Electrical Knowledge

Circuit Breaker – Definition, Working Principle and Types

Publish Time: 2023-04-26 16:05:10     Author: DELIXI

Circuit Breaker Definition 

A circuit breaker is an electrical safety device that automatically interrupts the flow of current in an electrical circuit when it becomes too high. It is designed to protect the wiring and equipment in the circuit from damage due to overloading or short circuits.

The circuit breaker contains a switch that is connected to a bimetallic strip, which is designed to bend when the current exceeds a certain level. When the strip bends, it causes the switch to open, interrupting the flow of current in the circuit. This action helps prevent fires, equipment damage, and electrical shocks that can result from electrical overloads.

Circuit breakers are commonly used in residential, commercial, and industrial applications to protect circuits and electrical devices from damage caused by overloading and short circuits. They are usually located in electrical panels and are designed to be reset manually after they have been tripped.

Circuit Breaker Working Principle

circuit breaker is an electrical safety device that is designed to automatically interrupt the flow of electrical current in a circuit if the current exceeds a certain level. The basic working principle of a circuit breaker is as follows:

Normal Operation: During normal operation, the circuit breaker allows electrical current to flow through the circuit uninterrupted.

Overload Condition: If an overload condition occurs in the circuit, the current flowing through the circuit will increase beyond the normal level, and this can cause damage to the electrical equipment or wiring. The circuit breaker detects this increase in current and reacts by tripping, which means it opens the circuit and stops the current flow.

Tripping Mechanism: The tripping mechanism of a circuit breaker is typically a bimetallic strip or an electromagnet that reacts to the increased current flow. When the current exceeds the breaker's rating, the strip or magnet causes a mechanical mechanism to trip, which opens the circuit and interrupts the flow of electricity.

Manual Reset: After the circuit breaker has tripped, it must be manually reset before it can be used again. This involves moving the breaker switch to the "off" position, then back to the "on" position.

Circuit breakers are important safety devices that protect against electrical fires, equipment damage, and electrical shocks. They are commonly used in residential, commercial, and industrial applications, and are essential components of any electrical system.

Circuit Breaker Types

There are several types of circuit breakers available, each designed for specific applications and electrical systems. Here are the most common types of circuit breakers:

Standard Circuit Breakers: These are the most common type of circuit breaker used in residential and commercial applications. They are designed to protect against overloads and short circuits.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) : GFCI circuit breakers protect against electrical shock by tripping when there is an imbalance in electrical current between the hot and neutral wires.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI): AFCI circuit breakers are designed to protect against electrical fires caused by arcing. They detect and interrupt arcs that can occur when wiring is damaged or insulation is deteriorating.

Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs): MCBs are small circuit breakers used in low-voltage electrical systems. They are commonly used in residential and commercial applications to protect against overloads and short circuits.

DZ47-125 high-current circuit breaker

CDB9Z DC Miniature circuit breaker

Molded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCBs): MCCBs are larger circuit breakers used in higher voltage electrical systems. They are designed to protect against overloads and short circuits, and often have adjustable trip settings.

CDM6i Moulded Case Circuit Breaker

CDM3 Moulded Case Circuit Breaker

Residual Current Circuit Breakers (RCCBs): RCCBs protect against electrical shock caused by ground faults. They detect and interrupt imbalances in electrical current between the hot and ground wires.

DZ47PLEY-63 RCCB circuit breaker

CDB6LEi residual current operated circuit breaker

High-Voltage Circuit Breakers: These are heavy-duty circuit breakers used in high-voltage electrical systems, such as those used in power plants and industrial facilities.

It's important to note that selecting the right type of circuit breaker depends on the specific application and electrical system requirements. Consulting with a licensed electrician can help ensure that you choose the right circuit breaker for your needs.

How to Check Circuit Breaker?

If you suspect that a circuit breaker in your home or building may be faulty, you can perform a few checks to determine if it's working properly. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Visual Inspection: Begin by visually inspecting the circuit breaker to see if it appears to be damaged or worn. Check for any signs of discoloration, cracking, or other damage that may indicate that the breaker is faulty.
  2. Check the breaker's position: Check the position of the circuit breaker switch to see if it is in the "on" or "off" position. If it's in the "off" position, try turning it back on. If it immediately trips back to the "off" position, this could indicate a problem.
  3. Use a Multimeter: You can also use a multimeter to test the circuit breaker's functionality. Set the multimeter to measure voltage and touch the probes to the circuit breaker's terminals. If the multimeter reads 0 volts, this could indicate that the breaker is faulty.
  4. Inspect the Wiring: Check the wiring that connects to the circuit breaker for any signs of damage or wear. Loose or corroded wiring can cause a circuit breaker to trip.
  5. If you're not comfortable performing these checks, it's best to call a licensed electrician to inspect the circuit breaker for you. Always exercise caution when working with electricity, and never touch or attempt to repair a circuit breaker if you're not qualified to do so.

We are a distributor of China DELIXI. Major in Power Distribution and Electrical Components. As a leading company in China's electrical industry, Delixi has five production bases, electrical products in China with more than 40,000 sales outlets, product and service support network covering more than 60 countries and regions. While gathering the main business of intelligent electric power, Delixi also actively deployed strategic emerging industries such as environment protection, exchange of things, millitar, and strived to promote the harmonious coexistence of economic growth, eco-friedliness, good life and national construction.


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