Why and when to renew the electrical panel?
Renovation of industrial electrical panel
The industrial electrical panel is the backbone of any facility’s electrical system and provides the technologies that ensure business success. As technology is constantly being updated to increase operational efficiency, achieve better results, and enhance performance and safety, keeping equipment up-to-date and industrial electrical panel modernization is a vital competitive differentiator. This article will examine the right time and how to modernize the electrical panel. Stay tuned with KCS.
What is the useful life of the electrical panel?
While the expected life cycle of an electrical panel is between 15 and 20 years, it makes maintenance or renovation needs relatively predictable. Budget and staffing constraints often force facility managers to push renovations to the last possible moment, increasing the risk of electrical failures such as unplanned outages. Costly downtime in the data center space can have significant financial and credit impacts. Business managers must keep up with industrial electrical panel retrofit best practices to ensure their facilities operate efficiently and reliably and are up-to-date with the latest safety regulations.
It is cost-effective to modernize the electrical panel
Furthermore, modernization solutions have proven more cost-effective than replacing entire systems at once. This article explores strategies that data center managers can follow to know when to replace low voltage (LV) and medium voltage (MV) electrical panels and the importance of modernization over time.
Why is industrial panel renovation necessary?
Electrical systems are rapidly wearing out. Therefore, they reduce the reliability of the electrical panel. This wear and tear puts uptime at risk and increases the likelihood of costly outages. However, if electrical personnel implement the proper retrofitting processes and solutions, these older systems can be just as reliable and safe as newer power systems.
One of the issues facilities managers usually face is mismatched equipment in the data center. Frequently, facility electrical systems are comprised of equipment sourced from various OEMs, making maintenance, standardization, and vendor management challenges. In addition, replacing old equipment can be difficult, as the availability of older spare parts decreases while the price of newer parts increases.
The benefits of industrial electrical panel renovation
Another benefit of renovating the electrical panel is improving the safety of electrical workers, reducing the risk of injury or even death on site. Working around electrical equipment can be very dangerous, especially with older equipment that doesn’t meet the latest safety guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates electrical installations using established standards. As an intelligent electrical panel enters the market, it is often updated to include the latest safety features following the latest protocols and procedures. As electrical safety is standardized through specific organizations and articles, facility managers must have current equipment in their electrical systems to avoid workplace injury or fines for non-compliance.
Risk of electric arc in old panels
One of the most common safety issues in electrical installations is arc flash. Almost all electrical workers have experienced an electrical hazard at some point in their careers. According to OSHA, approximately 30,000 arc flash accidents occur each year, many of which result in serious injuries that can be fatal. Given the commonalities of these incidents, managers should proactively seek ways to reduce the risk of arc flash and keep their employees safe. Older, worn-out LV and MV breakers with slow opening times maintained with gray market-sourced parts (junk ducts by the original manufacturer) are more likely to cause arcing. An electrical panel retrofit can reduce this risk by adding breakers to the existing one for additional circuits.
How to renew the electrical panel?
Once managers recognize the need for modernization, there are several ways to do so. Replacing entire electrical systems can consume significant time and resources if equipment ages to the point of obsolescence. Finding all the equipment to upgrade the electrical system can take months for the center manager to do the most innovative thing. Suppose managers are proactively looking for ways to correct defects in their designs. In that case, it is much easier to identify the problem and modernize equipment that is not performing well in real-time, reducing the overall replacement time frame.
Electrical panel renovation methods
There are two main ways for electrical and utility personnel to upgrade their electrical panels:
Direct replacement circuit breakers:
Upgrade solutions feature new LV or MV circuit breakers designed to fit into the old OEM cubicle with minor modifications to the electrical panel cell. The direct replacement upgrade solution reduces downtime, as there is minimal (if any) interruption to the equipment’s busload.
When direct replacement circuit breakers are unavailable or impossible to design, the existing LV or MV switchgear cell and buss bar are modified to accept the new circuit breaker. This option requires a more prolonged bus outage (compared to the direct replacement option), during which the internal circuit breaker cell is modified to accept the new circuit breaker. A refill solution is often used instead of a direct replacement option for larger devices such as main circuit breakers.
Managers may not notice a problem within a facility until it is too late, making routine assessments of the electrical systems in their facility essential. Inspections can identify system weaknesses and alert data center managers to areas where the electrical panel may be outdated. In addition, inventory management must also be performed routinely, as facilities may have procured equipment from various OEMs and must keep track of available spare parts.
A reliable electrical panel ensures facility (and business) uptime. In addition to its operational benefits, electrical panel renovation can reduce safety risks, including arc flash. With rules and regulations regarding safety procedures strictly enforced by OSHA, managers must ensure that all equipment in their facilities is up to date. Managers can save money, time and resources by continuously renewing their industrial panel instead of repairing and replacing it. While managers may be hesitant to modernize due to resource constraints, an unexpected shutdown scenario in the future will be much more expensive.
Construction and renovation of industrial electrical panel
If you are also looking for the construction or renovation of electrical panels for your company or residential complex, contact KCS experts now and get expert advice. Based on years of experience and implementation of hundreds of successful projects in Toronto, we are ready to provide new and intelligent solutions in electrical panel production and related services.