Circuit breakers protect your house from dangerous power overloads. This guide helps you pick what best fits your needs.
Circuit breakers are a very important part of electrical safety. They control the amount of electricity that is allowed to flow through a building’s wiring system. If your building suffers an electric overload, a properly functioning circuit breaker will detect this and cut off the electricity so that your appliances and wires are protected until you can restart the electricity. However, in order for a circuit breaker to do its job, you have to match the right circuit breaker with your exact needs. The following simple explanations and rules will have you ready to choose the appropriate circuit breaker in no time.
Different Types of Circuit Breakers:
Every circuit breaker is made to accommodate a specific amount of electricity. Most homes require low-voltage magnetic circuit breakers that only allow for electrical currents that measure up to 1000 amps. Medium voltage circuit breakers are used in larger buildings and businesses that use up to 72,000 volts on a regular basis. High-voltage circuit breakers are used alongside power lines and other places that use more than 72,000 volts regularly. (Most Networx readers will need low-voltage magnetic circuit breakers to complete their DIY projects.)
Figuring out the Correct Breaker Size:
In order to choose the best-sized circuit breaker for your particular needs, you will need to check the wire size printed on the cable that will be connected to the circuit breaker. There will be two measurements listed: The first will tell you the wire gauge and then there will be a dash and a number indicating how many wires are inside the cable. Once you have established the wire gauge, you can use the following chart to pick the correct circuit breaker:
8-gauge wire = 40-amp circuit breaker
10-gauge wire = 30-amp circuit breaker
12-gauge wire = 20-amp circuit breaker
14-gauge wire = 15-amp circuit breaker
How Does It Work?
Low-voltage circuit breakers have two safety mechanisms that keep your appliances from getting fried by electric overloads. The first is an electromagnet that immediately shuts off the electrical current when it senses a large electric surge. The second safety mechanism is operated by a thermal metallic strip that bends and trips a switch into the “Off” position when too much heat is applied by a prolonged electrical surge. To read more about thermal magnetic circuit breakers, check out this article on Electricians Networks.
Electrical work must always be done with your safety as the top priority. If you have any questions or confusion about choosing the right circuit breaker for your project, talk to an expert at your local hardware store or call an experienced electrician to get some sound advice.