Everything you have to know about circuit breakers
When you flick a switch, turn on a device, or plug in an appliance, you’re tapping into the incredible power of electricity. But with that power comes a potential risk. Without proper protection, an overloaded or short-circuited electrical system can quickly turn into a disaster, causing electrical fires or equipment damage. That’s where circuit breakers come in. These small but mighty devices act as the guardian angels of electrical systems, detecting and interrupting dangerous electrical currents before they can cause harm. In this article, you can take a closer look at circuit breakers and how they keep your electrical systems safe and secure.
What is a circuit breaker?
It is a device designed to prevent electrical systems from being damaged by overloading or short circuits. It ensures the safe and efficient operation of electrical systems by interrupting the flow of electrical current when a fault is detected. It consists of a switch that automatically opens when the current exceeds a specific threshold, preventing further electrical flow.
What are the types of breakers?
There are many types of breakers available, including:
- Thermal Breakers: They use a bimetallic strip that expands and contracts with temperature changes. They are commonly used in low-voltage applications, such as in homes.
- Magnetic Breakers: They use a solenoid to trip the breaker when a fault is detected. They are commonly used in industrial applications, such as in factories.
- Hydraulic Breakers: They use a hydraulic system to trip the breaker. They are commonly used in heavy-duty applications, such as construction equipment.
- Residual Current Breakers: They are designed to protect against electric shock by tripping the breaker when there is a difference in current between the live and neutral wires.
What are the applications of breakers?
They are used in various applications, including:
- Residential Electrical Systems: They are commonly used in residential electrical systems to protect against overloading or short circuits. They are installed in the electrical panel and protect the entire electrical system in the home.
- Industrial Electrical Systems: They are commonly used in industrial electrical systems to protect against short circuits. They are installed in electrical panels or control boxes and protect individual circuits or machines.
- Heavy-Duty Applications: They are commonly used in heavy-duty applications, such as construction equipment or mining machinery. They protect against overloading or short circuits and ensure the safe operation of the equipment.
- Automotive Electrical Systems: They are commonly used in automotive electrical systems to protect against overloading or short circuits. They are installed in the fuse box and protect individual circuits in the vehicle.
How are they maintained and tested?
They require regular maintenance and testing to ensure their proper operation. It includes checking for signs of wear or damage, ensuring that they are securely installed, and testing their trip time to ensure they operate within their specified parameters. Testing can be done using specialized equipment, and a qualified electrician is recommended to do this.
How to reset them?
They can be reset once the fault has been fixed. To reset the circuit breakers, simply turn them back on. It ensures the system can be quickly restarted, reducing downtime and increasing productivity. The ability to reset them also reduces the need for replacement, saving time and money.
Circuit breakers are an essential component of electrical systems, protecting them from damage caused by overloading or short circuits. They automatically disconnect the power supply when a fault is detected, reducing the risk of electrical fires and preventing damage to electrical equipment. Several breakers are available, including thermal, magnetic, hydraulic, and residual current breakers, each designed for specific applications. They are used in residential, industrial, heavy-duty, and automotive applications and require regular maintenance and testing to ensure their proper operation.