Understanding the basic difference between cables & busbars

Cables and busbars, what’s the difference?

A well-planned power distribution system is imperative to the success of any commercial, residential or industrial establishment. The use of the right kind of equipment plays a crucial role in laying out a reliable, safe, and effective electrical system.

cables and busbars

While putting together a setup plan, it is only natural to ponder whether cables or busbars would be suitable for your space. Before circling in on a definitive conclusion, we must try and understand the differences between both pieces of equipment. In this article, we will be focussing on what busbars are and how are they different from cables.

What is a busbar?

A busbar trunking system is a metallic strip of brass, copper, or aluminium enclosed within a panel board, switchgear, or closed busway. It is used to distribute electricity efficiently and offers seamless flexibility when compared to other permanent forms of electricity distribution and installation.

The variations in coating materials offer different conductivity thresholds and changes in the product’s useful lifespan. Furthermore, busbars are available in a plethora of shapes and sizes that have a direct impact on their ampacity.

Busbar systems are used to successfully implement three-phase power distribution systems found in large spaces such as data centres, factories, laboratories, hospitals, universities, and more.

What is an electrical cable?

Cables are a combination of wires running beside one another or bundled together to carry an electric current. Cables are easy to configure and have a considerably lesser space requirement. The fire load of electrical cables is also low, coupled with a high short circuit strength.

The difference between cables and busbars

1. Planning

  • Cables require a high degree of planning and expense calculation prior to installation. The consumer locations must also be fixed.
  • Busbars offer flexibility in terms of consumer locations. The total load is necessary for planning.

2. Changes and expansion

  • Cables can be expensive to move, maintain, or repair. It can interrupt operations and pose a serious risk of damage to the insulation.
  • The hot-pluggable nature of busbars makes it an easy and inexpensive option during expansions.

3. Space

  • Cables require more space than busbars due to factors like bending radius and the space needed in between parallel cables.
  • Busbars have a compact design and require less space than traditional cables.

4. Fire load

  • PVC cables have a ten times higher fire load than busbar. PE cables go as much as thirty times greater.
  • The fire load of busbars is very low as compared with traditional cables.

5. Short circuit strength

  • Since cables are unprotected and are only insulated with layers of PVC, they offer low short circuit strength and fire protection.
  • The protective enclosures offer effective protection and enable busbars to have a higher short circuit strength and fire protection.

6. Termination

  • The process of termination in the case of traditional cables is complicated. It puts forward the need for additional support to hold the cable inside the panel. Furthermore, since cables are installed in bundles, they are very difficult to bend.
  • A trucking system can be directly terminated and can also be bent to an angle of as much as ninety degrees.

7. Time

  • The installation process of a cable requires a thorough assessment of the environment. It is vital to protect every cable individually so that it can withstand the electrodynamic forces.
  • The designer must only make assessments on a single riser which significantly reduces the investment of time as well as costs.

What is the best option for your establishment?

Deciding what is best for your modern building can be a challenging call. We would recommend you associate with a renowned electrical service provider to get the best product recommendation. The experts at the service provider would analyse your requirement and suggest whether your establishment would need a busbar or a high-quality cable installation.