Blog posts tagged with 'circuit breakers'

Air and Vacuum Breaker Maintenance for Peak Reliability

     Modern air and vacuum circuit breakers are an integral part of all industrial and commercial electrical systems. Failure of just one of these breakers can have far reaching ramifications for both production and finances. Preventing these failures is the goal of any good maintenance program and consists of two basic layers:

1. Regular preventative mainteance (PM) programs not only add reliability to your system but can also point out potential problems so they can be proactively dealt with in a cost effective manner. Nobody wants "unscheduled" outages because a component has failed and as a result, damaged other equipment in the process and interrupted production. PM programs can be scheduled around production schedules (holidays, weekends, nights...) and include a basic clean and test work scope in which breakers are cleaned, lubed and tested for insulation and contact resistance, primary or secondary injection of the trip units. Frequency of these schedules is also dependent upon the ambient conditions that the switchgear and breakers are exposed to. There is a big difference between a paper mill and a hospital environment. This work may be able to be performed in the field, but it is best handled in the controlled conditions of a quality shop that specializes in this work.

2. Remanufacture and or retrofit offers significant life extension and reliability of your air and vacuum circuit breakers. It differentiates itself from a PM program in several ways. The primary difference is work scope. A remanufacturing program like NPE's "Class One" program includes a full disassembly and inspection of each individual component, right down to the last spring and washer. Once inspected, the components are cleaned and plated according to the components use. Current carrying parts are silver plated and mechanism parts are generally zinc plated, although there are a few minor exceptions like phosphate plating. Painted parts are stripped to the base metal, primed and painted, the wiring is replaced with fresh SIS wiring customized to the existing prints. Replacement parts are available from our inventory if used and aftermarket parts with little or no delays to the rebuild. Also, now is the time to replace solenoid coils and rewind motors as needed and upgrade low voltage breakers to a modern solid state overcurrent trip system like Utility Relay's AC Pro or AC Pro II. This type of work scope cannot be done in the field and typically involves shipping to a facility like NPE for a 4-6 week turnaround. Any good remanufacturing program will provide you with test reports indicating that the breaker is ready for service and a warranty. NPE is so confident in its rebuild program that it has extended the industry standard one year warranty to two years.

 

     

     Having an integral part of your infrastructure out of service for four to six weeks can be a major hurdle to overcome for many facilities. Ideally, a spare breaker should be on hand for each application and swapped out as needed for remanufacture and upgrade, but many facilities may not have adequate spares on hand. That is where a stocking distribultor like NPE can be a beneficial partner. NPE has the inventory to either provide spares for your swap out program or we can rebuild breakers out of our inventory and swap them for yours during the change out.

     Still not sure what to do? As someone once said, you always have three choices..."the right choice, the wrong choice and no choice; and the last two are the same thing", of the three options, which do you choose? If you choose the first one, give us a call or drop us an email, we'll be happy to discuss your issues and provide a long or short term solution. Otherwise, we'll probably be hearing from you after choice two or three kicks in!

NPE - The right choice, the right price, right now! 

 

 

 

Used Switchgear Market Growth Forecast

 

Traditionally, the used equipment industry and especially the market for used switchgear has been thought of as being counter recessionary. The common wisdom being, customers will spend money to maintain and upgrade old equipment rather than buy new to save money and to avoid the long lead times associated with purchasing and installing new switchgear.

Recent growth in manufacturing and our economy has changed this dynamic and now used switchgear, circuit breakers and parts have seen a surge in sales that looks to continue well into the future. We see the driving forces behind the growth as:

  • Increased demand for products pushes manufacturers to restart old production lines and push them to new limits.
  • Much of the switchgear that powers these lines are no longer supported by the original manufacturer because of the planned obsolescence. This creates increased demand for used and aftermarket solutions. NPE AFTERMARKET PARTS
  • Used and aftermarket solutions are typically 40-60% less expensive than purchasing new equipment, and they are available much faster and generally carry the same or better warranty as new. To add to this, the fact that personnel are already familiar with how this switchgear operates and you have a win-win scenario.
  • Increased cash flow from the economic upturn allows for maintenance and upgrades that had been previously deferred.
  • Regular maintenance and testing of switchgear and breakers will increase the life span of the equipment by decades. Older technology can be easily upgraded with options like arc flash protection, ground fault and communications. All these factors will reduce down-time and unscheduled outages.
  • For Field Service Specialist - servicing switchgear that has been obsoleted by the manufacturer will also serve as an opportunity for companies to provide other equipment and other services that field engineers can alert them to. Having your people in a plant, actively promoting your products is the best advertising you can get. 
  • Older switchgear can be repaired and upgraded to meet new demand. Many of the new products are sealed and unable to be repaired. As a result, repairs or upgrades that would cost a few hundred or few thousand dollars, and cannot be performed and users are forced to discard equipment and purchase new replacements for tens of thousands of dollars and potentially long lead times. 
  • Many customers are realizing that planned obsolescence will also render new installations of the latest whizz-bang technology obsolete, the same way their current equipment has been treated. Maintaining and upgrading current equipment just makes sense.

The bottom line is that just as a rising tide raises all boats, as the economy grows and thrives, so will the demand for used equipment dealers like National Power Equipment, where our motto is, "The right equipment, at the right price, right now!" Whether you are an end user, in the repair industry or a dealer, we strongly recommend you prepare for double digit growth in 2021 and the years that follow.

The DS Switchgear Line

 

Image of DS Switchgear

The DS line of air circuit breakers has been a tried and tested product line of low voltage air circuit breakers that have been proven to be both versatile and reliable for decades. Originally, it was sold as a Westinghouse product, then the line was later sold to Square D and then Eaton Cutler Hammer.  It is widely understood that all of these breakers are interchangeable regardless of label, however the same does not hold true when replacing the switchgear parts. The switchgear cabinets have been manufactured in several locations around the country which resulted in six different lines of cabinets.  Care must be taken to properly identify which style of cabinet is in question to properly identify and acquire interchangeable parts.

The first vintage of DS switchgear was manufactured by Westinghouse in East Pittsburgh in 1969 and continued through 1973. It can be identified as having “Shop Order” (SO) numbers that start with “24Y”. The second vintage also made in East Pittsburgh through 1984 with SO numbers that started in “27Y” and concurrently with “WPA” switchgear made in St. Louis and was designated by a “General Order” (GO) number rather than a shop order number. The East Pittsburgh gear was generally marketed to heavy industrial users and the WPA gear for commercial applications.

Two more vintages came out of the St. Louis plant, designated as vintage III and IV. Vintage III was an attempt to merge the “27Y” product line with the WPA product line and it is usually designated with a prefix of “28Y”. It was a very short production run during 1984 from May through October. Vintage IV was made in St. Louis form October 1984 through May of 1990 - it continued to use the GO number system and also the “28Y” SO numbers. In 1990, production was moved to Asheville, NC and although changes had been made to the design, the “28Y” SO number system was continued.

Finding Replacement Parts for DS Switchgears

If this sounds confusing, you have a lot of company. So how does someone go about finding replacement parts to maintain their DS switchgear? If you are fortunate enough to have the original product literature (see below) it will help to some degree. However, because much of it is no longer manufactured (new) you will more than likely find yourself relying on a reputable used electrical equipment dealer like NPE. If you know the SO number, GO number and production dates it will help narrow the focus, but even within product lines things like bus size and length will change depending on the configuration and rating of the switchgear.

Cutler Hammer DS and DSL Low Voltage Power Circuit Breaker Renewal Parts -  Manual RP.22B.01.T.E.

Westinghouse Instructions for Low Voltage Power Circuit Breakers Types DS and DSL – Manual  IB 33.-7901G

Instructions for Type DS Metal-Enclosed Low Voltage Power Circuit Breaker Switchgear Assemblies – Manual IB 32-690-E

The fastest and most reliable way to get the right part, at the right price, at the right time will be with photos and measurements using the NPE "On the Go" with your smartphone. NPE "On the Go" is very easy to use, just open it up and navigate to Switchgear/Switchgear Parts, answer the product driven questions and attach photos that you’ve taken with your mobile device. This RFQ will be sent to the NPE technical staff where it will receive TOP PRIORITY! Of course, you can still contact us with your requests and questions.      

 

NPE "On the Go"

800-647-0815

info@npeinc.com

 

Used Electrical Equipment Dealers - Who We Are and What We Do

When someone who is unfamiliar with the electrical industry asks me what I do for a living, I generally tell them “I find round pegs to fit round holes”. This oversimplification generally generates more questions but in the end, that’s what a used electrical equipment dealer does. Let’s face it, unless you grew up with a family member in either the electrical power service industry or some other facet of our industry, you certainly didn’t say “when I grow up I want to buy and sell used circuit breakers!”, yet here we are serving the industry, helping to keep the lights and much, much more on.

So, what is a used electrical equipment dealer (UEED), what do we do and why should anyone care?

First, we are a recycler.

   UEED’s invest cold, hard cash on truckloads of used equipment that would otherwise be scrapped or trashed and then we store it for months, years or even longer in the hopes that one day we can sell it or part of it to someone who needs it. www.npeinc.com

Secondly, we are a vital part of keeping industrial and commercial production running nationwide.

   Most factories, large commercial and government facilities operate on switchgear that is no longer supported by the original manufacturer. While the switchgear is still safe and reliable with regular maintenance, it will require replacement components from time to time. When they can’t be purchased new, service companies rely on the UEED. www.npeinc.com/aftermarket-parts

Thirdly, we are a vital source of technical information.

   It is not uncommon for switchgear to still be in service 30 or 40 years after the factory stopped supporting it. Some of the oldest switchgear is over 70 years old and still in service! This means that the equipment is older than most of the people servicing it! Your UEED knows and understands that having the right information is vital to finding the right breaker or part for the right application, (round pegs and round holes). Much of this information is learned “hands-on” because it either wasn’t documented or the documentation is difficult to find. Think of your UEED like you would your mechanic, or that nice older guy at the hardware store. He’s there with a wealth of information and he’s there to help.

Last, but certainly not least, we are the electrical first responders in emergencies.

   Power outages are often unplanned and when they are you need a source with the right knowledge and the right equipment to get the power back on – right NOW.

As we like to say at NPE- that’s what we are here for. Contact us or reach out to us on our new mobile site, designed to easily use on your smartphone– m.npeinc.com. We would like to help “find you round pegs for your round holes!”

 Image of an assortment of used electrical equipment and switchgears

All About Allis Chalmers LA Breakers

Allis Chalmers produced a very popular line of circuit breakers with model numbers that all started with “LA”. Like other manufacturers’, this product line was produced with various engineering changes and upgrades over the years. In order to ensure that the breaker you order will fit correctly in your application there are some guidelines that you need to follow.

 “LA” original series:  LA-25, -50, - 75 and -100

The 25, 50, 75 and 100 reflect the interrupting capacity of the breakers of 25,000, 50,000, 75,000 and 100,000 amps. The original “LA” series breaker is common in 600, 1600 and 3000 amp frame sizes4000 amp frames are fairly rare. LA-15 (15A), LA-25 (25A)LA 50 (50A) in 225, 600 and 1600 amp frames. They are offered as both manually and electrically operated breakers. Earlier versions of the electrically operated breakers had a solenoid operated mechanism, later versions had a hydraulic mechanism. There was a small production run of LA-50 (50A) breakers that had 12 backstabs in lieu of 6. Care must be taken while retrofitting LA-50 1600 amp breakers. A number of breakers were produced with 3 individual solenoids on each phase that acted as trip units and were driven by current transformers mounted in the cell and then fed to the breaker through a secondary disconnect. If present, the buss mounted current transformers must either be removed or have the secondary terminals shorted out to prevent a fire caused by the open current transformer secondary.

image of Allis Chalmer LA Breaker

LA-75 (75A) and LA-100 (100A) -  these 3000 and 4000 amp frame sizes are commonly supplied as electrically operated but some manually operated breakers exist as well and a few that have both options. The LA-100 was a short production run breaker that is very hard to find. In the 3000 amp vintage, several vintages of internal parts were produced that require experience to identify for proper interchangeability.

"LA" second series: LA-600, LA-1600, LA-3000 and LA-4000:

The second series of “LA” breakers was produced in 600, 1600, 3000 and 4000 amp frame sizes. Their model numbers start with “LA” like their predecessor, but follow the frame sizes LA-600, LA -1600, LA-3000 and LA-4000. This series was offered as both manually operated and electrically operated and included an option for integral fuses to raise the interrupting capacity to 200,000 amps.This option adds an “F” to the end of the model number as in LA-600F, LA-1600F. The 3000 and 4000 amp versions do not have that option.These breakers feature spring charged mechanisms and a closed door draw out design for safety.

The first series, commonly known in the industry as “blue faced breakers” are identified by both the blue-grey plastic faceplates/mechanism covers and also by the fact that they do not have a letter designation (A, B or C) at the end of the model number.

Improvements to the design revolved mostly around parts upgrades, the most noticeable of which are the mechanism covers with the yellow zinc plating which replace the plastic covers that had a history of breaking and earned the nickname of, “gold faced”. The newer vintage also included a new 800 amp frame size, for example the LA-800A. The fused breaker model numbers moved the “F” from the end of the model number to beginning as in LAF-600A, LAF-800B, etc. The most noticeable change in the “B” line-up are the black plastic, non-asbestos arc chutes.

 Image of Allis Chalmers LAF 600 circuit breaker

Interchangeability between the two product lines is limited to the larger frames for example,  LA-75 through LA-3200A are interchangeable. Although the LA-25 and the LA-50 are not, the factory did make a retro-fill breaker for the 600 and 1600 amp frames. However, they did not provide an indication on the nameplate/model number for these retro-fills. The sales team at NPE has that experienced eye for these issues as well as plenty of others.

All of these changes and upgrades and interchangeability issues can be very confusing when you just want to get a breaker or a part to restore or maintain service and keep productions up and running. That’s what we are here for. The NPE team has decades of experience dealing with these issues and will recommend the right part or breaker, at the right price and most importantly have it ready for you right now! Reconditioned breakers, parts, and an increasing line of new and improved aftermarket parts are here to be the solution to your switchgear saga.

Image of Allis Chalmers LA-1600 circuit breakerImage of Allis Chalmers LAF circuit breakerImage of Allis Chalmers LA-20 circuit breaker

So, contact us and we’ll take care of the rest.