An Overview Of Modern Switchgear Usage

Switchgear is a very broad term, used to describe different types of switches used in electrical power systems. It can mean basic switches, safety switches, circuit breakers, fuses, and combinations thereof. Modern switchgear hardware has been significantly advanced in past years.

Power system designs, including switchgear designs, have changed so much in recent years. They are still switches, but they now exist in far more complex environments. We’re sticking to a very basic definition of switchgear, in strictly electrical terms.

Uses of switchgears

Typical uses of switchgear include:

  • Disconnect switches – These are the switches with which everyone is most familiar. These are simple on/off switches, used to manage power supply through electrical systems.
  • Fuses – Fuses are type of switch, all other not commonly considered as such. They are in fact connections, which if removed automatically turn off electrical supplies to their distribution points.
  • Circuit Breakers Circuit breakers are typically automatic switches, although many of them also have manual switching capabilities. Circuit breakers switch in the event of too much power flowing through the circuit, preventing damage to the system, fires, and the risk of electrocution.
  • High voltage switches – These are the super-size version of conventional switches, with added features related to safe operation.
  • Transformer switches – Transformers typically use a range of switches in line with metering, control and safety features. Transformer is also used “medium” voltage switchgear, appropriate for their power distribution functions.

Switchgears have two basic roles that make it easy to visualize power system operations and switchgears in context with each other. Switchgears typically comprise both functional and safety operations. Safety operations are strategically located operational points throughout power systems

Safety and switchgears

Now the really critical issues about switchgear – Switchgears are the front line defence for all power systems. Typically, because of the extremely high risks posed by high voltage, high voltage switches are connected to all major power supply sources, with multi-redundant backup switches throughout the power system. These backups are essential to reduce the risk of problems during normal system operation.

Switchgears and power systems

Switchgears are the primary regulatory equipment of power systems in operations, too. Most system switchgears operate automatically, in one form or another. These automatic operations are very much the heart and soul of any power system operation, and directly relate to the efficiencies or otherwise of power system functions.

How to find the right switchgear for a new power system

The easy way to find the correct switchgear for your system couldn’t be simpler- Call in an independent electrical consultant, preferably switchgear specialists and designers.

Suppliers of power systems can provide solutions, but power systems, like wines, come in “vintages”. What worked for a system designed in the 1990s won’t be the best practice solutions for new systems designed decades later. A great option is to work with someone who has experience with a number of different types of power systems, or one who works on your type specifically.

Another tip- Check out the latest switchgear design configurations. The new power systems include a lot of cost efficiencies, CAD-quality designs, and are good benchmarks for future power system switchgear needs.

As they say in the electrical trade, to do things well, you have to keep current.