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Busbar

Different metals serve different purposes. 

When it comes to electrical conductivity and distribution, you want to use only those metal parts that can handle large amounts of electrical current.

If the metal you are currently using for your electrical conductors is not the right kind, the right shape, or even the right design, then it is going to be more of a problem than a solution for your business.

What you need are busbars.

They are ideal for electrical conduction and distribution in both industrial and commercial settings.

Now, you might be wondering, what exactly are busbars? What can they offer that electrical cables can’t?

And most importantly, would they suit my needs? 

Let’s answer those questions one by one.

What Is a Busbar?

Busbars are more than just metals that distribute electricity well. 

They are technological masterpieces that make complicated electrical distribution systems safer, less expensive, and much easier to use.

Busbars distribute electricity quicker and more efficiently than other permanent electrical insulation and cabling systems. 

This is largely due to the excellent conduction and grounding capabilities of the metals used when forming them into strips or bars—aluminum, copper, and brass.

Busbars are typically housed in panel boards and switch gears.

They can connect both high voltage and low voltage equipment, as well as collect and distribute a wide variety of electrical outputs from incoming and outgoing feeders simultaneously.

This makes them a one-size-fits-all solution for most electrical distribution systems.

Where Are Busbars Used?

Busbars are ideal industrial settings. 

They are easier to install and organize than conventional wiring components and systems.

As such, they save factories and facilities money, space, manpower, and time.

Busbars are flexible enough to be shaped to fit space and design requirements.

They are most suitable for the following industrial environments:

  • Chemical Factories
  • Metal & Mining Facilities
  • Food & Beverage Distribution Centers

Additionally, since busbars can be designed for different sizes depending on the amp usage needed (anywhere between 40 amps-1200 amps), they can also be installed in residential and housing units, as well as commercial settings, like hospitals, hotels, and universities.

Because of this wide variety of possible applications, busbars are needed and produced all over the world.

The busbar global market size is expected to rise to $24 billion by 2025.

This is because more industries across the globe seek power supply networks that can deliver low to high voltage power in different environments without requiring additional space or labor.

Design and Functionality

Due to their flexibility, busbars can have a variety of shapes depending on the needs of the user.

However, they are typically fashioned into three core shapes that are suitable for most electrical distribution requirements:

  • Solid Bars
  • Rods
  • Strips

The current load that each of these designs can carry is primarily determined by the type of metal used, and its cross-sectional size.

They range in size between as little as .016 square inches (10 square millimeters) and as much as 3.1 square inches (2,000 square millimeters).

The smaller cuts are meant for lesser currents and the larger, more hollow and flat-shaped, for higher ones.

Busbars have to be rigid enough to support the vibrations of electrical current that will be flowing through them, yet malleable enough to change with the temperature fluctuations and magnetic pressures imposed by electrical currents.

They are usually either completely surrounded by insulation or supported by it to avoid accidental contact. 

Moreover, they can also be enclosed in metal housing structures to prevent accidents.

Busbars are usually connected to one another and to other electrical components through welding, bolting, or clamping processes.

As far as the materials are concerned, copper is typically chosen for its tolerance to high temperatures and to avoid short-circuiting.

Aluminum busbars, on the other hand, are suitable for low-voltage environments because of their lightness and low cost.

Finally, busbars made from brass are the most flexible of the three as they can be easily shaped into strips, bars, or rods. 

They are also highly conductive and resistant to internal and external damage, so they tend to last a long time.

Difference Between Busbars and Cables

Both busbars and cables help connect and distribute electrical current.

However, busbars are better for buildings and facilities that require high electrical power levels since they don’t require more space or size to increase power.

Here are some other reasons why busbars are preferable to cables.

Compact

Busbars are more compact than cables, and so require less space. This is extremely beneficial, especially in environments that require high voltage.

The higher the voltage, the more cables are needed, which usually requires extra spaces and structures to house and organize them.

With busbars, this isn’t an issue.

Flexible

Since busbars are more modular than cables, they can fit into almost any structure. 

It is easy to modify or relocate them without spending lots of money or interrupting the power supply.

On the other hand, modifying, moving, or expanding cable systems is quite expensive and complicated—and almost always requires a cut in the power supply.

Resistance

Busbars have higher resistance and lower density levels than cables do, which equals less voltage loss.

Installation

While installing cables entails lots of manpower, time, and qualified electricians, installing busbars is quick, easy, and requires no special tools or professional help.

A team of installers who can bolt, weld, or screw joints, lengths, and electric accessories are all you need to put in a busbar system.

Up to 10 meters of busbars can be installed at a single time.

Common Busbar Types

Electrical busbars come in different sizes and materials, depending on their intended use.

Usually, the more electrical current is needed, the bigger the size, and vice versa.

Here is a range of busbar sizes that are based on amperes (amps)—i.e., electrical current:

  • 40
  • 50
  • 60
  • 100
  • 225
  • 250
  • 400
  • 800
  • 1200

Here are the different busbar sizes that are most commonly available based on thickness and width in inches:

ThicknessWidth
1/16″½-2”
⅛”½-4”
3/16”½-12”
¼”¾-12” 
⅜”¾-12”
½”1-12” 
¾”4-12”

Always consult with your busbar manufacturer to confirm the correct bar sizes and design you need.

As with your design, you should also consult with your busbar designer, estimator, or manufacturer for the type of metal that will suit your specific environment, budget, and energy requirements.

Common Busbar Arrangements

Since there are many ways you can arrange busbars depending on how much electrical power you need, you should consider a few things before making your choice:

  • How simple and easy will it be to maintain?
  • Will regular maintenance affect the continuity of the power supply?
  • How much will the installation cost?

To help with your decision, here is a brief explanation of eight different busbar arrangements that will suit most power supply requirements:

Single Arrangement

This is the most basic design system, consisting of a group of single strips.

In this system, all generators, transformers, and feeders are connected to a single busbar via circuit breakers and switches, which makes it very easy to maintain and install.

Main and Transfer Arrangement

This system consists of a main and auxiliary bus.

It is ideal for complicated electrical systems that require flexibility and transferability of power.

Single Arrangement with Bus Sectionalizing

Here the busbar is sectioned via a circuit breaker and switches.

This arrangement helps eliminate complete blackout should any problems occur in any part of the electrical system.

Double Busbar Arrangement

The double busbar arrangement is similar to the main and transfer arrangement, the only difference being that, in this system, each circuit comes with two circuit breakers.

This provides maximum flexibility and reliability since any interruption in power supply due to maintenance and faults is automatically minimized.

Double Arrangement with Bus Sectionalizing

The double sectionalizing arrangement consists of one main busbar and a duplicate one which is separated by a bus coupler (cubicle that splits busbars in two).

The main benefit of this system is that any section of the busbar can be transferred and synchronized with any other section so that maintenance can occur without any interruption in power.

Since this allows only one circuit breaker to be used at a time, the price of maintenance is reduced greatly.

Ring-Main Arrangement

Here, two busbars are coupled together, but one of them is sectionalized into a ring shape.

This scheme allows power to enter from both sides of the feeder (electrical distribution network) so that continuity is kept even if there is a problem with one of the sides.

Since this arrangement requires fewer circuit breakers than most of the other busbar arrangements, it is also cheaper to install and maintain than most of the other ones.

Mesh Arrangement

As the name implies, the circuits within the buses are arranged in a way that resembles a mesh.

Arranging the circuit components in such a manner reduces the need for circuit breakers and so reduces the cost of the entire busbar system.

This arrangement is best used where a large number of circuits are interconnected.

1 ½ Breaker Arrangement

In this system, a one-and-a-half circuit breaker is used to supply one circuit, so that two circuit breakers can be used for three circuits, and so forth.

Not only does this arrangement eliminate many of the drawbacks of double busbar and double bus breaker arrangements, but it also cuts down on the number of circuit breakers needed.

It is particularly useful with large power systems, since it helps reduce the overall circuit load.

Conclusion

Busbars are more flexible, easier to maintain, and able to connect electrical parts and distribute current more efficiently than other power distribution components like cables.

They also help reduce costs as less labor is required to maintain them. Moreover, they can be redistributed, changed, and maintained with little to no loss of electrical connectivity.

All these factors have contributed to their popularity across the globe. 

The demand for busbars is expected to rise in the upcoming years, as companies and industrial facilities continue to look for electrical systems that offer flexibility, safety, and reduced costs associated with the distribution of electricity and the use of electrical components.

About Bunty LLC

We are a full-service, custom-machined, forged and cast metal parts fabrication enterprise located in Greenville, SC, USA, that specializes in bringing high-quality, low-cost, tailored solutions to small business environments around the world.

This is possible due to our intelligent manufacturing process and process control protocols (AS9100D and ISO 9001:2015 certified quality management system (QMS).

These protocols also allow us to provide quick delivery to our customers no matter how specific or large their orders are.

Here is a summary of what we have to offer:

  • Assistance with the selection process of appropriate metals.
  • Custom busbar manufacturing according to your specifications
  • Service to a wide variety of industries: aerospace, robotics, energy, automotive, and more…

Since the year 2,000, we have been providing both small companies and big brands like BMW, P&G, and NASA custom metal parts and product modifications to fit their unique requirements.

So, if you are considering installing a busbar system in your facility or building, contact us or request a quote today.

We will be more than happy to welcome your small business to the world of global manufacturing.

About us

From a contract manufacturing firm, BuntyLLC evolved into a full service custom machined, forged and cast metal parts fabrication enterprise. We supply global solutions from our headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina.

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