Short Description of Circuit Breaker

Circuit breaker also referred to as an electrical fuse or OCP (overcurrent protection), interrupts an electrical circuit when the electrical current exceeds a fixed current level for predetermined time. There are different types of overcurrent protection devices, such as the fuse or the line circuit breaker. All electrical fuses of house or apartment are usually housed together with other protective switches in a distribution box or fuse box.


Overcurrent devices maintain conductors or other equipment from damage due to excessive heating that would result from the overcurrent flowing over an extended period of time. An overcurrent can be caused by an overload or a short circuit. There are conditions to be met by a circuit breaker in order to function, such as being able to distribute the maximum current of the system in the ongoing basis. It should also have to be able to disconnect and shut down the network in loaded state or short connected without causing damage to the circuit breaker itself. Furthermore, it can cut off short circuit at high speed, so the short circuit current does not damage the system equipment, making the system loses stability and damage the circuit breaker itself. 

The response time of a circuit breaker at different current intensities is referred to as a characteristic. It is represented in time-current characteristics. There are overcurrent protection devices which, for reasons of safety, remain uninterrupted in the interrupted state after tripping. They are put into the functional state only by manual actuation or by exchanging the protective device, in case the fuse protection by replacement of the fuse cartridge. There is also the automatic re-closure which is used in industrial plants, power plants and other more automated areas. This is divided according to certain criteria, such as the switch-off time or the number of repetitions. 

There are various types of overcurrent protection devices based on the application. This includes melt protection with trip currents from few tens of mA to a few kA, such as a device protection device and in low-voltage networks. Electronic fuse, usually part of electronic circuits is integrated in power supplies such as switching power supplies. In some cases, an auto re-closure function is available. There is also kind of self-resetting fuses, typically a so-called thermistor. It is a form of load-dependent resistor. Of course, there is a circuit breaker or electromechanical overcurrent device, especially in the low voltage range. There are also special applications for circuit breaker, including motor protection switch for motor control, circuit breaker in combination with the main protection with high voltage networks, and for traction motor as a main fuse of the motors in electric vehicles.

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