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Safety Switch


One of the most important electrical safety devices you can have installed in your home or business is the safety switch or RCD (Residual Current Device). A safety switch is a device that quickly switches off the electricity if an electrical fault is detected, minimising the risk of injuries and death due to contact with electricity.

How do safety switches work?

When a person comes into contact with electricity, electricity is directed through their body to earth not the normal neutral return path. This causes a loss in the amount of electricity in the circuit. The safety switch detects this loss and within 10ms to 30ms turns off the circuit it is attached to.

I have fuses or circuit breakers, why do I need a safety switch?

Fuses and circuit breaker protection devices are designed to protect against short circuits or overloads. Safety switches protect people from electric shock, many of the fatalities caused by electricity could be prevented by the installation of safety switches.

In 1991 it became mandatory for all new domestic premises to have safety switches installed and while it is not mandatory to have safety switches installed in older homes, safety switches are the most significant change you can make to protect you and your family from electric shock. It is now a mandatory requirement that all new additional power and lighting circuits have safety switch protection, no matter the age of the building.

What types of safety switches are available?

Switchboard install

The most common type of safety switch for both domestic and some commercial buildings are the group safety switch. This protects multiple circuits at one time. Generally the group safety switch is the easiest and cheapest option however if a problem arises on one individual circuit causing the safety switch to trip, it will affect all the circuits connected to it. This can mean that an entire house can be without power and lighting. The other option is the individual combination safety switch / circuit breaker. This option can replace the existing individual circuit breaker with one of the same size while incorporating the safety switch. The individual option is popular because it does not generally require additional room in the switchboard to install and will not affect other circuits if it trips.

Power Point Install

Power point safety switches replace the existing power points with one that has the safety switch incorporated in it. This means anything plugged into that power point or connected downstream of that circuit will also be protected. This method is more popular in commercial buildings or installs where there is no room at the switchboard for traditional safety switch install.

My safety switch is tripping? What can I do?

A tripping safety switch in your house or business can be caused by many different circumstances. Faulty appliance, light fitting fault, failed internal wiring, possums, rats, water ingress to name a few. If the safety switch will not reset the next step will be to un-plug all appliances from the power points and try again. This can more often than not identify a faulty appliance which is a common issue. Intermittent tripping is generally harder to isolate but should not be ignored, it is a warning sign to a possible wiring issue and should be investigated. Deadshort Electrical is only a phone call away with our. 84100887