Electrical contractors need to know about the commonly used tools in their sector, their purposes, and the slang and jargon involved. This can assist them to easily communicate the needed concepts and ideas to their clients while being acquainted with the language utilized by professionals. Specifically, they should be careful about interchangeable terms. Contractors don’t want to make costly errors due to simple misunderstandings.
A common misunderstanding in the electrical sector is the difference between a switchgear and an electric switch board. These two equipment pieces have different physical designs, testing standards, and specifications. In this article, we detail the main differences you should know about.
In terms of definition, an electric switch board is a device built with a collection of panels that can direct power from one source to another. Each panel in the switch board redirects the electricity by using installed switches.
In contrast, a switchgear is made up of multiple fuses, disconnect switches, and circuit breakers that enable the control, isolation, and protection of electricity-run equipment. This device can interrupt short circuits and faults without impacting the other circuits, permitting them to deliver continuous service to specific processes and machinery.
You can select a suitable device based on where you wish to install the equipment. Electric switchboards need less space as they function mainly via front access. But switchgears require more room as they need both front and rear entry for cable terminations.
Typically, switchgear is costlier compared to an electric switch board as it requires more materials, and its setup is complex. However, remember that individually mounted electric switchboards are more expensive than group mounted ones.
Utilized Circuit Breakers
This is a major difference between an electric switch board and switchgear. Switchgear uses low-voltage current circuit breakers that meet ANSI C37.20.1 and NEMA SG-3 standards. On the other hand, switchboards utilize insulated-case and molded-case circuit breakers that meet NEMA PB-2 and UL-891 standards.
Both devices are dielectrically tested at 220 V, but there are a few differences in the testing procedure. A switchgear is tested at 15 percent for 30 cycles, while an electric switch board is tested for short circuits at an electricity factor of 20% for a 3-cycle duration.
You should choose between an electric switch board and switchgear based on the situations where they are required. Analyze all the above elements and make an informed decision. For instance, consider that you need to pick between the two for use in round-the-clock operations at an airport or hospital.
To save money, you might wish to select the electric switchboard, but reliability can be an issue here. If there is a power outage, a mere 15-minute disruption can cause serious operational and financial damage.
A better option is a switchgear, even if it costs more. It offers precise circuit breakers coordination and can reduce the frequency of electricity outages. Thus, it can decrease the number of errors and help you save more over the long term. An electric switch board is ideal for laboratories, commercial buildings, retail facilities, schools, and other setups.
We hope this article helped enable you to make an educated choice between a switchgear and an electric switch board for your project. Consider your needs on a case-by-case basis and take all factors into account. Consult licensed professionals to get recommendations on the best electrical solutions for your requirements.