Thursday, December 1, 2022


Automatic transfer switch warning


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

As RVs come out of the “dark ages” and flow with the use of modern technology, it gets easier for us. It wasn’t too long ago that we had an RV with an on-board generator. To set up the coach for generator use, one of us had to go outside (rain or shine) and plug the RV shore power cord into a special outlet that was fed by the generator. Wow! What a difference an automatic transfer switch (ATS) can make!

But beware: Even with an ATS to make living with your RV generator oh so much easier, there are issues that you need to take care with – some that can cost you loads of money. Like anything else, an ATS is not “perfect.” A big surge of electricity can damage your ATS, and in some instances, even your generator.

When you decide you need to “fire up the generator,” make sure you turn off big electrical loads first. Air conditioners, microwave ovens, heat pumps, a portable space heater – turn them off before switching on the generator.

##RVT775 ##RVDT1273

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2 years ago

Great tip for when the generator picks up the load without a warm up; however my ATS issue issue is with a slow change-over back to commercial power. Typically I am using the generator because of a shore power failure (other than when dry camping, of course). After power returns if I turn the generator off by the indoor control panel switch, as the generator winds down, the voltage decreases with rpm until the ATS finally switches back to shore power. In that short duration mine drops loads in the RV. I have to reset the TV, clock on the microwave and coffee pot. An inconvenience. To avoid that, I go outside while the generator is still running and flip the circuit breakers on the generator to OFF. That way the ATS immediately picks up the load on shore power. Not the best way probably, but my “Lyght” brand ATS doesn’t sense the return of shore power so I have to shut-down manually after I see voltage return on the EMS display.

2 years ago

While your generator noise may be nicely muffled so not to disturb the occupants, remember that it is not so to any neighbors near by. Shut it off at night and during quiet hours. Just because you may not be parked in a campground it would be nice if people remembered what should be common courtesy.

Bill T.
2 years ago

Great advice. For the few seconds it take to switch off all the current hogs, before firing up the generator, it’s worth it to know that the ATS will continue to function as advertised.

David Toll
5 years ago

Our Automatic Transfer Switch failed after about 6 months. In the ATS’s manual, it says if it fails (in particular refuses to latch for one leg) then the circuit board has failed and must be replaced.

In my opinion, if the manufacturer is aware of such a problem, they should change the design to prevent this from happening.

2 years ago
Reply to  David Toll

It is physically impossible to prevent relay contacts from arcing when they close OR open when there are devices drawing huge loads. it just makes common sense to remove the heavy loads FIRST to extend the life of the ATS. My ATS is now 19 years old and luckily is still working fine. There is one older ATS called IOTA which is a fire hazard. There were many recalls on this device years ago. If you have that one installed in your RV, get rid of it NOW!

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