Switchgear vs Circuit Breaker

What is a Circuit Breaker? A circuit breaker is an electrical safety device…

What is a Circuit Breaker?

what is a vacuum circuit breaker

circuit breaker is an electrical safety device designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by an overcurrent or short circuit. Its basic function is to interrupt current flow to protect equipment and to prevent the risk of fire. Unlike a fuse, which operates once and then must be replaced, a circuit breaker can be reset (either manually or automatically) to resume normal operation.

Circuit breakers come in different sizes, ranging from tiny devices that secure low-amperage circuits or singular domestic appliances, to gigantic switchgear devised to safeguard high voltage systems supplying a whole city. The ordinary purpose of a circuit breaker, or fuse, as an automated approach to disconnecting power from a defective system, is generally abbreviated as OCPD (Over Current Protection Device).

What is a Switchgear?

In an electrical power system, an electrical switchgear is composed of electrical switches, fuses or circuit breakers used to control, protect and isolate electrical equipment. Switchgear is used both to de-energize equipment to allow work to be done and to clear faults downstream. This type of equipment is directly linked to the reliability of the electricity supply.

Types of Circuit Breaker

Molded case circuit breakers: These are used in almost any environment and are designed to protect against short circuits, ground faults. And thermal overloads using thermomagnetic and electromagnetic mechanisms. 

Air circuit breakers: Air breakers provide overcurrent protection and short-circuit protection for circuits over 800 amps to 10K Amps. They’re typically used in situations with a high probability of fire or explosion hazards.

Vacuum circuit breakers: These breakers are often used in high voltage systems to cut off power to electrical outlets. In case of a short circuit or electrical malfunction. A defining feature of vacuum breakers is that they contain evacuated spaces.

Types of Switchgear

There are three major categories of switchgear: low-voltage, medium-voltage, and high-voltage. Generally speaking, low-voltage or medium-voltage switchgear is enough for most purposes.

low voltage switchgear

Low-voltage switchgear has a particular structure that controls the current up to 1 kV systems. This type of switchgear is usually located on the lower voltage side of power distribution transformers.

medium voltage switchgear

Medium-voltage switchgear is used in systems with voltages greater than 1 kilovolt (kV) up to 75 kV.

This type of switchgear is often employed in feeder circuits, motors and transmission and distribution lines due to its capacity.

KYN28 12KV high voltage switchgear

high-voltage switchgear

High-voltage switchgear can handle even higher power levels, up to 75 kV or more. These switches are specially designed for high voltage applications, providing extra safety features.

How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?

how does a circuit breaker work

Each type of circuit breaker share the same general goal of preventing damage to a circuit. Circuit breakers will interrupt or cut off electricity flow when it surpasses a predetermined amount to achieve that goal. 

Each circuit breaker has a specific rating, and the rating of the circuit breaker indicates the predetermined amount of electricity it will allow.

The rating is based on the amount of current the circuit breaker can safely carry and the specific amount it can safely interrupt. 

Consider the internal components for a more specific definition of how circuit breakers work. Inside each breaker, there’s a spring hooked over a small piece of solder, which is a melt-able fusible alloy. Every breaker connects to an electrical wire that runs through your house. The electric current flowing through your home runs through the solder. If the wiring is at risk of overheating, the solder melts. 

This causes the spring to extend through the solder, pulling the switch off and shutting down the specific circuit. Once the alloy cools down, you can reset the circuit breaker. This process is similar to how a fuse works, but the alloy is the bridge instead of a spring. So, when it overheats, the alloy melts and permanently opens. Of course, you must replace fuses each time they overheat, but you can simply switch circuit breakers back into the “on” position.

How Does a Switchgear Work?

Although each kind of switchgear follows unique procedures, the core ideas remain equivalent: when an electrical fault transpires, the relay shuts the trip circuit, separating downstream loads. This permits the rest of the circuit to keep functioning normally, without interference, while simultaneously guarding important machinery from harm.

Switchgear vs Circuit Breaker : What is the difference?

What is the difference between switchgear and circuit breaker?

At first, one of the main disparities between circuit breakers and switchgear is the parts.

While circuit breakers are a lone apparatus featuring an external shell, electrical connections, electric arc snuffing out systems, primary activating mechanisms and trip components, switchgear encompasses multiple instruments.

Switchgear can consist of various switching and protecting devices. These devices can include: switches, fuses, isolators, circuit breakers, protective relays, control panels, lightning arrestors, current transformers, potential transformers, auto reclosures, associated equipment.

GCS LV switchgear

According to the specific kind of switchgear, the system can include multiple components in the list. That being said, switchgear encompasses an intricate combination of switching and protective tools that are cooperative, whereas circuit breakers are simply circuit breakers.

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