Rubber Box Industry Insights: Some Technical Terms Explained
At Rubber Box, our electrical engineers have been in the industry for a long time. That’s given us plenty of time to learn all the key terms and jargon around the products we make – so we thought we’d key you in on some of this knowledge. Below, we’ve gone into detail about two major concepts in electrical engineering: diversity, and discrimination. You don’t have to know what they are in order to work our rubber boxes, but if you’re interested, they can give you a handy head start when discussing power distros.
In electrical terms, diversity occurs in an operating grid when all devices on the circuit aren’t functioning simultaneously, or are doing so at less than maximum capacity. If they were all on (and all on full), the total amount of power they’d require would be more than the system would be able to provide, which would often trigger an overload.
You’ll find diversity in almost any operating system, but to explain it in practical terms, the best example is that of your own home. All the sockets in your house are wired into ‘ring’ mains, which are rated at 30A (meaning they can provide a total of 30 amps of power at any one time). Meanwhile, a household kettle requires about 8A to run. If you were to plug a kettle into every socket into your house and turn them all on, it would cause an overload and trip the breakers, because the current being drawn would be more than 30A – the maximum the ring mains can provide. The principle of electrical diversity assumes that not all sockets will be used at the same time – or if they are they’ll be at less than their maximum capacity.
When we talk about discrimination, we’re actually talking more about the lack of it. To explain this one, we have to briefly explain about RCDs. An RCD, or Residual Current Device, essentially protects you from getting a fatal electric shock when you touch an object with a live current going through it, such as a bare wire. (We fit RCDs as standard onto all our power distros that require them to be safe, although if they have alternative safety measures already installed we try to avoid putting you to unnecessary expense.)
In the event of a fault on an electrical grid, the most sensitive RCD on the circuit would shut down first. But if they’re installed with identical settings, the lack of discrimination in the system (its inability to tell the two apart) means that under fault conditions, it’s a coin toss as to which one of them will trip and shut down, which can affect the overall grid in unpredictable ways. Now, although this may seem like only a problem – after all, the RCD will still have saved your life – it can play havoc with interconnected systems over entire events.
For example, during a wedding celebration, the hotel venue may be powering the wedding marquee outside. Lack of discrimination means faults can affect not only the power outside, but also potentially (and apparently randomly) to other parts of the grid. This basically means that if someone spills a glass of wine on an electrical item in the marquee, there’s a good chance that it could plunge the hotel into darkness too!
We hope this article has given you some clear insight into some of the trickier industry terms. But don’t worry – they’re not required reading to be able to use our power distros. If you need any help or advice, you can contact us on 01282 677910, and we’ll be happy to help!
Don’t forget to follow us: @RubberBox