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Electrical Switchgear 101: A Full Guide



Switchgear is made up of electrical disconnect switches, fuses, and circuit breakers that are used to manage, protect, and isolate electrical equipment in an electric power system. Switchgear is used to de-energize equipment so that work can be done on it, as well as to clear faults downstream. The reliability of the electrical supply is directly related to this sort of equipment.

According to the latest analysis from Visiongain, a market research firm, the global switchgear market will reach $152.5 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 5.9%. The rise is likely to be driven by increased investment in renewable energy and an increased need for safe and secure electrical distribution infrastructure.

In this article, we will be discussing what switchgear is, how it works, the function it serves, and the types of switchgear. Let’s get started.

What is Switchgear

Low voltage switchgear
Source: Pinterest

An electric power system’s switchgear is an essential component in an industrial electric box. Switchgear is defined as the apparatus that is used for switching, controlling, and safeguarding electrical circuits and equipment. Circuit breakers, switches, switch fuse units, off-load isolators, HRC fuses, contactors, tiny circuit breakers, ELCBs, GFCIs, and other switching devices are all included in the term “switchgear.”

The integration of these switching devices with related control, measuring, protecting, and regulating equipment is also included. Electrical energy is generated, transmitted, distributed, and converted using switchgear devices and assemblies.

Switching and protecting devices of various types have been achieved through this. As a result, switchgear can be thought of as a broad term that refers to a variety of devices that deal with the switching, protection, and control of numerous electrical devices.

How Does a Switchgear Work

Industrial electrical switch panel at a power plant substation
Source: Pinterest

Circuit breakers and relays are the most common components of automated protective switchgear. When a fault occurs, the relay activates and normally closes the trip circuit, disconnecting the problematic line automatically. The typical and required supply load is then run by the operative and healthy part. As a result, enclosure manufacturers ensure there is no harm to the equipment and no interruption in supplies.

All-electric apparatuses are vulnerable to a strong current when a fault or defect in the power system occurs, which means the apparatus could be damaged and the supply could be disrupted.

Circuit protection devices distribute power to different areas of a facility as well as the electrical loads inside those areas. By limiting the current flow through the facility, they also provide protection to individuals and equipment.

Features of Switchgear

Switchgear Automation
Source: Pinterest
  1. 1. Increases Reliability- Switchgear ensures uninterrupted interconnection and increased generating station capacity. It improves dependability. In the event of a malfunction, the switchgear separates problematic areas of the circuit. The requirement for reliable switchgear has become increasingly important as the trend of interconnection and the capacity of generating stations continues.

    2. A quick reaction- In the event of a circuit failure, the switchgear instantly counteracts the damage to prevent it from spreading to the healthy portions. As a result, it aids in preventing a total circuit shutdown. When a malfunction develops in any component of the electrical system, the switchgear must respond rapidly to prevent short-circuit currents from damaging generators, transformers, and other equipment.

    3. Facility for Physical Control- In the event of an electrical control malfunction, the switchgear can also provide hand-held operations. Manual control must be available on the switchgear. If the period of the electrical (or electronics) control fails, the appropriate operation can be performed manually.

    4. Differentiation in absolute terms- In a circuit, the switchgear can switch between working and nonworking sections. The switchgear then separates the non-functioning components based on this to maintain an uninterrupted power supply.

Types of Switchgears

There are several types of switchgear, each with a different voltage level. The three categories 0ffered by electrical switchgear manufacturers are as follows:

High Voltage Switchgear( H.V)

High Voltage Switchgears
Source: Pinterest

The power system regulates voltages of more than 36 kV, which is referred to as high voltage. The arcing generated during transitioning operation is usually high due to the high voltage. As a result, more caution is exercised when producing high-voltage switchgear.

Because a high voltage circuit breaker is such an important component of HV switchgear, it must have certain qualities to ensure dependable and safe functioning. Faulty high-voltage circuit tripping and switching are extremely infrequent. These circuit breakers are frequently left in the ON position and can be used after a lengthy period of time. As a result, CBS must be dependable enough to ensure safe operations when required.

In the last 15 years, high-voltage circuit breaker technology has evolved dramatically. For high voltage switchgear, minimum oil circuit breakers (MOCB), air blast circuit breakers, and SF6 circuit breakers are commonly utilized. Because vacuum technology is insufficient for interrupting very high voltage short circuit currents, vacuum circuit breakers are rarely employed for this purpose.

High-voltage circuit breakers with faulty tripping and switching operations are rather uncommon. The majority of the time, these circuit breakers remain in the ON position and can be turned on after a long time. As a result, circuit breakers must be dependable enough to ensure that they operate safely when needed.


Medium Voltage Switchgear

Medium voltage switchgear 1
Source: Pinterest

An MV switchgear can handle voltages ranging from 3 to 36 kV. The majority of this switchgear comes in a variety of styles. Metal-enclosed outdoor type, metal-enclosed indoor type, indoor or outdoor type without metal industrial enclosure, and so on. 

This particular switchgear’s interruption channels are vacuum, SF (Sulfur hexafluoride), and oil. The basic responsibility of the MV power system in a defective situation is to interrupt heavy current, regardless of the kind of CB used in the medium voltage system. MV switchgear performs functions such as halting short circuit currents, switching capacitive and inductive currents, and performing standard On/Off switching, among others.

Medium voltage switchgear manufacturer’s products perform several functions, however, be able to function in other situations. Medium-voltage switchgear should be able to do the following:

Low voltage Switchgear

Low voltage switchgear 1
Source: Pinterest

Low voltage switchgear refers to a switchgear with a voltage rating of less than 1 kV. This is most commonly used in LV distribution boards.

Oil circuit breakers (OCBs), air circuit breakers (ACBs), switch fuse units (SFUs), off-load isolators, HRC fuses, earth leakage circuit breakers (ELCBs), Residual Current Protective Devices (RCCB & RCBO), miniature circuit breakers (MCB) and molded case circuit breakers (MCCB) are all examples of low voltage devices that are commonly used.

LV switchgear makes it easier to safeguard circuit components from mechanical and thermal damage. It separates problematic parts while preserving safety and provides remote and local switching operational control.

Low-voltage circuit breakers use main contacts that are part of the open air to interrupt short-circuit and overload problems. As a result, in contrast to medium-voltage circuit breakers, which commonly use vacuum interrupters, such circuit breakers are referred to as air circuit breakers (ACB).


Whether you are looking to upgrade your existing switchgear, or require new switchgear installed, look no further, Eabel got you covered. Contact us for more information about our switchgear services and products.

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