Understanding Different Types Of Circuit Breakers

5 April 2017
 Categories: Business, Blog

Circuit breakers are designed to stop a current in an electrical circuit when it shorts or becomes overloaded. Having circuit breakers in good repair are very important from a safety stand point. Whether you're having electrical work done on your home or business, it is essential to have the right types of circuit breakers in place. Some of the different types of circuit breakers that are commonly used include:

Standard Circuit Breaker

A standard circuit breaker is made to monitor the electrical current as it enters the property and flows through the electrical system. If a circuit becomes overloaded or there is a short in the circuit, the circuit breaker will trip, which stops the flow of electricity. The circuit breaker trips in order to prevent the wires from overheating and possibly catching on fire.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) 

A ground fault circuit interrupter circuit breaker does the same things as a standard circuit breaker, but the breaker will also trip if there is in error in the path between an electrical current and a grounded element. Outlets connected to a GFCI circuit breaker have test buttons on the front of them. This type of circuit breaker is often required in areas that could potentially get wet, like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and outside patios. GFCI circuit breakers are also often used in places where power tools are operated regularly, such as a workshop or garage.

It is generally not recommended to plug in an appliance or medical device into an outlet with a GFCI circuit breaker. The reason for this is the fact that a GFCI circuit breaker could trip and you may not notice it immediately. For example, since your refrigerator needs to run around the clock, you would not want to plug it into an outlet with a GFCI circuit breaker. 

AFCI Breakers

An AFCI breaker cuts off the electrical current when there is an unintentional surge in power to a wire or cord. The purpose of an AFCI circuit breaker is to recognize surges in electricity before enough heat can be generated to start an electrical fire. This type of circuit breaker differs from a standard circuit breaker because it recognizes quick surges of electricity, while a standard circuit breaker usually won't trip until a sustained amount of heat is detected. In many newer buildings AFCI circuit breakers are being used instead of standard circuit breakers since they provide an extra level of safety and protection from an electrical fire.