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Type B devices are generally suitable for domestic applications. They may also be used in light commercial applications where switching surges are low or non-existent. Type C devices are the normal choice for commercial and industrial applications where fluorescent lighting, motors etc. are in use. Type D devices have more limited applications, normally in industrial use where high inrush currents may be expected. Examples include large battery charging systems, winding motors, transformers, X-ray machines and some types of discharge lighting. Type B devices are designed to trip at fault currents of 3-5 times rated current (In). For example a 10A device will trip at 30-50A. Type C devices are designed to trip at 5-10 times In (50-100A for a 10A device). Type D devices are designed to trip at 10-20 times In (100-200A for a 10A device).
fuses are generally cheaper to make and smaller in size than circuit breakers. However an ordinary fuse cannot blow as quickly as a circuit breaker can "trip". Some equipment may require special "quick-blow" fuses so that damage can be prevented when an over-current fault condition occurs. Quick-blow fuses cost much more to make than ordinary fuses but must sometimes be used where a circuit breaker

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would be too expensive and/or too large in size.

circuit breakers can be designed to trip much faster than an ordinary fuse but they are generally larger in size and cost more to make. However circuit breakers are reusable and can easily be reset after they have tripped - provided, of course, that the fault condition in the protected circuit has been repaired. What is an ELCB? An Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker was the first name given to what is now called a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) . The original type of ELCB or GFCI was designed only to detect a current flowing in the safety "ground" or "earth" wire. It is a basic fact of electrical engineering design that all current flowing to an electrical appliance, machine or other equipment from the power generation station via its supply circuit's "hot" or "live" wire should only return to the power station via that same circuit's "neutral" wire. So, as a result of that basic fact, if any current is flowing in the ground wire, it must be caused by a fault condition and the supply of current to the circuit needs to be stopped urgently. Many years ago, before today's electronic RCDs or GFCIs were designed, much simpler electro-mechanical relays called Earth Leakage Circuit Breakers (ELCBs)

were invented so that, if any such ground current exceeding just a few milliamps was detected, they would "trip" - meaning "operate" - to break the current supply to the circuits for which they were installed to protect. The original type of ELCB or GFCI did not check for any difference in current flowing in the live and neutral wires, which is another indication of a very serious fault condition - even if no current can be detected flowing in the ground wire - because the "missing current" may actually be flowing to ground via someone's body! When RCDs were invented, most manufacturers of GFCIs adopted the same technology because it offers so much more protection to users than the original GFCI could ever give. In the US and Canada such devices are still commonly known as "GFCIs" or "GFIs" even though they have the additional "residual current detector" functionality, whilst in Europe and elsewhere the more accurate name of "Residual Current Detector" or RCD has been widely adopted for general use instead of using the name of the much simpler GFCI device.

ELCB- Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker ELCB = Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker. There are two types of ELCB, the voltage operated device and the differential current operated device. For the convenience of this article only (and at the risk of causing even more confusion) I will refer to these as vELCB and iELCB. vELCBs were first introduced about sixty years ago and

iELCBs were first introduced about forty years ago. RCCB- Residual Current Circuit Breaker Residual Current Device (RCD) to differential current operated ELCBs. Residual current refers to any current over and above the load current.

The RCD is now the preferred means of providing shock protection, and the term RCD has largely replaced ELCB within the industry. Unfortunately, the RCD industry has had considerable difficulty in shaking off the old association with ELCBs, and many electrical contractors still ask for an ELCB when in fact they want an RCD. Hopefully this article will remove some of the confusion.

RCD = Residual Current Device. This is a generic term for the entire range of RCDs. RCCB = Residual Current Circuit Breaker. This is basically a mechanical switch with an RCD function added to it. Its sole function is to provide protection against earth fault currents.
ELCB has a protection for earth leakage where as the RCCB has the dual protection features of ELCB and MCB

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