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Did you know that every year around 15 people in Australia are killed due to electrical shocks, while 300 are hospitalised due to electrical injuries? It is a sad statistic but one that can be avoided with the installation of RCDs or safety switches.

There’s almost nothing more important at home than electrical safety – and that makes RCDs an absolute must-have. What is an RCD, exactly? How do they differ from other devices like circuit breakers?

In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to walk you through what it even means, what is RCD testing, and the key differences in the RCD vs circuit breaker debate. So let’s take a deep dive – and ensure your home or business is fully RCD protected.

What is an RCD or Safety Switch?

An RCD, or Residual Current Device, is a life-saving bit of kit specifically designed to prevent electric shock and reduce the risk of electrical fires. As we just said, RCD stands for Residual Current Device, and the function is to detect imbalances in the electrical current flowing through a circuit. Once a problem is detected, such as electricity flowing through an unintended path (like you!), it instantly cuts off the power to prevent harm – and save your life.

Why is an RCD important?

As you can probably already tell, the importance of an RCD switch cannot possibly be overstated. Still need some key reasons for why RCDs are crucial?:

1. Preventing electric shock

If you accidentally touch a live wire, the RCD switch will instantly trip and cut off the power.

2. Reducing fire risk

Faulty wiring or appliances can cause electrical fires – a major cause of death across Brisbane and beyond. An RCD circuit helps detect these faults and cuts the power before things get out of hand.

3. Protecting appliances

By instantly shutting down the power during a fault, RCD electrical devices can help prevent expensive or devastating damage to your appliances.

What happens if you aren’t RCD protected?

Not being RCD protected can have serious consequences. Without this kind of protection, the risk of electrical shock and fire increases exponentially. In many regions, including Brisbane but all across Australia, it is mandatory to have RCDs installed in new homes, renovations and even existing dwellings just like yours. So if you’re living in a home that for whatever reason is without RCD protection, it’s highly advisable to upgrade your electrical system to incorporate these devices.

What is RCD testing?

Regular RCD testing is crucial to ensure your devices are functioning correctly. It involves simulating a fault to check if the RCD responds appropriately by cutting off the power. The process is always very simple, usually involving a simple press of the clearly-marked ‘TEST’ button on the RCD – but it’s essential to do it regularly. If it’s working it should immediately trip the electrical circuit that it’s connected to. If it appears not to be working, then contact a skilled electrician who can either repair the existing switch or replace it for a new one. Don’t forget to reset the safety switch by pushing it back to the ON position. Most good electricians recommend testing your RCDs every three months, at least.

RCD vs circuit breaker: What’s the difference?

It’s a common question: RCD vs circuit breaker – are they the same thing? Well, the answer is “no”. While both devices are crucial for electrical safety, they serve different purposes.

  • RCDs protect against electric shock by detecting imbalances in current. They monitor the electrical current and shut off the power in merely 0.03 seconds.
  • Circuit breakers protect against overloading and short circuits by detecting excessive current flow.

If you observe your switchboard, you will notice that RCDs and safety switches have a test button labelled as T while circuit breakers do not have any.

To put it simply, the difference between RCD and circuit breaker is that the RCD is designed to protect people, while a circuit breaker is designed to protect the electrical system. And you definitely need to protect both!

Do you need both RCDs & circuit breakers?

Yes! Ideally, your electrical system should have both, because while RCD switches protect against electric shock, circuit breakers prevent overloading and potential fires. Having both ensures total protection for your home or business.

The majority of people have RCDs installed on main power circuits only. While this is a start it doesn’t guarantee total protection. Ideally to ensure a higher degree of safety then switches should be installed at every single circuit point throughout your property. This includes circuits that control stoves, lights and hot water.

What else you need to know about RCDs

Just need some practical and essential tips for dealing with RCD switches?:

1. Test regularly

Make sure to perform RCD testing every three months to ensure your devices are working correctly.

2. Professional installation

Always have RCDs installed by a qualified local electrician to ensure they are set up correctly.

3. Stay informed

Stay up to date with the latest electrical safety standards and ensure your system complies with regulations.

Ensure you’re RCD protected with Static Electrics

Make no mistake: RCDs are perhaps the most critical component of any safe electrical system. They protect against electric shocks and reduce the risk of electrical fires, making them an absolute must-have for any and every home or business.

Need An Electrician?

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If you’re in Brisbane and the surrounding areas and need professional advice or installation of RCDs, the friendly team at Static Electrics is right here for you. Our team of expert electricians can ensure your home or business is fully RCD protected.

Get in touch today to learn more about our services and how we can help keep you, your loved ones, and your home safe and protected.