Energy Efficiency Technology

Why and how to modernize your switchgear

10 Feb 2020  by  Jeson Pitt

There is a significant increase in the number of industries that are installing switchgear. However, as with any equipment, a major issue here is the impact of aging switchgear. An outdated system can mean disruption of services and major financial losses. More importantly, it can put employee safety in jeopardy. 

Hence, every organization must upgrade and modernize its switchgear. Let’s understand how this can be achieved. 

Factors to Consider For Extending the Life of Your Switchgear 

Periodical scheduled evaluations help extend the life of installed switchgear. Here are some factors to consider before planning the assessment of your switchgear:

  • Age - If the switchgear is purchased recently and is performing well, you can maximize its life by investing in appropriate service and maintenance. This will also help you extract better performance from the device and save money. However, if the switchgear is old and is performing poorly, investing in new switchgear would be a wise decision. 

  • Type - The nature of service and maintenance differs from one switchgear to another. So it is important to understand the specific guidelines of your device to ensure proper maintenance. 

  • Application - The frequency of maintenance of your switchgear depends on the type of application for which it is used. For instance, switchgear installed in a commercial complex needs to be serviced less frequently as compared to the one installed in a construction site. 

  • Surrounding Environment - The environment in which the switchgear is installed also determines the type of service it requires. Environmental parameters such as temperature, altitude, seismic tolerance, dust, humidity, etc. all have a significant impact on the performance of the switchgear. Hence, it's important to consider these parameters when determining the frequency and nature of service for your switchgear. 

  • Electrical Conditions - The duration of operation of switchgear, voltage level, power quality, peak load, fluctuations and their frequency, and off-peak load conditions, are also important when determining the service protocol.  

Ways to Revamp Your Switchgear 

Switchgear is modernized by utilizing the structure and footprint of the existing line-up and upgrading the active components with the current technology circuit breaker box. Several devices and solutions can be easily integrated into the existing electrical equipment which will equip it with all the capabilities of a smart system. 

  1. Breakers - Old circuit breaker box can be replaced with the modern counterpart which offers trip units with the latest communication technology and other power monitoring capabilities allow the circuit breaker boxes to be integrated into your existing or new smart system network. Circuit breaker panel guards are important as they safeguard against the hazards of improper grounding, short-circuits, voltage fluctuations, faulty wiring, and damaged insulation. 

  2. Thermal Sensors - Thermal sensors when integrated into the equipment can help remotely monitor the temperatures of bus and cable connections. This allows the customers to plan for any due maintenance and avoid arc flash issues triggered by degraded material.

  3. Humidity Monitor - Excessive humidity can lead to failures and arc flashes. Humidity monitoring sensors that allow communication with any existing management system can be easily integrated into any existing electrical switchgear lineup. 

  4. Relay Upgrades - Smart relays when integrated into existing switchgear can help enhance the safety and reliability of the aging switchgear system. These smart relays auto-transfer systems can be easily controlled and monitored from a remote site which minimizes the exposure of maintenance employees. This helps mitigate arc flash accidents which often occur when employees take measurements by standing close to the switchgear. 

Modernization or up-gradation of the switchgear is a worthy investment which offers several benefits on safety, environmental, operational and financial fronts.

About Jeson Pitt

Jeson Pitt works with the marketing department of D & F Liquidators in Hayward, CA and regularly writes to share his knowledge while enlightening people about electrical products and solving their electrical dilemmas. He's got the industry insights that you can count on along with years of experience in the field. Jeson lives in Hayward, CA and loves to explore different cuisines that the food trucks in the Bay area have to offer.

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