The Pros & Cons of an Automatic Transfer Switch

In the world of modern business having dependable access to an electrical supply ranks about as high as you can go on the “must have” list. Without power a business is essentially forced to cease all productivity, and the absence of power can also pose considerable safety risks. Because of this most businesses elect to install powerful permanent generator systems to account for incidents, storms, and downed lines. And, of course, these generators will need a transfer switch.

But should you be using an automatic transfer switch or a manual transfer switch? We’ve discussed this topic at length in the past, which we most certainly recommend you check out. But today the team at PSI Control Solutions wanted to go a bit deeper on automatic switches. What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? Read on to find out!

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What’s Automatic About an Automatic Transfer Switch?

There’s little that is very complex about the workings of a transfer switch. These devices are simply installed in a tap box, assigned designated circuits to power in the event of an outage, and basically operate as a liaison between your powered equipment and circuits and the emergency generator. The thing that makes an automatic transfer switch, well, automatic is that the switch will engage without any input from you.

When an automatic switch is installed it will detect a loss of utility grid power and immediately switch over to generator power. When utility power is restored, the automatic switch will seamlessly change back. This, of course, provides some substantial benefits, including:

  • Nearly instant restoration of power in an outage
  • Safer than manual hookup and portable generators
  • Hands-free operation

Are There Any Drawbacks?

Very few in all honesty, and you can probably guess at what the biggest disadvantage is. Automatic switches are typically fabricated to be completely custom to the business purchasing and installing it, and this means that the cost of an automatic switch is notably higher than that of a manual switch. It also means that fabrication and installation will typically take longer, adding to the time you need to wait before you can protect your business with a generator/transfer switch emergency system.

Automatic switches also are most certainly counted as an electrical appliance all in their own, and thus they need to be maintained in order to operate effectively and accurately. The maintenance is quite negligible, but it’s absolutely noteworthy.

The Short Version


  • More safety
  • Faster connection
  • No-fuss operation


  • Costs more than a manual switch
  • Requires some measure of maintenance

Recommendations from PSI Control Solutions

So would we recommend automatic transfer switches? Well, it will depend on your business’ needs to some degree, but for the most part we can heartily recommend the use of automatic transfer switches. Safety and accuracy are vital for a business, and no system can quite match up to an automatic switch in a time of distress or emergency.

Want to learn more about automatic switches, or looking for more safety and electrical access solutions for your business? Check out what PSI Control Solutions has to offer!