How to Design an Electrical Switchboard

It may not be commonly realized by the layman, but electrical switchboards form an integral part of any business. When designed correctly, they can safely distribute power to a number of appliances and outlets which facilitate key tools of business such as computers, air conditioning, and lighting.

On the other hand, damaged, faulty or poorly designed switchboards can lead to inefficiencies at best and fires, electrocution, and other serious injuries at worst. To avoid these worst-case scenarios, Fimcen delivers capable consultation on switchboard design, including CAD drafting and drawing.

This blog details a broad level understanding of what goes into designing a switchboard. For more in-depth information, contact us and begin your consultation journey today.

Parts of a Switchboard

Not to be confused with similar units such as panel boards, fuse boxes or switchgear, electrical switchboards can be defined as the following:

“An assembly of circuit protective devices, with or without switchgear, instruments or connecting devices, suitably arranged and mounted for distribution to, and protection of, one or more submains or final subcircuits, or a combination of both,” according to AS/NZS 3000:2018.

The main purpose of a switchboard is to manage the loads of incoming and outgoing currents, ensuring these values are equal and shutting off any that threaten to overload a circuit.

In order to do this, every switchboard will include circuit breakers, switches, and fuses – either metal-enclosed or insulated by another material like plastic, rubber, or PVC.

Instrumentation will also include various displays and dials to convey information to technicians. A switchboard also encompasses the steel enclosure to house all of these important components.


Once a switchboard design is drafted, verifying the safety and reliability of the design is of the utmost importance.

This includes testing worst-case load scenarios, calculating appropriate safety margins, and comparing with previously verified designs.

Also important to consider are the verification of temperature-rise limits, short-circuit withstand limits, and physical internal separation.

In Australia, AS/NZS 61439-1 and AS/NZS61439-2 are now the main standards to abide by for low voltage switchgear and control gear assemblies. These superseded AS/NZS 3439 in 2021.


To remove any uncertainty around switchboard design – especially as Australian standards continue to evolve in 2022 – it is important to consult with an industry expert.

This consultation process will involve a thorough discussion about your load requirements and how to create the most efficient switchboard possible.

Every business in Australia should be concerned with increasing efficiencies and reducing unnecessary costs. An effective switchboard design is just one key to unlock these benefits.

Consulting with the Fimcen team is sure to improve your switchboard design, thanks to our years of expertise in CAD drawing and drafting, as well as project estimation and general engineering advice.

No matter how long you’ve been in the industry, it’s important to seek a second opinion and discuss your methods with a peer. This removes the risk of anyone sticking with outdated methods and helps the entire industry to improve as one.

Contact Fimcen

At Fimcen, we’re passionate about electrical engineering and the efficiencies it can bring for Australian businesses.

Make sure we’re your first port-of-call as you tackle your next switchboard design project.