Tips When Buying Switchboards & Switchgear

Switchgear and Switchboard Apparatus

Switchgear and switchboard refers to the type of equipment used to manage and distribute power while also protecting electrical circuits and equipment. They consist of electrical disconnect switches, fuses or circuit breakers, and other devices that ensure power system safety and reliability.

What is Switchgear?

Switchgear is a term that describes a collection of switching devices that serve to control, protect and isolate power systems. Also, the definition will extend to circuit breakers and devices that meter a power system. During power breakdowns, switchgear will trigger an automatic reaction and interrupt the power flow. This is turn would protect the electrical circuits from damage.

What Are Switchboards?

A switchboard is a single large panel, frame, assembly of switches, fix mount circuit breakers, overcurrent and other protective devices. Field technicians can access these assemblies from the rear as well as from the front. Switchboards are similar to panelboards and normally come with 600V of power and are usually 1600Amps and higher. Panelboards are typically 1200Amps and lower.

Major Differences Between Switchgear And Switchboard

CriteriaSwitchgearSwitchboards
VoltageSwitchgear is designed to handle higher voltages that can reach 350 kV.Switchboards are designed to handle lower voltages that are generally less than 600 volts.
Safety FeaturesSwitchgears come with automatic features and come with manual control during emergency.Switchboards don’t have any automatic features and are placed to display the amount of power consumed by individual circuits.
Difference in HardwareSwitchgear has switching devices that are required for low to medium-voltage circuits.Switchboards consist of panels where switches, buses, and electrical control devices have been mounted on the front or back end.
Difference in UseSwitchgears find their use in powering transformers, motors, transmission lines, generators, and power networks. Plus, they are mainly used for industrial setups.Switchboards are only used to distribute power to multiple sources and transmit them to individual loads, transformers, panel boards and control equipment.
PriceSwitchgears are more expensive than switchboards due to their complex setup.Switchboards are comparatively less expensive than switchgear. Individually mounted switchboards are costlier than group mounted ones.
Circuit BreakersSwitchgear breakers are typically withdrawable units.Switchboard typically have fixed mount circuit breakers that are connected directly to bus bar

How Do I Choose A Switchgear

Voltage and Current

The alignment of voltage and current ratings is of substantial importance when selecting switchgear for installation in a power system. It is imperative that the voltage rating is compatible with the network’s nominal voltage which generally ranges between 1 kV and 52 kV. Likewise, the current rating must be capable of accommodating the expected current flow within the predetermined limits. This compatibility between the switchgear and the power system is indispensable to ensure safe and optimal operation.

Choose a Type of Switchgear

Decide which type of switchgear suits your project best. This will determine how well the equipment will cope with environmental conditions, as well as how easy it will be to maintain. Your main options in this step are:

Air-insulated switchgear is less expensive. However, it requires more maintenance than GIS, and it is not as resistant to environmental factors such as dust, salt, and chemicals. Air-insulated switchgear will also require larger space at high voltages.

CEED high quality factory air insulated switchgear-AIS

Gas-insulated switchgear is typically more expensive than air-insulated switchgear, but it has several advantages. It takes up less space and requires less maintenance, seeing that it isn’t exposed to environmental factors such as dust and chemicals.

CEED electrical equipment gas insulated switchgear-GIS

Select the Switchgear Configuration

How do you want the switchgear designed? Switchgear construction varies widely, with each design offering both advantages and disadvantages. For example, some switchgear types are designed to be more compact or accessible than others while others are meant to be safer. Options for switchgear design include:

  • Ring main unit (RMU)
  • Open-air breaker
  • Single and double busbar configuration
  • Drawout type
  • Front access
  • Rear access
  • Metal clad
  • Metal enclosed

What you choose will mostly be determined by your needs as well as preferences. For example, draw-out switchgear is easier to maintain while front access switchgear leaves you more room (you can mount it against the wall). CEED Electric focus on details and quality throughout every step to guarantee you a reassuring customization experience.

Ring Main Unit

Determine the Switchgear cost

Your switchgear selection process will ultimately come down to cost. However, the initial purchase price isn’t the only factor you should consider. Installation and life cycle costs, such as maintenance, must also be factored into the equation. The switchgear cost is, therefore summarized into:

  • Initial purchase cost or switchgear price
  • The switchgear installation cost
  • The switchgear operating (energy) cost
  • The switchgear maintenance cost
  • The switchgear repair and replacement cost

The amount to pay will largely depend on the switchgear type and features. But the good news is that price has come down in price in recent years due to advances in technology. That said, you will want to compare the prices of different switchgear brands.

Find a Reliable Switchgear Manufacturer

Finally, choose a switchgear company to source your equipment from. CEED Electric are a recognized Switchgear manufacturer of quality electrical equipment. Our number one goal is to minimize risks and prioritize the safety of our clients at job sites.

How Do I Choose Are Switchboards

Electrical hazards and safety

The safety of your family and the building should be the first aspect that is considered while buying an electric switchboard for your home. Since switchboards control the entire electrical system, it is important that you understand the details and specifications of the equipment which will best suit your home. It is always better to consult a qualified electrician who can guide on understanding the specifications required. Make sure you choose a device that surpasses all the safety needs of the building.

Ideal location

You need to identify appropriate locations to install your equipment. Designating places for switchboards are very easy during the planning stage. The room allocated for installing your switchboards should be spacious and well ventilated. It is generally observed that most of the electrical rooms are decided at the end of the planning stage resulting in cramped spaces. Also, it is important that you restrict the entry of kids to this room in order to avoid electrical hazards.

electrical rooms

Efficiency and functionality

Efficiency is yet another important factor that needs to be taken into consideration before buying an electric switchboard for your home. Only an efficient switchboard can operate under unforeseen circumstances. For instance, a generator must automatically function in case of a power cut during the day or night. The efficiency of a switchboard and its functionality are interconnected. In order to make it user-friendly, colour coding can be incorporated into your devices. Using different colours for control functions can be more effective than using labels and marks. It is also highly important to use switches that have an interlock mechanism. This will protect the entire circuit system from control failures.

Installation and maintenance

Once you make a purchase, it is always wise to call a company expert or a qualified electrician for proper installation. The most important thing to be noted while installation is the appropriate fabrication of all the devices to ensure safety. Also, during the purchase, it is important to read through all the terms and conditions of warranty and double check on the maintenance services offered by the company. Mostly, switchboards of reliable brands have a long lifespan and last up to 30 years or more if maintenance is done at proper intervals.

Faulty switchboards can lead to severe loss of life and property. It is always ideal that you follow appropriate safety guidelines during the installation. A thorough understanding of your building is also important in order to avoid problems such as voltage fluctuations and power shutdowns.

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