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Finding the Flexibility Fix for Power Panel Installation
Apr 20, 2017
Jason Newby Power Panel Product Manager
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For electrical contractors installing low voltage power panels at a commercial job, it’s all about precision – having the right parts and equipment in the right place at the right time. But next to “precision” is ‘flexibility.” Having the kind of field-friendly power panel platform that lets contractors respond to inevitable change – from upgrading power protection on the job site, to quickly swapping out components to coping with in-the-field changes

For contractors, it’s all about keeping the installations running smoothly. “Typical in-the-field changes we see involve switching out breakers,” says Patrick Merrill of Bright Futures Electric, an electrical contracting firm with operations in Alabama and Florida. “There are time delays and costs involved to change-out each pre-installed, pre-wired breaker that takes up to 30 minutes to pull and rewire.  GE’s pluggable breakers can be swapped out in seconds instead of minutes.”

Redesigning a modular power panel design from the ground up – from pluggable circuit breakers and field-configurable power bus -- GE Energy Connections Industrial Solutions has started shipping its EntellEon* power panel platform to offer electrical contractors a more “field-flexible” solution. 

“In my 35 years of experience we see some kind of change between the specification and installation about 90 percent of the time,” according to Mark Swafford of Wells and Tate, a commercial electrical contracting firm based in Huntsville, Alabama. “For example, the breaker count in the `can’ changes, or a customer needs to add new circuits for additional HVAC or a data center loads.”

 

Beyond Pluggable Breakers
Beginning with pluggable breakers the EntellEon modular power panel platforms also features configurable interiors panels with the capacity for mixed-sized breakers and reversible power bus systems.  

For example, installing mixed-sized pluggable breakers still requires that each size sits in its own row, wasting valuable panel interior real estate. EntellEon’s modular power panel platform accommodates mix-sized breakers in the same row, saving space and increasing power protection density per unit.

“I like the flexibility of using different size breakers on same panel,” explains Mike Dobert from Tech Electric, in North Carolina’s research triangle area. “We can change out mix-sized breakers for a job without having to replace the entire panel.”

 

Reversing Top or Bottom Power Feed Challenges
GE’s EntellEon power panel system also features a pluggable, 180-degree-reversible power bus, solving one of the biggest job-site power panel installations problems –  a mis-spec’d panel with a mismatched top or bottom power feed. 

“It’s a common oversight,” said Merrill.  “If, for example, the bottom conduit is damaged we have to pull a longer cable through the top-feed conduit to reach the lugs.  It might cost $200 to re-cable a single box, and that doesn’t include labor costs and delays.”

Mark Swafford explains the challenge of this kind of re-cabling work-around. “We can run the power cable along the side of the panel, but that means we lose space for breakers. When we have this problem we either order a new panel -  that’s 3 to 4 weeks   ̶   or we bear the time and expenses to rewire. With EntellEon’s reversible bus bar fixing a wrong power feed becomes a five-minute fix.”

GE’s EntellEon modular power panels offers a game changer for the construction industry where flexible solutions, productivity and timely response to on-the-job adjustments can improve both productivity and final profits. 

 

(*) EntellEon is a registered trademark of GE

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Jason Newby Power Panel Product Manager

Jason Newby is the power panel product manager for GE Energy Connections’ Industrial Solutions, which is working to transform the future of electrification. Industrial Solutions designs electrical solutions at the crossroads of digital and industrial that are smart, rugged and equipped to control electricity from the grid to its point of use. Every day, our employees partner with customers to solve their toughest energy challenges and reimagine industry in a way that only the world’s digital industrial company can.