How to Troubleshoot Obscure Electrical Control Panel Failure Modes

How to Troubleshoot Obscure Electrical Control Panel Failure Modes


Electrical control panels are complex systems that can fail in obscure ways. As an electrical technician, I often get called in to troubleshoot control panels when the regular maintenance crew can't figure out what's wrong. While control panel issues can seem intimidating at first, there are some simple troubleshooting techniques I use to diagnoze even the most obscure failure modes. In this guide, I'll walk through my systematic approach to troubleshooting obscure electrical control panel issues.

Safety First

When working with live electrical equipment, safety should always be the top concern. Before opening or working on a control panel, be sure to:

Rushing into troubleshooting without taking proper precautions can lead to electrocution or arc flash hazards. Take it slow and work safely.

Start With Visual Inspection

My first step is always a thorough visual inspection of the control panel. I'll look for:

A visual inspection can often reveal obvious issues before diving deeper into troubleshooting. I'll also consult any panel schematics and wiring diagrams available.

Check Power Supply

Many obscure control panel issues stem from power supply problems. I systematically check:

If I find any abnormalities with the power supply, I address these first before looking at other components.

Divide and Conquer Components

For complex issues with no obvious cause, I adopt a divide and conquer strategy with panel components:

Taking this systematic approach prevents getting overwhelmed. I can methodically split the panel into smaller pieces for testing.

Check Interconnections

Bad connections between components can manifest as obscure intermittent issues:

Carefully examine interconnections between all components. Defects here can cause elusive phantom problems.

Update Documentation

As a final step, I update all panel drawings and documentation to reflect:

Thorough documentation helps ensure the next technician can understand any fixes you made.

When All Else Fails...Call an Expert

For the rarest most complex issues, I may have to phone a technical expert from the component vendor if I'm fully stumped. There's no shame in asking for assistance when needed - obscure control panel problems can stump even seasoned technicians!

By following a systematic top-down troubleshooting approach, I can diagnoze most obscure electrical control panel issues. Let me know if you have any other tips I should add to my process!