Play it safe with safety switches! Designed to save your life, safety switches are your insurance against electric accidents. In order to understand their role better, we’ve handcrafted a guide comprising the most frequently asked questions about safety switches.
What is a safety switch and how does it work?
Safety switches – also known as residual current circuit breakers (RCCBs) or residual current devices (RCDs) – play a very important role in any household. They interrupt excessive current and switch the power off immediately when dangerous levels of electricity leak through faulty switches, wiring or appliances to the earth. This system provides a significantly high level of personal protection against electrocution or electric shock.
Most importantly, it should only take 10 to 50 milliseconds for a safety switch to operate. This means not only preventing expensive damages to your property but also saving your life!
What are your legal obligations as a Queenslander?
Safety switches have been in common use in Australia for around 25 years. According to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, safety switches have been compulsory on the power outlet circuits of new homes since the early 1990s. Today, homes with electrical installation extended to include additional lighting and power point circuits must have safety switch protection on both lighting and power point circuits.
What types of safety switches can be installed in your home?
There are many types of safety switches available on the market. However, we recommend you to get familiar with (at least) three of them:
- Switchboard units
Installed on individual circuits, these safety switches protect selected electrical circuits throughout the house. In addition, they also take care of electrical appliances and extension cords connected to the protected power points.
- Power point units
Replacing an existing power point, these safety switches protect appliances and power cords plugged into the switch. They may also protect other electrical wiring and power points on the same circuit.
- Portable units
These switches are suitable for people working with power tools and other electrical appliances where there is no access to switchboard or powerpoint safety switches. They only protect you from faults in the equipment directly plugged into them.
How can you test your safety switch?
For your safety, you should ideally test your safety switches every three months to make sure they are in good working order.
Simply push the ‘T’ or ‘Test’ button located on the safety switch. If the safety switch flicks off and cuts the power to the intended circuits, it means it’s working correctly. Also, check inside your home to see which lights or appliances have been turned off. The circuits turned off by the safety switch test are protected by it. If it doesn’t turn off the power, you should contact your licensed electrician and have the issue fixed as soon as possible.
After testing, just turn the safety switch back on. For circuits with a refrigerator or AC, wait 2-3 minutes before resetting in order to avoid any potential damage to your appliances.
For more information about the complete testing procedure, watch the following video provided by Work Safe Queensland.
How can you install a safety switch?
The correct answer is you can only have a safety switch installed by a qualified and licensed electrician. ‘Do It Yourself’ electrical work is not only illegal but also very dangerous for inexperienced individuals.
At Jaric Electrical, your safety is our number 1 priority. A qualified team of electricians will do their best to solve any electrical concern you may have around the house.
Until next time, play it safe with safety switches!
Your friend and electrical expert,