Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are essential to modern electrical systems. They are essentially switching devices that control and protect your electrical power supply. Circuit breakers keep track of the flow of current going through your electrical system. The circuit breaker has a specific value and it is related to the voltage that the circuit breaker can handle. When that value is exceeded the circuit breaker trips and cuts off the electrical flow.  

This protects the devices on that current from damage. It also protects the circuitry from damage which helps avoid electrical fires. This is especially important in today’s work where power supplies use a very large amount of current. If the power exceeds the threshold and you don’t have circuit breakers, or the circuit breaker isn’t working properly, you can damage the circuitry and any electrical component attached to it. This would cause you to have to reinstall the circuitry that was damaged, which is not a cheap exercise.

How Do Circuit Breakers Work?

Circuit breakers are electrically charged coils. They have two contact points. One attaches to the coil. When the current that comes through is too high, the contact point breaks contact with the current. This way, no more electricity can flow through it until the correct value returns. This happens automatically and there is no human intervention required. This is one of the major advantages of automatic circuit breakers. When it regulates the flow, it automatically keeps its connections so that when the electrical flow reverts to its required value the electricity flows freely again. It also doesn’t need replacing when problems occur like you use to have to do when you had fuses instead of circuit breakers.

What Kind of Circuit Breakers Are There?

There are three most used circuit breakers; magnetic type, thermal type, and hybrid type. Magnetic circuit breakers operate on the principle of electromagnetism. When the current passing through the circuit breakers increases, it increases the electromagnetic force and the contact breaks, breaking the flow of electricity.

With thermal circuit breakers, the principal it operates on is heat, as the name suggests.  An excessively large current passing through generates heat. When this heat rises, the contact breaks. Then the flow of current stops until the current level comes down to normal.

The third most common of the circuit breakers is a hybrid circuit breaker. These types of breakers use a combination of heat and magnetism to protect your circuits and the electrical components connected to them.

It is also important to have the right kind of circuit breakers for the application you have. If the application is outdoors, you need a circuit breaker rated for the outdoors. If you have an indoor application you need a breaker rated for the indoors. You also have to install breakers that are appropriate for the medium which leads you to air breakers, oil breakers, vacuum breakers and SF6 breakers. Circuit breakers also come based on the voltage requirements such as low, medium and high.


Can Your Electrical Service Get an Upgrade? Yes, it can. If you want to upgrade your electrical system in Texas you can contact B & B Electric at (817) 600-8376. We can come in and evaluate your power supply and the components you have attached to it. From this we can determine what you need to make sure your electrical components run correctly and you don’t overpower your system.

How Do I know if the Power Needs Upgrading? If you notice your lights flickering, it is a sign your power supply needs upgrading. You may also notice that your circuit breakers trip often, especially when the hair dryer is turned on at the same time as that new microwave. If you have these problems and don’t investigate the cause and correct it, you are inviting trouble. Circuit breakers can wear out when they trip too frequently, and if they do, they won’t operate properly. You’ll notice this is happening if you notice a smell like rubber burning. Ignoring this problem can also lead to electrical fires.

How Do I Know if I Should Get My Electrical Panel Inspected? If you have a home that is over 25 years old and the panel is original, it’s time to inspect it. Older homes often had lower standards. If built today, probably would not be up to code. This is because in those days there were lower power demands from the electrical components you have in your home. The technology has also progressed since then, making newer panels safer and better performing.

Many older homes operate on a 60-amp service which is completely inadequate for today’s devices. If you have a 100-amp service and are still having problems with your appliances, you should get an inspection. If you still have a panel with fuses you should plan on replacing it, simply for safety reasons.

Call on the experienced professionals at B & B Electric at (817) 600-8376, and have them come out and check out the condition of your circuit breakers.