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Understanding the Difference: Switchboard vs. Distribution Board

When it comes to electrical infrastructure within a building, switchboards and distribution boards are pivotal components, each with distinct functions and roles in the system. To ensure a safe and efficient electrical setup, it’s essential to comprehend the differences and know how to choose an appropriate distribution board for your specific requirements.

Switchboard: The Power Controller

A switchboard serves as the primary control centre for electrical power within a facility. It receives power from the external source, such as the grid or a generator, and distributes it to various circuits within the building. Essentially, the switchboard is the hub that allows you to turn the power on or off for different sections or equipment in your facility.

The Circuit breaker panel contains switches, circuit breakers, and other protective devices to manage and safeguard the electrical system. It’s typically installed at the point where power enters the building, serving as the initial point of control and distribution.

Distribution Board: The Circuit Organiser

On the other hand, a Electrical distribution panel, also known as a panelboard or breaker panel, acts as a secondary hub that further divides and directs electrical power. It takes power from the main switchboard and distributes it to different areas or circuits within the building, such as lighting, appliances, or specific rooms.

The distribution board houses circuit breakers or fuses that protect each circuit from overloading, ensuring the safety and smooth operation of the electrical system. It allows for easy isolation of circuits during maintenance or in case of a fault.

Choosing the Right Distribution Board

Selecting an appropriate Electrical distribution system is crucial for ensuring the safety and efficiency of your electrical system. Here are some key factors to consider:

Load Capacity: Evaluate the total electrical load your building or facility requires. Ensure that the distribution board you choose can handle this load comfortably without overloading.

Number of Circuits: Determine the number of circuits you need based on your power requirements and the layout of your facility. A sufficient number of circuits will allow for organised power distribution.

Safety Features: Look for distribution boards with robust safety features such as circuit breakers, residual current devices (RCDs), and surge protection. These features are vital for protecting both the electrical system and the occupants of the building.


Understanding the difference between a switchboard and a distribution board is essential for managing your electrical infrastructure effectively. The switchboard acts as the primary control centre for power, while the distribution board organises and directs power to specific circuits. When choosing a distribution board, prioritise load capacity, the number of circuits, and safety features to ensure a reliable and secure electrical setup in your building.

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