Remember those colorful buttons and displays that layers any typical 80’s B Villain’s den? And how the typical bald, scar adorned, roughneck would press the red button at the slightest hint of the hair-suit mad scientist Dr. X?
Well, that is the Control Panel, a very good example in fact. In the simplest of words, a Control Panel (also known as Electrical Control Panels, Power Distribution Boards, Service Panels and Panel-boards) is a flat surfaced, horizontal or vertical board covered by control or monitoring instruments that is used to supply electricity to the countless applications and equipment involved in a system or project. Control panel are seen in a variety of sizes, shapes specifications and encompass a wide range of types. Right from a normal mechanical panel with a few buttons and displays to complex and intricate modern sound and consoles – all fall in this category.
These panels are seen in almost every industry or wherever any project is being executed. A primary element, it facilitates in keeping a track of all the process at a single desk. Originally, these panels were equipped with switches and push buttons and other analogue instruments but now these are being replaced by automated and touch screen displays.
It consists of a capital console and several sub panels, along with a numerous indicator lights. The fuses and the circuit breakers are integrated in the Console. In the contemporary versions, transformers are omitted to facilitate in the current supply at a voltage lower than that of the main supply. These types of panels are highly efficient, esp. in situations where several equipment with varied power requirements are amalgamated in a single circuit.
Although in this century innovation and cutting edge technology, a wide variety of Electrical Control Panels are available with countless technical integrations and digital displays, a typical control panel consists of the following parts:
- Housing – The outer cover that houses all the switches, displays and lights. It is generally fabricated from plastic or metal coated with insulated paint, so as to eliminate all chances of short circuit or electric shock.
- Main Disconnect – A very integral part of any Control Panel, the central power controlling switch of the entire unit. Its function is of crucial importance in case of any short circuit or overload.
- Circuit Breakers – As the Main Disconnect is switched on, the power flows through it to several circuit breakers. These little components function by tripping down automatically in case of power overload or fluctuation. Thus, these devices eliminate the risk of excess overheating of the unit, which might lead to fire hazards.
Today, it is mandatory that almost all Electrical Control Panels available in the market are stamped QC Passes by their respective Manufacturers. Still a few factors that should be checked before purchasing it can be summed up as:
- Resistance to changing weather.
- Safety standards.
- Temperature bearing capacity of the controllers.
- Quality of circuit breakers.
- Inclusion of voltmeter and integrated main switch fuse unit.