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Circuit Breaker Types

A circuit breaker is a device that defends an electrical circuit from the damage caused by an overload or a short circuit. To know more about circuit breakers and circuit breaker types, read on...

Circuit breakers have an in-built fixed electric current load capacity which when breached causes automatic circuit shutdown. It basically detects the fault condition like a short circuit or overload in the circuit, interrupts the continuity, and immediately stops the current flow. This safety feature makes circuit breaker installation an essential part in an electrical circuit. Overloading in an electrical circuit occurs when the wires are forced to carry and conduct an electric charge more than their capacity. This causes the wires to heat up and results in insulation breakdown and an electrical fire. Short circuit occurs when two points in the circuit having different potential difference accidentally come in contact. This causes unwanted current flow from one node to another which may result in excessive heating, circuit damage, explosion or even fire. Therefore, circuit breakers are used to protect the circuit from unwanted consequences of wire overloading and accidental short circuiting. Circuit Breaking Mechanism Generally, a circuit breaker panel consists of a switch and a moving, conductive contact plate which moves with the switch. When the switch is on an 'on' position, the contact plate touches a stationary plate which is connected to the circuit so that the electric current can flow. But when the switch is on the 'off' position, due to overloading or short circuit, the contact plate moves away from the stationary plate and the circuit gets opened and the electric current ceases to flow. Though most circuit breakers have common features in their operation, the mechanism may vary substantially as per the voltage class, current rating, and type of the circuit breaker. In low voltage circuit breakers, when a fault condition is detected, it is rectified within the breaker enclosure, whereas in circuit breakers for large currents or high voltages,

Thermal Circuit Breakers: These breakers employ heat to break the circuit current flow and consist of a bimetallic strip. and can be attached into the circuit by bolted connections to bus bars or wires. Earth leakage circuit breakers are some more circuit breaker types. • • • • • Low Voltage Circuit Breakers: These breakers are made for direct current (DC) applications and are commonly used in domestic. air circuit breakers and SF6 circuit breakers are some examples of medium voltage circuit breakers. or as individual components for outdoor applications like substations. construction type. whereas fuses once used. Types of Circuit Breakers Circuit breaker types can be classified according to their characteristics like voltage class. Circuit breakers come in different sizes. made of two types of materials welded together.special pilot devices like relays are arranged to sense the fault current and rectify it by employing a circuit breaker trip opening mechanism. Medium voltage circuit breakers use discrete current sensors and protection relays. the coil's pull releases the latch which allows the contacts to open with a spring action. Low voltage circuit breakers are usually placed in drawout enclosures that permit removal and interchange without dismantling the switchgear. commercial. At high heat levels. Medium Voltage Circuit Breakers: These breakers can be assembled into metal enclosed switchgear line ups for indoor applications. . common trip breakers. this strip bends at an angle that pulls the circuit breaker's lever down and breaks the connection between the circuit breaker's contact plate and the stationary contact plate. The circuit breaker contacts are held closed by a latch so that when the current in the coil goes beyond the rating of the circuit breaker. have to be replaced. High Voltage Circuit Breakers: These breakers help in protecting and controlling electrical power transmission networks. and industrial fields. Miniature circuit breakers (MCB) and molded case circuit breakers (MCCB) are some common types of low voltage circuit breakers. varying from a small device that protects a single household appliance to a large switchgear manufactured to defend high voltage circuits feeding an entire city. Magnetic Circuit Breakers: These breakers use a three dimensional electromagnetic coil whose pulling force increases with the current. Vacuum circuit breakers. interrupting type. One of the most important difference between circuit breakers and fuses is that circuit breakers can be reset either manually or automatically to resume normal operation. Rated circuit breakers. and structural features. They can be installed in multi-tiers in LV switchboards or switchgear cabinets. They are solenoid operated and are employed with current sensing protective relays that function through current transformers.

The third type of circuit breaker combines electromagnetism and heat. Another kind of circuit breaker is the thermal circuit breaker which uses heat to break the circuit.com .Circuit Breaker Trio There are three common types of circuit breakers. With a bimetallic strip (two types of metal. The basic parts of a circuit breaker are the switch and a moving. one on each side) this circuit breaker responds to the extreme heat of the electrical current. When purchasing circuit breakers for your home you will need to discuss your options with your electrician and select the best type of circuit breaker for your needs. conductive contact plate that moves the switch when electricity comes into contact with it. Each type of metal expands differently to bend the strip. When the electricity is too strong then the strip is bent at an angle which will turn over the contact plate and break the circuit. A magnetic circuit breaker uses electromagnetism to break the circuit. The electromagnet on this circuit breaker gets stronger with the flow of electricity. When the electrical load exceeds the prescribed currency the electromagnet will be powerful enough to force the circuit breaker lever down and move the contact plate which flips the switch. You can find a large selection of circuit breakers by visiting http://www. This device has an electromagnet that protects against sudden surges in the electrical load and a bimetallic strip that protects against prolonged electrical overload and overheating. but if the circuit is overloaded the contact plate will force the switch to flip and break the electrical flow. In the circuit box the contact plate is connected to a stationary plate that allows electricity to flow.relectric.

kitchens. laundry rooms. for instance. High Voltage Circuit Breakers: Oil Circuit Breakers Oil circuit breakers are high-voltage circuit breakers that have their contacts immersed in oil. several breakers share one tank. If you use oil circuit breakers.com . etc. Always do your research and select the type of circuit breaker that will best fits your needs. A typical circuit breaker has a 15 amp rating and is used to handle lighting. If you are not sure that you have the GFI protection in your home because you live in an older home that may not be “up-to-code” then you can have an electrician inspect your circuit breaker panel and electrical wiring to make sure you have this important protection. Some rooms may require more than one 15 amp rating resulting in multiple breakers. Oil circuit breakers work by using oil to quench an electrical arc.relectric.Ground Fault Interrupter Circuit Breakers Basic circuit breakers will detect a circuit overload and automatically “trip” or shut off in order to protect the electrical system. Ground fault interrupter (GFI) circuit breakers go one step further to detect problems due to electricity being "grounded" by something that's not part of the electrical system. outside. make sure that you know how to maintain them correctly. and other electrical outlets in the home. garages. The larger high-voltage industrial circuit breakers require a tank of oil for each pole The oil tanks are sealed around the oil circuit breakers and electrical connections are made through porcelain bushings. A GFI circuit breaker is used in wet areas such as bathrooms. The main disadvantages of oil circuit breakers is the fact that the oil can be flammable and it may be hard to keep the oil fresh and in good condition (requires changing and purifying the oil). The GFI breaker is required unless GFI protection is already installed at the outlet locations. The smaller oil circuit breakers have their poles in one tank of oil. the oil causes current interruption when needed. they're what prevent you from getting electrocuted even if you get a hairdryer wet. Different types of circuit breakers including oil circuit breaker brands can be found by visiting an electrical equipment company like http://www. The oil cools the large arcs of electricity so that the circuits do not overheat. They're used in places that are exposed to water.

Now 40 may sound like too many and you may not use them all right away. or even just running too many appliances at once) the circuit breaker will interrupt that particular circuit. It is wise to request a minimum of a 200 amp circuit panel with 40 circuit breakers. Because of the growing popularity of electrical appliances and “toys” like home entertainments systems. Installing enough the circuits during construction will save a lot of work later. . Adding a circuit to an existing house requires running more wire through the walls. If this load is exceeded because something is drawing too much power (a stripped wire. many experts will agree that you should plan for your power use to grow. and install more circuit breakers rather than fewer.How Many Circuit Breakers? The circuit breaker panel in your home contains separate circuits for various areas in your home. When building a new home you should make sure that you meet with your electrician to specify how many circuits to set up throughout the house. and computers. so you can't ask them to wire your house in a way that would be unsafe. but if you purchase new equipment or decide to add on to the house. you should check the breaker panel before you call the power company. There are codes and regulations that the electrician must follow. you will have your circuit breakers all ready wired and all you have to do is tie them into the main system. big television sets. for instance. Each circuit can handle a certain power load. If the circuit box is already wired for more breakers it is simple to connect the additional circuit breakers in the home. So if you only lose power in one or two rooms of your house.

using insulated tools install the proper cable connector allowing enough free cable to snake around the breaker box. you should have one come and do the work for you. turn off the power to the main breaker and make sure there are no live wires in the circuit panel. A single-pole breaker (120-volt circuit) will have the white wire connected to the neutral bus bar and the black wire connected to the breaker. Now. Next. . An overloaded circuit can trip off often or may even become an overheated circuit breaker. Before adding a new circuit breaker you will need to make sure that you have enough amps to handle the extra load and check building codes to see if you need to get a permit first. The last step is to test the circuit to make sure it works properly.com for a wide variety of circuit breakers and other electrical devices and equipment. you can proceed with the new circuit breaker installation process.relectric. Connect the ground wire by running it to the ground bus wire. First. If you aren't a certified electrician. remove the panel cover and the knockouts so that you have space for the new circuit breaker. If it does not work then you connected the wires wrong or there is something wrong with the new circuit breaker. If you know the proper procedures. Once you have covered all the bases then you are ready to add a new circuit breaker. To purchase electrical circuit breakers you can visit an electric distributor such as www. Using an insulated cable stripper proceed to strip the outer insulation of the cable wires and feed them into the correct locations. Once the wires are connected then you will install the circuit breaker and push it into place.How to Add a New Circuit Breaker If your home does not have enough circuit breakers to handle the electrical load of the household then you may have to add additional circuit breakers. In order to relieve some of the pressure you can install an additional circuit breaker in the circuit panel.

relectric. If you live in an older home it may be impossible to find the right brand and model of circuit breaker to match the other circuit breakers in the breaker box. refurbished and obsolete circuit breakers and electrical parts you can visit www. There are companies that sell refurbished. If the power lines to your house are damaged or exposed. they can be extremely dangerous. In many cases you will need to turn off the power to your home if you have an emergency such as a flood. The main circuit breaker. If this is the case then a refurbished circuit breaker may be your only choice.How to Locate the Main Electrical Circuit Breaker The “main circuit breaker” is usually located at the top of the circuit breaker panel. This can making changing a circuit breaker next to impossible. The electrical power to a home comes directly from the electrical company’s power line through the electric meter to your main circuit box. injury or even save a life. often called the “Double Pole Service Disconnect” supplies power to the home. obsolete circuit breakers and other electrical devices. It's important to know where this power box is located in case of an emergency or natural disaster. Check the Better Business Bureau in order to make sure the company’s record is clean. For new. Make sure they know how to disconnect power in an emergency.com . and it looks like two connected circuit breaker switches. You should always purchase recycled parts from a reputable company. Is Recycled or Refurbished Acceptable? The growing awareness of the importance of reusing and recycling material and equipment have opened up new doors for all kinds of products. It will turn on or off all of the power to the entire house at once. getting references from friends or consulting an electrician. Once you have found a reputable company then you should be able to safely purchase a workable part to use in your home. Purchasing refurbished parts can be done safely by doing some research first. These companies will certify the refurbished equipment by testing the functionality of the parts and repairing any problems. . Educate your family on the location of the main breaker box that powers your household. Some electrical equipment and devices can be safely recycled and/or refurbished for reuse. hurricane or earthquake. Research the company by searching the Internet. This information may help prevent disaster.

you may just be trying to use too much power at once. Because of electrical fire danger and the reality of electrical fires in homes it may be worth the investment to purchase new arc fault breakers for your house. When arcing conditions are present then the breaker will flip instantly. In some cases. however. they do not have fire protection or fire stopping features. . the circuit breaker flips off the electricity. Staying up-to-date on new circuit breaker information is extremely helpful for homeowners. The added protection not only gives you “peace of mind”. In this situation the wiring to the circuit should be inspected and tested by a professional either an electrician or someone from an electrical equipment company. What are Circuit Breakers? Circuit breakers are electrical devices used to automatically “break” an electrical circuit when it becomes overloaded. Having many appliances on at one time can overload a circuit. The new arc fault circuit breaker functions similarly to a traditional circuit breaker but it has small filters and detection devices that sense an intense arc just as it is about to spark. Fire producing arcs of electricity can occur in the wall before traditional breakers have time to react. but electrical fires are still a risk with traditional circuit breakers. If the circuit breaker continues to kick off the electricity when reset then the situation may be more serious than just an accidental short circuit from a power surge or electrical overload. This feature is supposed to help prevent wires from overheating because the power is cut when the electrical circuit breaker trips. A blown fuse has to be replaced.New Arc Fault Breakers Traditional circuit breakers are designed to switch off when there is a circuit overload. while these breakers are designed to protect the wire behind the walls and the outlets. but it may also save you thousands of dollars in fire damage. When electrical wires are forced to carry an electrical current that is over their set capacity. You can find them online at www. an electrical short may blow a fuse. In fact. This safety mechanism can save a home or building from having a major electrical disaster. If you have an older electrical system. The new arc fault breakers are readily available at most electrical supply stores. which is a little different than a circuit breaker. If that was only true with relationship troubles.relectric. but a flipped circuit breaker can usually be reset.com.

most circuit breakers are equipped with special devices that are designed to “blow out” or dispel an arc before it can cause problems. So how does this apply to circuit breakers? Basically. Because of this. there’s a chance that even after the contacts of the switch separate electrons could continue to pass between them. If enough electricity was going through the breaker when it opened. This stream of electrons can be very strong. Put simply. creating an arc that will continue to supply too much electricity to the circuit and become a separate hazard to anyone who tries to use the circuit breaker panel to turn off power. you know a little bit about the power of an electric arc.com . If everything’s working. start fires.What Do Electrical Arcs Have To Do With Circuit Breakers? If you’ve ever seen a welder working on a building. strong enough to melt metal or. and electricity flows across the breaker into your home. You can find all kinds of breakers at www. circuit breakers are just switches. a device in the breaker flips the switch open so that no more electricity can cross. If something happens to overload the circuit. however. It’s important to learn about these devices and make sure you pick breakers that suit your power needs.relectric. it’s a stream of electrons passing through space from one material to another. in the wrong circumstances. the switch is closed. That’s when arcs become important.

the isolator is then open circuited and the isolated line is earthed through earth switch so that the trapped line charges are safely conducted to ground. when they develop faults. The supply is restored only when a healthy one replaces the damaged (melted) fuse in the line. To permit this without any danger of shock to the operator. fuses are connected on the load side of an ironclad switch.e. Th basic requirements of switching in power system practice are two-fold: 1. to permit apparatus and circuits to be conveniently put into or taken out of service to permit appropriate and safe isolation of apparatus and circuits automatically. A circuit breaker is a switching i. Circuit breakers A circuit breaker is a complex circuit -breaking device with the following duties: • Make or break both normal and abnormal currents . current interrupting or making device in switchgear. it melts and causes current interruption. in a pre-determined time period. 2. 2. Devices used for circuit breaking (or making) 1. Isolators An isolator is a switch connected after a circuit breaker. 3.CIRCUIT -BREAKERS Introduction Switchgear in a broad sense covers a wide range of equipment connected with switching and protection. When a circuit or a busbar is taken out of service by tripping the circuit breaker. Fuse and iron clad switches Fuse is an overcurrent switch in the sense that when the current exceeds a preassigned value in a circuit or device.

5. 6. 4.B Oil circuit breaker Minimum oil circuit breaker Air blast circuit breaker SF6 circuit breaker Vacuum circuit breaker • Explain DC and Ac arc interruptions and bring out the difference between the two . • • • In addition to these making and breaking capabilities. 3. 2. In fact they are required to trip for a minimum of the internal fault current and remain inoperative for a maximum of through fault current Rapid and successive automatic breaking and making to aid stable system operation 3-pole and single pole auto-relosing arrangement.• Appropriately manage the high-energy arc associated with current interruption. Air-break circuit breaker or miniature C. a circuit breaker is required to do so under the following typical conditions: • • • • • Short-circuit interruption Interruption of small inductive currents Capacitor switching Interruption of short-line fault Asynchronous switching Classification of circuit breakers Sketch the constructional details of he following: 1. The problem has become more acute due to interconnection of power stations resulting in very high fault levels Effect current interruption only when it is called upon to do so by the relay circuits.

parameters CB interrupting time-its components in relation to fault clearing time . Explain current chopping and effects of breaking capacitive currents. How are these problems met in practice? Ratings of circuit breakers Rated voltage Rated insulation Rated frequency Rated normal current Rated short circuit breaking current Rated short circuit making current Rated opening sequence for auto-reclose CBs Rated transient recovery voltage for terminal faults (Representation of TRV by 4parameters and 2.• • Describe briefly the methods adopted for rapid increase of the dielectric strength in various types of circuit breakers Explain the working of a vacuum circuit breaker.rate of rise of recovery voltage (RRRV)-control of RRRV-Resistance switching Current chopping-Interruption of low magnetizing currents-Opening resistorscapacitive current breaking-Switching of capacitor banks and unloaded linesInterrupting terminal faults & short-line faults • • Explain the phenomenon of AC circuit braking and the factors upon which the restriking voltage depends. Principles of circuit breaking DC circuit breaking-effect of decreasing current & increasing arc length AC circuit breaking-current-zero period-Distortion of AC current wave by arc voltage recovery and restriking voltages: single-frequency & double frequency transients.

h. d. e. g. b. f. i. Stationary cubicle type Draw-out or truck type SF6 filled switchgear Fuse-switch units Flame proof or explosion proof switchgear Cellular type Corridor switchboard Mimic diagram board Metal-clad switchgear Isolator and earthing switch-vertical break isolator-Double break isolator • • • Sketch the layout of a typical sub-station including busbar arrangements Define and discuss-rated short circuit breaking current-rated short-circuit making current-Rated TRV and its influence on the breaking & making current Explain the need of an isolator in a switching station TOP . c. j.Single-pole auto reclosing & its effects on system performance Substations Indoor switchgear a.