How to choose a circuit breaker

How to choose a circuit breaker

Protecting your property from the peril of fire might just be matter of choosing the right circuit breaker. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most neglected areas of (commercial and residential) property management.

When was the last time you looked at your switchboard to find out how well your home is protected from the effects of electrical faults? Fires associated with electrical network and household appliance malfunctions are common in Nigeria and on the rise.

According to the Nigerian Federal Fire Service, over N5 trillion worth of property has been lost to fire outbreak in the past five years. Experts further attributed these fire outbreaks in buildings and homes to carelessness and use of substandard products, amongst other causes.

An automatic circuit breaker (AB) is the easiest way to proactively manage the effects of electrical wiring faults. It immediately turns off the main power feed in cases of wiring overheating, overload and short circuit, preventing fire and the damage of electrical appliances.

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How to choose a quality automatic circuit breaker (AB)?

1. Consider power

Each circuit breaker is designed for a certain total current for all devices connected to the line that it protects. Check the exact total current indicated in the instruction manual or a label on the device itself. If neither is at hand, numerous tables published on the Internet will help – these will indicate the typical power and current strength of various household appliances.

Keep the following issues in mind:

• When buying a circuit breaker, make sure to provide a current margin that allows you to connect new devices to the line.

• The total current on the line is calculated based on the cross-section of the wires. If you make a mistake and install wires that are thinner than what is required, damage to the wiring can occur up to the expected overload, that is, before the automatic triggering. Therefore, you should consult with a professional electrician on this issue.

2. Look at the case

The body of a good AB is made of high-quality plastic, parts that are tightly fitted. For reliable operation of the AB, it’s important that the manufacturer does not compromise on materials and internal elements of the device.

You can’t look inside the AB in the store, but you can assume that if everything is in order inside the device, the manufacturer is unlikely to use a cheap case. In the event of a serious overload, the circuit breaker of low quality will simply not work, and the case of cheap, non-heat resistant plastic will likely melt away.

3. Pay attention to weight

Another indirect way to evaluate the AB filling is to estimate its weight, comparing two or more devices. Looking at the “anatomy” of AV, you can get an idea of whether the best materials have been used. Firstly, a bimetallic plate heats up when overloaded in the network and bends, disconnecting the line.

Next, an internal mechanism is triggered using a coil. In both steps, when the contacts open, an electric arc can form with a temperature of several thousand degrees. It can easily melt the device and cause a fire.

o prevent this from happening, there is a camera with an arc grid in the machine. If quality materials are used in sufficient quantities, this design results in a device of substantial weight. If the device is too light, there is a chance that it lacks an important element, such as the arc chamber.

4. Find out what the AB has inside

The arc chamber is a very crucial element, but completely invisible from the outside. If it is made of high-quality materials and equipped with additional heat-resistant plastic, and special protective plates are installed between the chamber and the AV case, the risk of the device failing and igniting becomes low. But without instructions, reviews on the Internet or consultation with the seller, it is almost impossible to know which camera is installed in the case and whether it is there in the first place.

“The miser pays twice,” and many other sayings support the statistics of losses from electrical wiring faults. It is better to choose the protective equipment once and to protect your home and electrical appliances (and your family, after all) than to save a few hundred naira on circuit breakers and put your property at risk.

Yes, well-assembled device from a reliable brand can cost more than its lighter and flimsy competitors on the market, but in the event of an accident, you will save much more in cash, as well as stress.

SOURCE: Eaton Corporation

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