Friday, 22 June 2012

AC switchboards

AC switchboards
AC switchboards
If voltages exceed 250 volts d.c. or 55 volts A.C. then the switchboard must be dead front (no exposed live parts at the front) of the metal clad type.

Bus bars

High conductivity copper rated to withstand the thermal and electromagnetic forces which would arise in the event of a short circuit at the bus bars with all the generators in parallel. The bus bars will withstand these conditions for the length of time it takes for the alternator circuit breakers to trip or back up fuse to blow. Certain instruments and controls require a feed direct from the bus bars. Any connection between the bus bars and protecting fuses must be capable of withstanding maximum fault level. Standard practice is to provide a three phase set of fuses, known as 'Back Up' fuses, as near to the bus bars as possible. Connections are then led to the racks of the many instruments fuses fitted.

Circuit breakers

Must be capable of making and breaking under normal conditions and also abnormal conditions such as a short circuit. As the circuit breaker must be able to withstand closing onto a fault conditions without sustaining damage, it is of heavy construction. Fitted with an over current release and overloads with time lags, a circuit breaker can be used as follows;
  1. To control the output of a generator
  2. As a direct on line starter
  3. Control outgoing feeder circuits
On modern switchboards 'draw out' circuit breakers may be fitted. In the open position the whole circuit breaker can be wound clear of the bus bars, thus full inspection and maintenance can be achieved without the necessity of de-energising the bus bars so providing a separate isolating switch. The 'plug in' contacts joining the circuit breaker to the bus bars are not capable of taking the breaking load and it is essential that the circuit breaker is in the open position before any attempt is made to withdraw it. A mechanical interlock is fitted arranged to trip the circuit breaker before the winding handle can be inserted,
The breaker also has a mid position, in this position the control circuits are still connected with the bus bar connection isolated. The electrical operation of the breaker can then be tested.
Circuit breakers are normally fitted with under voltage protection and tripping is accomplished by shorting or open circuiting the no-volt coil which releases the latching in mechanism. The no-volt coil may also be open circuited by a reverse power relay and an overload trip fitted with a time delay


    The following instruments are the minimum that must be fitted;
    • Bus bar voltmeter and frequency meter
    • Volt meter and frequency meter, with selector switch to measure incoming machine conditions
    • Ammeter with phase selector switch for each alternator
    • Watt meter for each alternator
    • Synchroscope and if check synchroscope not fitted lamps
    • Earth leakage indicator
    Additional instruments that may be fitted
    • Watt hour meter
    • Power factor meter
    • Alternator excitation ammeter
    • Alternator excitation volt meter
    • kVAr meter
    • Share connection supply meter
    • Emergency batteries on discharge meter
When a check synchroniser is fitted it is there to prevent connecting an incoming machine to the bus bars whilst out of phase, it is not there as aid to synchronising. In an emergency the 'in synch' light may be used to indicate when the breaker may be closed. When an incoming machine is selected, its no-volt coil and circuit breaker contactor relay coil are connected in series with contacts on the check synchroniser. These contacts must be closed, that is the machine in phase with the bus bars, before the breaker contactor relay may be energised. If starting from a dead ship the check synchroniser must be switched to off before the first generator is put on the board.


  1. Overload protection-fitted to circuit breakers
  2. Reverse power-When motive power is removed an alternator will try to become a synchronous motor and draw current from the circuit. A reverse power relay will operate after about 2 seconds and about 2-3% reverse power for turbines, 10-12% reverse power for diesels. The time delay prevents tripping during paralleling and taking the alternator off the board.
  3. Preference trip-automatically , and sometimes sequentially, sheds load from board to maintain supply to essential services during periods of overload.
  4. Fuses-Usually of the HRC type
  5. Discrimination-The protective device closest to the fault should operate and protect other services
  6. Group starter board-Large demand sections may be separated from the main switchboard by fuses and circuit breakers.

Automatic voltage regulators

Shall be supplied separately from all other instrument circuits. Protection should be by fuses mounted as close to the supply connections as possible.

Shore supply connections

  1. Where arrangements are made for the supply of electricity from a source on shore or other location a suitable connection box has to be installed in a position in the ship suitable for the convenient reception of flexible cables, it should contain a circuit breaker or isolating switch, fuses, and terminals of adequate size to receive the cable ends.
  2. For three phase shore supplies with earthed neutral terminals are to be provided for connecting hull to shore earth
  3. An indicator for shore side connection energised is to be provided.
  4. A means for checking polarity or phase rotation is to be provided
  5. At the connection box a notice indicating ships requirements with respect to supply as well as connection procedure.
  6. Alternative arrangements may be submitted for consideration.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting one about the generators! Thanks for the valuable information!