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Electrical safety - which switch does what?

Published: April 18, 2021 Last Updated: October 17, 2022

Understanding each function of the different electrical switches in your switchboard can be a challenge, especially as they tend to look very similar. Our electrician Morris explains to homeowner Mick what each safety switch does.

[0:04] Mick

So Morris, we've got a whole range of switches that are meant for the switchboard, what do each one of them do?

[0:08] Morris

Good question Mick. This one here protects our mains cables from any overload or short circuit.

[0:12] Mick

So that's the cable from the street to the house, it protects it from overheating?

[0:16] Morris

Yep, exactly. This one here is a safety switch so basically protects you and I from electric shock.

[0:21] Mick

Uh, like if someone put a fork in a power point.

[0:23] Morris

Yeah, good example. Perfect

This one here is a surge protection device Mick so this will basically protect against any lightning strike or any power surge from the grid or anything like that. 

[0:32] Mick

Like those plugs, we used to put on behind our computers back in the day or our TVs? That is the one we're putting the switchboard.

[0:38] Morris

Exactly right.

So put that in the switchboard and that's going to cover the whole entire house.

[0:41] Mick

okay great.

[0:42] Morris

And this last one here Mick is an arc fault detection device.

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[0:45] Mick

So what is an arc fault?

[0:46] Morris

An arc fault Mick is basically when a cable gets really hot. It can be caused by old or damaged cables from rodents or something like that. Two conductors will touch and potentially pull the fire.

[0:56] Mick

So two wires touching makes it really hot? This one can identify that.

[0:58] Morris

Yep. Take that and de-energize the circuit before it uh (...) and all the rest of it.

[1:04] Mick

Okay, so how many of these do I need?

[1:06] Morris

You would put one on each circuit that requires it. One is not going to do the whole house.

[1:11] Mick

Yeah, okay, great mate. Well, I know you're really busy. Thanks for taking your time out and I'll let you get back to it.

[1:16] Morris

Thank you

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