There are many types of switchgear monitors available, each designed to meet specific needs. Some are portable and can be deployed in remote locations while others are installed inside switchgear to continuously monitor equipment for potential faults. Some even combine these technologies to offer a single, integrated solution that improves power distribution and prevents equipment failures from occurring in the first place.
Wireless Temperature Monitoring Systems
Wireless temperature sensors can be a cost-effective option for detecting hot spots in switchgear and cables because they don't require line-of-sight. However, these systems have a few limitations: they cannot measure bus connections behind bus insulators, and the readings may be inaccurate due to surface emissivity or reflection issues.
Fiber Optic Temperature Sensors
A non-invasive, direct-attached fiber optic system is another option for detecting hot spots in switchgear or cables. These sensors are immune to electromagnetic interference and noise bursts caused by high-voltage switching.
IR sensors are also popular for detecting hot spots, but they can be expensive and difficult to install and require specialized thermal mapping software. They also have several measurement limitations, including the possibility of measuring adjacent surfaces that have different emissivity or reflection levels.
High Frequency/Very High Frequency (HF/VHF) Partial Discharge Monitoring
HF/VHF sensors use large antennas or current transformers to detect partial discharge spikes, which can indicate a switchgear problem. This method can be costly and requires a trained technician to interpret the data, so it's not a permanent solution for PD detection in switchgear.
In addition to using HF/VHF PD detection techniques, some utilities are evaluating additional methods for detecting partial discharge pulses. Utilities are experimenting with IEC 62478, which provides standards for acoustic PD measurements that can be used for trending switchgear.
HMI units and reader modules are other options for PD detection. A typical HMI unit includes an on-board touchscreen, which enables real-time display and communication. It also adds functionalities such as real-time alarming and multi-unit functionality.
Some HMI units connect to multiple readers, allowing the same information from multiple switchgear lineups to be displayed in one central location. This type of unit can be configured with Modbus RTU and IEC-61850 digital communications, and it can even be networked to a plant SCADA system or historian.
The market for switchgear monitors is growing because of the increasing demand for electricity around the world and the need for electric infrastructure reliability to avoid downtime. This demand is also increasing in the industrial sector, where smart and secure power networks are required to support new communication hubs and data centers.
As power distribution evolves, the need for voltage control is also becoming increasingly important. This has increased consumer demand for technologically improved switchgear monitoring solutions that reduce the SF6 emissions associated with traditional systems.
The global switchgear monitoring system market is expected to grow in the near future as manufacturers continue to develop and offer solutions that are more sustainable, efficient and cost-effective. This technology will provide consumers with more dependable energy supply and help stabilize the global power grid, which will promote growth in the industry.