Busbar and distribution systems in electrical switchboards : make or buy?

For more than 30 years, electrical equipment manufacturers have developed some very attractive busbar and distribution systems (standard busbar profiles & sizes, busbar supports, comb busbar, distribution systems & accessories) to distribute power inside these electrical equipments in an easy and safe way, especially when they are type-tested.
As far as I see it a lot of panel builder use partially or totally these busbar systems

… depending on their needs, their organisation and their ability to master busbar arrangements by themselves. But some of them are still using “traditional solutions”, using bare copper busbar and busbar supports which are manufactured and/or  assembled in a customised way for each need or project.

I believe the trend is more and more to substitute this traditional way of doing busbar to fully type tested solutions which have been validated by tests according to IEC 439, in particular when those busbar systems are installed inside pre-fabricated enclosures also proposed by these manufacturers.

Still, there are some domains where these busbar systems are less employed such as control panels, or in some very specific switchboard market segments where the electrical equipments and switchboards are still manufactured and customised on a case by case basis. (Mining, Marine, HVAC panels etc)

Will these applications continue to have their specific needs and habits, or will we see manufacturers propose standard busbar systems also there ?


  • recently I came across this term “High Ohmic Distribution Panel”, can anybody explain what this term means


    • High Ohmic? not relevent for electrical systems. Can be a load bank for testing?.

      what relevnce was the term used?

      • @Ramesh the term “High Ohmic” is relevant but it is not used commonly these days.Hope that helps

    • Chankiong,

      Consider Telecommunications Exchanges where 100’s or maybe 1000’s of racks requiring LOW voltage High current DC supply. This DC power supply is universally called EXCHANGE BATTERY or NEGATIVE BATTERY or L-ve (Load negative) because that is where the high current is supplied from. Now when or if any one rack or end device may go into short circuit then the whole DC supply will be effected. However, If the DC supply distibution is using fuses or Circuit breakers then these in turn have inherent reletively high ohmic value. In “short” HIGH OHMIC DISTRIBUTION is to protect the POWER SUPPLY BATTERY AND to prevent voltage spike rippling through other equipment on the supply rail. The HIGH OHMIC component dissipates the high voltage spike (dropped across) so it has no effect on the rest of the DC distibution. The voltage spike is unduced when the high current feed is broken and the induction component of the feedline cause rapid voltage rise when curretn ceases. The high ohmic distribution has nothing to do with the LOAD device it is all about protecting other equipment and the BATTERY itself.
      In contrast consider a LOW OHMIC DISTRIBUTION – WHere all the loads are directly fed from the BATTERY. In the case of a short circuit on any one device the whole BATTERY is effected by any one indivdual short circuit which in turn impacts the whole exchange. In distant past exchanges had buss bar battery feed whcih was low ohmic distribution with high ohmic distribution at each rack. However, these days mostly exchanges are evolving into High Ohmic distribution back closer to battery supply.

      I am surprised at the lack of response from the community on this since the above points are the basic low voltage DC power training on the first day of training!

      I hope this has helped you.

  • Regarding the switchboard, switchgear, cct. breaker etcs what is the working capital for the purchase of raw materials and overheads and pre-operating costs?

    Please provide a proposal business plan of it?

    Please show the “LOI” draft which is needed for future investment and monitoring.


    Loh Tean Hin (Mr)
    Cell: 006 019 446 0060 (Malaysia)

    • Your question is very large … I don’t have an answer ready to send you at hand

      maybe you could ask your question on a forum, such as CR4 forum / electrical engineering ?

  • Good day.
    I’m an engineer who specialized in electrical panel design(AMF,PCC,MCC,DB,SYNCHRONIZING PANEL,FEEDERPILLAR,AST PANEL)with the help of Autocad electrical 2009.i’m working HOLY FINGERS & GLOBAL CONCERNS NIG.LTD.
    Please,i need to know if the is any particular that treat how to design electrical panel and its control circuit and finally i will be very glad if you can assist me in terms of exchange of ideals on how to carryout electrical panel design with the another better software.thanks and remain bless as i look forward to hear from u soon.

    • hi , i am electrical engineer and today i am very happy to know about the busbar sysytem .
      friend i am site engineer and i want to know what is a working principle of busbar and one another thing if anybody knows aboout fedder pillar and it’s contribution in our electrical system then give send me all the data from which i can easily understand.


  • As a contribution to Eng Charles request ,
    today most of the L.V. switch gear product manufactures have their own software’s for designing the different types of distribution panels or Motor Control centers ,one of the leaders in such type of Software’s are Schneider Electric Who are very professional in providing different levels of software’s dedicated for such designs beginning from Short circuit analysis software’s and panel building soft wares designs for Prisma+ type tested enclosures which can be exported to all Auto cad programs. besides some many other types of software’s for different applications , same thing can be said for other manufacturers like ABB or Siemens ,however my Experience was only in Schneider Software’s that made my life very easy compared with traditional Auto cad drawings.
    however as for control and Electrical wiring diagram I would recommend a very professional software Called Eplan which in my opinion on of the best I have encountered for control designs.

  • i wanted to know the manufacturers who can supply type tested Copper busbars along with supports.
    Also the type testing to be done for ensuring dielectric strength, Internal Arc withstand tests. these busbars should be easy to be fit in the customised panel enclosure. please let me know such manufacturers as we have a requirement for 800 A switchboard

    • we are the manufacturer of copper busbar kindly send your requirement if it will be stand in line we will proceed further.

      Rajendra Singh
      Cell : 08000098119

      • Kind Attn : Mr. Rajendra Singh,
        I have given a detailed requirement as below.Please analyse the same and give your good advice.
        Shrimant Shanbhag

  • I have come across a small company called Iconic Infotech, they are into design solution for LV MV switchboards. I have over 20years of design manufacturing testing of LV MV switchboards, their solutions are best among all I have seen. I can only say that all other are only tools, Iconic gives solution.

  • Thank you all , gentlemen, for your valuable suggestion. This panel is PCC. Incomer is 800 A ACB-2 Nos along with Buscoupler of 800A. The issue is : Our customer wants us to have the tests carried as per IEC 60439( now 61439). Busbar is copper. We intend to use 100mm x 10mm(thick) busbar size in busbar chamber. Length is approx 9 metres. so how do i design this busbar system to withstand a short circuit of 50 kA, ambient temperature of 30 deg with 45 degree temperature rise and distance between busbar supports. What is the dielectric strength of supports and the creepage distance. the panel will be installed in a ventilated operation control center room. the IP of the panel is IP54.
    We do have a type test for 4000A, 50kA switchboard. How do we extrapolate the design for this 800A system. We are also planning to do a fully type test for this switch board.
    Thank you for your suggestion

    • Dear Shrimant Shanbhag
      We would be very interested to work with you on this design, my company provides specialist training and assistance in this area, you can get details at http://www.3phasedesign.complease contact us and we can look at your exact needs.

      Just for your info, it would be difficult to extrapolate for 4000A down to 800A, since you must use the same a/mm2. Also to comply with 61439 you must also use the same panel design (size & construction) along with the same busbar support spacing etc.

      It may be better to consider looking at a new design for this application.

  • Really a very nice and useful post. I have some friends looking in to making electrical distribution system on their own and i am sure this link would be helpful for them. Thanks for posting.

  • i have a question sir/maam….. what to be the location of the switchboard, relative to the bus bars.

  • To build a distribution system you need all necessary parts including insulators. Also the testing machine to perform essential tests is also needed , including bending test for post insulator, torision resistance load, tensile load test for suspension insulators ,both polymeric insulator and porcelain disc type.see the description of testing machine here:

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  • This made me think of a company called Iconic Infotech, who work with solutions for LV MV switchboards. I have 15 years of testing of LV MV switchboards, I really like the way you all explained this information and look forward to reading more of your post.

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  • I don’t know how about you guys, but for me personally getting a pre-installed busbar is more convenient.

  • Yep, Busbar systems have a more efficient layout and a smaller overall controls package, overall it’s a time saver as well.

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