Electrical Safety Switch
Please note that we do not provide electrical services.
Have you had an automatic electrical safety switch installed? If the answer is no – consider this;
- You can receive an electrical shock through direct contact with wiring or, as is more likely, through contact with a faulty electrical appliance.
- An Electrical Safety Switch (or Residual Current Device RCD) can detect abnormal current levels including the leakage of current through your body to earth and disconnect the power within 300 milliseconds.
- If the Electrical Safety Device detects a fault with an electrical device – it will shut down the power within 300 milliseconds. This dramatically reduces the risk of damage to your electrical devices and fires caused by overloaded appliances.
Safety switches take many forms but the most popular variety and the one required by law for – new properties, rental properties and properties where electrical work is being carried out – is a switchboard mounted Safety Switch. Should the safety switch be tripped – you will loose all power to that circuit and it will have to be reset by simply flicking the switch on your switchboard. This should be a very rare event and a small price to pay for safety. If your safety switch is tripping regularly you may have a problem with overload (using the kettle and the toaster at the same time through the same plug) or there may be a more serious problem with an appliance which should be investigated (and replaced).
Tip; If you live in an older property, like a Queenslander, ask you licensed electrical contractor to connect your lighting circuits, in addition to your power circuits, to a safety switch as many lights in these homes are not earthed and can be dangerous under certain conditions where old wiring is shorting out. All lights are now required to be earthed under most circumstances. You do not want to get zapped changing a light globe!
Tip; A workaround for unearthed lighting circuits where access is a problem is to install a double insulated batten fix DIY light into the existing light socket. Check the batten fix will isolate any current should there be any and is hidden within the mounting. Please consult with your electrician.
Safety Switch’s and Circuit Breakers
There is some confusion around as to whether a safety switch is the same as a circuit breaker, after all they both shut off the power don’t they? It is important to understand that they are very different indeed.
- Circuit breakers do not provide any personal protection against electrocution and are primarily designed to provide over-current and short circuit protection by cutting the power when the circuit is overloaded. Consider a circuit breaker as being like a piece of fuse wire – its takes a short while to break as it is being forced.
- Surge protectors are also mistakenly thought to provide personal protection which is not the case as their primary role is to safeguard appliances and equipment. Surge protectors divert any excess current , such as power surges caused by lightning strikes, into their internal circuitry which is designed to absorb and flatten these brief electrical spikes then release them as normal current.
- Safety Switches are smarter and monitor the current in real time and should a current pose any risk power is turned off instantly (300 milliseconds is pretty instant).
Tip; Make sure you test your safety switch from time to time. There is a button marked “T or test” which should trip the switch. Simply reset it afterwards.
Video – How to check your safety switch