Ten Classifications of Switchgear Power Systems

Switchgear is the combination of electrical devices (such as circuit breakers, fuses and switches) that are used to protect, isolate and control electrical equipment. Switchgear has two functions, to clear out electrical faults and de-energize electrical equipment. switchgear power systems protect the short circuits and overloads fault currents while at the same time providing services to unaffected areas of the circuit. Switchgear power systems also isolates circuits from power supplies for safety issues.

switchgear power systems vary depending on various factors, such as location of the system, necessary security and power need. Hence, there are various types of switchgear power systems. Each system has a unique characteristic to meet the different needs and location. There are three main functions of the switchgear power systems: electrical isolation, control and electrical protection. The gas insulated switchgear system (GIS) is a very effective type of switchgear power systems. In GIS system, pressurized sulfur hexafluoride gas separates the conducts from the conductors. It is very expensive system, but very effective. Other common switchgear power systems are vacuum switchgear and oil insulated switchgear.

A circuit breaker also forms a very vital part of switchgear power systems. A circuit breaker housed in the switchgear power systems interrupts fault currents. The circuit breaker pulls the contacts apart when an electrical fault occurs and disconnects the circuit, hence quelling the circuit arc. The design of switchgear power systems needs keen consideration to where they will be used and how. Circuit Breakers are categorized into four types, namely gas, oil, air and vacuum. Depending on the circuit breakers design, age and construction, circuit breakers are capable of killing stray current’s flow in 30 microseconds.

There are at least ten different classifications of switchgear power systems; voltage class, insulation type, current rating, operating method, interrupting rating, interrupting device, type of current, operating method, purpose and application. However, the above classifications can be broken down further to allow for added specificity. Voltage classification, for example, can be classified further as low (1000 volts alternating current and below), medium voltage (1000-35000 volts alternating current) and high voltage (35000 volts alternating current and above). Equipment designers and engineers utilize these classifications and sub classifications to ensure that the right device or equipment is used with different switchgear power systems.

Classification of switchgear is very important and does not mean that one system can be used for only one type of system. For example, a single lineup combines different types and classifications of switch gear power systems. Specifications and ratings of switchgear power systems must comply or meet the requirements and standards, which include the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) within International Electro technical Commission (IEC) and North America standards around the world.

Switchgear power systems play an important role in large power grids and overall electrical power system. Switchgear systems provide isolation, protection and control. Safe and most thorough electrical equipment can be made if engineers and electrical designers take time to understand and comprehend all the requirements a system will need.