IEM Blog

Four Obstacles to Avoid When Customizing Electrical Equipment

Friday, June 08, 2018


Finding custom switchboards, panel boards, and switchgear that meets your facility’s space and electrical distribution requirements can be one of the most difficult design challenges you’ll face.

Electrical room areas can often be a very restricted space, and the limitation of that space affects the installation of standard distribution equipment. Understanding the challenges created by limited space is a key part of the design and fabrication process is critical. Here are four you should be aware of as you make your electrical equipment decisions.

1 – Increased heat causing reduced service life

Using densely-packed electrical switchgear in smaller spaces generates significantly higher heat than in a conventional electrical room. Temperatures can reach 212°F or more, and continuous high heat degrades electrical components in the assembly much more quickly. This shortens the service life of your equipment and increases the cooling costs for your electrical room.

2 – Schedule fabrication delays due to multiple components in custom switchgear

Forcing more equipment into smaller spaces can require custom-sized switchgear equipment along with specially designed breakers, transformers, and other components. Fitting all of these critical pieces into a space-efficient design to accommodate a small or oddly-shaped electrical room can require long lead times for manufacturers, who will need extra time to design and custom-fabricate these non-standard equipment pieces.

3 – Higher on-site installation costs due to lack of switchgear integration

In hopes of avoiding the delays caused by the custom design and manufacturing mentioned above, it may be tempting to opt for a larger grouping of individual standardized breaker boxes and other distribution equipment. But this tradeoff can result in much higher installation costs as electricians work to wire all these components together on-site.

4 – Potential for damage during installation

In addition to all the other obstacles, it’s quite simply just harder to work in small spaces. Access can be restricted, especially in older structures, for a variety of reasons ranging from insufficient loading areas to narrow entrances, doorways, and hallways to lower ceilings. These factors can increase the risk of damage to your equipment during the installation processes, which can in turn lead to delays and higher costs.

Clearly, there are added potential risks and additional obstacles in specifying and installing electrical distribution equipment for these non-standard projects. These risks can translate to cost overruns and delays on your installation.

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Electrical distribution equipment manufacturers specializing in mass production usually cannot fulfill custom equipment orders in time to meet the specialized needs of installation in these very specific circumstances, but IEM is equipped to do so. The VESTA-AR Medium Voltage Metal-Clad Arc-Resistant Switchgear from IEM is a perfect example of our capabilities. Learn more about the VESTA-AR here and contact IEM Power Systems when you’re ready to explore small-footprint switchgear solutions for your facility.

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