A Basic Guide to the Most Common Circuit Breaker Types

by whatsmind

The circuit breaker is an essential safety feature of your home, but do you know what it is or how it works? 

It’s important that we understand the mechanisms in our homes, especially when it comes to electricity. If you’ve got an old circuit breaker that no longer works, you put yourself in danger of fires, damaged possessions, and worse. 

So, we’re going to discuss circuit breaker types today, giving you a little insight into how they work and what your options are. Let’s take a look. 

What Does a Circuit Breaker Do?

Electricity enters your home from your area’s grid or an alternative energy provider. When it gets to you, it runs through a circuit breaker, then divides through the home via a few different circuits. 

Each circuit provides power to different parts of your home and odds are that each circuit has its own breaker. The circuit breaker’s role is to cut the power off when the current gets too strong. You can explore this page to find out more about how the mechanism works.

If your circuit overloads without a breaker, the protective wire insulation around your circuit might melt and expose the electricity, resulting in fires. There are a lot of unpredictable situations that could lead to power surges. 

For example, a lightning strike in a bad storm might run a massive amount of electricity through your circuit and lay waste to your wiring. 

What Are the Circuit Breaker Types?

There are three primary types of circuit breakers; magnetic, thermal,  and hybrid. 

The magnetic breaker generates a magnetic field that responds to the level of electricity in the circuit. As more electricity enters the circuit, the magnetic field of the magnet gets stronger because the electricity feeds the field. 

Once the magnet gets to a certain strength, it pulls the actual breaker which disconnects the current in the circuit. 

A thermal breaker contains two metal strips that are responsive to heat. As the current increases, more heat gets produced and impacts the size of the metal strips. Once those strips reach a critical point, they enlarge and bend in such a way that cuts off electricity to the circuit. 

Hybrid breakers utilize both types of technology for different purposes. The thermal aspect of a hybrid breaker deals with large and long-lasting surges of power to the main breaker. The electromagnetic aspect handles smaller short-circuiting, typically dealing with the subsections of circuits in different areas of your home. 

It’s optimal to use hybrid breakers because the other respective breakers have particular strengths and corresponding weaknesses. Combining the two options protects you from a wider range of electrical issues. 

Note that there are different house circuit breaker types, but the ones above are most common. 

Want to Learn More About Different Types of Circuit Breakers?

Hopefully, our look at the main circuit breaker types helped you understand the system in your home. There’s more to learn, though. We’re here to help you learn all you need to know about electricity, home safety, and much more. 

Explore our site for more ideas on old circuit breaker types, home electricity, types of MCB circuit breakers, and more. 

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