Retrofit Switchgear FAQ

Why should I retrofit my switchgear?

There are many reasons to retrofit aging switchgear. These include:

  • Increased operating reliability and safety
  • Enhanced short circuit ratings available
  • Reduced maintenance and environmental impact
  • Elimination of hazardous materials such as asbestos
  • Decreased insurance costs due to absence of oil
  • Service life can be extended by up to 30 years

What are the benefits over replacing a complete switchboard?

The main benefits to consider are:

  • Significant overall cost saving
  • Minimal disruption to site and supply
  • No need to disturb or replace HV cable

Are you able to provide retrofit solutions for designs not listed?

P&B have existing designs for a large range of OEMs, and the technical capabilities and expertise to continually grow this list.

To enquire about retrofitting your switchgear, send us an email at Equipment ratings and images of the switchgear (including nameplate) are helpful in identifying your design and comparing it to existing retrofits.

What is involved in the retrofit process?

Once we have been able to confirm that a suitable retrofit design is available or can be produced, the original equipment will be laser-scanned on site by our specialist scanning partners. The data captured enables a millimeter-accurate 3D model of your existing switchgear to be generated. This process allows P&B to ensure the retrofit design fits the original panel precisely.

During the engineering phase, we collaborate closely with both P&B and the client to ensure all aspects of the retrofit are as expected once it arrives on site. All P&B designs are fully type-tested and manufactured within their factory in Manchester, UK.

What are the key differences between the Magnetic Actuator and Spring Mechanism?

P&B have designs available for both Magnetic and Spring-operated retrofit circuit breakers. GFF Power recommends the VOR-M (Magnetic Actuator Retrofit) option for most clients, as this design is faster, more reliable and essentially maintenance free. The below table outlines the key differences in more detail.


Magnetic Actuator Motor Wound Spring Mechanism
Moving components <10 >100
Drive train to vacuum interrupters Directly connected during opening & closing Indirectly driven through springs and sliding linkages.
Reliability High reliability due to reduced component count and simplicity of drive system. Complex mechanisms known to experience reliability issues. Reliability can be dependent on maintenance.
Lubrication No lubrication of magnetic actuator required. Long life lubricant on connecting links. Regular lubrication required to maintain operation and prevent seizing.
Maintenance Minimal. Periodic inspection only. Regular inspection, functional testing and servicing required. Servicing requires trained personnel.
Adjustments None required Typical spring mechanism has several adjustable features to adjust latches and releases.
Lifetime Exceeds life of vacuum interrupters Typically 10,000 operations
Power requirements

(Closing and opening)

Low. Closing and opening energy stored in on board capacitors. No load on batteries during operations Shunt releases 250 – 350W
Power requirements


Capacitor recharge:

~70W for ~1 second after O operation

~70W for ~5 seconds after CO operation.

Spring charging:

Typically 150W for 15 seconds


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