Electrical Switchgear 101: A Full Guide (2023)

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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.

(Video) Electrical Switch Gear basics
Electrical Switchgear 101: A Full Guide (1)

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

Electrical Switchgear 101: A Full Guide (2)

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.

(Video) Medium Voltage Switchgear Fundamentals: The Mini Course

Features of Switchgear

Electrical Switchgear 101: A Full Guide (3)
  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.)
  • Medium Voltage Switchgear (MV)
  • Low Voltage Switchgear (LV)

High Voltage Switchgear( H.V)

Electrical Switchgear 101: A Full Guide (4)

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.

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Medium Voltage Switchgear

Electrical Switchgear 101: A Full Guide (5)

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:

  • Switching on and off as usual.
  • Current interruption in a short circuit.
  • Capacitive currents are switched.
  • Inductive currents are switched.
  • There is a unique application.

Low voltage Switchgear

Electrical Switchgear 101: A Full Guide (6)

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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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.

What are the 3 sections of switchgear? ›

It consists of incomers, sub-incomer, and feeders. LV switchgear facilitates protecting parts of the circuit against mechanical and thermal distress. It separates faulty parts while ensuring safety and offers operational control of remote and local switching.

What is the basic knowledge of switchgear? ›

What is switchgear? Electrical switchgear refers to a centralized collection of circuit breakers, fuses and switches (circuit protection devices) that function to protect, control and isolate electrical equipment. The circuit protection devices are mounted in metal structures.

What is the NEC standard for switchgear? ›

The NEC identifies switchgear as: “An assembly completely enclosed on all sides and top with sheet metal (except for ventilating openings and inspection windows) and containing primary power circuit switching, interrupting devices, or both, with buses and connections.

What are the three basic functions of electrical switchgear? ›

There are three basic functions of switchgear power systems: electrical protection, electrical isolation, and control. Switchgear power systems are the combination of electrical disconnects that serve the function of isolating electrical equipment. The electrical disconnects can either be fuses or circuit breakers.

What is the difference between switchgear and switch? ›

Switchgear is designed to handle higher voltages that can reach 350 kV. Switchboards are designed to handle lower voltages that are generally less than 600 volts. Switchgears come with automatic features and come with manual control during emergency.

What are the two main components of switchgear? ›

Components of Switchgear

It includes two components namely power conducting and control systems. The components of power conducting include fuses, switches, circuit breakers, lightning arrestors which are used for interrupting the flow of electric power.

What is the simplest form of switchgear? ›

The tumbler switch with ordinary fuse is the simplest form of switchgear and was used to control and protect lights and other equipment in homes, offices etc.

What is the difference between a switchgear and a circuit breaker? ›

Switchgear contains fuses, switches, and other power conductors. However, circuit breakers are the most common component found in switchgear. During an electrical fault, a circuit breaker will sense the anomaly and interrupt the power flow, effectively limiting damage to the system.

What is NEC 120% rule code? ›

The NEC 120% rule limits the size of additional power sources (PV or battery) to within an acceptable safety limit based on the equipment label rating. In this case, the PV breaker would be limited to a maximum of 40 amps.

What is the voltage level as per NEC? ›

It sites the following NEC voltage standards: High Distribution - 1000 to 4160 volts. Medium Distribution - 50 to 1000 volts. Low Distribution - 0 to 49 volts.

What size breaker is required by NEC? ›

NEC® Motor Circuit Protection Requirements

Standard sizes for fuses and fixed trip circuit breakers, per 240.6, are 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 125, 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 600, 700, 800, 1000, 1200, 1600, 2000, 2500, 3000, 4000 5000, and 6000 amps.

Is switchgear AC or DC? ›

Switchgear power systems can be manufactured for AC power and DC power. The type of system in use and its application will determine which of the two switchgear power systems will be used. switchgear power systems provide protection, isolation, and control for electrical systems.

What is the main component of switchgear? ›

Fuses and relays are the most common switchgear components. In case of a short circuit, it limits the current flow to safe levels and prevents excessive damage to the equipment. Moreover, switchgears can assist in altering between inoperative and operative parts to ensure an uninterrupted power supply.

What are the components of a switchgear? ›

In an electric power system, a switchgear is composed of electrical disconnect switches, fuses or circuit breakers used to control, protect and isolate electrical equipment. Switchgear is used both to de-energize equipment to allow work to be done and to clear faults downstream.

What are the elements of a switchgear? ›

The switchgear parts include relays, current or potential transformers, control panels, and more. The circuit transporting device in a circuit includes constant contacts and moving contacts. The bus bars are externally connected to the circuit breaker through the conductors.


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