A generator manual transfer switch is a simple way to bypass the grid and distribute power to your home from an external source. The switch is installed between your utility or grid power feed and your existing service panel. It's then wired to the individual circuit breakers inside your panel. You can now control whether those breakers are powered by the grid or from your own external source. Simply by flipping a switch!
The really only other option to distribute power to your home from an external source would be to run extension cords throughout your house, and you still wouldn't have access to the internally wired components such as plug outlets, light switches, etc. Wiring a manual transfer switch to the breakers in your service panel, will allow you to power entire rooms, while extension cords will just allow you to power individual components.
The number of breakers you can control, depends on the number of circuits on the switch you choose. Switches can vary anywhere from 1 to 10 circuits and cost between $100 to $400. Since voltages and amperage ratings of these MTS (Manual Transfer Switch) can vary, I strongly suggest having a professional electrician install the MTS for you, unless you're good with electrical. The electrician will ensure the work is done to code and ensure the voltage and amperage of your MTS circuits, matches with your service panel breakers. The installation of mine took less than an hour, but mine was only a 4-circuit switch and it was done while my new solar service panel was being installed. Starting from scratch and depending on how many circuits the switch has, I would anticipate it taking between 1-3 hours and costing between $100-$200 for the install.
This is my 4-circuit Manual Transfer Switch that I had installed and wired into my service panel.
The 4 breakers I chose were:
If you have a manual transfer switch wired to your service panel, when the power goes out, you simply plug-in one of a number of external power sources and flip the switch from "Line" (Grid) Power to "Gen" (Generator) Power.
Once your MTS is installed, you can plug in one of several different external power sources.
Emergency Home Generator with MTS Power Cord
Inverter to MTS