Some common mistakes in the field are people referring to switchgear, switchboards, panelboards, and motor control centers as all the same thing. This can be confusing for people coming on site to work on equipment or trying to figure out what equipment needs to be supported.
A good place to see a lot of different types of power distribution equipment is by looking at your facility one line. You can see things like your substation transformer which will feed down to distribution gear like switchgear or switchboard. This will then feed down to other equipment like a panelboard, MCC, and other smaller transformers.
Most larger facilities will have a main Switchgear. The main differences between Switchgear and Switchboards are the ratings that they carry such as ANSI or UL. Switchboards are typically less expensive than switchgear and do not have drawout breakers as a standard. They can both serve the same purpose in a facility. They can both use relays and meters. Switchboard usually does not go over 600V, whereas switchgear can go into medium voltage. Switchgear also has compartmentalization throughout; every breaker will be in its own cubicle and the bus and cable sections will be separated as well. Switchgear will have everything open behind the door. Drawout breakers that are normally utilized in switchgear is easily able to be removed on a rail system by racking the breaker in/out. Fixed mounted are just that, they are bolted into the gear and are not meant to be removed for service. Drawout offers those abilities with easy cleaning and access. Switchboards are usually smaller than switchgear, also can be mounted against a wall with only needing front access. Switchgear until recently needed rear access. Several manufacturers now have front access switchgear. Switchgear is also going to be deeper than a switchboard, with the minimum usually starting at 60” deep whereas switchboard can be around 30” deep at a minimum.
Panelboards are much smaller capacity, usually not going over 1200A. They have a single structure with a door-in-door design. They will hold branch breakers that can feed lighting or mechanical loads. Panels are usually mounted to a wall instead of freestanding.
Some common mistakes with distribution equipment are using panels as the main distribution equipment within a facility. This can be more expensive or use up more space in the long run vs using a piece of switchboard up front.
When it comes to maintenance on a panelboard is going to be the lowest on the list, with the least amount of maintenance needed. It usually just needs to be dusted off. Switchboard and switchgear are going to need much more maintenance. They will need things like cleaning, testing, checking torque values, arc flash studies, relay settings, as well as coordination studies. You will also need to inspect the larger gear to make sure that there are no animals, or anything left behind in the gear.