Also referred to as distribution board, an electrical panelboard is used to distribute electrical energy to various parts of a residential or commercial facility. Its role in an electrical distribution system is very similar to that of a router in a typical networking system. Basically, it divides electrical power into different branches so that every part of the house can be powered by electrical energy. Every branch has a fuse or circuit that offers protection from overload, over-current, and short-circuit. It is impossible to access a panelboard from the back this is basically they are usually mounted to the wall. In addition, there will be no control over the light and power circuits in a facility if a panelboard is not installed. Panelboards
Is there any difference between a panelboard and a switchboard?
The role played by a switchboard and a panelboard in a power distribution system are very similar. The major difference is in the way they are mounted or positioned. While panelboards are typically mounted on a surface, switchboards are capable of standing in an erect position. A panelboard can permit up to 1200A of electric current while a switchboard may only permit up to 5000A of current electricity.
Is there a difference between a loadcenter and a panelboard?
The similarity in functionality between a panelboard and loadcenter is so much that it is very difficult to dichotomize between them. In some part of the world, people refer to a smaller version of a panelboard as a loadcenter. A loadcenter is not designed to accept all types of circuit breakers. If it is not a plug-in breaker, it cannot be used on a panelboard. On the other hand, a panelboard can accept different types of circuit breakers whether it is a plug-in circuit breaker or bolt-on circuit breaker. As said earlier, panelboards can accept electric current up to 1200A. This magnitude of current is too much for a loadcenter to handle and as such, loadcenters are usually limited to a maximum current of 400A.
Is there a difference between lighting and appliance panelboard and a power panelboard?
While the lighting and appliance panelboard consists mainly of single-phase load, the power panelboard consists of three-phase loads irrespective of how it is connected.
What are General Purpose Panelboards?
A general purpose panelboard is a panelboard that offers more flexibility in its method of use. This type of panelboard is not restricted to a particular pattern of application. There are different types of special purpose panelboards.
- Branch circuit monitoring panelboard: This type of general purpose dashboard monitors the magnitude of incoming electrical power and that of all branches. It is used in commercial facilities to determine the amount to be paid by tenants or occupants of each room based on the number of load they have. It is also used in industries and data centres.
- Column width panelboards: This type of general purpose panelboard is used in many warehouses. It has a good design that makes it fit between support columns. The dimension of a conventional column width panel board is 8.63’’ X 6.0’’. However, the value of the height may vary between 69” and 90”.
- Fusible lighting panelboard: This one is used in industries and commercial places where abnormal current is very prevalent.
- Lighting control panelboards: This is a multipurpose panelboard. It has the ability to provide protection from over-current. It is used when there is a need to ensure strict compliance to local energy codes.
- Elevator control panelboards: This one has the ability to house a standard fire alarm system, an elevator control mechanism, and power distribution system. It can control and distribute electrical power to up to four different elevators at a time.
Also, there is another category of panelboard referred to as hazardous rated panelboards. This type of panelboard is designed for use in a locality where the atmospheric and environmental conditions are not great. If you reside in a place where vapour and dust is prevalent, the hazardous rated panelboard may be the best bet. Before investing in this type of panelboard, you must consider factors like the voltage rating and short-circuit rating. Hazardous rated panelboards are further subdivided into two. There is the factory sealed type and the non-factory sealed type.
Factors to consider before choosing a panelboard
Before choosing a panelboard, make sure you consider the following:
- The maximum amount of current that each branch circuit or feeder device permits.
- Voltage rating of the panelboard.
- The current rating of the mains.
- The short-circuit rating that is desired.
What makes up a panelboard enclosure?
A panelboard has three distinct components – the five-sided enclosure, chassis or inner part, as well as the trims.
The enclosure: This is the outer cover. It has a box shape. This is the part that is mounted to the wall and it is made from galvanized steel.
The chassis: This is usually joined to the main box by means of a screw. Also called the interior, it holds the circuits and fuses.
The trims: This is also called the front because it provides access to the main part of the panel board. It is usually a door that can be opened and close based on what is to be done. The trims or front usually has a lock that helps to prevent unauthorized access to the panelboard.
Apart from the aforementioned parts, a panelboard also has a filler plate which helps to cover or shield any space within the device that is not yet in use. In addition, all panelboards have a label that tells us more about the electrification specification and rating of the device. This gives the user of what to do and what not to do with the panelboard.
The installation of a panelboard should be done by an expert. However, if you feel confident and know how to go about it, there is no problem. Otherwise, reach out to a certified electrical engineer.