are secure. Do this while the power is off to avoid electrocution! 
  14. Once everything is working, flip your switch to its original position and turn your generator off. 
  15. Turn your mains power back on. 
  16. Finally, seal your hole to ensure bugs and any moisture cannot enter. You can do this with some wall filler.

Final word

Transfer switches are nifty pieces of equipment to have, especially if you are prone to power outages! As you can see, there are plenty of great options on the market that won’t break the bank!  

Whether it is an automatic or manual switch you opt for, be sure that it is certified for use and easy to install! Remember that while you can install the switch yourself, it is always wise to seek professional help, especially if you are a transfer switch virgin!