What Is an Electric Switchboard?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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Electric switchboards are devices that are used to transmit electrical current from a power source to other points of termination that have come connection to the board. The source can be an electrical generator or some other device that feeds the current to the electric switchboard, which then allocates the current as needed to other devices. There are several features of the board that help to control the flow of current, making it easier to avoid overloads that could damage the board and any of the recipient devices.

One of the more common configurations for an electric switchboard is a series of interconnected electrical panels. Each of the panels in turn features a series of switches that make it possible to control the flow of electricity. Making use of the switches, it is possible to adjust the voltage that is transmitted to connected devices, ensuring that the flow is not sufficient to cause damage to the circuitry. From this perspective, the electric switchboard can be viewed as a way of enhancing the safety of using electricity in the operation of various appliances, machinery, and other devices.


Part of the function of an electric switchboard is to allocate current to each device, based on the amount of power necessary to operate the devices. In a sense, this means that the switchboard receives a steady flow of current from a source, such as a power generator. That flow of current is then redirected in smaller increments to each of the attached devices, based on the current status of each device. The flow of power to attached devices that are currently not active is kept at a minimum, preventing any type of overload of the wiring or circuitry. As the devices are activated, the flow of power is adjusted to allow for the greater demand.

The usual configuration requires that the amount of power that is flowing into the electric switchboard must match the amount of current that eventually flows into the attached devices. This means that steps must be taken to adapt the flow of power to match the rate of consumption. Typically, this function is managed with readings between the power source and the electric switchboard, making it possible to adjust voltage and frequency based on need. An electrical switchboard is often part of the electrical setup for various types of control systems within plant facilities, transformers that are part of a power grid, and other types of machinery that are powered with electrical current.


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