Power Surges, What Stops Them?

Do circuit breakers prevent a power surge damaging your appliances?

As Brisbane electricians, This is a question we get asked a lot and the real answer is "No!"

There is a lot confusion when it comes to understanding the difference between a circuit breaker and safety switch. Home owners think that either of these will look after a power surge or stop an electrocution if there is a fault.

But there is a big difference in what these two items do and neither of them actually protects your appliances or precious computer if there is a power surge


Now we all know that a power surge can cause a lot of damage to your electrical appliances and they can happen at any time.

Brisbane residents would more than likely think that thunderstorms and lightening would be the causes when a power surge would happen. Yes they can happen during an electrical storm.

When lightning strikes anywhere near power lines, the bolt of lightning can add several millions of volts into the power grid.


If you know a storm is on the way, it is always a good idea to unplug your computer.And you must actually pull the power cord from the wall. A power surge will still travel into an appliance that is plugged in - Even if the power switch is turned off at the wall, and you can do the same for your other electronic devices like laptops, TVs and kitchen appliances. It is a really good idea to do this when you are going away - Unplug the appliances that you want to look after.


But the bad news is that even with a power surge arrestor ( this is what the device is called that stops power surges)

If a massive power surge happens like this and even if you have a surge protector it is likely it will not prevent damage to your electrical goods.

The only sure fire thing to do is to have your appliances unplugged ( remember, you must remove the plugs from the power point)

If a power surges happens due to another reason like a fault, a fire or downed power lines and this causes a big interruption in the power supply , then yes the devices to protect against power surges (surge arrestors) will work and your licensed Brisbane electrician can install these. In a new home build these are strongly advised to be built in to protect all the in home automation that newer homes are being built with.

Now What Is a Circuit Breaker?

Now what is a circuit breakers?

They are are modern version of a fuse and all they protect is the electrical circuits within a home or building. They essentially just look after the existing wiring!If their is a higher current than normal or an appliance is faulty ( usually a toaster or kettle) or an overload on a power point, the circuit breaker will trip and cut the power when it detects a high current fault.

What Is A Safety Switch?

Safety switches ( also known as RCD's) are nothing like a circuit breaker and many people confuse these two devices!

The sole purpose of a safety switch or RCD's, is to protect people and save lives

Safety switches monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit and detect irregularities in the electrical current.

The RCD almost instantly activates and will cuts the electrical supply to that circuit within 0.03 of a second and that is in less time of a heartbeat.

This will stop an electric shock from happening.

All new homes by law must have safety switches installed.

Older homes built before the introduction of safety switches are not required to have them but legislation states that when an older home has any upgrades done to their switchboard, they must have the appropriate safety switches and circuit breakers installed by a licensed electrician

Australia's states all have slightly different legislation in regards with electrical safety and it is best to check with your local trusted electrician as to what is the law or the standards.

Your Local Trusted Electricians

We at Brissy Electricians are always up to date with the current legislation and standards that Brisbane electricians must adhere to. We go to all training seminars and keep up to date with the Queensland codes of practice to ensure that we are ding the correct thing at all times.

If you are buying a new home, we highly recommend check to ensure that the necessary circuit protection devices are installed correctly before you move in and we are the residential electricians who can do this for you

For more information about how to protect your home with the current electrical circuit protection devices contact Brissy Electricians.

We can perform a safety inspection or electrical audit of your home. This will not only keep your home and appliances safe from any electrical faults - But it will also keep your loved ones safe from being electrocuted.

A simple safety switch will give you pierce of mind.

Contact us today for a free safety audit when you have the next electriacl work done at your house.

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