Safety Switches, Surge Diverters and Circuit Breakers. What's the difference ?

Safety switches are often confused with surge diverters and circuit breakers. It is important to understand the differences between these devices.

Safety switches, also known as RCD’s, protect people.

Circuit breakers and surge diverters protect equipment.

  • Safety switches monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit and turn off the power in a fraction of a second if a leakage of current is detected. Safety switches provide personal protection against shock. One safety switch works with one circuit so multiple safety switches may be required. Safety switches are also known as RCD’s (Residual Current Device’s). An RCBO is a circuit breaker plus RCD all-in-one.
  • Safety switches always have a test button and usually have 30ma printed on them. They are also sometimes labeled with the words 'Safety Switch'.
  • Surge diverters protect the property from voltage surges such as those resulting from a lightning strike. The surge diverter captures the voltage spikes in the wiring that would otherwise be transferred into the equipment within the property.
  • Circuit breakers provide short-circuit and overcurrent protection such as when a power point is overloaded. They protect an electrical circuit by quickly cutting power when there is a high current fault or overload that may cause a hazard.
  • Surge diverters and circuit breakers do not act as safety switches for personal protection against electric shock.

Test your safety switches every three months to ensure they are working properly. It’s as simple as pushing the test button. If the switch goes off then it’s working however if the switch does not go off you will need the unit replaced as soon as possible.

The picture below shows a typical safety switch button.

Safety switch showing test button
Safety switch showing test button

If you are unsure if safety switches are installed at your workplace / factory or you require units to be replaced contact our commercial electrical team on 3881 0956 or complete our booking request form today.

Electro Systems are experts in the design and supply of Surge Protection Equipment

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About us

Electro Systems are Industrial and Commercial electrical contractors located at Brendale in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. The company was incorporated in 1990 and has been operating since 1981. Electro Systems provide specialist electrical, PLC, and instrumentation systems in addition to general industrial, electrical installation, and maintenance.

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