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By Eva | 16 August 2023 | 0 Comments

What is the principle of a circuit breaker?

A circuit breaker is an electrical switching device that is used to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by excess current, typically due to short circuits or overloads. It is an important safety component in electrical systems and helps prevent fires and other hazards.
The basic principle of a circuit breaker involves automatically interrupting the flow of electricity when it detects an abnormal current situation. When a fault or excessive current occurs, the circuit breaker quickly trips (opens) to break the circuit and stop the current flow. This action helps prevent damage to the wiring, appliances, or other devices connected to the circuit.

Here's how the principle of circuit breakers works:
Detection of Faults: Circuit breakers continuously monitor the electrical current flowing through a circuit. If the current exceeds a predetermined safe limit, which could be due to an overload or a short circuit, the circuit breaker detects this abnormal condition.
Tripping Mechanism: When the circuit breaker detects an abnormal current, it triggers a tripping mechanism. This mechanism can be thermal, magnetic, or a combination of both.
Thermal Tripping: In a thermal trip mechanism, a bimetallic strip inside the circuit breaker heats up due to the excessive current. As it heats up, the strip bends and eventually causes the circuit breaker to trip, thereby opening the circuit and stopping the flow of current.

Magnetic Tripping: In a magnetic trip mechanism, a solenoid coil generates a magnetic field proportional to the current passing through the circuit. If the current exceeds a certain threshold, the magnetic field becomes strong enough to pull a mechanical latch, causing the circuit breaker to trip and disconnect the circuit.
Opening the Circuit: When the tripping mechanism is activated, the circuit breaker quickly opens its contacts. These contacts are designed to physically disconnect the circuit, thereby interrupting the flow of current. By opening the circuit, the circuit breaker prevents further current from flowing and effectively isolates the faulty section.
Reset and Restoration: After the fault is resolved, the circuit breaker can be manually reset or, in some cases, automatically reset once conditions return to normal. Resetting the circuit breaker re-engages its contacts and allows the current to flow again.

Key advantages of circuit breakers include their ability to be reset and reused, unlike fuses which need to be replaced after they operate. Circuit breakers also offer more precise and adjustable protection settings, making them a more versatile choice for protecting various types of circuits and equipment.

Circuit breakers are commonly found in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. They are often located in circuit breaker panels or distribution boards and are labeled to indicate the circuits they protect.

Overall, circuit breakers play a critical role in maintaining the safety and reliability of electrical systems by swiftly interrupting the current flow in the event of abnormal conditions, thus preventing potential hazards and damages.

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