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The term switchgear, used in association with the electric power system, or grid, refers to the combination of electrical disconnects, fuses and/or circuit breakers used to isolate electrical equipment. Switchgear is used both to de-energize equipment to allow work to be done and to clear faults downstream. This type of equipment is important because it is directly linked to the reliability of the electricity supply. The very earliest central power stations used simple open knife switches, mounted on insulating panels of marble or asbestos. Power levels and voltages rapidly escalated, making open manually-operated switches too dangerous to use for anything other than isolation of a deenergized circuit. Oil-filled equipment allowed arc energy to be contained and safely controlled. By the early 20th century, a switchgear line-up would be a metal-enclosed structure with electrically-operated switching elements, using oil circuit breakers. Today, oil-filled equipment has largely been replaced by air-blast, vacuum, or SF6 equipment, allowing large currents and power levels to be safely controlled by automatic equipment incorporating digital controls, protection, metering and communications.
One of the basic functions of switchgear is protection, which is interruption of short-circuit and overload fault currents while maintaining service to unaffected circuits. Switchgear also provides isolation of circuits from power supplies. Switchgear is also used to enhance system availability by allowing more than one source to feed a load.
Vacuum circuit breakers are frequently used in modern medium-voltage switchgear to 35. Gas (SF6) circuit breakers sometimes stretch the arc using a magnetic field. Other common types are oil [or vacuum] insulated switchgear. Air circuit breakers may use compressed air (puff) to blow out the arc. so the arc quenches when it is stretched a very small amount (<2–3 mm). 2. 4. the escaping of the displaced air thus blowing out the arc. Circuit breakers are usually able to terminate all current flow very quickly: typically between 30 ms and 150 ms depending upon the age and construction of the device. Vacuum circuit breakers have minimal arcing (as there is nothing to ionize other than the contact material). where the conductors and contacts are insulated by pressurized sulfur hexafluoride gas (SF6). Circuit breakers fall into these four types: 1. 3. The combination of equipment within the switchgear enclosure allows them to interrupt fault currents of many hundreds or thousands of amps. or alternatively. . Oil circuit breakers rely upon vaporization of some of the oil to blast a jet of oil through the arc. the contacts are rapidly swung into a small sealed chamber. and then rely upon the dielectric strength of the SF6 to quench the stretched arc. A circuit breaker (within a switchgear enclosure) is the primary component that interrupts fault currents.high voltage switchgear hybrid air / gas switchgear TYPES OF SWITCHGEAR A piece of switchgear may be a simple open air isolator switch or it may be insulated by some other substance. An effective although more costly form of switchgear is gas insulated switchgear (GIS).000 volts. The quenching of the arc when the ciruit breaker pulls apart the contacts open (disconnects the circuit) requires careful design.