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What is a safety switch?

At Briggs Electrical, we understand the importance of safety in your home or workplace. That’s why we are committed to providing the highest quality safety switch installation services. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about safety switch installation, including its significance, benefits, and the step-by-step process involved.

It’s estimated that 60% of Victorian homes have safety switches. Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) is our state’s independent energy safety authority, and they believe this number is not high enough to protect Victorian families.

What is the purpose of a safety switch?

A safety switch, also known as a residual current device (RCD), is a crucial electrical component that protects against electrical accidents and potential electrocution. It monitors the flow of electricity and quickly shuts off power when it detects a leakage or imbalance in the electrical circuit. This immediate response helps prevent serious injuries and even saves lives.

Ask any electrician and they’ll probably report that tripping safety switches are some of the most common domestic call-outs they receive.

What is a safety switch?

An example of what might activate a safety switch

When someone touches something that results in direct contact with electricity (like a faulty appliance), the flow of electricity passes out of that appliance’s electrical circuit, through a person, and into the earth.

It is a safety switch’s job to detect this loss of flow in an electrical circuit (the electricity has left the circuit and entered the earth) and switch off the electrical supply.

Why are safety switches important?

Safety switches play a vital role in safeguarding homes, businesses, and individuals from electrical hazards. 

Protection against electric shocks

Safety switches provide an additional layer of protection by rapidly cutting off the power supply when an electrical fault occurs, minimising the risk of electric shocks.

Fire prevention

Electrical faults can lead to fires. Safety switches mitigate this risk by interrupting the circuit before it reaches a critical point, reducing the chances of electrical fires.

Child safety

Young children are naturally curious and tend to explore their surroundings. Safety switches can help prevent accidents caused by children inserting objects into power outlets.

Compliance with regulations

Safety switches are mandated by law in many countries and regions for certain types of properties. Installing safety switches ensures compliance with these regulations, avoiding potential legal issues. Here in Victoria, for example, new laws that came into effect on 29 March 2023 require all rental properties to have modern switchboards with circuit breakers installed.

What happens when my safety switch is ‘tripping’?

When a safety switch ‘trips’, it identifies an imbalance between the output and input of electricity in a circuit.

A common cause of tripping safety switches is a faulty electrical appliance that is connected to your home’s switchboard.

Common household appliances that can ‘trip’ your safety switch:

  • Kettle
  • Refrigerator
  • Toaster oven
  • Iron
  • Electric stovetop
  • Electric oven
  • Washing machine

What trips a safety switch?

Safety switch testing

Testing a safety switch is actually something you can do yourself.

You should be testing your safety switch a couple of times throughout the year to ensure it’s doing its job.

The thing is, you’ll never know your safety switch is in fact faulty (and therefore won’t shut off power when it detects danger!) unless it gets tested.

Most safety switches can be tested quite easily. Normally, you can find a test button near the switch. When you press this button, the switch should flip – this tells you your safety switch is working! (Note that you will temporarily lose power in your home when you test your safety switch.)

Wasn’t that easy? Now there’s really no excuse for you to not test!

In such a case when the switch does not flip during testing, turn off your main electricity supply and call a licenced and registered electrician to come and investigate the issue.

Are safety switches mandatory in Victoria?

Can you believe that with all the protection it provides, a safety switch isn’t actually mandatory in every single Victorian home?

As mentioned above, however, they are mandatory in rental properties. Additionally, safety switches are  compulsory in new home builds as well as in older homes that have undergone electrical renovations.

Damaged or faulty? Briggs will replace a safety switch

A safety switch is a crucial electrical tool that performs the vital job of identifying any electrical flow or appliance that poses a danger to users. They are, therefore, extremely important in your home!

So if your safety switch is not functioning the way it should be, contact our domestic electricians now. We will replace your safety switch and test it to ensure it’s protecting you and your family at all times!

Does your home have a safety switch?

Chances are if you live in an older home and have not conducted any renovations, you might not have a safety switch! Additionally, if you’re concerned your safety switch is not working as intended, give our domestic electricians in Melbourne a call.

A switchboard-mounted safety switch protects your entire home, and can only be installed by a licensed professional. Electricity is dangerous and must be treated by respect – remember, never do electrical work yourself. For all your domestic electrician services in Melbourne, Instead, contact Briggs today.