Home>What are the differences between a safety switch and circuit breaker?

What are the differences between a safety switch and circuit breaker?

  • Circuit breaker vs Safety switch

Can you tell the difference between a safety switch and a circuit breaker? Few people can, and in fact, most are likely to say that both are basically the same.

You may both see safety switches and circuit breakers as safety devices that protect your home, and while that rings true for the most part, in essence they are not the same.

Understanding their differences will help you understand their functions – and importantly, spot the signs if one is faltering.

So if you’re not sure whether your home has a safety switch or circuit breaker, and you need to get familiar with common problems each may face, call an expert Melbourne electrician right away.

Get in touch with Briggs – we’d be happy to assist! Call us anytime on 1300 300 222 or lodge a job with us today.


What is a safety switch?

Let’s start with the basics – you know that electricity flows through your electrical wirings at home to power a range of appliances and devices.

When using electrical appliances, switches, and outlets, a safety switch’s purpose is to stop any abnormal electrical current that may pose a risk to a person, protecting you from electrical shock or burn, and your home from electrical fire.

A functioning safety switch monitors the flow of electricity and can easily detect electrical imbalances where electrical current is passing through. It can shut off power supply within 0.3 of a second!

Standard law in Australia mandates installing safety switches in all final sub-circuits in new domestic and residential installations.

So in short, a safety switch protects your entire electrical system from electrical shock and electrical damage due to faulty wirings, overloading and even appliance failure.


Common safety switch issues

One of the most common issues associated with safety switches is electrical tripping. This can happen at any time and by surprise.

However it’s usually most common when your electrical system is under additional strain, powering lots of energy-hungry devices. Think when each member of the household is busy working their computer, watching their favourite television show on a streaming service, and cooking in the kitchen.

When your electricity suddenly shuts down, and your home is the only in your area that doesn’t have any power, then something is wrong with your own system.

(Note that if the electricity appears to have failed for neighbours, too, then that’s usually an area-wide blackout – and that’s the responsibility of your electrical company.)

Some of the most common reasons why your safety switch is tripping are:

  • Faulty electrical appliances
  • Overloading
  • Water damage

If you’re unsure how to deal with faulty safety switches, then it is best to call an expert electrician right away.

A qualified electrician can inspect your electrical system and quickly identify any faults or issues, fixing them on the spot, where possible, and ensuring you and your family’s safety at home.


What is a circuit breaker?

Circuit breakers are designed to protect your system from overheating, and rectify sudden electrical surges that may result in electrical fires.

If there is too much (or uncontrolled) power in an electrical circuit, circuit breakers automatically shut off power to prevent overheating and damage caused by the surge.


Common circuit breaker issues

Faulty wiring

Poor installation of your electrical wirings can cause any of your electrical devices and appliances to falter.

And as such, this might be putting your family at risk of electrical shock or damage to your home.

Ensure you’re meeting strict electrical safety standards with professionally installed wiring, free from faults.

Signs to look for include flickering lights, faltering appliances, and sparks or smoke coming from the power socket.

Melbourne electrician for safety switch

Circuit overload

When it comes to circuit breaker and electrical wiring installation, a licensed electrician can automatically determine the right amp/voltage to use for a specific appliance.

Standard homes will usually require 15 to 20 amps in common appliances like lighting fixtures and small appliances.

However, some big appliances, such as refrigerators, electric stoves, and clothes dryers, may require 20 amps and above.

If homeowners are not too familiar with this (and let’s face it, the everyday person doesn’t really have the desire or need to know these things in great detail), chances are, they might be overloading their circuits.

You must remember not to plug too many appliances or devices in one outlet. You should also check for any loose connections that can cause overloading circuits.

Circuit tripping

A circuit breaker trips due to a short circuit as a seemingly hot wire touches another hot wire.

When this is not corrected immediately, the risk of electrical damage and electrical fire is heightened.

To protect your electrical system, ensure any exposed, frayed, or damaged wires are repaired immediately.

Where is my safety switch and circuit breaker located?

Locate your safety switch and circuit breaker

The best thing to do is to locate your switchboard and see what’s there. In many cases, the circuit breaker and safety switch will be marked for quick identification.

Contact a licensed and qualified electrician

If you’re still in doubt of its location, or want to organise a peace-of-mind inspection of your breaker box and all its important components, contact a Melbourne electrician.

We’ll help you understand the basics and identify any potential problems with these devices.


Call a Melbourne electrician today!

Keep your electrical system safe and reduce the likelihood of an electrical emergency!

Contact an emergency electrician in Melbourne who can regularly check your safety switch and circuit breaker to make sure that each is working as it should.

This proactive step can save you from any reactive emergency issues in the future!

Briggs Electrical prioritises your safety, so if you’re experiencing any issues with your safety switch or circuit breaker, engage a licensed electrician to inspect, test, and advise on your home’s switchboard.

Keep your property, home, and family safe – contact Briggs Electrical on 1300 300 222 or book a job online today.