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Frequently Asked Questions

  * Product Selection

  * Installation and Troubleshooting


PRODUCT SELECTION:

1. What is a generator transfer switch and why do I need one?   A transfer switch is an electrical device installed next to your load center that transfers power from your generator to your home and is the key to safe and convenient operation of generators for backup power. Required by the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70), a transfer switch isolates those circuits using generator power during an outage, and eliminates the risk of back feeding the electrical utility which can cause injury or death to utility workers and property damage. Also, using a transfer switch with your generator eliminates the need to run extension cords around the home or office.

2. What size transfer switch do I need for my generator?
The transfer switch should match the rating of the full power (120/240V) receptacle on your generator, typically 20, 30 or 50 amps. For example, if you have a 7000-watt generator, it likely has a 30 amp 120/240V receptacle, NEMA L14-30.  You may also select a transfer switch that has a higher rating than your generator. (Using a 5000-watt generator with a 7500-watt transfer switch is OK.) NEVER use a generator with a HIGHER output than transfer switch (like using a 7500W - 30 amp - generator to feed a 5000W - 20 amp - transfer switch). This is dangerous and could cause a fire.

Then determine the number of circuits you want to supply power to during a power outage. For most homes, 6 to 10 circuits are sufficient. Most manual transfer switches sold by Gen/Tran are expandable; you can start with 6 circuits add circuits as your needs change.

3. Where can I buy Gen/Tran products?
Visit our Where To Buy section and enter your zip code for a listing of dealers in your area. Its always best to call first to make sure they have the product(s) you are looking for.

4. I don't understand how your transfer switches prevent backfeeding.  There does not appear to be a ON/OFF/ON switch involved in your transfer switch to isolate the generator from the grid. 

Our transfer switches do not incorporate 3-position switches to transfer power from one source to another.  While we pioneered that transfer switch design 30 years ago, we redesigned our product line to overcome some of the inherent limitations of that design. Our current transfer switches install like a subpanel, where a 2-pole 60 or 100 amp breaker is installed in the Main panel to feed the transfer switch as s subpanel.  An electrician will relocate the branch circuit breakers for those circuits you want to run during an outage from your Main panel into the transfer switch.  Our transfer switch has two mains - a Utility main and a Generator main.  So the circuits in the transfer switch will either be powered by the Utility or the Generator, but not both at the same time.  When your utility power shuts off, you'll just connect your generator and transfer the two mains (turn OFF the Util and turn ON the Gen main).  Backfeeding is prevented via the mechanical interlock secured on the two mains.

5. Does Gen/Tran offer transfer switch for 3-phase applications?
No. Our products are designed and intended for single phase electrical applications only for residential and small commercial installations. They only work on 120/240 Volt single phase, 50/60 Hertz power.

6. Why are generators rated in watts when most electric tools are labeled in amps?
Generators are rated by output in wattage which takes into account the amperage at both 120 and 240 volts. NOTE: Volts x Amps = Watts (i.e.: 120 volts x 10 amps = 1200 watts) OR Watts/Volts = Amps. For example, a 5000 watt rated generator is capable of producing 20.8 Amps @ 240 Volts or 41.6 amps @ 120 volts. See the following chart for power ratings for common household appliances.

Wattage Chart

  ITEM
RUNNING WATTS
ADD WATTS FOR STARTING
Furnace Fan (gas or oil only) 1/8 HP
300
500
1/6 HP
500
750
1/4 HP
600
1000
1/3 HP
700
1400
1/2 HP
875
2100
Refrigerator
700
2200
Microwave Oven
625
800
Coffee Maker
1750
0
Toaster
1050-1600
0
Electric Range/Oven
12,500
0
Well Pump 1/3 HP
750
1400
1/2 HP
1000
2350
Sump Pump 1/3 HP
800
1300
1/2 HP
1050
2150
Lights
On Bulb

Television
300
0
Garage Door Opener 1/4 HP
550
1100
1/3 HP
750
1400
Portable Heater
100-1500
0
Hair Dryer
1100-1600
0
Iron
1200
0

Water Heater (Gas)

Water Heater (Electric)

500
7000-7500
1500
0
Computers Desktop
600-800
0
Notebook
200-250
0
Monitor
200-250
0
Printer
400-600
0
Fax Machine
600-800
0
Cordless Telephone
100
0



7. Does GenTran offer a 200 amp Double-Pole, Double-Throw (DPDT) switch?

NO.  However, Gen/Tran offers a 200 amp manual transfer switch called a Power Center which installs between your utility meter and your load center/electrical panel. To install this type of switch, it is necessary to have your local utility shut off power to your home to remove your meter for several hours during installation. Since a Power Center is installed BEFORE the Main load center, these units transfer your entire Main electrical center and all of its circuits to generator power, requiring the homeowner to turn breakers off in the Main load center to prevent overloading and damaging your generator.  Another option is our Generator-Ready Load Centers.
 

8.  My contractor suggested a meter-socket transfer switch. Does Gen/Tran offer these?
A meter-based transfer switch combines a meter socket and transfer switch in one. Since there are so many restrictions and requirements on meter sockets outlined by each utility, Gen/Tran has chosen not offer a combination utility meter and transfer switch. However, our Power Center combines a transfer switch with service entrance equipment.

 

INSTALLATION AND TROUBLESHOOTING

1. What type of connection is required to connect my generator to my Gen/Tran transfer switch or Power Inlet Box?
Typically, a 4-wire, locking connector is needed on each end of a Power Cord. The most popular connectors are a NEMA L14-20 (20A, 125/250V), L14-30 (30A, 125/250V) and a CS6365 (50A, 125/250V). Check the receptacles on your generator front panel to determine which type of connector you need to plug into your generator. Gen/Tran sells Power Cords with the most popular male connector and female connectors already wired to a Power Cord. Please see the “Power Cord” section to determine the exact Power Cord set you need.

 

2. Why does the generator GFCI breaker trip on some generators when used with a transfer switch?
Download Honda Generator Service Bulletin
Including but not limited to GENERAC XP series models XP4000, XP6500E, XP8000E, XP10000E and HONDA EB series Models EB3500XK1, EB5000XK1, EB6500SX, EB12DAG, and some models from Briggs and Stratton and Cummins.

Some portable generators are intended for use on jobsites, and therefore are subject to OSHA regulations for GFCI protection on all receptacles.  These "contractor grade" generators have their neutral wire bonded to the ground wire to pass OSHA inspection on job sites.  Since home and building main load centers also have the neutral bonded to ground, a loop is created, comprised of the neutral wire and the ground wire. A small amount of current is induced in this loop by the running generator. and since the neutral wire passes through the ground fault sensor, the GFCI senses this induced current and trips the main circuit breaker in the generator.

When using these neutral bonded generators to power a house or building through a transfer switch, the neutral bond wire on the generator must be removed, preferably by a dealer or a qualified electrician. NOTE: After this action, the generator will no longer pass OSHA inspection on job sites. Contact your dealer to determine if the neutral bond can be removed, and we recommend that a dealer perform this task.  Honda dealers may refer to Honda Service Bulletin #20 for instructions on removing the neutral bond.  Once this is done, no modifications to your transfer switch installation are needed.

If the neutral bond cannot be removed (as is the case with Generac and Cummins), you can lift the ground wire coming from the generator inside the transfer switch, and secure it with a wire nut, by itself.  This eliminates the nuisance tripping, BUT this installation will no longer be NEC compliant.  Your other choice is to install a Switched Neutral Kit (SNK) accessory with your transfer switch, available thru our website.

3. Can you splice wires inside a load center and not violate building codes?
Section 312.8 of the National Electrical Code permits splices and taps in enclosures if the splice or tap does not fill the wiring space to more than 75% of the cross-sectional area of the space. Unless you already have a large number of splices or taps in the load center, adding some more to install the transfer switch is not going to exceed the limits of the Code.

4. What happens when the Utility Power is restored while I’m using my generator and transfer switch?
When your utility power is restored, lights and appliances in your home not connected to generator power will turn on; alerting you that utility power has been restored. Because Gen/Tran PowerStay™ Transfer Switches have interlocking main breakers, the utility power and generator power are never powering those circuits using generator power at the same time. There is no danger of back feeding the utility power.

5. Where do I purchase spare and replacement parts for my Gen/Tran products?
GenTran transfer switches are made with off the shelf parts like interchangeable circuit breakers and flanged inlets, available from most electrical distributors if you can source them locally.  If you need replacement parts such as meters or breakers, please visit the Support section of this website, and click on Service Parts. Or call us at 1-888-GEN-TRAN.

6.  Is your inspector asking your contractor to run separate neutrals when installing a GenTran transfer switch?
Sometimes local electrical inspectors require separate neutrals to be run between the main load center and the transfer switch.  Since GenTran transfer switches are UL Listed to UL1008, and therefore comply with Article 702.4 of the NEC which states that the equipment is approved for the intended use, separate neutrals are not required.  Gen/Tran models R/200660, R/300660, R/301060 and R/501210 are provided with a neutral bar that WILL accommodate relocating all of the neutrals to comply with this requirement.

7. In Canada, some utilities require a 3-pole switch that switches the neutrals.  How do I comply with this requirement?
GenTran now offers a Switched Neutral Kit (SNK) accessory to make our transfer switches comply with this requirement.