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Everything You Need to Know About an RCD Safety Switch

RCD Safety Switch

After seeing the term ‘RCD safety switch’, it’s natural to be confused. Especially with no experience in this area, you might wonder what the acronym means and why it’s important in commercial premises just as much as a home. Don’t worry, you’ll learn everything you need to know in this guide!

RCD Safety Switch Basics

Short for the residual current device, an RCD safety switch is a device that saves millions of lives around the world every year (and it still doesn’t get the credit it deserves since most people are oblivious to the device!).

RCD safety switches have a couple of key tasks:

  • To prevent people from getting an electric shock when touching a bare wire or another live element
  • To shut the power off completely if a fault occurs in the system

Unfortunately, small electrical problems are almost impossible to identify when you don’t have experience in this field. Sometimes, it’s an internally damaged power board or it could be something simple like a damaged extension lead. Either way, an RCD safety switch keeps the whole property protected. Consequently, this means that it keeps both yourself and your family members protected in the event of a fault.

RCD safety switches are designed to be sensitive, and this means that they shut off as soon as there’s current leakage. While this might frustrate some when it activates accidentally, it also provides protection for all those in a given building.

How Do RCD Safety Switches Work?

Some people will be interested in the science behind RCD safety switches, so let’s go into the details in this section. Normally, the current flowing in the Active and Neutral wires is equal. However, sometimes a fault occurs in the equipment and it causes an energy imbalance in the system. If this happens, and there’s no protection, it could lead to a fire and extreme injuries for the individual. Sadly, many have passed away as a result of this fault.

Whether it’s a kettle, a games console, or a TV, the Neutral and Active wires should transport the same amount of energy. This balance can be thrown off by either a fault in the equipment or an error in the circuit.

The reason that RCD safety switches are so important is that they react within 20 milliseconds. As soon as it detects a leakage, it springs into reaction and this quick action has the potential to save lives (or at least turn major injuries into minor ones!).

With a reaction faster than the cardiac cycle’s critical section, it reduces the damage to homeowners and business owners significantly, so make sure you reach out to an expert like Jim’s Test & Tag to make sure your equipment is working properly.

RCD Safety Switch Types

Not all RCD safety switches are equal, but one of the most common is mounted onto the metre box in your property. Placed next to circuit breakers and all other switches for the property, you should see one labeled ‘RCD’.

If you can’t find an RCD switch in your metre box, don’t panic because it might be that you have a designated safety switch with other circuit breakers. Normally, this is the case when property owners fit the switch retrospectively into an existing system.

As technology advances, some homeowners and business owners choose to install portable RCD safety switches. Although they can be moved around, they only protect the single point to which they’re attached. In particular, they provide value to those using power tools outside when using points not under the RCD-protected system.

Elsewhere, you’ll also find some connection to the point closest to the metre box (circuit board). They’ll have a test button and protect appliances in specific areas.

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