What is the Difference Between a Busbar and a Feeder

In electrical power distribution, it is important for you to learn about two important things – busbars and feeders. A busbar can be explained to be a metallic bar or strip, usually made of aluminum or copper, which conducts electricity within a substation, distribution board, battery bank, or any other kind of electrical equipment.

A busbar’s main task is to conduct enough electricity current. On the other hand, a feeder is a connection between the input terminals and output terminals. Distribution feeders leave the substation through underground cables. This article gives the key differences between busbars and feeders so you can be rightfully informed.

What is a Busbar?

In power distribution, a busbar can be referred to as a metallic bar that is normally housed inside panel boards, switchgears, and busway enclosures. It is normally used for power distribution carrying high current. A busbar is also used to connect high voltage equipment to low voltage equipment in battery banks and electrical switchyards. It is also widely utilized in the automobile and defense industries.

Busbars usually come as uninsulated and have a lot of stiffness that is supported in the air by insulated pillars. These attributes of the busbars allow for enough cooling of the conductors and create a good ability to tap at various points without making a new joint.

Busbars enable new circuits to branch off anywhere along the busway’s route, as opposed to only allowing the main supply to be branched at one place.

Types of Busbars

Busbars come in different sizes and are used in power distribution depending on factors such as cost, flexibility, and reliability. Have a look at different types of busbars in detail:

Single Busbar Arrangement

This arrangement is quite simple because it consists of a single bus and a switchboard. Different elements such as feeders, transformers, and generators are connected to the busbar. Circuit breakers control the feeders, generators, and transformers while isolators isolate these elements during maintenance. A single busbar is not only easy to maintain and operate but also comes at a low cost. The only downside is that in case of any fault, the whole system is affected.

Single Busbar Arrangement with Bus Sectionalized

This type of arrangement comes in handy where different units are installed through a bus sectionalized. The isolator in the arrangement can be used to separate the faulty section, ensuring the operating section is properly protected. With this busbar arrangement, it is quite easy to remove the fault section without any loss in supply, current limiting reactor assists to reduce faults, and individual bus sections can be repaired without affecting the entire busbar. Despite this, the usage of many isolators increases the overall cost.

Main and Transfer Bus Arrangement

This type of busbar arrangement comes about by combining the main busbar and the auxiliary type using a bus coupler, which is used to connect the isolated switches and circuit breaker. If there happens to be overloading, the load is transferred from one busbar to another through a bus coupler. In such a scenario, the potential for the two busbars has to be the same in order to transfer the load. In addition to this, the main bar has to be opened and should be kept in a close position to transfer the load effectively.

Busbar Benefits

Busbars are essential in electrical distribution systems and have a number of advantages. This is particularly true for streamlining the electrical power distribution process, which lowers costs overall while increasing flexibility. The main advantages of busbars are briefly outlined here.

Busbars may cost more than a wiring harness, but they are more durable and don’t need to be replaced as frequently. They more effectively distribute power, lowering energy consumption—which is crucial for many 21st-century organizations.

They offer tremendous versatility for simple customization for a variety of purposes and are also readily adaptable for the integration of renewable energy. Busbars are the ideal choice for electrical substations or switchyards since they can endure the elements effectively. Busbars are a cost-effective alternative, even with expensive installation, especially when creating a new system.

What is a Feeder?

A feeder can be described as a power line through which electricity is passed in a power system. It transmits power from the substation to different distribution points. It’s an electric line from a public utility substation or other supply point to customers at 50 kV or less, or as determined by the commission. Since a feeder does not have intermediate tapping, the current flow is usually the same for both the receiving and sending sections. A feeder is a conducting device used for power transmission to the main load center.

Types of Feeders

Radial Feeders

Radial feeders are used for distribution processes because they are quite cheap and easy to work with. These feeders are mostly used when the generating stations or substations are located in the middle of consumers. The power flow for radial feeders is usually in one direction, meaning it will reach distributors at one end.

Parallel Feeders

Parallel feeders are effective because in case of fault in one line of the feeder, it will not affect the entire system, as the other part will continue doing the job. This is great because, unlike radial feeders, a fault cannot affect the operation of the whole power distribution system.

Ring Main Feeders

Ring main feeders are quite common in urban and industrial environments because the distribution transformers are connected with two feeders. The ring is separated by a circuit breaker, meaning that in case of a fault, only one circuit breaker will be affected but not the entire system.

The difference between a feeder and busbar

The busbar is used as a conductor and is used as a connection between the parallel and the feeder. Busbar is like a node where different power system elements are connected. It acts as a input and output for the substation to which all incoming and outgoing lines are connected to it. Busbar pools different supply within a generating or sub station, and feeders are conductors run out to the load center.

The feeder is the supply, and it handles the relays. It is used to feed electrical power from Busbar to distributors. We can connect more than one feeder to a Busbar.

Busbars and feeders are important parts of a power distribution system. If you have questions additional questions about busbars and feeders that we didn’t address in the article above, please reach out to contact us!

Resources

How Much Voltage Drop Can a Busbar Withstand?