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Residual Current Circuit Breakers (RCCB)

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RCCB - Residual Current Circuit Breakers

A Residual Current Circuit Breaker is also known as Residual Current Device is a device that immediately breaks an electric circuit to prevent serious harm from a continuous electric shock. It is known by different terms in various places like, in the USA it is commonly called ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), ground fault interrupter (GFI) or an appliance leakage current interrupter (ALCI) and in the UK, these are better known by their initials RCD, and a combined Residual Current Device and Miniature Circuit Breakers (RCD+MCB) is known as a RCBO (residual- current circuit breaker with over current protection). In Australia, they are known as safety switches or a RCD. An earth leakage circuit breaker (ELCB) may be a residual - current device. Any normal RCCB hold a few limitations. They don’t offer protection against current overloads. They only detect an imbalance in the live and neutral currents. A current overload, however large, cannot be detected. It is a frequent cause of problems with novices to replace an MCCB , Molded Circuit Breakers in a fuse box with an RCCB. This may be done in an attempt to increase shock protection. If a live-neutral fault occurs in the form of a short circuit, or an overload then the RCCB won’t trip, and may be damaged. It is now possible to get an MCB and and RCCB in a single unit, called an RCBO. Replacing an MCB with an RCBO of the same rating is generally safe. RCD will not protect against a socket outlet being wired with its live and neutral terminals the wrong way round. RCCB will not protect against the overheating that results when conductors are not properly screwed into their terminals.

Different types of Circuit Breakers

The most commonly type of circuit breaker that is put to use these days are Air Circuit Breakers which are rated current up to 10,000 A. It is usually electronically controlled where as some models are microprocessor controlled.
An ACB is often used for main power distribution in large industrial plant, where the breakers are arranged in draw-out enclosures for ease of maintenance. RCCB operate by measuring the current balance between two conductors using a differential current transformer. This measures the difference between current flowing through the live conductor and that returning through the neutral conductor. If these do not sum to zero, there is a leakage of current to somewhere else which can either be to earth or to another circuit, and the device will open its contacts.

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