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What's the difference between a safety switch and a circuit breaker?

The main difference between a safety switch (or RCD) and a circuit breaker (often referred to as a fuse) is a safety switch protects people from electrical accidents and the circuit breaker protects wiring and electrical systems in your home.

Safety Switch Vs Circuit Breaker

What does a safety switch do?

Safety switches monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit and detect imbalances in the live and neutral wires which can occur when the current is travelling through something else (like a person) potentially causing an electric shock. The safety switch almost instantly activates reducing the risk of electric shock by switching the electricity supply to that circuit off within 0.03 of a second, or less than a heart beat.

Safety Switch - Clipsal
Safety Switch

Find out more - safety switches

What does a circuit breaker do?

A circuit breaker or fuse provides protection for the electrical circuits in your home. The circuit breaker will activate cutting the power when it detects a high current fault, short circuit, or overload such as when too many appliances are plugged into a single power point.

Circuit Breaker HPM
Circuit Breaker

RCD or fuse - understand the differences

One safety switch may not be enough

Victorian legislation states that a safety switch must be installed on the power point circuit and the lighting circuit of new homes, however, many older homes are still without the protection of a safety switch or only have coverage on the power point circuit.

Electrical safety regulators are now recommending homeowners and landlords install a safety switch on each circuit including lights, air conditioning, oven, hot water unit, and pool equipment circuits to provide full electrical protection for residents.

Regular safety switch testing is essential

Having a switch/es installed by your licensed electrician is not the end of the story, regular testing is also essential to ensure the switch will activate freely in an emergency.

Testing your RCD or safety switch is easy simply press the Test button on the device (sometimes marked with a ‘T’). The switch should activate cutting the electricity supply to that circuit. To reset the safety switch just flick back to the ‘ON’ position.

We recommend you test your safety switch/es every quarter, when the power bill comes in is a good reminder.

Remember - safety switches save lives

Protect your family from electrical accidents by installing a safety switch on every circuit. Contact our licenced Melbourne electricians on 1300 360 215 or complete our service request form today.

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