Residual Current Devices (RCD) are one of those important devices in your home’s electrical installation. They are first and foremost there for your personal safety. RCDs aim to provide an extra level of protection, which standard fuses and circuit breakers are unable to provide. In as much as we may try our best to be careful around electrical appliances and power points we can never fully guard ourselves. These safety switches therefore, specifically aim at providing extra personal safety and protection against electric shock or electrocution. Not only do they save lives, but they are also required by law.
A RCD is an electrical safety device specifically made to guard people against serious injuries that might arise due to electric shock or electrocution. Electrical safety switches monitor the flow of electricity in a circuit. If for any reason whatsoever, the flow of current in a circuit has imbalance, the safety switch immediately shuts down the current flowing through the electrical circuit. Areas that might be wet such as the kitchen or bathroom are normally protected by the installation of a safety switch. Safety switches do not only protect the consumer against electric shock, they also will disconnect automatically if circuits are overloaded or have sufficient current leakages to earth.
RCD protection is important for many reasons. For instance, an electrical fault could immediately lead to a fire outbreak, endangering homes and putting the lives of people at risk. However, with RCD protection all faults will be detected immediately which will invariably prevent such occurrence from taking place. As a device that monitors the supply of electricity, an RCD also disconnects the electricity supply as soon as it detects current leakage. RCDs protection is very important for anyone carrying out any form of electrical work at home or as part of their job. In case a person gets exposed to a live wire the RCD immediately detects this and shuts it down for their safety in order to prevent the occurrence of a fatal accident.
An RCD is usually confused with a circuit breaker. The major difference between safety switches and circuit breakers is the focus on its protection. Circuit breakers aim to guard the electrical wiring of homes and prevent overloading. RCDs on the other hand focus mainly on safety and personal protection. Circuit breakers protect against short circuits and overloading, but are not able to protect against electrocution. Within a property, the circuits need to be evenly divided so that no more than 3 circuits breakers are protected by an RCDs with a recommendation of at least 2 RCDs per installation. Even though both devices are housed within the same meter box, there is a way to distinguish between them both and this is by looking out for the RCD’s test button.
If you realize that your home does not have a safety switch installed, it is important that you take action immediately by calling your local electrician if you want additional protection from electric shock.