Industrial Electrical Panels & the Importance of Maintenance
Industrial Electrical Panels
If you thought you could come to the Mid States Electric blog for reassurance that industrial electrical panel maintenance isn’t important, then you were mistaken. Neglecting your industrial facility’s electrical panels can interrupt its normal operations, cause its equipment to malfunction or become damaged, and even create a fire hazard!

What Is an Industrial Electrical Panel?

An industrial electrical panel essentially performs the same functions as a house’s breaker box: It receives electricity from the utility company and safely redistributes it throughout a property’s electrical system.

Industrial electrical panels differ from residential models in two key ways. Single-family residences’ energy needs are incomparable to an industrial facility’s needs. Industrial facilities redistribute substantially more electricity by design. Mass-produced electrical panels are normally capable of accommodating most homes’ electrical usage. Heavily customized industrial electrical panels often best suit a production facility’s application. Some general-use industrial panels are capable of supplying electricity to a variety of different heaters, motors, and lighting systems. Industrial machinery such as cranes and large freezers often require specialized models.

Which Problems Does Maintenance Prevent?

Electrical maintenance can prevent many problems before they interrupt operations. It can also save considerable money. As a rule, fixing a problem after it has occurred is more expensive than preventing it outright!

Carbon buildup. Carbon will accumulate on both elements whenever electricity arcs from one conductor to another. Carbon is an insulator. When a sufficient amount of carbon accumulates on a conductor, it can partially or completely block conductance. Only regular maintenance can prevent an electrical panel’s contacts from gradually becoming ineffective.

Dust buildup. Industrial facilities commonly produce large amounts of dust and other particulates. When this debris regularly infiltrates an electrical panel, it can cause the sensitive components within to overheat, short, or fail prematurely. Dusting is not the most sophisticated facet of electrical panel maintenance from a technical standpoint, but it is nevertheless indispensable.

Loose wires. Often screws fasten many electrical panels’ wires in place. Unfortunately, the vibrations generated by an industrial facility’s normal operations are powerful enough to loosen such screws over time. An industrial electrician will detect and safely refasten those screws. They may also retrofit a panel so it is no longer vulnerable to vibration.

Power surges. An electrical panel should include a surge suppressor or line reactor. These devices prevent electrical surges from instantly destroying the panel’s sensitive components (in addition to any equipment they are connected to). Part of routine maintenance includes testing the panel’s surge protector to ensure it is functioning correctly. If an electrical panel does not already have a surge protector in place, the electrician may retrofit it with a suitable one.

Unreliable breakers. Detecting whether a residential electrical panel’s breaker has tripped is straightforward. But because an industrial panel services a much more complex electrical system, it may not always be obvious when one of its breakers is open. An electrician will ensure all breakers are in their correct states, as well as repair any breakers that are opening under conditions in which remaining closed would have been safe.

Fires. It would be impractical to list all the ways a poorly maintained electrical panel could start a fire. Sadly, such fires aren’t uncommon, but regular maintenance drastically reduces your risk of incurring extensive property damage. A skilled electrician can also detect when an electrical panel was defective out of the factory – another all too common problem.

Industrial Electrical Panels Must Be Maintained by Qualified Electricians

Electricians who specialize in residential and commercial electrical systems may not be qualified to maintain industrial panels. Maintaining industrial panels is a job for a specialist, especially when they include: programmable logic controllers, motor drives, and other sensitive components. An industrial electrician also understands and follows correct safety protocol.

If you would like to make certain your industrial facility’s electrical panels are maintained by a qualified electrician, then we welcome you to contact Mid States Electric today. We service the industrial electrical needs of Sioux City, IA and the entire Midwest. Our team designs, engineers, and manufactures custom industrial panels. We’re poised to restore any panel back to its best condition – or replace it altogether, if the situation merits.