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What Does An Electrical Safety Switch Do?

What Does An Electrical Safety Switch Do?

Installing safety switches is a must for protecting your house from electrical hazards.

Also known as residual current devices (RCDs), the government of Australia mandates the installation of electrical safety switches on all domestic and commercial circuits. Yet, not everyone knows much about the basics of this preventive measure.

In fact, many older households are not equipped with a safety switch, more so because the inhabitants are unaware of its importance. This poses a huge threat to their lives.

This brief but informative guide covers everything you must know before installing, checking, or resetting your safety switches. We’ll also talk about whether you should try your hand at it or rely on a professional.

So, without further ado, let’s get started…

A Brief Guide To Electrical Safety Switches

Electrical Safety Switch

What Is An Electrical Safety Switch?

A safety switch is an enclosed switch that is installed in residential and commercial buildings as a means for disconnecting a service entrance. It also serves as a barrier against electrical faults and overload.

It acts as a shield between the operating personnel and live wires and other dangerous equipment. The enclosed equipment is also protected from environmental damage.

Electrical safety switches may consist of a switch and fuses, or a single switch.

Fusible Safety Switch

A fusible safety switch is one that encloses a switch with fuses. It is a convenient means of protection for your house, as you can easily operate the circuit without the fear of an electric shock.

Non-Fusible Safety Switch

As the name suggests, a non-fusible safety switch does not contain any fuses and thus, does not provide any circuit protection. It only serves the purpose of letting you open and close the circuit as and when required.

Note that opening the circuit disconnects the electrical power and vice versa. For circuit protection, a non-fusible safety switch must be accompanied by a circuit breaker or fuses.

Types Of Electrical Safety Switches

1. General Duty Safety Switch

Ideal for light-duty electrical requirements, this type of safety switch is common in residential and commercial settings.

2. Heavy-duty Safety Switch

Rated between 30A to 1200A, these switches are installed in areas with moderate electrical requirements. All heavy-duty safety devices are load-break rated and cannot be opened if turned ‘on.’

3. Heavy-duty Safety Switches Pin And Sleeve Receptacle

Popularly used in truck and marine docks, infrared ovens, batch feelers, and more, this type of safety switch is interlocked and pre-wired to separate receptacles.

4. Double Throw Safety Switch

Donning two interlocked switches on a shared connection, this switch is used to transfer the power source or switch the circuit load. It is designed to ensure that both the switches are never operated at the same time.

5. Heavy-duty Safety Switches With Shunt Trip

Found in industrial and commercial settings, most of these safety switches are automated to trip and interrupt the circuit whenever a problem arises. In case of emergencies, you can use a remote to turn the switch on or off, thus making this system even safer.

6. Heavy-duty Safety Switches With Surge Protection

These switches provide better protection than an externally-mounted device. Also, they are commonly used in industrial and commercial environments.

Octopus Wiring

How Does An Electrical Safety Switch Work?

An electrical safety switch prevents a person from getting an electric shock by shutting down within 0.3 seconds whenever it detects a change in the electric circuit. While adding fuses and circuit breakers protects the rest of your house from short circuits and overloads, a safety switch is the only device that protects the inhabitants.

So, if you were thinking a non-fusible safety switch is good-for-nothing, think again! However, we recommend installing multiple devices if you opt for the non-fusible variant to protect the entire wiring system of your house.

How To Test An Electrical Safety Switch?

In order to act as an effective barrier between you and circuit inconsistency, a safety switch should be in good working condition. Consequently, you’ll have to test these switches regularly to ensure that you stay protected at all times.

First, look for the ‘Test’ or ‘T’ button on your electrical safety switch. On pressing the button, if you find the switch turning ‘off’ instantly, the safety switch is functioning properly. If that doesn’t happen, turn the switch off manually and contact an electrician immediately.

In such situations, it is best to let a professional take over, as only they can find the root cause of the problem and fix it once and for all.

How To Reset An Electrical Safety Switch?

A safety switch trips immediately after protecting your electrical devices and wiring from a short circuit or overload. To get your power back, you need to reset the safety switch.

Start by locating your device and check if it’s in the ‘off’ position. Flip it to the ‘on’ position, and you should be good to go.

If this doesn’t work, you may have a defective appliance connected to the circuit that’s causing the problem. In such a case, you must disconnect the said appliance(s) and then reset the electrical safety switch.

If you’re unable to find the faulty unit, try disconnecting all the appliances in your house before resetting. Once the safety switch is reset, turn on each appliance one by one. The moment your safety switch trips again, you’ll know which one is the culprit.

And if all of this doesn’t work, or you’re unsure about what to do, call an electrician without a second thought. Generally, electrical repairs should be done by professionals only, as the chances of life-threatening hazards are high.

Knowing About Electrical Safety Switches

Considering how important electrical safety is, it is often a neglected aspect in many households. And without proper knowledge, it is impossible to deal with electrical devices and wires. Thus, besides minor fixes, we do not recommend trying your hand at installing, repairing, or removing electrical fixtures.

So, for the sake of your and your family’s life, contact an experienced electrician to install a safety switch today. It’s a small price to pay to enjoy the gift of a long life!