Busbars: Basics, Types, and Applications Explained

Busbars: Basics, Types, and Applications Explained

Electric busbars play an important role in power transmission and distribution systems. It is a conductive material that distributes electric power from a supply point to several output circuits with much flexibility and ease. Busbar constitutes the real backbone for any distribution device. They are often metallic strips of copper or aluminum that conduct electricity in several electronic applications. Different coating materials provide different conductivity variations and limits of the product’s useful life. Busbar comes in varieties of shapes as well as sizes that affect the ampacity of the product. The ampacity determines the maximum amount of electric current a conductor can carry before it weakens. This post offers insights into different types of busbars and their applications.

A Detailed Discussion on Electrical Busbar Arrangement

Basically composed of aluminum, copper, and brass, a busbar is used in the power distribution system. The selection of a busbar depends on several factors including flexibility, reliability, cost, and usage. The following are some popular types of bus bar systems.

  • Single Bus-bar Arrangement: As its name implies, it is one of the easiest and simplest bus bar arrangement systems which comprises a single set of busbars or strips. All the substations, including transformers, generators, and feeders are connected to the busbar through isolator switches and circuit breakers. The key advantages of this bus bar scheme are simple operation, minimal installation costs, and low maintenance. One can utilize the busbar potential for line relays.
  • Sectionalized Single Bus-bar Arrangement: The name itself suggests that this busbar scheme is sectionalized using a circuit breaker and isolating switches. The isolator removes the faulty section of the busbar without affecting the continuity of the power supply, protecting the system from a complete shutdown. This method is suitable for a large generating system, where several units are installed.
  • Main and Transfer Bus-bar Arrangement: This busbar arrangement has two buses – the main bus and transfer or auxiliary bus. The method also has bus coupler that is used to connect the circuit breakers and isolating switches to the busbar. When a fault occurs on any of these buses, the entire load is transferred to another bus without disturbing the power supply. This type of busbar is suitable for a system where the power system is interconnected to several connections, and flexibility is a key requirement.
  • Double Bus Double Breaker Arrangement: This busbar system is similar to the main and transfer arrangement. But the only difference is every circuit has two circuit breakers, and it does not require any additional equipment like bus coupler or switch. With this busbar, the load can be easily shifted from one bus to another when required. This system provides maximum flexibility as well as reliability because the power interruption is minimum.
  • Sectionalized Double Busbar Arrangement: In this busbar scheme, the main bus is sectionalized into two buses in which one of them is duplicate. These two buses are separated using a bus coupler. Any section of this busbar can be removed for maintenance, while the remaining section may be synchronized with another using the auxiliary bus bar system. In this, sectionalization of the transfer bus bar is not essential as it increases the overall cost of the system.
  • One and Half Breaker Arrangement: In this method, three circuit breakers are used for two circuits. This system is suitable for large interconnected power systems where power handled per circuit is large.   
  • Ring Busbar Arrangement: As its name implies, the end of the busbar is connected with the starting point to form a ring-type structure. Such type of system provides two paths for each feeder. If anyone side fails to supply, another side maintains the continuity.
  • Mesh Arrangement: In this system, the circuit component installed in the system forms a mesh. It needs minimum circuit breakers; hence it is an economical busbar arrangement. If a fault occurs on any section, two circuit breakers have to open which results in the opening of the mesh. This system is known for providing security against busbar faults. The scheme is used for substations where several circuits are interconnected.

What Are the Applications of Busbars?

A busbar system is used to implement power distribution in large environments. The following are some applications of busbars. So, let’s have a look at it.

  • Power plants
  • Data centers industries
  • Hospitals
  • Retail facilities
  • Institutions
  • Laboratories
  • Apartments
  • Metros
  • Railways
  • Technology settings

When selecting busbars, make sure you source them from a reliable and industry-leading supplier like Electronic Expeditors. The company sources from reputed and reliable manufacturers such as Altech among others.

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