What is An Electrical Switchboard?

A switchboard is an electrical device that distributes electricity from the utility provider to various circuits within a property safely. It primarily uses circuit breakers and RCDs to protect and manage the electrical system.

The electrical switchboard plays a vital part in ensuring efficient and safe electricity supply across various circuits. They are always installed by a licensed electrician in Cairns

In this blog, we’ll talk about the role of an electrical switchboard, its parts, and how you can choose the right one.

What is the Role of an Electrical Switchboard?

The role of an electrical switchboard is to efficiently and safely distribute electrical power from one or more sources to various circuits within a building or facility. It serves as the central hub for electrical distribution, ensuring that electricity is safely and effectively routed to where it is needed.

Primarily, the switchboard facilitates the management and control of electrical power. It segregates the incoming electrical supply into smaller, manageable circuits, distributing it to different areas or equipment. This division is crucial for both safety and functionality, as it allows for the isolation of specific areas or circuits for maintenance or in case of an electrical fault. Additionally, the switchboard provides a platform for integrating protective devices, such as circuit breakers and fuses, which safeguard against overloads and short circuits, thereby preventing potential electrical hazards.

Furthermore, in larger installations, the switchboard often serves as a critical point for monitoring and managing power usage. It can house instruments and controls that help in diagnosing electrical issues, facilitating efficient energy management. Integrating a power board within the switchboard setup gives technicians an additional layer of control.

4 Main Parts of an Electrical Switchboard

The 4 main parts of an electrical switchboard are the main switch, circuit breakers, residual current devices, and busbars. Consider a more in-depth look at each component below.

What is the Electrical Switchboard (1)

Main Switch

The main switch in an electrical switchboard is the primary control device for the entire power supply system. It enables the complete disconnection of electrical power for safety during maintenance and in emergencies. This switch is crucial for controlling the overall flow of electricity from the switchboard to the circuits.

Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are key components that protect each circuit in the switchboard from overloading or short-circuiting. They automatically interrupt the flow of electricity if a fault is detected, significantly reducing the risk of electrical fires or damage to appliances. These breakers can be reset to resume normal operation once the issue has been resolved.

Residual Current Devices (RCDs)

Residual Current Devices (RCDs) are safety devices designed to prevent electric shock. They quickly cut off the electrical supply when they detect a leak in current, such as when a person touches a live wire. Including RCDs in a switchboard is essential for enhancing the electrical system’s safety, particularly in environments with high moisture levels.


Busbars are robust metallic strips or bars, typically made of copper or aluminium, which conduct electricity within the switchboard. They distribute power from the main switch to various circuit breakers. Busbars are fundamental in managing electricity distribution, ensuring that power is effectively and safely transported across the entire system, including the fuse box.

How Can I Choose the Right Switchboard for My Home?

You can choose the right switchboard for your home by considering the following:

  • Power Requirements: Assess the total power consumption of your household. This includes all appliances, lighting, and devices that will draw electricity.
  • Future Expansion: Factor in any potential future electrical needs. If you plan to add more appliances or renovate, opt for a switchboard that can accommodate these changes.
  • Safety Features: Ensure the switchboard has essential safety features like RCDs and circuit breakers for protection against electrical hazards.
  • Compliance with Standards: Check that the switchboard adheres to Australian Standards (AS/NZS 3000). Compliance ensures it meets safety and operational requirements.
  • Size and Space: Consider the physical space available for installing the switchboard. It should fit comfortably and be easily accessible for maintenance.
  • Quality of Materials: Opt for a switchboard made with high-quality materials for durability and long-term reliability.
  • Professional Advice: Consult a licenced electrician who can provide tailored advice based on your home’s electrical layout and needs.

Can I Install a Switchboard On My Own?

No, you can’t install a switchboard on your own. Only a licenced and qualified Cairns electrician can perform any type of electrical installation.