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What Does a Circuit Breaker Do?

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Circuit Breaker
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Complete Guide to How Circuit Breakers Work

Access to electricity has become a necessary and pivotal part of operating within any modern commercial or industrial business or even just performing daily tasks at home. However, electricity is inherently volatile, so it must be precisely contained and planned for, and potential risks have to be mitigated.

Many devices have been created for the purpose of electrical safety, the most popular and common of which is a circuit breaker.

Have you been wondering what a circuit breaker does? Are you unfamiliar with the use and operation of these electrical safety mainstays? PSI Power & Controls can help you understand the how and why of circuit breakers.

If you still have questions, call our team at (704) 594-4107 to learn more.

What’s the Function of a Circuit Breaker?

In its simplest form, a circuit breaker is an automatic circuit protection system. Breakers are installed in an electrical panel (breaker box), and each circuit is attached to a singular breaker.

How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?

The circuit breaker will monitor the circuit, and in the event of a complication, the breaker will immediately shut off that circuit. This is often called a “breaker trip” or “tripping a breaker,” and it commonly happens when appliances or equipment act up or too many high-power tools are plugged into a single circuit.

Think about a home outlet with a space heater, a television, and a vacuum all plugged into it. This would almost certainly cause a breaker trip, which will shut off access and operation of that circuit until the problem is fixed and the breaker is reset and placed back into position.

What’s the Difference Between a Circuit Breaker and a Fuse?

The primary difference between a fuse and a circuit breaker is that a breaker can be reused until it wears out, which tends to take a long time. A fuse, on the other hand, can only be used once.

Fuses are glass cylinders containing a thin filament, and when tripped, the filament will burn off, melt, or otherwise become useless; in some cases, the glass cylinder may even crack.

Fuses and breakers serve the same purpose overall, though breakers in many cases have overtaken fuses in use (this isn’t always the case, as fuses still see niche use in many appliances and commercial applications, but it does represent most situations).

How Does a Circuit Breaker Differ From a Disconnect?

Breakers and disconnects are still quite similar but are used to address different potential electrical problems in a commercial facility. They can, in many situations, work interchangeably, but disconnects are best for many commercial equipment applications.

In some cases, disconnects are also fitted with a fuse (fusible disconnects) to provide further protection, though these also require the fuse to be changed out in the event of an electrical issue.

How Do I Know Which To Use?

For most general purposes, circuit breakers are ideal. However, many applications, tools, and situations demand either a different power supply monitoring system, or a combination of these to ensure protection.

This is why it’s vital to always consult your manuals for all new electrical equipment, and it’s wise to work with certified electricians when planning emergency power response systems.

Electrical Safety & Supply With PSI Power & Controls

If you’re looking for electrical safety equipment for your business, you can trust that PSI Power & Controls has you covered. We provide custom and prefabricated power control solutions, so no matter the application or equipment you have, we have the ideal components and products to match.

Feel free to call (704) 594-4107 to speak to our service team today.

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