An electric breaker, also known as a circuit breaker, is a device used to protect electrical circuits from damage caused by an overload or short circuit. It automatically interrupts the electrical flow when the current exceeds a certain limit, preventing damage to the circuit and potential fires.
The basic structure of an electric breaker consists of a switch mechanism and a trip unit. The switch controls the opening and closing of the circuit, while the trip unit monitors the current and activates the switch if the current exceeds the preset limit. The trip unit can be electronic or mechanical, and it may have adjustable settings to accommodate different loads.
An electric breaker is an essential component in any electrical system or network, whether in residential, commercial, or industrial settings. These devices are designed to protect the entire electrical system from overloading or short-circuiting, which can lead to catastrophic damages, including fire or explosions. Here are the types of electric circuit breakers, each with its unique features and applications.
Thermal Circuit Breaker
The thermal circuit breaker is the most common type of circuit breaker used in residential and commercial electrical systems. It works on the principle of a bi-metal strip that expands and contracts with temperature changes. When the current exceeds the rated value, the bi-metal strip heats up, and it bends to open the circuit. After the circuit breaker trips, it must be manually reset.
Magnetic Circuit Breaker
This type of breaker operates on the principle of electromagnetism. A magnetic circuit breaker consists of a solenoid coil, a movable armature, and a set of contacts. When an overcurrent flows through the coil, it generates a magnetic field that attracts the armature towards it. The armature, in turn, trips the contacts, breaking the circuit and preventing damage.
Hydraulic-Magnetic Circuit Breaker
The hydraulic-magnetic circuit breaker is an important component of many electrical systems, including those found in homes, commercial buildings, and industrial facilities. These devices are designed to operate at high speeds, providing instantaneous protection against electrical faults.
One of the key advantages of hydraulic-magnetic circuit breakers is that they are highly reliable. Unlike traditional thermal breakers, which can become damaged over time and need to be replaced, hydraulic-magnetic breakers are designed to last for decades.
Residual Current Circuit Breaker
A type of circuit breaker called a residual current circuit breaker is made to guard against electric shock. It operates by keeping an eye on the circuit’s live/neutral wire balance. The RCCB will trip and shut off the power supply if there is an imbalance, which can be brought on by a fault or a leakage current and pose a risk of electric shock.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are one of the most common types of electric circuit breakers used in residential and commercial buildings. They are designed to protect people from electrical shock by detecting a difference in current between the hot and neutral wires. When a fault occurs, the GFCI quickly cuts off the electrical current to prevent harm.
GFCIs are especially important in areas where water is present, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor outlets. They are also required in new construction projects by the National Electrical Code (NEC). In fact, the NEC stipulates that GFCIs must be installed in all new homes, and they must be used to replace existing outlets in older homes.