Electrical switchgear is used to control, safeguard, and isolate power systems. This is possible due to a whole host of controls, housed inside sturdy metal containers. You could argue that switchgear are an essential system in industries where the loss of electrical power could cause financial problems and safety concerns, i.e., in industrial environments and utility companies.

Sun setting behind the silhouette of electricity pylons

Switchgear equipment is used to de-energize and clear faults. It contains fuses, switches, and power conductors. One of the most common types of components found in switchgear is circuit breakers. Circuit breakers are able to sense anomalies and terminate power flow, preventing any damage from occurring. Also worth noting is that because switchgear can control power flops, they are able to make buildings much more secure and efficient. This post will explore this topic in more detail and tell you about the different types of switchgear:

Is Switchgear the Same as Switchboards?

The terms ‘switchgear’ and ‘switchboard’ are often used interchangeably. However, they are very different things. Learning the distinction between them can help you to become more of an expert in electrical equipment. Switchgear protects, controls, and has the power to disconnect power supplies during faults. Switchboards are instead only used for the transmission of power to other sources. They also have different voltage capacities. High-voltage switchgear can accommodate nearly 350 kilovolts, low voltage switchgear can accommodate up to 1000 volts, and switchboards are limited to 600 volts. In addition to knowing the difference between switchgear and switchboards, you also need to know about maintenance.

How to Maintain and Look After Switchgear

Learning how to maintain switchgear is very important if you are the custodian of some or plan on buying a building where this equipment is used. Properly maintaining gear will prevent it from deteriorating. If yours deteriorates, you will have to pay more. Since electrical equipment can be very expensive, it’s best to do everything you can to avoid having to replace it. A few ways to maintain your equipment are by directly replacing circuit breakers after use, using sensors to continuously monitor your switchgear, investing in arc flash mitigation, and hiring professionals to come in every so often to check equipment over and make sure that it’s working properly. If you are planning on hiring a company to come and look at your switchgear, you need to make sure that they have good reviews and a solid reputation.

Different Types of Switchgear

There are three main types of switchgear: Low voltage, medium voltage, and high voltage. Knowing what the different types and their uses are can make it easier for you to select switchgear for your business or maintain the equipment you already have. When you are working with and using electrical equipment like switchgear, it is very important that you properly educate yourself on how gear works, so you don’t make any mistakes. Making mistakes when working with electrical equipment could lead to you hurting yourself or the people you are around.

Low Voltage Switchgear

Low-voltage switchgear is designed for systems that can handle up to 1000 volts of electricity. Low voltage gear is typically broken down into the following parts: cable compartments, bus compartments, and breaker compartments. Breakers are housed in their own distinct compartments, with barriers in place to ensure the bus compartment doesn’t come into contact with other ones. Cable compartments are not usually accessed from the front like the other compartments mentioned above are. Instead, they are accessed from the rear. The typical low-voltage switchgear has a 30-cycle withstand feature, which means it can tolerate 30 cycles of fault without tripping. More than that, the unit will trip.

Medium Voltage Switchgear

Medium voltage switchgear can carry voltages of up to 36 kilovolts. Because this type of switchgear carries higher voltages and currents, it has to be able to endure intense electrical distress, which low-voltage switchgear cannot. This switchgear can be used in a variety of different industries. There are different types of medium voltage switchgear, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. If you think your business needs medium voltage switchgear installed, consider doing your research and finding a professional installation firm to work with you. They will be able to advise you on the type of switchgear you need and help you to ensure you don’t buy the wrong one. This type of switchgear is usually used in utility plants and large factories.

High Voltage Switchgear

Finally, high-voltage switchgear can accommodate systems of 36 kilovolts and above. This equipment is also known as high-tension switchgear because it is able to withstand much higher levels of electricity. However, because of this, high-voltage switchgear is prone to arc flashes, and therefore equipment must be used to mitigate against this. Arc flashes can be very dangerous and must be controlled. There are two main types of high-voltage switchgear, which are air and gas-insulated. Gas-insulated switchgear is usually only found on indoor systems. Air-insulated switchgear is used outdoors. Sometimes, mineral oil is used as an insulation medium.

Hiring Professional Support

Throughout this post, allusions have been made to the undeniable fact that if you need any work performed on your building’s switchgear, you need to enlist professional support. Attempting to work on and maintain switchgear when you have no experience in professional electrical work can be a very bad idea. In fact, it could lead to you killing or seriously injuring yourself. Finding somebody to help you should not be difficult. All you will need to do is conduct a simple internet search. Doing this will bring up the names of all switchgear maintenance and replacement companies in your area. Make sure you find a company with good reviews. The reason you need to prioritize finding a company with good reviews is that a company with good reviews will likely offer better customer service. Reviews also give you insight into what a company’s attitude to their work is like.

The different types of switchgear can be confusing. Any questions you have should be addressed to a company that’s in the know. The previous section offers advice on finding such a firm. Make sure you never attempt to work on or maintain switchgear yourself if you haven’t been trained to.

, Understanding the Different Types of Switchgear, Days of a Domestic Dad