Regularly scheduled servicing and maintenance of your switchgear can greatly increase its lifespan, but eventually, you’ll find yourself wondering if simply replacing the system isn’t a better investment. The trick is determining when buying new switchgear outweighs the cost and effort associated with maintenance.

This really is a complex, difficult decision to make, and what’s right for one organization may be wrong for another. Each of the following factors will influence your final choice.

  1. Age and Usage - Determining the lifespan of switchgear isn’t as easy as you might think, because the equipment actually has two distinct lifespans. Mechanical lifespan refers to the number of operations possible without electrical loading, while the electrical life span refers to the number of operations for a specific size of electrical loading.  If either lifespan has been reached, it might be time to invest in either modernization or a completely new system. If, however, the switchgear is relatively new and working well, servicing and maintenance remain the better option.
  2. System Type - Different switchgear systems offer different servicing schedules and maintenance costs. Are you receiving regular servicing, or is the system having difficulty between inspections? Are the costs of maintenance reasonable, or does servicing eat a large chunk of your operating budget?
  3. Site Needs - How are you using your switchgear? A system designed for a large industrial complex will be used very differently from one in a commercial building. Use will affect lifespan and maintenance needs. If you decide to replace switchgear, look for a system that matches your needs better than the previous model.
  4. Electrical Considerations - The quality and amount of electricity running through your system will affect the useable life of your switchgear. Considerations include voltage, duration of operation, power fluctuations, and peak load / off load amounts.
  5. Environmental Factors - The environment surrounding your switchgear can significantly affect its performance, how often it needs repairs or servicing, and its working life. Not only do temperature, dust, moisture, humidity, and pollution play roles, even altitude and seismic activity will affect switchgear performance.  Into this already complicated mix of factors, you should also consider the cost of the new system, your relationship with your service vendor, and the possibility of retrofitting your system. It’s not an easy decision, but it’s an important one, with far-reaching consequences.