The world of electricity is built on a foundation of circuit breakers. With so many different kinds and models, it can be difficult to know which one is best for each situation. The type of circuit breaker you need depends on the total load you’re dealing with, the type of overcurrent protection you need, and other characteristics related to the installation itself. So what are the different types of circuit breakers and when should you use them?
First off, there are the two main categories of circuit breakers: molded case and air circuit breakers. Molded case are designed to protect lower-voltage electrical circuits, while air circuit breakers are for higher voltage loads with longer interruption times. Within these two major categories, there are then further subdivisions like zigzag, high-break, oil filled, and trip-free, all of which provide different levels of current protection and are suited for different applications.
Finally, there are specialized circuit breakers like motor circuit protectors, ground fault interrupters, adjustable trip circuit breakers, and even energy efficient or solar circuit breakers. Motor circuit protectors are designed to protect electric motors from overloads caused by mechanical failure or failure of the electrical system, while a ground fault interrupter monitors the amount of current flowing through a system and will cut off power if the ground line experiences an overload. Adjustable trip circuit breakers allow you to set specific trip points which can be adjusted as needed, and energy efficient and solar circuit breakers both provide superior protection to both electrical systems and the environment.
No matter what type of circuit breaker you’re using, it’s important to make sure you’re using the right kind for your application. Too often people try to simply “make do” with the wrong kind. Doing so could put you and your system at risk. Understanding the different types of circuit breakers and when to use them will help you make sure your system is properly protected.
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