Backup Power: Standby Generator vs Manual Transfer Switch


Here in Columbus, Ohio last week there were hundreds of thousands of homes without power for a week or more. All thanks to a storm that rolled through in about 10 minutes. Portable generators became a hot commodity and a very common topic of conversation for everyone with or without power during that time. Unfortunately portable generators are only so useful because everything needs to be plugged directly into the generator leaving AC, well pumps and other critical electronics off line.

Home Standby Generators vs Manual Transfer Switch

When you are looking for a solution for the home an automatic Standby Generator like the Generac Guardian Series should be your first consideration. These units start at around $2000 and can be setup to power critical needs or your entire home depending on the size of the generator unit. They hook up directly to the natural gas line and will automatically start generating power when the main line goes down. They will also run automatically on a set maintenance schedule to ensure smooth operation when needed.

The second option is to wire the home with a manual transfer switch that will include a permanent outlet installed on the outside of the house. At that point any portable generator can be hooked up and used for the duration of the outage. Typically the manual transfer switches are available in kits to power critical circuits, either 30 Amp ($531, Ohio Power Tool) or 50 Amp ($742, Ohio Power Tool). The advantage of wiring the home with the manual switch is that if you already own a portable generator the cost is much less plus you can still use the portable generator for camping, tailgating or on the jobsite.


Local realtors said features like backup generators or even just wiring for portable generators were definitely features they highlight when selling a home, even before the recent outage. While we don’t have any specific stats, it would stand to reason the investment would retain most of the value when you go to resell.

For questions about portable generators, switches, standby units and more give the pros at Ohio Power Tool 800-242-4424 a call. In Columbus, Ohio and surrounding areas they can also assist with professional installation of a backup solution.


Our Latest Episode

Get This