What is switchgear?

Switchgear is a generic term that covers a large array of different devices. Essentially, any device whose purpose is to control the flow of power through a system, or to protect the system in the event of a fault, can be considered switchgear. 

The simplest example of switchgear are the switches and fuses on a electrical device. The fuse is designed to protect the system from a fault which might cause a large current to damage components, while the switch controls the flow of power in the circuit. Other examples of switchgear include circuit breakers, protective relays, isolators, and control panels. 

Switchgear is increasingly important as the world’s reliance on electricity grows, as switchgear plays an integral function in keeping the infrastructure that generates and supplies electricity to homes and businesses operational. 

Over the years, switchgear has grown more sophisticated and different types of switchgear have arisen for a variety of circumstances – low (which often uses tri-rated cable), medium and high voltage applications, as well as indoor and outdoor use. Increasingly, computer-controlled switchgear has become popular, though it is important that a level of manual control is still possible in case the computer/system fails. Each circumstance brings different challenges – for instance, at high voltages arcing becomes an issue in switches, requiring specialist switches that will operate as expected. Regardless, it is obviously important that switchgear is reliable, fast to operate, and functions effectively to isolate faults as they arise.  

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