Industrial Electrical Busways: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered how it is that electrical power can be distributed over such a large area within an industrial setting? In the old days, this was achieved by copper-based electrical wires that went from the utility company to your location. However, it only takes a certain amount of imagination to realize how unsafe this is! Thus, an alternative was sought, and the end result is what we call an electrical busway.

Aluminum Busbar

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) defines a busway as a “prefabricated electrical distribution system consisting of bus bars in a protective enclosure.” It is made up of bus bars, insulating material, and some form of a housing. This insulating material is what allows for the prevention of electrocution and other electricity-related accidents.

Keep in mind that you still need to practice electrical safety rules – the National Electric Code forbids the installation of a busway near areas where it could be subject to physical damage or corrosive vapors.

Bus bars are conductors that serve as the connection point for multiple circuits. Depending on the busway that you purchase, the bus bars can be composed of either copper or aluminum.

There are several advantages to this type of energy distribution system, but the most important feature is the money that it will save you. The materials are far cheaper than plain old wire. As they are far lighter in weight, you can imagine that you will save a good amount of money on the shipping alone!

Copper Busbar high wires

Another key advantage of using electrical busways is how easy it can be to have the entire system installed. You can connect busway sections to each other, and it only takes a few hours to install the entire system by hand. Moreover, it is just as easy to uninstall the electrical busway and change locations. This is extremely useful for industries and companies that are facing expansion or a frequent change in how things are laid out.

In contrast, think of your traditional cable and conduit assembly. The materials are expensive, they are difficult to carry around, installation takes hours, and it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to re-install things. Once it is installed, there is a high chance that it is staying there.

The applications of a busway also extend to providing power for air conditioning and heavy equipment. In fact, you will commonly see busway systems installed in high-rise buildings. These are known as “vertical busway” or “busway risers.” You can expect to see few bus plugs and a large amount of bus duct used, along with relatively few fittings. Vertical busway does not require a lot of maintenance

Horizontal busway, on the other hand, is used for medium to low height buildings that need a power supply for air conditioning and lighting. They consist of a greater percentage of bus plugs (more than a quarter) and have less bus duct. In addition to this, they are in constant need of maintenance and replacement.

Electrical Breaker box

There are also two other types of busway that you need to know about: There is the feeder busway and the plug-in busway. A feeder busway is used to send electricity to locations that are far away from the busway itself. A plug-in busway, on the other hand, consists of multiple outlets and has openings at every 2 feet where the power can be tapped off. Additionally, a plug-in busway is superior for situations where the power needs to be distributed over a large area. The feeder busway is better suited for sending electricity to a single, precise point.

It seems like the industrial electrical busway is a useful power distribution system that is here to stay. You can purchase different kinds of busways depending on your electrical needs and have a certified electrician help you install them.