It is important to have a real understanding of equipment in regards to electronics and electricity in order to be aware of what needs to be done to ensure your household is safe from experiencing the likes of damage, injuries or even death when things go wrong.
What does a circuit breaker do?
A lot of homes come with fuses or circuit breakers in the main switchboard in order to prevent against the overloading of electrical wiring. In the event that a powerpoint is overloaded, a circuit breaker is designed to protect the system from overloading or short-circuiting.
The power will be cut by the circuit breaker after a high current fault or overloaded is detected should a powerpoint have an excess of appliances plugged into it.
Circuit breakers can be automatically or manually operated. High currents are the norm in the power system of today, which has made circuit breakers all the more important because of their ability to interrupt the arc that is produced when the circuit breaker is in operation in a safe manner.
Despite being similar in appearance to a safety switch, a circuit breaker is not intended to protect against electrocution.
What does a safety switch do?
The function of a safety switch is to prevent electric shocks or electrocution because of electrical faults within the system. Safety switches are able to detect issues that can threaten personal safety by scrutinizing the electricity flow and identifying any discrepancies in the live and natural wires that take place when the current starts travelling an alternate path, such as through a person.
The moment any potentially dangerous problem arises, a safety switch will disconnect the power in just 0.3 seconds. Although a safety switch has a similar appearance to that of a circuit breaker, it also includes a Test button.
To make matters more complex, there is a number of “all in one” safety devices that combine the functions of both circuit breakers and safety switches. If you have a device installed in your home but continue to remain uncertain as to what functions it provides, the best advice is simply to have it inspected by a local electrician.
It is the law that safety switches must be installed in properties to protect against electrocution as well as the fires that can result from electrical faults. In some states in Australia, such as Victoria, safety switches are legally required to be installed actually on the lighting circuit in addition to the powerpoint circuits in any newly built homes.
The flipside to this, however, is that there are many older homes in the country that have powerpoint circuit coverage only and in some instances, no safety switches at all.
Electrical safety regulators now advise both landlords and homeowners alike to have safety switches installed on all circuits such as the likes of air conditioning, lights, pool equipment, oven and lights circuits in order to make sure that residents are provided with complete coverage for their entire power system.
However one safety switch may not be enough and it is a good idea to install safety switches on every circuit in your home, including the likes of air conditioning, hot water, lights, oven, pool equipment circuits and powerpoint equipment.
The electrical safety of the home is a matter of vital importance and the likes of safety switches and circuit breakers have been specifically designed for the purpose of ensuring the safety of that home and all of the people that live within it.
The major difference between safety switches and circuit breakers is that while both have protective purposes, the latter is designed for the protection of circuitry, wiring and appliances while safety switches are intended to protect people.
However, circuit breakers still play a role in securing human safety, albeit more indirectly, by protecting against the damage that can be caused by power surges and electrical fires.
The biggest problem that occurs when people do not understand the difference between safety switches and circuit breakers is people erroneously making the assumption that they already have both of them installed when they may only have the one.
A qualified electrician should be used in order to install safety switches and circuit breakers in the home as it is both against the law and very dangerous to attempt to perform such electrical work on your own.
No one should ever take any chances in regards to electrical safety, either at home or in the workplace and every measure should be taken in order to ensure their safety, including the installation of both circuit breakers and safety switches.