Safety Switches also known as RCD’s (Residual Current Devices) are one of the most important safety devices in any domestic electrical installation in Sydney.
Safety Switches help with electrical safety in the home primarily among other benefits because they limit fault current to earth. Meaning over a specified threshold they instantaneously cut the power off when a fault is present (in NSW residential homes fault current is limited to 30 milliamps or less) Therefore if electrical fault current starts traveling through a human body to earth, the device should cut off the electricity, a potential life saver.
Testing of Safety Switches. The safety switches on your electrical switchboards or sometimes built into power points and power boards must be tested regularly. Regular testing is the only way to ensure long-term protection for you and your family from serious injury and death. Safety switches or RCD’s (Residual Current Devices) help allow power to cut off rapidly in some problem situations. Electrical hazards are often hidden and can be difficult to identify, such as worn or UV damaged insulation or even a damaged power supply inside an electronic device! Electrical accidents can occur in an instant and Safety Switches help cut the power off fast in *most situations, helping to protect you and your family from these dangers.*More on this next…
Many factors go into determining the successful retrofitting of RCD’s When fitting circuits with RCD protection, consideration to circuit design and equipment loading such as the number of computers, fluorescent lamps with ballasts or reactive load switching installed must be considered. Existing installations may contain issues such as intermixed conductors meaning that some field wiring work my be required to rectify this fault situation that should have been picked up in the initial installation compliance testing before being energised. Circuit cabling needs to pass compliance testing. If these issues are need rectification, additional costs may be incurred by the home owner on an hourly basis. Some tripping issues may also arise due to unforeseeable non-sustained residual current faults. These may occur after a surge caused by for example lightning, reactive load switching or high frequency current and may not be caused by insulation breakdown. Many factors might determine a fault condition in which anything from insects or bugs inside an outlet, to a high resistance joint hidden somewhere in a wall or ceiling, requires the knowledge and experience to rectify quickly.
Most older homes in Sydney, that have not been maintained may have no RCD protection on lighting circuits, or even a mixture of protected and unprotected power circuits or even no RCD protection at all. Even if you see a switch on your switchboard marked Safety Switch, it may not cover your whole home. If you are unsure, it’s a good idea to have this confirmed by a licensed electrician for peace of mind.
It’s also important to understand, Safety Switches mitigate electrical hazards but do not eliminate them… It is also important to know, RCD’s or Safety Switches Do Not provide protection against faults between live conductors or voltages imported in to the installation earthing system through the neutral supply therefore the use of these devises is not recognised as a sole means of protection and does not obviate the need to apply the protective measures.
Don’t risk trying to fix electrical work yourself! It is illegal in NSW to perform electrical work if you are unlicensed, electrical work can may seem simple at times, but electrical work does have many complex implications and rules that need to be considered and adhered to and failure to do so may end in tragedy. DIY electrical work may be fatal for the worker or someone down the track.
Simply operating an electric leaf vac near your pool or hanging a picture on a wall or even using an electric kettle can turn deadly without the protection of a Safety Switch. The reason for testing your Safety Switches is to ensure ongoing protection.
More information from the Queensland Governments Playing It Safe With Safety Switches is a great resource to help you understand more about safety switches.