Dualtec: Control Panel 101 – Electrical Power Components

SCADA Systems and Process Control

We specialise in the design and manufacture of control panels at an industrial and commercial level, focussed on utilising our considerable experience to become the best in class designer and provider of electrical control panels. We offer a complete control panel solution service. From initial design, manufacture and testing, through to on site installation / commissioning / user training and full documentation pack supply.

Our customer focussed approach ensures that we work closely with every customer to get you over the finishing line, on time, on budget, and with no fuss, headaches or unnecessary extra costs. We supply our turnkey control panel service to a wide variety of industry sectors, ranging from the automotive and aerospace industries to water management and waste processing.

Electrical Control Panel 101

We thought it would be useful for both our current customers as well as prospective ones to know how we define what actually makes up a control panel. In this set of articles we aim to detail the key points needed to understand how control panels work, so keep checking in with us to make sure not to miss the next instalment.

Electrical Power Components for Control Panels

Devices used for power switching within control panels are known as Electrical Power Components, their chief function being to start and stop the flow of electricity to components within the panel that have moving parts – Motors, Heaters, Fans and Lighting.

It is a legal requirement that all control panels must be manufactured with protection against overload and a built-in means of disconnection. This could come in the form of a manually operated switch, however a circuit breaker or even fused disconnect (fuse-box) are more reliable as they protect against circuit overload where a switch must be operated directly.

What is an ELCB or Electronic Circuit Breaker

A Circuit Breaker is still classed as a manual switch, however they have the built-in ability to detect an electricity overload or short circuit within the control panel. Most commonly functioning through thermal or magnetic means, overload conditions are thermally detected and short circuits are detected magnetically. If the circuit breaker senses either of these conditions within the control panel, the circuit is broken as the breaker switches itself off or ‘trips’.

The benefit of using an ELCB within a control panel is when a breaker trips out it does not permanently damage itself upon breaking the flow of electricity. Once the issue causing the circuit breaker to trip has been rectified, the operator can simply turn it back on again.

What is a Fused Disconnect?

A Fused Disconnect (fuse-box) generally consists of a fuse or row of fuses, coupled with a manually operated electrical power switch. Fuses come in all shapes and sizes but in control panels they tend to be cylindrical or two pronged variety, they consist of a thin metal wire in which the electrical current will quite happily run through under the right conditions. In the event of a power surge, overload or short circuit, then the fuse will overheat and burn out. A fuse break opens the circuit and stops the flow of electricity through controlled self-destruction.

The main downside to using a fused disconnect, especially in a control panel with multiple physical components carrying a lot of electrical traffic, is that once a fuse is blown it needs replacing. Fuses are cheaper in cost than a circuit breaker but will need replacing far more regularly, costing in maintenance time as well as parts costs.

Control Panel Control Components

Next time we will go into the specifics of the different electronic control components that can be used in control panel production. In the mean time, please feel free to read through the previous content on our blog and if you are company requiring control panel manufacture, then please don’t hesitate to contact us via our contact us page.

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