Article
Sorry for the play on words. Couldn't resist.<br><br>Even though the headline's kind of funny, power distribution is no laughing matter, right?<br><br>In
 major commercial and industrial construction, getting your electrical 
distribution network is a vital part of the job. Face it … everything 
runs on electricity.

Could Busway Be the "Besway" for Power Distribution?

Steve Maurer, IME
Sorry for the play on words. Couldn't resist.

Even though the headline's kind of funny, power distribution is no laughing matter, right?

In major commercial and industrial construction, getting your electrical distribution network is a vital part of the job. Face it … everything runs on electricity.

Everything.

According to several case studies and the accompanying research, busway can be installed with only 40% of the labor time required for similar installations using conduit and cable.

That's a huge savings in both time and money, right?

Part of the reason for that savings is that busway segments comes preconfigured from the factory, based on your specs and drawings. Not quite "plug and play." But darn near close to that.

And the busway installation doesn't require cutting and threading pipe. Or bending it to fit (or bending another piece because the first one was off an inch).

Sure, you may still need to work a little conduit magic for some of the branch circuits and such. But the main power trunk lines are almost a snap.

Speaking of "snap," how about reconfiguration?

Things have a habit of changing, you know.

Branching off in a new direction?

As you're well aware, processes change all the time. That often involves installing new equipment or moving existing machines. Just recently, I was involved in a chiller upgrade that entailed moving pumps and other equipment to new locations.

Some pump conduits needed to be rerouted. Still other pieces required a new run from the MCC and power panels.

That meant a lot of time and labor was expended, not to mention that a fair amount of scrap was generated.

I read a case study about a data center that used busways for their power distribution. Because they're continually upgrading and expanding, a system that would grow and change with them was necessary.

Traditionally, power cables are run under the flooring and moved around to accommodate changes. Not only is this unwieldy, but the heat generated from the cabling is problematic. And if data cables are also installed below the floor, separation of the power and data cables is necessary.

By going to an overhead busway, these challenges were answered.

For example, the system was engineered with receptacle bus plug doors at strategic locations along the busway. When a new piece of equipment was installed, the door was opened (and its design kept it finger safe), a receptacle module was installed, and the new equipment powered up.

Bus plugs for receptacles and other equipment added more versatility to the system without turning off the power or sacrificing safety protocols.

The overhead installation freed up valuable floor space.

Bus plugs make it happen

With busway installations, bus plugs are engineered to accept modules designed for cable drops, direct wired flex drops and other configurations. The ports for them are designed into the busway segments.
And since the modules can be controlled by switches, with either fuse or circuit breaker protection, downtime is minimized, if not eliminated.

Since busways can be specified for indoor or outdoor use, you can used them almost anywhere you can imagine.

Granted, a busway may not fit the bill in every situation. There will always be a need for us old conduit bending jockeys.

But … busway distribution is definitely something to check into on your next new project or power upgrade.
Photo courtesy of Eaton
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