Power Management

Designing and Building an Electrical Panel Part 2: Enclosure Location, Fixing and Cable Entry

The importance of determining the protection classifications discussed in the last post will now become clearer as it becomes a major factor in the next phase, avoiding degradation of the IP rating during installation.

If we look at the installation process, the questions related to mounting the panel should be: where is it going to go, and how will it be fixed in place?

What are the mounting methods?

  • Fixed to a wall—This is a common approach for small electrical distribution boards.
  • Fixed to a floor—This is useful for large and heavy cabinets. Cables can enter through the top or bottom. For bottom entry, the floor can incorporate a trench or false floor, which is often simpler since it provides easier access to the bottom. Additionally, a plinth can be used to raise the panel.
  • Mounted on the machinery—In some cases, the electrical panel is mounted directly on the machine. This approach keeps everything close together and avoids problems related to moving the machinery when the enclosure is fixed to the floor or wall. However, some machinery vibrates which can affect the enclosure over time. Where this is excessive, special provisions may be necessary.
  • Moveable—This situation is rare, but possible. Usually casters or a skid can be fixed to the bottom of the cabinet, but the greater complication relates to cabling.

Cable Entry

A panel used in an application of any complexity will have numerous cables and/or a busway requiring access.

  • Busways are often used as power entries to link the cabinet with the transformer
  • Power cables carry the main supply or power to motors and other pieces of equipment, and
  • Control and command cables, along with communication cables with multiple conductors for data networking, (Ethernet, fieldbus, etc.), extend to sensors and other minimum power devices.

Cable entry points for an enclosure must be designed very carefully, as an incorrect cable gland selection or improper installation degrades the IP rating for the whole panel. Keep in mind that the ultimate rating for a panel is only as good as its worst connection point.

Schneider Electric’s Panel Builder Partner Portal has many resources to help guide your planning, component selection and installation execution. These make all the difference for achieving and maintaining appropriate protection in the long term. The next post in this series on designing and building an electrical panel will look at internal and external equipment layout and installation.

Discover Schneider Electric’s complete range of switchboards here.

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