Manual transfer switches are generator accessories that are meant to be used as a safe way to provide power to an application (home, business, etc). This type of switch is the exact same as the automatic transfer switches in basic functionality, however they require you to transfer the generator power and utility power on your own.
The most common use of manual transfer switches would be for cost-effective standby protection or in off-grid situations, where there is no utility present. For a home you’d typically be using a portable and once you’ve lost utility you would go to your main panel. From there you would shut off the main service coming in and supply power though the manual switch. You don’t have to worry about more than one power source coming on at the same time, but that also means the unit wouldn’t know how to come on/go off by itself even if utility is present. If you are using the generator for off-grid purposes then you might have to make a couple of adjustments, but the idea is the same. One thing you’ll want to be careful of is if you have an inverter for solar, wind, or hydro. It’s extremely dangerous to have your alternative power and generator power on at the same time. Using a manual switch should help that not happen, however we also recommend talking with the alternative power provider for other safety precautions. Other than the cost we would like to think the biggest advantage of a manual switch, over an automatic one, is the simplicity that it offers. In an automatic situation there needs to be an intelligent controller capable of handling many functions simultaneously. You won’t need all of that in a manual transfer switch application, all that it has to do is be able to transfer over with a handle or lever.