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What is a busbar?

Industrial copper busbar manufacturer & stockholder

A busbar distributes electricity easily and with flexibility in comparison to some other forms of distribution and installation. Busbars are effectively used to collect electric power from the incoming feeders and disperses them to outgoing feeders. They are often metallic strips of Copper or Aluminium that can conduct and ground electricity. There is a range of coating materials, such as tin plating, which contribute a range of conductivity limits, and durability. Busbars can also be made into multiple sizes and shapes, such as rectangular, cross-sectional, or round. This allows them to be formatted into different facilities, which affects the ampacity of the particular product.

Who generally designs busbars?

Generally, a switchgear manufacturer will have an electrical or design engineer who will have to design the busbar based on a particular arrangement. This is to ensure that it can take the current capacity which has been requested. Our aim at ILF is to produce busbars to a high standard after receiving a design, drawing, or client specification. We are able to advise on the most suitable materials that meet the required specifications for each project, ensuring they are tailored exactly to the requested design.

Where are busbars used?

Busbars are often used within electrical installations for distributing power, from the supply point to several output circuits. The most common electric power distributions include switchgear, panel boards, and busway enclosures which are used for local high currents power distributions. These can be found in factories, hospitals, educational institutions, data centres, retail facilities, and technology settings.

Busbars in Switch Gear

Are busbars safe?

To ensure the safety of electrical equipment in which busbars are used as an application they are thoroughly tested prior to installation. This tests that the amperage of the busbar coincides with the maximum voltage. Further, the testing ensures that the busbars maintain a specific gap between each other, using spaces, this prevents currents from crossing between lives.

Different types of busbar accessories

Busbar supports, which can be known as busbar clamps or busbar braces, provide support in electrical assemblies where conductor busbars are present. All supports are put through rigorous testing, ensuring their suitability for the proposed application. The support will clamp the busbar for testing and when fitted into an application, such as switchgear, it will prevent any movement of the busbar or disruptions in the electrical currents.

Busbar spacers maintain a gap between the busbars, preventing currents from crossing between lives. The main purpose of the busbar spacer is to control, distribute, break as well as convert the power supply by entering the high voltage cable and then to the low voltage cable.

What is a copper busbar?

Copper is an incredibly versatile material, recognised for its low electrical and thermal resistance. Copper busbars are conductors, which collect electric power from incoming feeders where they distribute the power to outcoming feeders. They make complicated power distribution easier, less expensive and more flexible. Copper busbars are commonly used due to the metal being malleable and ductile. They can be used for electrical utilities such as switchgear, panel boards and busway enclosures. The efficient properties of Copper enable higher currents to be passed through the material and has a lower electrical resistance, lower power loss, lower voltage drop and higher amperage.

What are the benefits of copper busbars?

The use of Copper busbars come with numerous benefits, including:

  • The compact design requires less space than traditional cabling systems,
  • They do not require frequent replacement due to its durability,
  • They distribute power efficiently, making them easily adaptable for renewable energy integration,
  • Has many different plating options all with their own specific benefits,
  • Multiple options for connectivity and configuration,
  • It provides conductive properties and good protections from high temperatures,
  • It is flexible and versatile allowing it to be used in most kinds of structures.
Shaped Busbars
Connected Busbars

What is an aluminium busbar?

Aluminium busbars can be useful for multiple applications such as in transformers, distribution boards and electrical panel boards. Compared to Copper, Aluminium busbars are made from a lighter material and are therefore more cost-effective to mass produce. Compared to Copper, Aluminium has the potential to be up to 70% lighter, however, an Aluminium busbar system must be significantly larger in surface area than a Copper one because it only has 62% the conductivity of Copper.

What are the benefits of aluminium busbar?

The use of Aluminium busbars come with numerous benefits, including:

  • Useful for multiple applications such as in transformers, distribution boards and electrical panel boards,
  • Made from lighter material and are therefore more cost effective to mass produce,
  • Complete solution for companies where budget, maximum weight and ease of installation are the key considerations,
  • Minimal price fluctuation as supply is not linked to the volatile commodity market,
  • Customer designed Aluminium profiles can allow for a larger surface area which offers greater heat exchange and more efficient thermal dissipation,
  • Less man power required as light weight components mean easier installation.
Copper Busbars

Different types of busbar arrangements

The various types of busbar arrangements are used in power systems. The selection of the busbar is dependent on numerous factors such as reliability. Upon the decision of any particular arrangement the electrical considerations may include if the maintenance of the system is straight forward, does not affect their continuity and the installation of the busbar is cheap.

Single busbar arrangement

A single busbar arrangement is straightforward and consists of a single busbar with a switchboard. The circuit breakers control the transformers, generators and feeders. A key advantage of using a single busbar are low expense, small maintenance and simple to operate, however; it is less flexible and only used in small substations such as switch boards where the continuous distribution of power is not necessary.

Double busbar arrangement

A double busbar arrangement consists of two busbars and two circuit breakers, meaning it does not require any additional equipment such as a switch or bus coupler. It gives an excellent range of flexibility and is reliable due to the load transfer

One and a half arrangement

A one and a half arrangement uses three circuit breakers for two circuits, this particular arrangement will use half a circuit breaker. Most commonly, this arrangement is used in large stations like power handling circuits. It offers key benefits such as protecting the system against loss of power supply and it is easy to add further circuits within the system, however it comes with a high maintenance cost.

What do ILF offer?

Here at ILF we provide a variety of industries with busbars including power, rail, medical, marine, data centre and aerospace industries. Our busbars provide customers with the perfect balance of cost versus application and on projects where high performance, versatility and reliability are required. Our punching and bending EHRT technology allows us to create bespoke busbars at the highest level of quality for our clients and upon request we provide samples to ensure the product is the right match to the customers’ requirements. Our busbars can also be supplied in natural finish, tin plated or insulated, providing a one stop shop for our customers.

ILF Warehouse

ILF Milly Edwards

Sales and Marketing Executive: Responsible for creating content for ILF's social media channels, website, print media and promotional work.

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