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Safety switches – what are they and why are they important?

A safety switch is a common term used to describe a Residual Current Device or RCD for short. It is called a safety switch because it is designed to reduce the risk of electric shock, electrocution to people or damage to property.

This next bit is a bit dry and boring, but bear with me while I quickly explain how they work. So a safety switch monitors the amount of electrical current flowing through the active and neutral conductors of a circuit. If for some reason there is current flow through the earth conductor instead, say to perhaps a light fitting or appliance, then an imbalance occurs. If this imbalance is great enough, the safety switch will ‘trip’, therefore preventing someone about to change a light globe or using a faulty appliance from receiving an electric shock, or worst case, electrocution.

A safety switch can either be a stand-alone device which protects multiple circuits in a house or business, or is built-in to a circuit breaker, commonly referred to as a RCBO (residual-current circuit breaker with overload protection).

Safety switches always have a test button built in to the device, regardless of whether it is a stand-alone RCD or RCBO and these should be tested regularly to ensure they are still working. If it does not ‘trip’ when pressed, it should be replaced as soon as possible.

Safety switches are installed in all new electrical installations, such as in new homes or businesses, and have been for some time now. Unfortunately however, safety switches haven’t been around forever so Luke Davis Electrical Services has completed switchboard upgrades in Corio, Newtown, South Geelong, Herne Hill and Anakie with safety switch installation a priority to protect people and property from the dangers of electrical hazards.

If your home or business doesn’t have these potential lifesavers installed then contact Luke Davis Electrical Services to discuss your options and for a free quote.

If you are unsure as to what a safety switch looks like, keep an eye out for my next blog, which will go through the common parts of a residential switchboard.


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