What is Retrofitting?
You’ve probably already assumed that replacing old switchgear and panelboards literally means the old gear is removed and replaced with the latest and greatest model. However, retrofitting isn’t quite as obvious because it can actually refer to two different methods for upgrading your gear. The first definition is the act of incorporating new components into an older system. This simply means that only the broken, worn, or outdated components of the system are replaced. If your switchgear needs new breakers, but is otherwise fine, then the breakers would be retrofitted new versions would be added to the old system.
The second definition can be a bit more confusing, but it describes the true intention behind retrofitting. This definition is the act of replacing the entire gear with new equipment, designed to fit the existing footprint. If you’re thinking that sounds just like replacement, that’s because it sort of is. The real difference between replacement and retrofitting comes down to that second half of the sentence, “designed to fit the existing footprint.” Retrofitting isn’t merely about upgrading old parts, or even an entire old system; it’s about incorporating new parts into the space the old ones occupied via customization.
It doesn’t matter if you end up replacing all of the gear, if it has to be altered in order to fit into the position of the old gear, then it’s a retrofit.
What are the Benefits of Retrofitting over Replacing?
The three main benefits of retrofitting over replacing are cost savings, minimal downtime, and minimal or no need to change the existing gear location. So, how is all of this accomplished?
With retrofitting, the entire system does not necessarily need to be replaced, which is where most of the cost and downtime savings come into play. When you only need to replace part of your switchgear or panelboard, it will generally cost less than replacing the entire thing. Additionally, it takes less time to replace single components than an entire system, even if they need to be custom implemented.
But what about when the entirety of the gear needs to be replaced? Does retrofitting provide any benefits in a situation like that? The short answer is, it depends. If the old system is being replaced with another which has the same dimensions and connection points, then standard replacement with a newer system is probably going to be your best option. However, new gear doesn’t always have the same dimensions or specifications as the old gear which needs replacing, and this can cause placement issues. There simply may not be enough room for the new gear.
Retrofitting is the solution to a problem such as that. When you need your new gear to fit within the exact dimensions of the old gear, retrofitting is the answer. The system will be custom built to the specifications which you provide, and can even be manufactured in multiple pieces to be assembled on-site. After all, sometimes even when premade gear could fit where it needs to be, it simply can’t get there because of its size.
When is a Retrofit the Right Option?
Retrofitting your switchgear and panelboards is the right option when the entirety of the gear does not need to be replaced. The breakers could be wearing out, there may not be enough circuits available, the panels may no longer be reliable, or there may be loose connections. All of these issues would often be best resolved through retrofitting. Additionally, when available space is a constraint, but the entire system needs to be replaced, retrofitting is what you need.
Of course, time and money are also good reasons to choose retrofitting. Sometimes replacing the current system is simply too expensive. Replacement parts may be obsolete or hard to find, and so retrofitting with new parts could be cheaper. Also, installing all new gear also takes longer than retrofitting the worn out parts, so there’s more down time associated with replacement in most cases.
What we do in MEHRABAD
LV Switch Gear
- Changing breakers especially ACBs, MCCBs and contactors
- Making changes in busbars and connections
- Changing doors and covers
- Changing structures and supports
MV Switch Gear
- Changing MV breakers and contactors (upgrading to VCB)
- Implementing new interlocks
- Communications and wiring
- Repairing busbar
- Improving insulations
- Testing and inspecting