WP014001EN.pdf - Thought leadership White paper Basics in low voltage distribution equipment Mark Rumpel Product line manager Eaton Executive summary

WP014001EN.pdf - Thought leadership White paper Basics in...

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Basics in low voltage distribution equipment Mark Rumpel Product line manager Eaton Executive summary Depending on their unique needs, multi-family, commercial and industrial sites typically rely upon either low or medium voltage service entrance equipment to control or cut off the electrical supply of their buildings from a single point. Low voltage distribution equipment typically operates at less than 600 volts; in contrast, medium voltage equipment affords a wider range of 600 to 38,000 volts. This paper provides a basic overview of the definitions, components, applications and other details associated with low voltage distribution equipment. It covers electrical panelboards, switchboards and switchgear operating at 600 volts alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC) or below. The information is intended to help readers understand the purpose of electrical distribution systems and associated equipment and increase their technical knowledge about it. Basics of electricity generation In the U.S., as elsewhere, electricity has historically been generated from precious natural resources including coal, oil or natural gas. Nuclear energy and hydropower innovations advanced electrical generation capabilities at the end of the 20th century. Today, alternative and renewable fuels such as geothermal energy, wind power, biomass and solar energy are gradually becoming more readily available; these sources are popular both for their higher efficiency and long-term sustainability. Once harvested, natural resources and mechanical energy sources must first be converted into electrical energy to make it transmis- sible and usable. Power plants complete this function using steam turbines. Water is heated in a massive boiler to produce steam, which is used to turn a series of blades mounted on a shaft turbine. The force of the steam rotates a shaft connected to a generator. The spinning turbine shafts turn electromagnets surrounded by heavy coils of copper wire inside generators. This creates a magnetic field, which causes the electrons in the copper wire to move from atom to atom, thereby creating electricity. After the turbines have generated electricity, voltage must be increased to transport it as power. This is accomplished by passing the electricity through a series of step-up transformers for routing onto a network of high voltage transmission lines. Electrical power then travels very efficiently and safely over long distances along these lines. Thought leadership White paper
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Figure 1. Understanding energy production and electrical distribution: from generation to transmission to consumption. Electrical distribution systems further facilitate the economic and safe delivery of adequate electrical power to all the electrical equipment used in a home, commercial building, or industrial facility. The transmitted power arrives first at an electric distribution substation, where it is passed through a series of step-down transformers that again lower the voltage to more usable levels.
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