Cable installation is one of the activities that demand the most man-hours from electrical engineers in building construction and renovation projects. The use of a reliable wire management system makes the installation simpler and safer, and cable bus is very useful when dealing with medium-voltage conductors. The NFPA 70 National Electrical Code dedicates Chapter 3 to Wiring Methods and Materials, including raceway systems for conductors above 600V.
Cable bus is used with conductors much larger than those delivering power to lighting fixtures, power outlets and HVAC equipment in your home or office. The rated voltage exceeds 600V, while the current range is typically from 1,000A to 8,000A. There are other raceway options for large conductors, such as busway and cable tray, but cable bus offers a middle point that brings advantages of both.
Wireways for Conductors Above 600V
When dealing with conductors and their raceway systems, the NEC establishes additional requirements when rated voltage exceeds 600V in a given application:
- Conductors above 600V must not share enclosures and wireways with circuits below 600V, unless a specific code article makes an exception.
- Circuits above 600V must use suitable enclosures to prevent accidental contact or physical damage.
- The smallest bend radius allowed is 8 times the diameter for unshielded conductors, and 12 times the diameter for shielded conductors. Multi-conductor cables are limited to 12 times the individual conductor diameter or 7 times the total diameter, whichever is less.
- Metallic raceways must be protected from induction heating.
- Consider there are differences between the requirements for above-ground and buried conductors.
To compare busway, cable bus and cable tray, first we must define each type of raceway, as they are understood by electrical engineers:
|Busway||Grounded metal enclosure, which comes with factory-installed conductors. These can be bare or insulated; made from aluminum or copper; and shaped as bars, rods or tubes.|
|Cable bus||Assembly of insulated conductors that includes fittings and terminations, all enclosed in a ventilated metallic housing for protection. Unlike busway, which is fully factory-assembled, cable bus is partially assembled at the project site. Cable bus is designed to withstand the magnetic forces present during faults, reliably holding conductors in place.|
|Cable tray||A structural assembly with multiple sections and fittings, designed to fasten wiring or smaller raceways.|
Ask Electrical Engineers: What Advantages Does Cable Bus Offer?
Cable bus is characterized by its safety, since it is built to withstand the magnetic forces that occur when one of the conductors carries a fault current. Cable bus also offers a middle ground between the fully prefabricated busway and the site-assembled cable tray.
Cable bus also saves on supporting fixtures, by using some prefabricated components while retaining flexibility in conductor layout. In a few words, cable bus offers a rigid construction like busway, while having wiring flexibility and open ventilated construction like cable tray. Some common applications of bus duct include connections between the following equipment:
- Generatorsand transformers
- Generators and switchgear
- Transformers and switchgear
- Different switchgear units
- Switchgear to motor control centers (MCC)
- MCCs and high horsepower motors
Electrical safety is important in any installation, but additional protection measures are required as voltage level increases, since accidents have a greater potential to cause damage. By working with qualified electrical engineers you can ensure your installation meets the NFPA 70 National Electrical Code, in addition to local standards.