Switchgear and Switchboards: How Are They Different?

Within both private and commercial settings, the management and distribution of electricity is crucial for powering appliances, protecting personnel, and establishing a more efficient space. While there are a number of components and devices that may be used for managing electricity, two of the most important equipment pieces for power distribution and safety are switchgear and switchboard devices. With both types of equipment, circuits may be serviced with distributed voltage in order to maintain the functionality of all connected systems. While many people may use the two words interchangeably to refer to the same piece of equipment, switchgear and switchboard devices do serve different uses and hold varying functionalities. As such, it can be useful to understand their differences in order to best manage the electrical circuits and systems within your home or building.

Switchgear devices are composed of a series of switches, all of which can serve low to high-voltage electrical circuits. With circuit breakers, lightning arresters, fuses, and other power switching components, circuits can be protected from ground faults and short-circuiting as they occur. Additionally, control panels, transformers, and relays promote more control over power distribution, as well as further protect and monitor the system. With a switchgear device, transformers, generators, motors, power networks, and more may all be serviced with distributed power.

A switchboard may come in various forms including single panel, assembly panel, and structural frame formats types. With such a power distribution unit, the input of electrical current can be split up to accommodate smaller circuits as needed. To further control the distribution of power, switchboards may provide the option to change meters, giving them more input on how much power each circuit may be supplied. Depending on the load that the switchboard is handling, various protective devices such as circuit breakers may be implemented for safety. For the functionality of switchboard devices, indicators and switches control and distribute power to circuits, and panels house the assembly together. Through the use of busbars, current can be transferred to various sections of the power distribution unit as needed.

While both equipment pieces are seemingly similar in their operation, their biggest difference lies in the voltage that they handle. With a switchgear device, currents that have high voltages of up to 350 kV may be serviced. Meanwhile, switchboards are specifically designed to handle lower voltages that do not exceed 600 V. As such, both devices may be implemented at varying stages of powering, and they may be used to manage the circuits of different components. As switchgears are designed to accommodate much higher voltage applications, they tend to have many more protective devices to handle faults. Furthermore, the choice between the two components can also come down to finances, as switchgears tend to run higher in price due to their higher flexibility and reliability.

Regardless of which power distribution device you implement, the electrical circuits of your building or facility can be better managed and protected for the benefit of appliances and personnel. At Fulfillment 3Sixty, we offer competitive pricing and rapid lead-times on a number of reliable power distribution devices that are readily available for purchase through our website today. We invite you to explore our expansive part and manufacturer catalogues at your leisure, and you may find a plethora of new, used, and obsolete electronic components that have been sourced from top global manufacturers. If there are particular items that you wish to procure, we invite you to fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form. Once received, a member of our staff will reach out to you in 15 minutes or less with a personalized quote based on your individual needs and requirements. Get started today and experience how Fulfillment 3Sixty can serve as your strategic sourcing partner.


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October 21, 2020

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