What Are The Major Components Of an Electrical Control Panel?
A control panel ensures all the machinery requirements are fulfilled by controlling the various processes. It has a critical role in the industry as it helps control the complex functions of machinery. Control panels have a vast range of industrial applications, which include:
- Oil and gas
- Power generation
- Food and beverage
Many components and devices combine to make up the control panel and its operation. In this article, we will discuss exactly that.
Circuit breakers are crucial components of an electrical panel as they prevent the whole circuit from being damaged. When there is a situation where there is an excessive electrical current, this can cause overheating, which can damage the whole circuit. A circuit breaker disconnects the circuit by detecting a high current and stops the current flow. Most circuit breakers will consist of the main circuit breaker that can handle 120V-480V in most industrial applications. We recommend trying out the CSRB4P63A100 RCCB circuit breaker part of the Wintrip series of circuit breakers by C&S Electric.
Transformers are passive electrical devices primarily used to change AC voltages between circuits. It can both increase and reduce voltages. This is through primary and secondary coils that can cause mutual electromagnetic induction allowing power transfer without changing frequency. By converting incoming voltages, they can allow all devices connected to a control panel to use power. Incoming voltages are generally too high for standard devices and can damage. Transformers help reduce the voltage and provide a safe working environment for the control panel and its operators. Eutroniks manufactured control transformer is an excellent addition to your control panel.
Terminal blocks are insulated, modular blocks that serve as connection points to link multiple wires together. This can help organize wires coming from various sources to connect to other electrical devices. There are many different types of terminal blocks, but they consist of a conducting strip and a clamping component for the most part. An Elmex KUDF4 fuse terminal with a screw clamp is a reliable terminal block that you can use as part of your control panel.
Read more about terminal blocks, their types and applications here!
Relays are electromagnetic switches responsible for opening and closing circuits to turn a device on or off. A relay uses an electromagnet to allow low currents to activate high currents, which will change the circuit depending on the need. They are one of the more crucial components of an electrical control panel as they allow the controlling of other electrical instruments. Relays are mainly used for devices with low currents. We have a range of relays that you can try out, such as the Automatic Power Factor Controller provided by Nippen used in panels with capacitor banks and reactor banks.
Another type of relay used in control panels is an overload relay. An overload relay protects electric motors from overheating by preventing them from taking more current than they can. Some circuit breakers allow more amps than the total load rating of a motor, so an overload relay protects from such a situation. It will open or break the circuit to protect the motor by stopping the current.
Other types of Relays are UVR (Under voltage relay) and OVR (over-voltage relay) with ON/OFF delays which operate when the voltage across the relay’s coil drop or reach a certain voltage level. The relay contacts trip the circuit breaker. These are used as voltage protection devices to detect sudden voltage drops and short circuit faults. They are mostly used in alternators, busbars, and motors.
Other types of relays are Earth Leakage relays used with CBCTs (Core balance Current Transformer).
Learn more about relays, and the key points that differentiate them from contactors in this article- (Medium blog/ GoSwitchgear Blog).
Contactors are very similar to relays as they are also responsible for switching and controlling electrical circuits. However, what makes contactors different from relays, is that they are used for applications and devices with higher currents. For example, contactors control electric motors typically with high operating currents. Power contactors that are part of the Robusta series are a great example of contactors that can be part of an electrical control panel.
Read more about contactors, relays and the key difference between both instruments here!
Switch disconnectors are crucial for a safe electrical working environment. They combine the properties of disconnectors and load switches. They are devices that consist of movable contacts that can be mechanically closed to form a circuit and mechanically closed to break a current. The function of a switch disconnector is to break load currents up to their rated normal current. They make and break under load conditions that provide safety and isolation for circuits, and are especially beneficial for machine control circuits. You can find switch disconnectors in different styles and form factors. The CSSD400DM3U switch disconnector is an excellent switch disconnector that you can integrate into your control panel.
Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)
A PLC is essentially a CPU installed inside the control panel that acts as its brains. PLCs control various equipment and mechanical processes by monitoring sensor inputs and control outputs. This includes electrical equipment like lights, motors, solenoids, and much more. PLCs are generally designed for factories and industries with a lot of noise and vibrations and may not be necessary for simpler control panels.
Motor drives are known by many other names, such as adjustable speed drives, variable frequency drives, and inverters. They come in various shapes and sizes because many motors exist for specific functions. Motor drives help control the speed of a motor by varying the frequency and voltage of an electric motor’s power supply. This makes it possible to enhance process control, generate energy efficiently, and reduce energy use. This results in optimizing processes involved in various applications that rely on electric motors. In short, the primary purpose of a motor drive is to operate any connected motor. Standard motor drives that are commonly used are soft starters and VFDs.
Enclosures are metal boxes that house the control panel and are generally aluminum or stainless steel. You may have likely seen these enclosures in several places but not peered inside at the electrical components housed within. Various classifications are generally printed on the doors of the control panel. The purpose of these is to help determine properties such as indoor or outdoor use, waterproofing, fire proofing, among other things.
Back panels are mounted sheets inside the closure made of metal, providing structural support for the wiring ducts and rail mounting. The rail mounting allows for the mounting of electrical devices while wiring ducts help organize and route the wires connected to the control panel. This helps control the electrical noise between devices of the control panel houses within the enclosure.
You can purchase wiring ducts/ slotted cable trunking by KableKonnect under the ‘Accessories’ category on our website.
Wiring and Cables
Last but not least, we have the wiring itself that is a crucial aspect of the control panel as it helps connect everything. There are various forms of wiring inside a control panel as all components and devices will have different types of connections. Additionally, cables are needed for connections from the control panel to other devices, and these will be much thicker than general wiring. In essence, they are the heart and soul of any electrical component or device. You can find PVC single core copper cables of various sizes on our website for your control panel building requirements.
The bottom line
Control panels are crucial for industries and factories, among other applications, as they help control the various electrical processes part of a system. There are so many electrical processes that wouldn’t function properly if not for the control panel, which ensures everything runs smoothly and safely. We have discussed the various significant components of an electrical control panel, each having a specific purpose. We hope this article has provided you with insight to comprehend the utility of instruments used in control panel building.
Hi This Abbas Ali From Bahrain, (Electrical Engineer) Managing director for AL Manzel Engineering Services
I woul like to know if you are doing a control panel to contrl pump supply water storage tank into 2 dirrent level using low voltage float switches
Hello Mr.Abbas, please provide your inquiry at Support@goswitchgear.com, our team will guide you and help you with the panel building process.
[…] electrical systems, this can be a challenging aspect for technicians and electricians working with control panels and switching systems. Trailing and mixing up wires can be a hassle to manage and, in many cases, […]
[…] Most of the urban environments that we are familiar with operate on electricity. Be it our home, our office, the buildings we see at work, factories, all of these have a vast array of electrical processes going on within the structure. The schematics containing wiring and components can be quite complicated, and it’s surprising that the end result is so organized. The credit for bringing order to all these electrical processes goes to the efficient design of an electrical control panel. […]
Excellent information you have shared, thanks for taking the time to share with us such a great article. I really appreciate your Control Panel Blog
[…] What Are The Major Components Of an Electrical Control Panel? […]