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Manual Vs. Automatic Transfer Switches

Manual Vs. Automatic Transfer Switches

Whether you’re a business owner, a homeowner, or a procurement officer that is seeking a transfer switch to use in conjunction with your generator, look no further. ATI supplies portable power products such as generator cables, docking stations, and transfer switches throughout the entire nation. In this blog we’re going to help you distinguish the differences between a Manual and Automatic Transfer Switch and which one is best for your needs while staying within your budget! So, let’s break it down simply. A Manual Transfer Switch is just that – An electrical switch that transfers power from Utility to Generator (Manually) and requires a person to physically switch it over. On the other hand, an Automatic Transfer Switch requires no manpower and can transfer the power over in an instant, as soon at the power is interrupted at the source.

Depending on how you plan on utilizing the switch, there might be both advantages and disadvantages associated with these transfer switches that will probably make one look more appealing to you than the other. As you continue reading – we’ll dive deeper into these switches in this blog to help you make the final decision! If you have any questions after reading this article, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page and our portable power experts will gladly reach out to find you the perfect transfer switch for your project and get you a quote that fits in your budget.

Why Choose an Automatic Transfer Switch?

Convenience. An unexpected power outage occurs, but you’ve equipped with your business with an Automatic Transfer Switch. Well guess what, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Having an ATS installed in your home or business is so convenient and brings forth many perks. As long as the standby generator is scheduled for routine maintenance checks, there should be no issues. The moment that the power is cut off at the source, the Automatic Transfer Switch will send a signal to the generator to fire up, then power will be switched over from utility to the standby generator. Convenience is one of the biggest factors contributing to why some people decide to go with an ATS. So, you have to remember that power outages often occur due to inclement weather and well, the generator and transfer switch is usually located outdoors right in the midst of the storm. If you don’t have an ATS, someone will have to head out into the storm to fire up the generator, and manually transfer the power over from utility to generator power.

Reliability. Imagine this; You’re out of town on a business trip, but your family is home and experiences an outage. Well, with the help of an Automatic Transfer Switch, the down time is limited and almost immediately transferred over to generator power with no assistance needed. There’s no doubt that when working with the experts at ATI, our team will supply you the gear you can rely on. When the utility power is finally restored, the ATS has a controller that will monitor this flow of electricity for a limited time. Once it determines the utility power is steady and reliable, it will send a signal to the generator to power down to a cool down period and switch your electrical panel back over to utility power.

Efficiency. Minimize your down time! Depending on the type of business, limiting down time is crucial to functionality and can potentially even be life-threatening. For example, businesses such as hospitals, airports, data centers, and other medical facilities are some of the top organizations that require the installation of a generator and automatic transfer switches for life-safety precautions. Even if your business is not among this group, its well-known that even a minute of un-planned down-time can cost thousands of dollars! This is one of the major reasons why we stand so strongly behind our ATS’s and would highly recommend installing an automatic transfer switch at your place of business.

Why Choose a Manual Transfer Switch?

As mentioned previously, a manual transfer switch is just as the name states – someone will have to manually pull the lever to transfer the electrical load to an alternate source of power. Some models will vary on how this is done, whether it’s a bolt-switch mechanism, a lever, or a knife switch.

Cost Savings. One of the many, yet probably the biggest reason that our customers choose an MTS over an ATS is for the cost savings. A Manual Transfer Switch is more affordable simply because it does not contain all the materials, nor does it require the same amount of labor that goes into the manufacturing process of an Automatic Switch. ATS’s are built with the latest technologies that incorporate controllers and sensors that can automatically detect an outage. Whereas the manual switch will not detect an outage. If you're expecting catastrophic weather, you’ll have to make the decision to transfer over to generator power before the outage, or wait until it occurs and switch it over manually.

Maintenance Checkups. It’s very common to schedule routine maintenance checks on your generator to ensure optimal performance to minimize down-time – especially in industrial facilities. Manual Transfer Switches are often installed prior to these routine maintenance inspections because your primary standby generator will be out of commission. You’ll need an additional generator that works in conjunction with your MTS to ensure there in backup power in the event of an emergency. Without it, your business could be left in the dark which could cost thousands.

Less Moving Parts. Manual Transfer switches are a bit simpler than that of an ATS. It does not contain all of the additional sensors nor the latest technology that go into todays Automatic Switches. Now what that means is you wouldn’t have to worry about those extra parts going bad or even burning up due to excessive use or heat. ATI has supplied many Manual and Automatic Transfer Switches, and we believe that either one is a great product for standard temporary power solutions. Although, depending on the industry and how you plan on purposing these switches will ultimately help you make the final decision.

Which Industries Use Transfer Switches?

In terms of industries, life-safety is going to be the most prominent for Automatic Transfer Switches. This includes hospitals, data centers, and airports. These are the types of organizations that must be equipped with an Automatic Transfer Switch in avoidance of disasters. If any single one of these organizations were to experience some sort of outage, the damage could be catastrophic. For example, hospitals could power to machines keeping people alive, air traffic communications centers could lose contact with their planes, and data centers could potentially expose confidential information to the outside groups or even hackers.

Other companies that could very much benefit from having a transfer switch installed are gas stations, grocery stores, government buildings, schools, waste-water treatment plants, and many others. Imagine if a grocery store unexpectedly lost power for a few days or even just a few hours! So much of their inventory would perish costing them thousands of dollars. These are all types of organizations that could benefit immensely, merely from the installation of a transfer switch, but it is not necessarily required.

Lastly, we often see end-consumers that are in the market for transfer switches for their home. This is usually a personal preference to provide their family with comfort and peace of mind in the event of an outage. Having something like a transfer switch and generator installed at your residence can offer many luxuries. Especially if the outage lasts multiple days or even weeks! Depending on where you live and the time of year, without air conditioning it can become unbearably hot in the summer or even freezing cold in the winter. Overall, we would have to admit that a transfer switch is an exceptional investment no matter if you plan on purposing it for your home or business.

What Brand Transfer Switches Does ATI Supply?

If you have any need for a transfer switch, whether it be manual or automatic, please fill out the form below and one of our experts will reach out to you to find the perfect solution for the job. We provide a wide variety of switches from many different manufacturers, so we’re certain that we'll find the right one for you.

Some of our most popular transfer switches that we’ve supplied in the past have been from ABB, Power Assemblies, ASCO Power Technologies, Generac, and Eaton. If you have a preference in mind or even one that we have not listed, we would be more than happy to assist you in finding the ATS or MTS that you can rely on. Please, fill out the inquiry below to get in contact with our portable power experts or pull out your phone now and give us a call at (800)-597-9311 or send our portable power group an email at We can't wait to get you connected through power!

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