Circuit breakers are one of the most essential electrical devices installed in your home and you can confirm this with any electrical company – whether they are a circuit breaker supplier or not. The fact is especially more true and relevant in the current, modern world where electricity is more than just a luxury but is an absolute necessity. Without the said resource, commercial businesses, industrial organizations, and common households wouldn’t be as productive and no progress would have been made over the past couple of decades.
Despite it being a necessity, however, electricity remains to be a volatile substance that needs to be controlled and contained to ensure that all potential risks associated with its use are mitigated. To this day, experts have guaranteed electrical safety through the use and installation of different electrical components with the most relevant one being the circuit breaker. It’s easy to confuse this component with others that have the same purpose – a fuse or a disconnect, for example.
Most of the time, circuit breakers are the preferred electrical safety device because they can be re-used and don’t break so easily. You can often find them in an electrical panel which is typically referred to as the breaker box. Its main purpose is to monitor the electrical circuits flowing within your home’s electrical system and make appropriate changes in the event of abnormal current conditions. It does this in order to prevent electrical hazards such as fires and electrocution.
There’s more to know about these safety devices and we have the most important details listed below. You can trust every bit of information written here as they came straight from the most reliable circuit breaker supplier in the Philippines!
How Circuit Breakers Work
Knowing what a circuit breaker does is simply the tip of the iceberg, and we’ll be delving into more specific things starting with how this device actually works.
In the simplest terms, circuit breakers are activated by electrical current abnormalities or excess current build-ups. Large amounts of current flowing through the circuit can travel to equipment and appliances and cause severe damage, so circuit breakers are used to prevent it from happening. It may seem like a complex task, but the way circuit breakers operate is quite simple.
At their base, all circuit breakers are fitted with an electromagnet that can get charged by the passing electrical current. The same electromagnet can also detect the level or amount of current that is flowing through. If it lies within the range that the circuit breaker deems safe, then the electromagnet remains uncharged and the lever or switch connected to one end of it retains its position, allowing electricity pass.
If, however, the current goes beyond safe operating levels due to different faults in the circuit, the electromagnet gets charged. As a result, it releases enough energy to break the contact between the inner mechanisms and the external circuit, which means the current won’t be allowed to flow beyond. Ultimately, this means that electricity is shut off.
Different Types of Circuit Breakers and Their Applications
Most circuit breakers are made with electromagnets and bi-magnetic strips that can be moved and charged by high levels of electricity, but it’s not unusual to find more expensive ones that are made of advanced electronic components at your circuit breaker supplier. In fact, there are many different types of circuit breakers with their own applications, and that’s what is discussed in this bit.
- Low Voltage Circuit Breakers – Low voltage circuit breakers are often enough to ensure electrical safety for small-scale industries. They are used for low voltage applications not exceeding 2kV.
- High Voltage Circuit Breakers – Any circuit breaker that is rated for use at more than 2kV can be classified as a high voltage circuit breaker. There are two more categories under this which are transmissions class breakers and medium voltage circuit breakers.
- Indoor Circuit Breakers – Indoor circuit breakers are installed and used only for the interior of buildings and often under the category of medium voltage circuit breakers.
- Outdoor Circuit Breakers – These circuit breakers are more durable than indoor circuit breakers and can withstand heavy wear and tear. Indoor and outdoor circuit breakers function similarly with their only difference being structural packaging.
- Air Circuit Breakers – Air circuit breakers are the type we find at households and other residential infrastructures and are called so because the only medium surrounding them is air.
- Oil Circuit Breakers – Instead of being surrounded solely by air, oil circuit breakers use oil as the arc quenching and insulating media. This type is commonly used for high-voltage applications.
- Vacuum Circuit Breakers – Different from air and oil circuit breakers, a vacuum is used as an interrupting medium in this type. It works because of the element’s dielectric and diffusive properties which are ideal for medium-voltage applications.
- SF6 Circuit Breakers – SF6 circuit breakers, which use Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), are a hundred times more dielectric than air or oil and is one of the best-interrupting medium available. Both medium- and high-voltage applications are possible for this type of circuit breaker.
- Miniature Circuit Breakers – Much like low-voltage circuit breakers, miniature circuit breakers are ideally used in small buildings and homes. They are slowly replacing fuses for low-voltage applications because they offer better and safer performance.
You may not be able to find all of these from a single circuit breaker supplier because each of them satisfies specific industries. The simplest circuit breaker supplier should, however, be able to cater to homeowners and small buildings and carry low voltage, high voltage, indoor, outdoor, air, and miniature circuit breakers.
5 Common Reasons Circuit Breakers Trip
Once a circuit breaker trips, don’t take it to your circuit breaker supplier and complain that it’s malfunctioning. When it does so, it actually means that it’s properly doing its job and you should be thankful. There are many reasons this happens and we’ve listed them below:
Overloading the Circuit
Circuit breaker tripping usually happens due to an overloaded circuit. A circuit gets overloaded when multiple appliances are plugged in and attempting to draw electrical load. When this happens, the circuit tries to compensate by carrying large amounts of electrical current, which is enough to trigger the electromagnets in the breaker and completely shutting off the flow of electricity. If not for circuit breakers cutting off the electrical supply, circuit wires will continue to heat up and get damaged.
Short Circuit Faults
Short circuits are more than just causes of a circuit breaker tripping but are actually dangerous situations that can start fires and damage appliances. It happens when there is contact between a live and neutral wire and is often a problem within the circuit’s wire placement. It is also possible for the problem to come from the actual appliance or device that is plugged into an outlet, making it much harder to diagnose and fix.
A ground fault is a specific type of short circuit wherein the hot or live wire comes in contact with either a metal component or a wooden frame. They can be extremely dangerous in areas that have high levels of moistures such as bathrooms and kitchens. Although, compared to short circuit faults, they are much easier to detect, fix, and prevent. When you attempt to do this, make sure to follow the essential steps and procedures that are included for your safety.
Using the Wrong Type of Breaker
In the previous section, we enumerated the most common types of circuit breakers and their ideal applications. Those details are important because it will affect the performance of the device. Using low voltage circuit breakers for high-voltage applications only leads to continuous and repetitive tripping, so avoid doing so. Also, take into consideration the location of the circuit breaker and properly choose between an indoor or outdoor one.
Appliances and Devices
It is also possible for your appliances and devices to trip your circuit breaker even if only one or two are plugged in. Old and damaged appliances are common culprits in these because they can pull more energy than necessary and cause shorts. Large appliances that run all day like air conditioners, dishwashers, and refrigerators can also cause circuit breaker trips. The key to avoiding this is to regularly maintain and inspect your appliances for damage.
5 Signs You Need to Repair or Replace Your Circuit Breaker
Let’s take a look at some of the most common predicaments that call for circuit breaker repair or replacement:
Breaker Trips for No Reason
As listed above, there are many reasons behind circuit breaker trips and they don’t always mean that the device has started malfunctioning. Only when a circuit breaker trips for no apparent reason is it time to consider repairing or replacing the device. A sure sign would be the breaker tripping without a single load, so keep this in mind.
When this happens, have a technician or someone from your circuit breaker supplier inspect your house’s wiring and appliances to confirm and immediately replace or repair afterward.
Switch Doesn’t Stay On or Off
The moment a breaker trips, its switch will land in the middle or halfway point of the on and off positions. It only takes flipping the switch to the on position to get your power supply back. After which, you should hear a loud and distinct click that indicates that the device has been properly reset.
That’s what should happen, but there are cases where the switch will stay at the halfway point despite your efforts to flip it. In addition, you will not hear any clicking sound as you try to move it either way. This is a sure sign that your circuit breaker has gone bad and needs professional attention.
Apparent Damage to the Circuit Breaker
Scorch marks around the breaker and a burning smell coming off the panel are not good signs and only mean that severe damage has been done to the circuit breaker and immediate service is needed. As soon as you become aware of these damages, unplug all appliances and fixtures from the circuit and call your electrician. A moment’s hesitation can result to your house going up in flames, so act fast.
Don’t panic, though, because that will only make things worse. As long as you’ve unplugged everything and called your electrician, you can stay calm and be reassured by the fact that you’ve taken proper precautions and nothing bad is going to happen.
Poor Performance and Constant Malfunctions from Appliances
Poor performance and constant malfunctions from appliances, especially from relatively new ones, can mean that your breaker is problematic. The situation may not be dangerous, but it will pay to have an expert look at the device. Damage to your devices will be prevented and the problem won’t escalate further.
Flickering lights, stoves that don’t reach the right temperatures, and dryers that keep shutting off are just some of the malfunctions that you may experience with a bad circuit breaker.
Circuit Breaker is Aged and Outdated
Sometimes the problem isn’t external or internal damage but simply old age and lack of maintenance. These devices are expected to last for decades, but poor and inadequate service can easily shorten their lifespan.
If you want to know the age of your circuit breaker, simply check the back of the board. Some houses have been using the same circuit breakers for more than two decades without maintenance and may be using outdated materials. If your house is one of these, consider having the circuit breaker inspected and modernized by professionals.
Meiji Electric Philippines: The Most Reliable Supplier of Circuit Breakers
Circuit breakers are essential devices that ensure your electrical safety at home, which is why it’s important that you get yours from the most reliable circuit breaker supplier – Meiji Electric Philippines!
Meiji Electric Philippines is an electrical company that has been providing people with electrical supplier and component of the highest quality for more than 30 years now. We started simply with electrical lighting materials during our establishment in 1981 and have exponentially grown into one of the best electrical suppliers in the country. Not only did our products grow in size, but also did our client base – a true mark of a quality and reliable electrical supplier.
The company offers electrical systems and components that are world-class in terms of quality and performance. Our catalog is filled with nothing but energy-efficient and economic systems like panel boards, transfer switches, and, of course, circuit breakers. Despite already being ahead of other competitors, we still develop and introduce new items and products that help guarantee electrical safety in all infrastructures.
So the next time you’re in need of circuit breakers or any other electrical component, make your way to Meiji Electric Philippines and click here to get the best electrical products available!