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How does an RCD work? Principle of RCD Operation


An RCD protects by constantly monitoring the current flowing in the live and neutral wires supplying a circuit or an individual item of equipment.


Under normal circumstances, the current flowing in the two wires is equal. When an earth leakage occurs due to a fault in the circuit or an accident with the equipment, an imbalance occurs and this is detected by the RCD, which


automatically cuts off the power before injury or damage can result. A Simple RCD Circuit Diagram


To be effective, the RCD must operate very quickly at a low earth leakage current. Those designed to protect human life are engineered to trip out with an earth leakage current of 30mA within 200mS and at a higher earth current of 150mA, they will trip in less than 40mS. These limits are well inside the safety zone, within which electrocution or fire would not be expected to occur.


PowerBreaker has a typical trip speed of less than 20mS.


Principle of Shock Protection


Protection of persons and livestock against electric shock is a fundamental principle in the design of electrical installations in accordance with BS 7671: Requirements for electrical installations, commonly known as The IET Wiring Regulations 17th Edition. Use of the correct earthing system is an essential part of this process.


The 17th Wiring Regulations highlights two main areas of protection -


1. Basic Protection - An electric shock may arise from direct contact with live parts, for example, when a person touches a live conductor that has become exposed as a result of damage to the insulation of an electric cable.


2. Fault Protection - An electric shock may arise from indirect contact, for example, a fault results in the exposed metalwork of an electrical appliance, or even other metalwork such as a sink or plumbing system becoming live.


RCDs, provide the first and most important line of defence. They provide protection against faults under certain installation conditions where fuses and MCBs ca nnot achieve the desired effect.


Fuses and MCBs provide no protection against the electric currents flowing to earth through the body.  +44 (0) 1279 772 772 6 +44 (0) 1279 422 007


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