Metering Devices In Switchboards: Roles And Uses

Metering devices, commonly known as electrical meters, are instruments designed to measure and display various parameters of electrical power. These parameters include voltage, current, power consumption, power factor, frequency, and energy usage. The primary purpose of these devices is to monitor and record electrical energy consumption, ensuring that electrical systems operate efficiently and within specified limits.

Types of Metering Devices

  1. Analog Meters: Analog meters are traditional meters that use a needle and dial to display readings. While they are still in use, they are gradually being phased out in favour of more modern alternatives.
  2. Digital Meters: These provide a digital readout of electrical parameters. They are more accurate than analogue meters and can display multiple parameters simultaneously.
  3. Smart Meters: These are advanced digital meters with communication capabilities, allowing for remote monitoring and data analysis. They are integral to modern smart grid systems.
  4. Power Quality Meters: These specialised meters measure parameters that affect the quality of electrical power, such as harmonics, transients, and power factors.

Role of Metering Devices in Electrical Switchboards

An electrical switchboard is a crucial component of an electrical distribution system, responsible for dividing the electrical power feed into subsidiary circuits while providing protection and control. Here’s how metering devices integrate into this setup:

1. Monitoring and Management 

Metering devices installed on switchboards continuously monitor electrical parameters. This monitoring helps in:

  • Load Management: By keeping track of the load on different circuits, metering devices help balance the load and prevent overloads.
  • Energy Consumption Tracking: Accurate measurement of energy usage helps in energy management, cost allocation, and identifying areas for energy savings.
  • Preventive Maintenance: Continuous monitoring allows for the early detection of anomalies, enabling preventive maintenance and reducing downtime.

2. Safety and Compliance

Electrical systems must adhere to various safety standards and regulations. Metering devices help ensure compliance by:

  • Recording Power Quality: Poor power quality can damage equipment and lead to inefficiencies. Power quality meters help in identifying and rectifying such issues.
  • Event Logging: Many modern meters can log events like power surges, dips, and outages. This data is crucial for troubleshooting and maintaining system integrity.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Accurate metering is often a regulatory requirement, especially in commercial and industrial setups. Compliance with these regulations helps avoid penalties and ensures safety.

3. Data Analysis and Optimization

Smart meters and digital meters equipped with communication capabilities provide valuable data that can be used for:

  • Trend Analysis: Analysing consumption patterns over time can lead to better demand forecasting and more efficient energy procurement.
  • Operational Efficiency: Detailed data helps in identifying inefficient equipment and processes, enabling targeted improvements.
  • Integration with Energy Management Systems: Metering devices can integrate with building management systems (BMS) and energy management systems (EMS), providing real-time data for optimized control and automation.

 Metering devices are crucial in modern electrical systems,  ensuring efficiency, safety, and compliance. Integrated into electrical switchboards, they provide the data and insights needed to manage electrical power effectively. As technology advances, these devices become even more sophisticated, offering enhanced monitoring, analysis, and control capabilities, thus paving the way for smarter and more resilient electrical grids.

What Is A Busbar And What Is It’s Purpose?

A busbar is a conductive metal bar used in switchboards and electrical distribution systems to distribute electrical power from one source to multiple circuits or loads. It is a common connection point for electrical conductors, allowing for efficient and organised power distribution within a switchboard.

What is a busbar and what function does it serve in a switchboard?

Construction and Design:

Material: Busbars are typically made of copper or aluminium due to their excellent electrical conductivity and mechanical properties. Copper is preferred for its superior conductivity, while aluminium is chosen for its lighter weight and cost-effectiveness.

Shape and Size: Busbars can vary in shape and size depending on the current carrying capacity and specific application requirements. They are often flat bars with rectangular or rounded cross-sections.


Power Distribution: The primary function of a busbar in a switchboard is to distribute electrical power from a main source (such as a transformer or generator) to multiple branch circuits or electrical loads.

Connection Point: Busbars serve as connection points for incoming and outgoing electrical conductors, including cables, wires, circuit breakers, switches, and other components within the switchboard.

Current Carrying Capacity: Busbars are designed to handle high currents safely and efficiently, minimising voltage drops and heat generation during power distribution.


Efficiency: Busbars provide a highly efficient method of power distribution compared to individual wiring for each circuit. They reduce wiring complexity, save space, and improve the overall organization of electrical connections within the switchboard.

Flexibility: Busbars offer flexibility in adding or modifying circuits within the switchboard. New circuits or components can easily connect to the busbar without extensive rewiring.

Maintenance: Busbars simplify maintenance and troublesome tasks by providing easy access to electrical connections and facilitating quick identification of circuits.

Types of Busbars:

Main Busbars: These busbars carry power from the main source to distribution points within the switchboard.

Distribution Busbars: These busbars branch off from the main busbars to distribute power to individual circuits or sections of the switchboard.

Earth (Ground) Busbars: Dedicated busbars for grounding conductors to ensure electrical safety and proper grounding of the switchboard.

In summary, busbars are crucial in efficiently distributing electrical power throughout switchboards, as they provide connection points for electrical conductors, and improve the overall functionality and organisation of electrical systems. It is an essential component that enhances switchboards and electrical installations’ reliability, safety, and performance.


Miniature Circuit Breaker Curves: Types and Applications

Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs) are used in electrical systems to protect against overcurrents and short circuits. They come in various types, each distinguished by a curve that indicates its tripping characteristics. These curves play a vital role in ensuring the safety and proper functioning of electrical installations. 

The four types of MCB curves include:

  1. B Curve: Resistive Circuits

    It trips between 3 and 5 times the rated current, making it suitable for protecting circuits with moderate inrush currents. Typical applications include control wiring and lighting circuits as they often use B curve MCBs because they provide a good balance between sensitivity and tolerance for transient loads.

  2. C Curve: The Allrounder, Inductive Loads, Most Common MCB Used In Australia

    The C curve is for circuits with higher inrush currents, for example, medium inductive loads, lighting, and GPO circuits. These MCBs trip at 5 to 10 times their rated current, offering robust protection against short circuits and sustained overloads commonly encountered in residential and commercial/industrial settings. 

  3. D Curve: High Inrush, such as motors and Industrial Applications

    D curve MCBs are for the more demanding environments, where extremely high inrush currents are expected. High inductive and capacitive loads, motors, and transformers. They trip at 10 to 20 times their rated current, providing enhanced protection for critical equipment and circuits in industrial plants, manufacturing facilities, and high-powered machinery. These MCBs are less common in residential settings but are indispensable in ensuring safety and reliability in industrial operations.

  4. K Curve: Specific Applications

    The K curve is for specialised applications requiring precise coordination with other protective devices, such as fuses or relays. They offer a unique tripping characteristic 10-14 times their rated current, that suits industrial processes and installations where coordination and selectivity are paramount. K curve MCBs are not as commonly used as B, C, or D curves but are critical in specific engineering designs.

Choosing the right curve for an MCB depends on several factors, including the type of load, the magnitude of inrush currents, and the overall electrical system’s requirements. It’s essential to consult with electrical engineers or professionals to determine the most suitable MCB curve for a particular application.

In conclusion, miniature circuit breaker curves play a crucial role in safeguarding electrical systems against overcurrents and short circuits. Understanding the differences between B, C, D, and K curves enables efficient selection and installation of MCBs tailored to specific operational needs, ensuring safety, reliability, and optimal performance.

What Does A Circuit Breaker Do In A Switchboard?

A circuit breaker is an electrical device used in switchboards and electrical systems to protect circuits and equipment from overloads, short circuits, and other electrical faults. It acts as a safety mechanism by automatically interrupting the flow of electrical current when abnormal conditions are detected, thereby preventing damage to the circuit and reducing the risk of electrical hazards such as fires or equipment damage.

Here’s how a circuit breaker works and what it does in a switchboard:

Detection of Electrical Faults:

When an electrical current flows through a circuit, the circuit breaker continuously monitors the current level. It is designed to operate within a specified current range known as its rated current or current-carrying capacity.

If the current exceeds the rated capacity due to an overload (e.g. too many devices connected to the circuit) or a short circuit (e.g. a direct path between live and neutral wires or earth), the circuit breaker detects the fault and trips.

Trip Mechanism Activation:

When an overload or short circuit occurs, the circuit breaker’s trip mechanism is activated. The trip mechanism can be electronic, thermal, magnetic, or a combination of both (thermal magnetic), depending on the type of circuit breaker.

Thermal Trip: In thermal circuit breakers, an overload causes the temperature of a bimetallic strip or sensor to rise, triggering the trip mechanism to open the circuit.

Magnetic Trip: In magnetic circuit breakers, a sudden surge in current (as in a short circuit) induces a magnetic field that triggers the trip mechanism to open the circuit.

Interrupting the Circuit:

Once the trip mechanism is activated, the circuit breaker quickly opens the electrical circuit, interrupting the flow. This action effectively disconnects the faulty circuit from the power supply.

By interrupting the circuit, the circuit breaker prevents excessive current from flowing, which could otherwise lead to overheating, equipment damage, or electrical hazards.

Reset and Restoration:

After the fault is cleared and the circuit breaker trips, it can be manually or automatically reset, depending on the type of circuit breaker and its design.

Manual Reset: Some circuit breakers require manual intervention to reset them after a trip. This involves physically toggling or pressing a reset button on the circuit breaker.

Automatic Reset: Certain circuit breakers have an automatic reset feature that restores power to the circuit once the fault is cleared, eliminating the need for manual intervention.

In summary, a circuit breaker in a switchboard serves as a protective device that monitors electrical currents, detects faults such as overloads and short circuits, and automatically interrupts the circuit to prevent damage to equipment and ensure safety in electrical systems. It is a crucial component of switchboards and electrical installations, helping to maintain system reliability and protect against electrical hazards.

custom modular switchboards

What Are The Main Parts Of A Switchboard?

Switchboards are critical components in electrical systems, responsible for dispersing power from a primary source to various circuits and loads.

The main parts of a switchboard include:

Main Incoming Feeder: This is where the primary power supply enters the switchboard. It usually connects to the main switch or circuit breaker (Service Circuit Breaker) that controls the entire switchboard’s power supply.

Main Switch/Service Circuit Breaker: This component allows the operator to disconnect power from the entire switchboard. It serves as a safety mechanism during maintenance or emergencies.

Busbars: Busbars are conductive bars or strips within the switchboard that distribute electrical power to various branch circuits. They carry the electrical current from the main feeder to the individual circuit breakers or switches.

Circuit Breakers/Switches: These devices control the flow of electricity to individual circuits or loads. Circuit breakers protect circuits from overloads or short circuits by interrupting the current flow when necessary. Switches, on the other handsimply turn circuits on or off without protection against faults.

Distribution Panels: These panels contain multiple circuit breakers or switches arranged in rows and columns. Each breaker or switch corresponds to a specific electrical circuit or load within the building or facility.

Metering Devices: Some switchboards include meters for monitoring electrical parameters such as voltage, current, and power consumption. These meters provide valuable data for energy management and troubleshooting.

Control Components: These components include control switches, indicators, and relays that allow operators to monitor and control the switchboard’s functions. They may also include alarm systems for detecting faults or abnormalities.

Enclosure: The switchboard is normally in a protective enclosure made of metal or other durable materials. The enclosure provides insulation, protection against environmental factors, and safety for personnel working near the switchboard.

Accessories: Various accessories can be incorporated depending on the switchboard’s specific application. These can include surge protectors, arc flash protection relays, wiring ducts, cable ways, rain hoods/roofs, sun shields, vents/fans, cubicles to incorporate control equipment and labelling for identifying circuits.

These main parts work together to ensure the safe and efficient distribution of electricity within a building, facility, or industrial setting. Switchboards can vary in complexity and size based on the scale of the electrical system they serve, ranging from small residential distribution panels to large industrial switchboards for complex power distribution networks.

power system analysis

How Long Does It Take To Make A Switchboard?

The timeframe to manufacture a switchboard can vary significantly based on several factors, including the complexity of the switchboard, customisation requirements, availability of materials, production processes, and the workload of the manufacturing facility. Here’s a quick overview of the typical timeline involved in making a switchboard:

1.Design Phase (1-2 weeks):

Before any physical work begins, planning and designing work is essential. This phase involves assessing the electrical requirements of the building or facility, determining the optimal layout for the switchboard, customisation, compliance with safety standards and regulations, ordering materials (e.g. sheet metal), and selecting the appropriate components like circuit breakers, fuses, and meters. Depending on the complexity, the design phase can take a few days to several weeks.

2. Fabrication and Assembly (4-8 weeks):

Once the design is finalised, the fabrication and assembly stage commences. Skilled technicians and electricians work together to build the design, by cutting and assembling the metal enclosure, mounting electrical components, and wiring the switchboard according to the schematic diagram. This stage can take a few days for a smaller switchboard to several weeks for a larger, more intricate system.

 3. Testing and Quality Assurance (1-2 weeks):

Before deployment, testing and quality assurance procedures are conducted to ensure the switchboard functions flawlessly and adheres to safety standards. This phase involves conducting electrical tests, checking for potential faults or malfunctions, and verifying that all components are installed and functioning as intended. Depending on the complexity of the switchboard and the extent of testing required, this phase can take several days to a couple of weeks.

Overall, the time required to make an electrical switchboard can take approximately 12 -20 weeks, depending on the complexity of the switchboard, customisation requirements, and the production capacity of the manufacturing facility. It’s important to note that this timeline is a general estimate, and actual timelines may vary based on specific project details and circumstances.

What Is The Function Of A Switchboard?

In the realm of electrical engineering and infrastructure, the electric switchboard emerges as a fundamental component, orchestrating the flow of power with precision and reliability. From residential setups to industrial complexes, understanding the function of an electric switchboard unveils the intricate mechanisms that power our modern world.

The Core Function

  1. Power Distribution: The switchboard receives electrical power from the main supply or generator and distributes it to different circuits or loads within a building or facility. This distribution is achieved through circuit breakers or switches that control the flow of electricity to specific areas or equipment.
  2. Load Management: Electric switchboards allow for the effective management of electrical loads. By organising circuits and assigning priorities, switchboards prevent overload situations, ensuring that electrical devices receive the necessary power without compromising safety or efficiency.
  3. Fault Protection: Switchboards incorporate protective devices such as circuit breakers, fuses, and surge suppressors to safeguard against electrical faults. These devices detect abnormalities such as short circuits or overloads and interrupt the flow of electricity to prevent damage to equipment and mitigate safety risks.
  4. Metering and Monitoring: Many modern switchboards include meters and monitoring systems to track electrical consumption, voltage levels, and power quality. This data helps in monitoring energy usage, identifying inefficiencies, and optimising electrical systems for better performance and cost savings.

Applications Across Industries

  1. Residential Buildings: In homes, switchboards serve as the central point for distributing power from the utility grid or backup generators to different rooms and appliances. They ensure safe and reliable electricity supply for lighting, heating, cooling, and electronic devices.
  2. Commercial Establishments: In commercial buildings, switchboards manage power distribution to lighting, HVAC systems, computers, machinery, and other electrical loads. They enable efficient energy management, reduce downtime due to electrical issues, and ensure compliance with safety standards.
  3. Industrial Facilities: In industrial settings, switchboards play a critical role in powering heavy machinery, production lines, and industrial processes. They provide robust power distribution, fault protection, and monitoring capabilities to support uninterrupted operations and worker safety.
  4. Renewable Energy Systems: Switchboards are essential components of renewable energy systems such as solar or wind power installations. They integrate renewable energy sources with grid power, manage energy storage systems, and ensure seamless transition between different power sources.

In conclusion, the function of an electric switchboard encompasses the vital tasks of power distribution, load management, fault protection, and monitoring within electrical systems. From ensuring safe electricity supply in homes to powering complex industrial operations, switchboards are indispensable in maintaining reliable and efficient electrical infrastructure.

What Is A Switchboard?

What is an Electric Switchboard?

An electric switchboard is a vital component of an electrical distribution system. It serves as a centralised control panel where electrical circuits are connected, monitored, and managed. Think of it as the nerve centre of an electrical installation, directing power to different areas while ensuring safety and reliability.

Key Features of Electric Switchboards:

Circuit Breakers and Fuses: One of the primary functions of an electric switchboard is to protect electrical circuits from overloads and short circuits. This is achieved through circuit breakers and fuses. Circuit breakers automatically trip and disconnect the circuit when an overload or fault is detected, to prevent damage to equipment and ensure safety. 

Submain Distribution: Switchboards often incorporate some form of distribution. Sub main distribution can be achieved by chassis to bolt your breakers to or breakers by themselves. This distributes the submains out to the sub boards.  These sub boards contain smaller multiple circuit breakers or fuses for final subcircuits, each dedicated to a specific type of load. Distribution boards help organise and streamline the distribution of electrical power throughout a building or facility.

Metering and Monitoring: Modern switchboards are equipped with meters and monitoring devices to track energy consumption, voltage levels, and system performance. This data is valuable for energy management, identifying potential issues, and optimising electrical efficiency.

Safety Features: Electric switchboards have various safety features. These may include circuit breakers for quickly disconnecting power, Isolators, earth leakage protection (safety switch) to prevent electric shocks, and warning indicators for system faults.

Modularity and Expandability: Electric switchboards are designed with modularity in consideration, allowing for easy expansion or modification as electrical requirements evolve. Modular switchboards enable the addition of new circuits, upgrades to existing components, or integration of advanced technologies without extensive rework.

Enclosures and Protection: Switchboards are secured in enclosures designed to protect internal components from environmental factors, physical damage, and unauthorised access. Enclosure materials vary based on the application, with options including metal, plastic, or fibreglass.

In summary, electric switchboards are fundamental components of electrical systems, offering a range of features such as circuit protection, distribution management, monitoring capabilities, and safety enhancements.

Exploring the World of Switchboards with Marelex Electrical

Welcome to our blog at Marelex Electrical, where we discuss and analyse the world of switchboards and electrical solutions. As a leading manufacturer in the industry, we pride ourselves on crafting high-quality switchboards that power the modern world.

In this blog, we’ll explore the fascinating realm of switchboard technology, from the basics of how they work to the latest innovations driving efficiency and sustainability. Whether you’re an industry professional seeking technical insights or a curious individual looking to learn more about electrical systems, we’ve got you covered.

Join us on a journey through the circuits, wires, and panels that make up the backbone of countless infrastructures. Discover the intricacies of switchboard design, the importance of safety standards, and the future trends shaping the industry.

Our team of experts will share their knowledge, tips, and best practices, empowering you to make informed decisions about your electrical needs. Whether you’re designing a new facility, upgrading an existing system, or simply curious about the technology behind the switch at your fingertips, our blog is your go-to resource.

So, come along as we illuminate the world of switchboards and power up your understanding of electrical engineering. Let’s spark innovation together!