Understanding an Electrical System

January 17, 2023

 

Introduction to electrical systems

An electrical system comprises several components needed for it to store, convert, and distribute electrical power.

An example of an electrical system is an electrical grid, which supplies power to buildings. Another example of an electrical system is a package substation, which converts the power provided by a DNO (Distribution Network Operator), reducing the high voltage to a lower voltage (around 400 VAC) to enable the power to be distributed safely and efficiently.

Components of an electrical system

An electrical system usually consists of a resistor, capacitor, and inductor.

The job of a resistor is to regulate the flow of an electrical current. A resistor may also be required to reduce a voltage before it is transmitted to another device.

A capacitor is needed to temporarily store electrical energy as an electrostatic field. An inductor is also required to store electrical energy; however, it stores it in the form of a magnetic field.

A capacitor and inductor play a big part in power factor correction (PFC), which is a process undertaken to reduce the amount of reactive power in an electrical circuit. PFC helps to reduce wear and tear on components, extending the system’s life. The process can also help to lower electricity costs.

In addition to the ones already mentioned, there are many other components to an electrical system.

For example, a package substation generally consists of an RMU (Ring Main Unit) or a HV (High Voltage) switch, a transformer (plus transformer housing), and a high-power copper or aluminium busbar, which is linked to a main LV (Low Voltage) Switchboard.

Maintaining an electrical system

To ensure the safety of people in the vicinity, an electrical system must be properly maintained.

A malfunctioning electrical system can cause several hazardous issues. For example, if there is a build-up of heat within or around the system, this could lead to an electrical fire.

Additionally, an electrical system that hasn’t been properly maintained may experience outages, where the power supply will temporarily cease.

Regular outages can reduce the life of an electrical system. This is because damage can occur when the system comes back on but the voltage is either too high or too low. A voltage that is too high can cause an electrical surge; a voltage that is too low can cause overheating in the system.

Trained engineers can diagnose and resolve faults in electrical systems before they worsen. Any facility that has an electrical system installed, such as a package substation, should ensure that they regularly hire a trained engineer to carry out maintenance tasks.

 

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