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Why are circuit protection devices so important?

Electricity is produced in power stations before being transported via transmitters and distribution networks and, eventually, to your home or workplace. However, most buildings contain more than one electrical circuit, whether they’re small domestic buildings or large commercial buildings using rubber boxes for large-scale power distribution systems. Lighting, heating, and other appliances may be powered from different circuits, for example, or different ‘zones’ in the building may be on different electrical circuits.

What is circuit protection?

Circuit protection is essentially a failsafe that’s designed to protect people and properties if an electrical fault occurs. Every electrical circuit has a maximum voltage or amperage. If this is exceeded, the wire overheats, potentially causing the wire insulation to melt and fire to break out. Similarly, if an earth fault, short circuit, or an incorrect installation occurs, or if a circuit is overloaded, the consequences are the same, and the risk of serious injury remains high.

Circuit protection prevents this from happening by ‘tripping the circuit’ and automatically disconnecting the supply of electricity to that particular circuit. When this happens, excessively high currents cannot flow through the wire and potentially cause overheating and fires.

Why is circuit protection important?

Electrical fires remain a major risk to life and property, which is why it’s so important that adequate circuit protection is used on every electrical circuit in a property. From residential homes to commercial buildings and industrial units, effective circuit protection is required to keep people safe and reduce the risk of fire.

Although electrical safety has improved significantly over the years, this is in part due to circuit protection. While it’s easy to take our safety for granted, installing effective circuit protection should always be a top priority in any type of property.

mains switch

Briefly explaining the different circuit protection devices

Fuses

Perhaps the most traditional type of circuit protection, fuses ‘blow’ when a circuit is overloaded and needs to be replaced. Although you’ll still see them in some buildings, a traditional fuse box is rather outdated and should usually be replaced with a more modern alternative.

Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB)

An MCB fits into a consumer unit and features a switch that will move if a circuit is tripped. Unlike a fuse, it doesn’t need to be replaced when this happens. Instead, you can simply flip the switch back into the ‘on’ position to restore power to the circuit, providing no additional repairs are required. There are often multiple MCBs fitted in a power distribution box to represent different circuits in the building.

Residual Current Device (RCD)

An RCD consistently monitors the electrical current and shuts it down if it identifies something abnormal, such as the current travelling down an unintended path. RCDs can be used to protect one or more circuits, although bear in mind that if an RCD shuts down the power, it will affect every circuit that it’s protecting.

Residual Current Breaker with Overload Protection (RCBO)

An RCBO combines the functionality of an RCD and MCB and, therefore, offers the greatest level of protection. Usually installed in commercial settings, they’re ideal when a particularly high level of electrical safety is required.

Choosing the Right Circuit Protection Device

As you can see, there are many things to consider when it comes to choosing the right type of circuit protection device. Safety is an absolute priority for us here at Rubber Box, and we protect each of our power distribution boxes fully with an absolute minimum level of earth leakage protection by default, which means your safety is always guaranteed. If you’re unsure of whether your equipment has a special requirement for extra protection, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t. If our technicians think that you do need extra protection with an MCB or RCD, we’ll let you know, but we’ll try to save you the extra cost where we think it won’t be necessary.

And that’s all there is to it! Once we’ve got all that information, we’ll get started on getting a quote together, bringing you one step closer to receiving the power distribution box of your dreams. Request a quote today, or call us on 01282 677910. If you can think of it, we can build it!

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