Circuit Breaker Basics

Circuit Breaker Basics

Circuit Breaker Definition

To understand the importance of a circuit breaker, we need to understand what it is and what it exactly does.  A circuit breaker is an automatically operated electrical switch which serves to protect an electrical circuit from damage. This can be due to excess heat flowing through, or in other words, an electrical overload, or a short circuit.  Hence its basic function is to detect a fault condition and automatically disconnect the electrical equipment from the voltage source. Below are some circuit breaker basics.

Electrical Overloads

When there are too many devices that are operating, this can exceed the circuit limit, and this can be dangerous. With a circuit breaker, it prevents any serious damage by automatically shutting off the circuit at the main electrical panel.

Short Circuits

A short circuit occurs when two bare conductors, e.g. positive and negative terminals of a current touch on a low resistance conductor.  With the low resistance in connection, excessive current is produced in such a short time, and possibly destroy the power source or even actually explode.  Circuit breakers thus prevent this from happening. This can happen with alternating current (AC) or what we commonly know as electrical or direct current (DC) from a battery.

Short circuits can happen when high levels of heat cause the insulation to break or flake off, exposing the conductors and thus causing a short circuit.

Which of the Circuit Breaker Types to install?

With practically everything in homes or offices uses electricity, circuit breakers are a must to prevent damage to your electrically-operated devices and possibly cause electrical fires.

Knowing these circuit breaker basics, your next question is what type to install. There are however several types of circuit breakers depending on the needs of your home or office. This being an important safety feature of the home or office, check with your licensed electrical professional. They can best determine which is best according to your needs.