How to Use Manual Transfer Switches

You will only use your home's manual transfer switch during a power failure. It has three positions: one that connects the commercial power to your house, one that is open and one that connects your house to your generator. Never try to connect your generator to your house in any other way than through your professionally installed transfer switch.

Switching to Generator

  1. Hook up the generator to the transfer switch using the cord provided.
  2. Move your transfer switch to the off position and shut off all breakers.
  3. Start your generator and bring it up to speed. If it has an output switch, turn it on.
  4. Turn your transfer switch to the generator position.
  5. Turn on breakers for everything you want to power in your house. Be sure not to overload your generator.

Shutting Down

  1. Shut off all breakers to prevent damage from surging.
  2. Move your transfer switch to the normal position to connect your house to commercial power. Turn on breakers for normal power.
  3. Shut down your generator.
  4. Remove the cord and store it with the generator.

Things You Will Need

  • Flashlight
  • Cord (usually provided with the generator or transfer switch)


  • Be sure your generator is warmed up and running smoothly before turning on any breakers.
  • Be sure to place your generator in a safe area, away from water, pets and children.
  • Never put your generator inside the house or in a closed garage.
  • Never add fuel to your generator while it is running.

About the Author

Richard Asmus was a writer and producer of television commercials in Phoenix, Arizona, and now is retired in Peru. After founding a small telecommunications engineering corporation and visiting 37 countries, Asmus studied broadcasting at Arizona State University and earned his Master of Fine Arts at Brooklyn College in New York.