One of the most critical home safety equipment is the circuit breaker. An electrical box often has a main breaker for the entire house and rows of branch circuit breakers, each of which is connected to a separate circuit. Each breaker operates in the same manner. On the other hand, the main circuit breaker can handle a higher amperage; modern household devices can be rated for up to 200 amps.
Circuit Breaker: Overview
If there is a short circuit or an overload, a circuit breaker immediately interrupts the current flow. It can protect an electrical circuit, as well as appliances, electronics, and your home, by doing so. Electrical overloads can produce a lot of heat, which can lead to sparks, burns, electrocution, and fires.
This is why having a durable circuit breaker is crucial. If you are looking for a reliable circuit breaker, you might consider contacting top circuit breaker manufacturers who have a good reputation in the market.
When a circuit breaker trips, it could indicate that electrical work is required. A breaker can trip for a variety of causes, including:
- The circuit has an excessive amount of current flowing through it.
- Due to an overheated/melted component, the hot and neutral wires have fused together.
- An electricity line has blown out, maybe due to a nail in the wall.
How does a Circuit Breaker Work?
When the current crosses a specific threshold, breakers are activated. Unlike a fuse, it can be reset after it has tripped (fuses must be replaced).
When the breaker is turned on, power can flow from one end to the other. Electricity magnetizes its electromagnet, and the higher the current, the stronger the magnetic force. If the current is strong enough, the electromagnet will pull the lever down, which will open the circuit by pulling the switch, opening the circuit, and shifting the linkage.
It is more dependable to use a load break switch with a vacuum circuit breaker. Fuse protection is usually included with load break switches that use a spring mechanism. As a result, if a failure occurs, the fuse must be replaced.
Things To Keep in Mind While Using a Circuit Breaker
It is critical to understand how to use a circuit breaker. You should be mindful of potential overloads or electrical faults because the power may have been turned off for a purpose. It’s critical to understand which branch circuit each breaker is connected to, so you can determine whether you have too many items connected in your kitchen or living room, for example.
If you’re using the main circuit breaker to turn off the power to the entire house, turn off each individual breaker first, then the main circuit breaker. Turn on the main breaker to restore electricity. Then, one at a time, reset each circuit breaker. A rapid power spike can be avoided by resetting them one at a time.
If the main circuit breaker trips, follow the same steps. Switch off all individual breakers so that all circuits don’t turn on as soon as the main breaker is reset, whether it’s due to a power surge, overload, or lightning strike. To protect yourself from any sparks or flashes, stand to the side, turn your head, and preferably wear safety glasses when resetting the main breaker. Then, one by one, turn each circuit on.
Types of Circuit Breakers
1. Standard Circuit Breaker
When the system hits a temperature threshold, a typical circuit breaker shuts down the electricity. The temperature range of the current drawn in a circuit is known. When a temperature is exceeded, it signifies the system is pulling far more current than it can handle.
Heat-sensitive materials are used in standard circuit breakers to switch off power. When the temperature limit is reached, the metal inside will bend, cutting off the passage of electricity physically. This safety feature keeps the temperature of your wire from rising too high, melting it, and triggering a fire.
Single-pole and double-pole circuit breakers are the two varieties of standard circuit breakers. Below, we’ll look at the differences between the two.
Circuit Breakers with a Single Pole
One wire is protected with a single-pole circuit breaker. It also includes a 120-volt power source and is normally rated at 15-20 amps. It’s mostly employed in non-heating and low-amperage domestic applications.
Circuit Breakers with Two Poles
A circuit breaker with a double-pole is used to protect two lines by combining two single-pole breakers. It can handle a 240-volt power source and is typically rated for 20 to 60 amps. It’s mostly used for residential circuits that require more voltage or amperes, such as air conditioners and electric ranges.
The fundamental disadvantage of traditional circuit breakers is their inability to identify anomalies. They require heat to activate. Thus a continuing fault is required. If the fault has not reached the required temperature to trip the breaker, it will not react as quickly.
The primary function of a typical circuit breaker is to safeguard property. It guards against circuit overloads and safeguards your equipment, appliances, and even your entire home from electrical damage.
2. GFCI Circuit Breaker
The GFCI circuit breaker detects an imbalance in current flow, unlike a standard circuit breaker, which detects heat in an electrical system. It is tripped as soon as it senses an anomaly, such as a grounded wire, to prevent someone from being electrocuted.
This type of GFCI circuit breaker is commonly seen at outlets close to water sources. This is because moisture may easily ground them, resulting in electric shock. It can detect currents as low as four or five milliamps and reply in a fraction of a second.
3. AFCI Circuit Breaker
The arc-fault circuit interrupter, or AFCI, is also known as the arc-fault detection device or AFDD. It detects electrical arcs that are created by damaged wires. As long as extension cables and electrical appliances are attached to the circuit, it can detect arcs from them.
When the insulation on an electrical cable is broken, an arc fault occurs. This can happen when your electrical conduit is pierced by nails, rodent attacks, or simply due to age. The AFCI circuit breaker is mostly necessary for commercial operations such as dorms and rentals.
After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of what a breaker is and the various varieties available. Once you understand what a circuit breaker is for, you’ll be able to better protect your property, appliances, and family members in your home.