How Circuit Breakers Work?

- Jan 29, 2021-

How Circuit Breakers Work?

 

A circuit breaker works in one of two ways, with an electromagnet (or solenoid) or a bi-metal strip. In either case, the basic design is the same: when turned on, the breaker allows electrical current to pass from a bottom to an upper terminal across the solenoid or strip. When the current reaches unsafe levels, the magnetic force of the solenoid becomes so strong that a metal lever within the switch mechanism is thrown, and the current is broken. Alternately, the metal strip bends, throwing the switch and breaking the connection.

 

To reset the flow of electricity after the problem is resolved, the switch can simply be turned back on, reconnecting the circuit. Circuit breakers are often found in a cabinet of individual switches, called a breaker box. The simple switch action of a circuit breaker also makes it easy to turn off an individual circuit in a house if it's necessary to work on the wiring in that location.


Another use of the circuit breaker is a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet, which functions to prevent electric shock instead of overheating. It works by breaking the circuit in an outlet if the current becomes unbalanced, and can be reset by the push of a button. This technology is particularly useful in bathrooms or kitchens where electrocution is a risk due to the frequent use of electric appliances near a source of water.

 

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