Circuit breakers are the basic safety equipment for every building, warehouse and all buildings. They act as third parties or arbitrators in complex and dangerous electrical wiring systems. When encountering excessive current, the wiring system can cause fires, surges and explosions. But before such a dangerous reaction occurs, the circuit breaker will intervene by cutting off the power supply.
These box-like devices work by limiting the current in a single circuit. Without a circuit breaker, your facility will be in constant danger and chaos.
You need to purchase a spare or additional circuit breaker for the panel. But once you start shopping around, you will realize that there are thousands of circuit breakers to choose from. For commercial or industrial panels, this number may be even greater.
Buying a circuit breaker is not easy, so how do you ensure that you make the right decision? It turns out that choosing the correct circuit breaker is not too complicated, and it all starts with learning how to identify different types of circuit breakers.
So how to Identify Circuit Breaker Types？ How many types of breakers are there?
There are three main types of circuit breakers: standard circuit breakers, AFCI circuit breakers and GFCI breakers. Here’s what you need to know about them:
There are two types of standard circuit breakers: single-pole circuit breakers and double-pole circuit breakers. These are simpler breakers that monitor the cadence of electricity as it circulates an indoor space. It tracks electricity in electrical wiring systems, appliances and sockets. This type of circuit breaker blocks current during overloads and short circuits to prevent the wires from overheating. This can happen when one hot wire touches the ground wire, another hot wire or the neutral wire. The current cut-off function can prevent electrical fires. The 1-inch circuit breaker used in the residence is usually a single-pole circuit breaker and occupies a slot on the panel. Bipolar circuit breakers are more common in large household appliances or commercial facilities, occupying two slots. Standard circuit breakers protect property, equipment and appliances due to electrical faults.
Single-Pole Breakers——The more common breaker; Protects one energized wire; Supplies 120V to a circuit
Double-Pole Breakers——Has two single-pole breakers with a handle and a shared trip mechanism; Protects two wires; Supplies 120V/240V or 240V to a circuit; Comes in 15-200 amps; Used for large appliances like water heaters
The GFCI circuit breaker or ground fault circuit breaker cuts off the power to the circuit when there is an overload current. They also take effect in the event of a short circuit or line ground fault. The latter occurs in the formation of harmful paths between current and grounded elements. These circuit breakers are not suitable for continuously operating equipment such as refrigeration or medical equipment. The reason is tripping. The circuit breaker may trip more than it should. In humid areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, or humid industrial environments, you will often encounter sockets with two buttons (“test” and “reset”), which are protected by GFCI circuit breakers. GFCI circuit breakers look different from standard circuit breakers: they have “test” buttons and on/off switches. The GFCI circuit breaker is defined by the coil wire and the test button on the front. It is indispensable in wet places such as basements, outdoor spaces, bathrooms, kitchens and garages. It is convenient for workstations using power tools. Each magnetic pole plug-in has a standard ” I”.
AFCI circuit breakers or arc fault circuit breakers can prevent accidental discharges in wires or wiring systems. It does this by detecting abnormal paths and electrical transitions, and then disconnecting the damaged circuit from the power source before the arc captures enough heat to cause the flame. These circuit breakers prevent electrical discharges and thus avoid electrical fires caused by risks such as the old wiring system. Like GFCI, they also have a “test” button. Although AFCI is similar to GFCI, they can prevent two different failures. In essence, AFCI can prevent fire, and GFCI can prevent electric shock. AFCI circuit breakers are responsible for protecting branch circuit wiring in electrical systems and need to be used with conventional or standard circuit breakers because they respond to a stable heat supply rather than rapid fluctuations.
Besides, different panels will support different circuit breakers according to manufacturing specifications and physical coordination. Usually, you will find a label with a suitable circuit breaker on the inside of the panel.
Different Kinds of Electrical Breaker Types